14 – 21 November 2014
Travelling with G’day Philippines from Sydney, 8 very excited Travel Agents boarded a Philippine Airlines aircraft bound for Manila. The flight duration from Sydney to Manila is 8hours 10, what a great opportunity to get to know each other. Unfortunately our arrival into Manila fell on the pay day of the Filipino’s alongside Christmas sales, it was a slow trip from the airport to Makati. (We would soon learn traffic is a nightmare whatever time of day).
Manila is made up of 16 Districts, Makita is the high-end Districts, popular amongst business and leisure travellers. After checking in at the Shangri-La Makati (beautiful), we travelled to Green Hills, for a traditional Filipino meal.
After one of the best night’s sleep, we were up and ready to travel to Boracay. The Philippines consist of over 8000 Island’s, Boracay being one of their main tourist Islands. Unfortunately we were meant to fly into Caticlan Airport, due to a schedule change we arrived into Kalibo Airport (1.5 hour transfer on a bus, then 30 minutes on a speed boat) to Boracay. As you can tell travelling in the Philippines requires patience, and an ability to go with the flow.
The drive from Kalibo to the Port was very scenic, rice fields, children going to school, people enjoying their day, so not all bad. Once we cruised closer to Boracay, the long trip was all forgotten, paradise was now in front of us. Crystal clear water, white powdering sand shore line. Shangri La Boracay welcomed us with a traditional Filipino drumming band. The property is outstanding.
The Island of Boracay is divided into three Districts – Districts 1,2 & 3, the Shangri La is too far out to be included in a District, but it is not expensive to travel in and out of town. With an extensive range of room types set on a luxurious gardens and private beach front, you could really spoil yourself and loved ones here. Rooms with Jacuzzi’s overlooking the ocean and the day spa, amazing…..
With a freshen up and cocktail at the bar, we travelled to the ‘Ambassador’ Hotel for site inspection and dinner. We were extremely privileged as this night a wedding was being held, permitting the restaurant to seat us on the beach. Whilst we enjoyed our lovely meal, the wedding beside us released red love heart lanterns into the air, and over the ocean they flew; it was a very romantic occasion. We then walked up to D-Mall to explore the market shops, from here you can take a shuttle back to your hotel.
A fun day on the water was planned for us today, after breakfast we were collected and dropped down the beach for a Paraw-Sailing trip to Puka Beach.
Island legend has it that the name “Puka Beach” was given by Elizabeth Taylor, who once visited the unknown Island in the 80s.
Not knowing what to expect we jumped on the Paraw and off we went, we were continuously dunked in the water, it was funny for the first 30 minutes, then the eyes started to hurt! It was a fantastic experience and our skipper is a Regatta Champion, we were in safe hands. As we arrived into Puka Beach we were delighted to be on a practically deserted beach to relax and enjoy some lunch, market shopping (10 stalls), swimming, sunbaking, and an ice-cream.
From Puka we travelled to Mandala Spa for a massage, what a tough life! Mandala Spa is a luxurious resort which focuses on Yoga treatments and detox. We are in the process of negotiating packages here.
After more hotel inspections, we headed to our last one; Boracay Regency and enjoyed a buffet dinner on the beach front. The selection of food was incredible, and our guide Rose gave us a lesson in making Halo Halo, a traditional Filipino desert. The highlight was yet to come… As we enjoyed our meal, company and the sounds of the band the Boracay Regency Dancing Chef’s were introduced, they then entered the dance floor for a flash dance. They were amazing and really know how to draw a crowd. This for me was confirmation of the fun loving spirit of the Filipino’s, they love to dance, sing and have fun!
Today we farewelled the ShangriLa Boracay and checked in at the Discovery Shores. This property was my favourite, location was in the heart of the entertainment, shopping and beach front. The staff were friendly and thoughtful. Today was primarily hotel inspections, however myself and college did slip a helicopter ride in and what a fantastic way to get a prospective of the Island. We followed this up with a Banana Boat Ride, the options for water sports is endless.
Farewell to Boracay and back to Manila. Once we arrived into Manila we travelled to Bistro Remedios for a traditional meal, with Spanish guitar players to serenade us. After lunch we were taken on a drive to the Cultural Centre of the Philippines grounds by the Manila Bay. We stopped at Rizal Park, where the Philippines’ national hero was executed, and then proceeded to Fort Santiago – the seat of the Spanish government in the 17th Century, San Agustin Church and its museum. In the evening we visited Sofitel Philippine Plaza, whom accommodated Barack Obama only 2 months ago. This property has a wonderful outlook of Manila Bay, great for sunset. This property also does a lot of cosmetic procedures. We continued onto the Peninsula Hotel, their grand entrance also included a string quartet! Then finally we arrived to the Shangri La, Edsa. This property would suit people travelling with families, it has a Resort feel and offers a fantastic swimming pool and playground for the children. Plus it has a private entrance to the shopping mall beside it. Whilst also catering to a major corporate, function market.
Tagaytay Tour – 2 hour journey from Manila with a stop at the Las Pinas Church, sit of the Bamboo Organs. Tagaytay located on a ridge 2,250ft above sea level, is a leisurely drive to the countryside 60kms south of Manila. From the heights of Tagaytay, we enjoyed the breathtaking sight of one of the world’s strangest wonders –Taal a volcano within a volcano and a lake within a lake.
We enjoyed a spectacular meal at Antonio’s Restaurants, very traditional home converted into a restaurant. From the restaurant we were taken by Jeepney to the Tagaytay viewing area, what fun!
Our last day, one thing has been missing from this itinerary… shopping! This morning we travelled to Green Hills the best thing was, the prices are that cheap you don’t need to barter and the Filipinos can take no for an answer and don’t hassle you. Green Hills is set up like a market, however it is undercover with air-conditioning. After Green Hill’s we travelled to Mega Mall for more shopping.. not enough time or money unfortunately. Then back to the hotel to load the bags to fly home.
We flew Manila to Sydney at 9.30pm.
I haven’t gone into depth on the hotel inspections, below is a list of the properties inspected, I can provide more details on any properties upon request.
Shangri La Boracay, Mandala Spa, Discovery Shores, District, Fridays, Ambassador, Boracay Regency
Sofitel Philippine Plaza, The Peninsula, Edsa, Shangri La, Marco Polo, Dusit Thani
Consider the Philippines for your next holiday, with great first hand knowledge we can plan your next getaway, with a difference!