A Lovely Family Staycation at F1 Hotel Manila

Mother's Day is this weekend and I'm sure you need to get your precious mom something pronto. It is the perfect time to make our moms feel that they are the best in the world as we express how thankful we are for having them.

Instead of giving her another bag she doesn't need or another shade of lippies, go all out and treat her to a swanky staycation at a posh hotel. However, the art of staycation is a skill to be developed so make sure to choose the best hotel for your mom's special day.  Let her feast on everything from a sumptuous lunch and a glass of wine to a hearty breakfast.

If you still haven't thought of something on how to spoil and delight your mom on Mother's day, then you may want to consider these freebies as the perfect solution for you.

Also, I was able to celebrate Mother's Day and my 30ish birthday in advance at the swanky F1 Hotel Manila last weekend with my fambam. It was our first time staying at F1 Hotel Manila, but I am sure, it will not be the last time because our staycation there was beyond amazing.

Checking in at the Premier Lounge was a breeze and totally hassle-free. The Premier Lounge is a stunning scene setter  where guests get full access to the private library, complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails. That being said, we experienced topnotch service F Hotel Manila is known for. Thanks to a courteous staff that really made our stay as comfortable as possible.

Our room which is a Fort Suite was inspired by the city of Fort and it reflects Bonifacio Global City - premier, contemporary, and elite. The room equipped with elegant and posh furniture was extremely huge, as if we brought half of our home space there. The super comfy bed was huge enough to comfortably sleep an entire family and there's easily enough space to do backflips, cartwheels, monkey flips and all.

The relaxed and cozy ambiance with a stunning view of the city will absolutely do wonders in de-stressing moms like me. You can expect nothing less than stellar with its stylish d├ęcor and sleek interiors.

We had the most restful sleep in the hotel’s elegant and spacious room, a stylishly decorated space bathed in sunlight during the day, and equipped with all the modern comforts we need: plush king size bed, flat screen TVs in the bedroom and living area, electronic safe, a flat iron with ironing board, a working desk with Internet ports, iPod dock with radio and alarm, a sofa bed, small kitchen with coffee and tea-making facility, mini ref and a bathroom with hot & cold shower.  The clean and uncluttered minimalist bedroom and living area was separated and it's quite useful to maintain privacy if you’re having guests.

The bathroom was lavish and spacious with a rainforest-style, overhead shower and the all-important complimentary toiletries.  I personally love the illuminated and wall-mounted magnifying mirror, which is a godsend when trying to apply eyeliner in a rush. Also, I usually find the bathrobes too heavy in luxury hotels, but their towels were light, cottony soft and really comfortable.

It was really nice to see how everything was on its place, everything was prepared and for the cases that you might need help, “just dial zero” and you're good to go. The staff was very quick and helpful during the day.

Another great advantage of staying at F1 Hotel Manila is that everything is quite close or very easy to reach.  Its location provides guests' access to The Fort's iconic destination for upscale dining, shopping and entertainment. It’s also a few minutes away from St. Luke's Hospital, Bonifacio High Street, Market Market, S&R supermarket, fastfood brands and other entertainment possibilities. Close to every spot and by just walking around, you will have every store, every restaurant and also a huge shopping mall close to your heart.

For lunch, we enjoyed the delicious lunch buffet at F Cafe. I've tried the sumptuous offerings last year, and my dining experience was stellar and one gastronomical experience that I'll never forget. Click here to check out my previous blog post about F Cafe.

The dining experience at F Cafe hasn’t waned, since moms will be nourished with excellent Filipino fare, sumptuous pastas, and freshly baked bread. With F1 Hotels and resorts' new Executive Chef, Sau del Rosario, the new yet zestfully created and delectable dishes surely satisfied my cravings and it went beyond my expectations.

Located at the 3rd level of the hotel, F Cafe is an all day dining restaurant  and an indulgent spot which serves both ala carte and buffet. It is open from 6 am- 11 pm wherein they're bringing the kitchen closer to the table by preparing pre-cooked meals. They offer a gastronomic journey of Western, European, Spanish and of course, Filipino food featuring regional cuisine from Philippine's 3 archipelagos, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao or the so-called Luzviminda cuisine.

My ultimate favorites are the Parmesan Crusted Fish and mango crepe topped with ice cream. Here are some of the photos of the other delish dishes that I love;

We were endlessly entertained even if we didn't leave the hotel.  So let the week’s stress seep off you as you take a relaxing dip in the hotel’s infinity pool or as you surrender to the heavenly services of the hotel’s spa. The hotel spa is located at the 3rd Mezzanine level, or simply press 3M using the elevators 1 & 2. They also have a sauna and jacuzzi.

I've tried F1 Hotel's signature massage, Hawaiian Lomi lomi with a combination of Swedish and Shiatsu maasage. Anne, the masseuse, instantly worked her magic and it was a blissful and fairly mind-blowing experience. I've learned that Hawaiian Lomi Lomi is a therapeutic massage that combines the use of flowing and rhythmic motion of the forearms, giving medium to deep pressure strokes to relieve deep-rooted stress. The pressure was perfect and she's extremely skilled with stretching.

An oasis of blissful serenity awaits your mom at the hotel's Spa & Wellness Center. Melt her stresses away with a pampering massage that is simply sublime. Adjacent to the spa is the 24-hour gym and fitness hub fully equipped with treadmills, weights and other gym equipment.  I also like the fact that the Internet is free throughout the hotel, with a good signal.

One of the highlights of our stay F1 Hotel Manila was the barbecue bonding with my family at the Canary Lounge which boasts a breath-taking night view of the majestic cityscape of the Fort. Adorned with lights, chimes, and wooden furniture making the ambiance closely similar to the Canary Islands, you'll instantly get that tropical vibe feel. We truly enjoyed the mouth-watering barbecue for dinner because sometimes, family bonding simply means bars, burps, and barbecues.

Beside the lounge are the hotel’s three pools, an indoor infinity pool, outdoor pool and a kiddie pool,   I was stunned by the breathtaking view from the infinity pool. I think it’s one of the main attractions of this hotel. The pool is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. so we got a lot of time for swimming. They also have acoustic performances at 7:15 pm, every Friday and Saturday at the poolside, which is a great combo with their "After Office Booze" or "Barbecue bonding" promo.

Check out these awesome offerings this summer:

When you’ve had an awesome lunch and dinner, completed a few laps in the lovely infinity pool and spent some time lounging at the Canary Lounge, (like what I've experienced,) you could be forgiven for wiling away the hours in ‘do not disturb’ mode and to just sink yourself into the plump pillows for a good night's sleep.

For breakfast, we indulged in a praiseworthy buffet brekky at F cafe. It was an awesome breakfast buffet with special courses from all over the world, whether you are looking for Sushi or Japanese food, Chinese food or  the American Style with eggs and bacon, the European style with fresh bread and different pastries or fresh fruits, I am sure you will find all you need. Eggs with ham, veggies or bacon and whatever else you fancy are cooked and made to order and the orange juice is freshly squeezed.

Of course, I love seeing happy kids and taking snapshots of the happy faces of summer. Looking at it at a 360° angle, our summer staycation at F1 Hotel is perfect. What makes it perfect? A whole lot of sunshine and soul, good vibes and great tunes, happy faces, giddy kids, hearty food and great bonding moments with the family.

Indeed, F1 Hotel Manila is not just a perfect place for a staycation, it is also your home of happy moments and incredibly fun experiences.

Family bonding with hubby, my daughter and dearest brother. Priceless.

F1 Hotel Manila is conveniently located at 32nd street, Bonifacio Global City. For more information, you may call them at 928.9888/908-7888 or visit http://f1hotelmanila.com/. Like them on Facebook: facebook.com/f1hotelmanila and follow them on Twitter: @f1hotelmanila.

Don't miss out on this awesome Mother's Day offer from F1 Hotel Manila! Not only will your mom get to feast on the buffet, she'll also get exciting freebies such as the massage and manicure or pedicure that she will surely enjoy.

Much ❤,

A Taste of Thai and Family Staycation at Armada Hotel

Some of the best food recipes are discovered by accident. Take the ‘Thai food’ for instance.

First, make a list of everything that's good in the world.
Second, put all those things into a bowl.

And voila! You just made a delicious Thai food recipe. :)

I love Thai food because generally, it revolves around balance – between heat and cold, sweet and spicy, sweet and sour, and salty and bitter. Also, I love trying new Thai restaurants so whenever I'm invited to try out a new one, I knew I had to partake. The most recent of which is Raja Thai Cuisine Restaurant which is conveniently located at the top level of Armada Hotel in Malate, where we had a very relaxing stay.
A stone’s throw away from the famous Malate Church, it is also near the largest shopping malls , business district and other popular destinations in Manila. This is also a top venue for parties and other social events.

A beautiful glass door with the name Raja greets you at the entrance and inside is clean and elegant, with a great view of the buildings outside and the scents of lemongrass and fresh herbs and spices hit your nostrils.

It's a breathing space destination for after-work drinks, and a bit of relaxation. Situated near the poolside area, your food can be served al-fresco or indoor. It has a nice setting in terms of ambience, something that is lacking in other Thai restaurants.

Raja cuisine is open from 6 pm-10 pm only. With a great selection of food, drinks & desserts,  it was the perfect beginning to our meal and came highly recommended.

For starters, I opted for a fresh mango shake to beat the summer heat. As expected, it was quite refreshing. Main dishes were mixed between us. From the Spicy Green Chicken Curry and Spicy Pomelo salad, to the prawns in garlic and pepper sauce to my own dessert of sticky rice and mangoes, everything was perfect.

Let's start with the Spicy Green Chicken Curry. It's as hot as the midday sun and extra spicy at that! Creamy and plentiful, the flavors will simply burst in your mouth.  We got a huge serving of curry in a bowl for a great value and it's really tasty. After a spoonful or two, the rich flavor of the coconut milk toned down the spiciness of the curry paste.

The Tom Yum Koong (Spicy Prawns Soup).  This one has the right amount of heat and spice with meaty prawns and mushrooms,  flavored with fresh lemon, chili and lime leaves.. now that's a party of flavors in my mouth!

The Spicy Pomelo Salad was delicious with extra punch of tangy and spicy mix of ingredients that made it an interesting combination.  I love how Thais do their salad being both sweet, savory and a little spicy.

Thai food's “unbearable spice” is something that we, Filipinos, are not that used to. However, a number of Thai dishes are not spicy at all. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Thai food is all about balance. Although, Thais are huge fans of overly spicy food, the star of their dishes is usually coriander or any type of herb, not chili. The other ingredients balance and tone down the spiciness as well.

 The Khao Phad Kai  (Thai Chicken Fried Rice) served in a pineapple was a thing of beauty in its rough and crisp skin, with flavours dancing away in your mouth. The freshly-cooked rice is complemented by crunchy cashews, green peas, fresh herbs and spices. Indeed, it is really tasty and flavorful.

There is also the delectable Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken and Prawns, with lots of fresh herbs and meat. Also,  it's easy to adjust the flavor balance with the condiments that come with it.

My personal favorite is the Thai Chicken Pandan which is also a popular Thai dish. I love how the pandan leaf keeps the juice inside, so the meat is really soft and juicy. This one's more than lovely and it makes my tummy grumbling even just by looking at it.

For sweet endings, what could be nicer and sweeter to end a meal? The sticky rice topped with coconut milk and paired with a few slices of ripe mango, is beyond amazing and arguably the best Thai dessert for me. The sticky rice has the right chewyness and the mango just the right ripeness. It is very much like our very own suman at mangga which shows a huge similarity between Thai and Filipino desserts. Of course, both treats are good!

Meet the Thai Chef Pranath "Prakob" Samranrue

Overall, we had a fantastic meal and a Thai restaurant that is highly recommended. We’ll be back very soon. Like maybe, tomorrow? *wink*

Need to know:
Location: 2108 M. H. Del Pilar St. Malate Manila. 
Telephone No:  (02) 526-0888
For more updates, visit Armada Hotel's Facebook page and website.

One Pacific Place: Perfect Summer Staycation for the Family

Why travel far and spend money at expensive flights and hotels when the good ole staycation that you've been dreaming of is right under your nose. Staycations are on the rise because they are cheaper and more convenient compared to an out-of-town or out-of-the-country vacation.

It is perfect for families who want to have a relaxing, fun time away from home without having to travel far. Oh, and for moms like me, you won't have to clean up after yourself. For couples looking for a romantic getaway, you really don’t have to get all that far away for it to be all kinds of romantic. Everything will be perfect as long as you’ve got a fabulous room, a comfy bed and of course, the man of your dreams dreaming right beside you. For business travelers, you'll have everything you need for rest and relaxation after a long day at work.

Recently, we were at One Pacific Place Serviced Residences for a 3D/2N stay and we had an amazing family staycation. Whether you're visiting from out of town or making plans for a business meeting, this new-ish place is one of Makati's best kept secrets. It is considered a serviced residence hotel or condotel which means rooms have the advantage of being designed like a proper living space in your home with full hotel amenities. Unlike other condotels wherein the hotel rooms are scattered, the hotel rooms at One Pacific Place Serviced Residences are isolated. While there are lots of condotels in Makati, the facilities, service and ambiance at One Pacific Place are far superior.

The Location

Located along H.V. de la Costa Street,  it is a short walk from major commercial establishments, multinational offices, banks, embassies, schools, hospitals and dozens of nearby restaurants. A great location for business, tourism, nightlife, or whatever else brings you to Makati.

Their online booking process is a snap and their online website is quite easy to navigate. They have a fast and very good check-in service with welcome drinks and friendly hotel staff explaining all the details.

Facilities-wise, it's easily on a par with the finest hotels in Makati and there’s not much to find fault with. The place itself is modern, WiFi-ready, well equipped and packed with great facilities. The 39-storey hotel boasts a total of 140 guest rooms, with 4 different room types such as Studio Room, Executive Deluxe Room, One Bedroom Premier Suite and Two Bedroom Premier Suite.

The Lobby

 Check out the stylish and inviting lobby. 
The Room

Our room which is an Executive Deluxe is spacious, well-appointed and it  includes all of the luxury amenities that One Pacific Place Serviced Residences is known for. The room equipped with smart basics such as 32” LCD television with DVD player and iPod dock, a writing desk and complimentary in-room Wifi access. As for me, fast and free Wifi connection is always a plus as we get to access the internet whenever we like.
A usual, I did my investigative prying into drawers, tables, beds and cabinets but I've found nothing out of place. The room is immaculately clean, with a huge comfy bed covered with fluffy duvets and the pillows were perfect.  Large windows in the room means that we get to enjoy the view to its full potential.

The design is sleek and minimalist with a modern twist. Rich hardwoods, sheer curtain and ultra-modern fixtures set the tone; while details like soft linens and hefty white beds add a sheen of comfort.

There's a kitchenette complete with utensils, tea and coffee making facility.

The bathroom was extremely clean and had a large mirror, warm & cold shower, hairdryer and outlets. Everything was well-maintained with the necessary basics.

The Gym

For gym buffs, there’s an indoor sports facilities or a gym with a mezzanine. I'm not a gym rat but I did have the opportunity to try their gym equipment such as stepper and treadmill that are all very clean and well-maintained. Personal trainers are always ready to help guests and visitors make the most of the state-of-the art equipment.

So whether you want to do a serious training session or just a light workout, this is a perfect place to pump it up and sweat it out.

The Children's Play Area
For those traveling with kids, a children’s play area is a great place for a fun family day. It is well equipped with a playhouse complete with slide, swing, kiddie chairs and tables, and many more.

They also have an open dock area with complimentary Wi-fi which is a perfect hangout place!

The Pool

Photo credit: One Pacific Place Serviced Residences Facebook page.
Relax by the poolside with its 25 meter lap pool and kiddie pool. After splashing around in the pool for a while, I enjoyed a massage in our room  followed by an hour or so of moisturising, soothing and stroking. Bliss!

Other amenities they offer are function rooms  which is perfect for business meetings and social gatherings that can hold from a small group of 25 to a large party of 150.

The Food

During our stay, we sampled the Oriental Buffet at The Strand Cafe & Restaurant. The have an ongoing promo during lunch wherein  you can eat to your heart's content for only Php499 net per person. They also serve sumptuous and delectable Mongolian buffet for dinner, a great deal at only Php299 net per person.

They also have unlimited freshly brewed coffee served with cookies and cakes for only P199 per person, Mondays to Fridays at 3pm onwards.

Buffet breakfast is also served at The Strand Cafe, wherein there is a huge variety of tasty breakfast choices. We had a hearty breakfast and our top picks are the tocino, omelette, fresh-baked pastries and soup for the kids.
Food was delicious – light, beautifully presented, and with an emphasis on fresh pastries. My husband and I both agreed that we would make the trip back just for brekky. Service at The Strand is very good - the staff are friendly and quick in filling our drinks/clearing empty plates although the restaurant was very busy.

The Staff and Service

Services include airport transfer, housekeeping service, laundry service, 24-hour security, courier service and concierge services. The staff at One Pacific Place Serviced residences are friendly and accommodating. They were all smiles and helpful plus if you have a question their customer service team has got you covered all day, everyday.

Also, don't forget to check out  “Salcedo market” a popular flee market every Saturday that sells organic food, local Filipino delicacies (a must-try for tourists)  which is walking distance from One Pacific Place. You can also take a stroll, run and enjoy the breeze and scenery at Ayala Triangle. Or you can go shopping at the nearby malls such as Glorietta, Greenbelt, SM Makati and Landmark. Surely, you will never run out of things to do!

Check out this video of our wonderful stay at One Pacific Place Serviced Residences:

One Pacific Place from Shutter Count on Vimeo.

All in all, our stay at One Pacific Place Serviced Residences was excellent, pleasant, and fuss free. I’d definitely recommend a staycation here for those of you who fancy a weekend break from your own four walls without getting on a plane. If you're looking for a comfortable and centrally-located condotel for family staycation or a great relaxation weekend with your loved one, and don't need an expensive and fancy hotel, you will be very happy you chose One Pacific Place Serviced Residences. The combination of great facilities and the wealth of interesting activities nearby make this a winner in my book!

You've made it to the end of the post! Oh, and did I mention that there’s a sweet little giveaway in it for ya? Yep, you have a chance to stay in one of their tastefully furnished rooms for one night of sheer indulgence with complimentary breakfast buffet at One Pacific Place Serviced Residences. Other prizes are GCs from Jollibee, Melawares and VitaPops.

To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and leave a comment telling me which part of One Pacific Place you love the most.  Entries must be posted by Saturday, August 31st and winners will be selected at random on Monday, September 1st. A video of the actual raffle will be posted as well. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Pacific Place Serviced Residences is located at 161 H.V. de la Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. For more information, call (632) 304-7777.

If you wish to book or to know more about One Pacific Place Serviced Residences, check out this link for a short interview with Mr. Eric Bernie Corpus, General Manager of One Pacific Place Serviced Residences, or visit their website: www.onepacificplaceresidences.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OnePacificPlaceResidences
Instagram:  @onepacificplaceofficial

Full disclosure:
Thank you to One Pacific Place Serviced Residences for having us. We were guests and you can tell how much we loved every single moment of our stay there. I didn't receive any compensation for this review. All views and opinions are my own and never influenced in any way. Should you have any questions/ concern, feel free to contact me via email through my contact form.

Also, check out my blog post about our amazing stay at The District Boracay here.