Good food is part of our criteria when deciding where to travel next. Our travels and food adventures have made us realize that just because an establishment is charging high-end prices, the quality of food will also be high.
Misibis Bay Resort in Cagraray Island in Albay, Bicol is marketed as "Your Luxury Island Playground". It is a beach escape where you can relive your childhood fun with a lot of sports and adventure activities that both adults and kids can enjoy.
It is located on an exclusive cove in Cagraray Island, which is an hour away by land from the Legazpi Airport. You can stay in pool-side or beach-side villas, enjoy good buffet food, and relax with all the urban comforts of cable TV + Wifi.
Thunderbird Resort is the best resort in the La Union area. It is located in Poro Point Freeport Zone, San Fernando, La Union (about 6 hours away from Manila). This is quite near the La Union airport and about 30 minutes away from the popular San Juan Surf Resort (for those interested in surfing).
The place created a buzz when it opened because it was the first to provide a Santorini-themed resort -- ahead of Bellarocca. Unlike Bellarocca, which is located on an island, Thunderbird is part of the La Union mainland and is easily accessible by car. Also, the resort has a decent Mediterranean restaurant called Olives, which makes up for its so-so buffet breakfast.
For the first time, we brought all the boys on a road trip to Thunderbird. I would like to share with you our Thunderbird experience...
The second part of the Bellarocca series focuses on why the food needs a lot of improvement in the resort. This post is not meant to discourage you from going to Bellarocca but to be straightforward about what to expect and what will you be paying for.
Also, I want to challenge Bellarocca to improve its dishes because it is really unfair to serve not-so-good food at such expensive prices. We don't want the Philippines to be known for having 5-star resorts with ho-hum food, do we?
Greek Salad (P420 +10%sc). Feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, olives. Served with red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.
This salad is one of the few Greek-inspired food in this Santorini-themed resort's menu. The vegetables are good -- not freshly picked but at least they don't look tired. The dressing's healthy but forgettable.
Bellarocca, which means beautiful rock, is the latest, much-talked about destination in the country. I would like to share our experience with you to sort through the hype. We did have an awesome experience in Bellarocca but with a few disappointments -- particularly with the food.
The Santorini-themed geometric architecture (with its super white walls against a backdrop of deep blue sea and clear blue sky) is psychologically refreshing when you see it. To have the best experience, reserve the garden or cliffside villas where you can have a private scenic view that you can enjoy in your own infinity pool.
People visit this rock island off the coast of Marinduque to re-energize and have a relaxing, incognito escape. I was expecting to have decent food for its 5 star-hotel priced menu, but the food was not good for me. Also, with its Greek theme, we were expecting some Mediterranean options at least, but it was only limited to continental and Filipino dishes. I felt robbed every time I ate because we were "captive customers" of their food for 2-3 days. I don't mind paying for overpriced good food but paying for overpriced ho-hum food is a bit insane.
Quality of food aside, the overall Bellarocca experience rocks because of the unique ambiance and the French GM who interacts with every single guest. To think, the resort is allegedly second to Amanpulo in terms of revenue even with its not-so-good food and not-so-great beach. I'm amazed actually by how they were able to market the place. (I salute the PR agency that promoted this island rock, turning it into one of the hottest places to go this 2010.)
The Imperial Suite at Sofitel is probably the best presidential suite among the hotels here in Manila because of its awesome view of the Manila Bay Sunset. It is located on the top floor of Sofitel and offers a 180-degree view of Manila Bay. We're so blessed to experience staying for one night in this Presidential Suite. It was part of the prize package for the Siete Pecados contest my brother and I joined last December.
Here is the photo essay of our Imperial Suite experience in Sofitel at the start of 2010:
Checking in a hotel within Manila to spend your long weekend is becoming a trend these days, especially for families who don't want the hassle of a road trip and just want to have a relaxing escape. Sofitel is one of my favorite hotels because it transports you to a resort setting -- without you having to leave the heart of Manila. It is a great place for families with kids and for couples who just want to escape the stress of everyday business life. Plus, it's about one hour away from Makati.
Here are some suggestions on how to plan your Sofitel Escape...