Sunday, November 07, 2010

Hong Kong: Back in Hong Kong with Novotel Hotels

Hong Kong has always been one of the most popular destinations for Filipino tourists. I was happy to have been invited by Novotel Hotels Hong Kong to visit Hong Kong again this year. Earlier this year, I was in Hong Kong for a family trip and I got to witness the Cheung Chau Bun Festival and Tam Kung Festival, visit Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbour, and try out really good dim sum and Hong Kong street food.

There are three Novotel hotels in Hong Kong. And I was billeted at the Novotel Citygate Hong Kong on Lantau Island which is just 10 minutes away from the Hong Kong International Airport. It was a good thing since the hotel is also walking distance from the Ngong Ping Cable Car which I had been wanting to try out for the longest time. What's also good about the location is that it's conveniently located right above the Tung Chung MTR Station (easy access to the rest of Hong Kong) and the Citygate Outlets. So you can simply walk down to shop at all the outlet stores. The hotel is also just two stations away from Hong Kong Disneyland.

As soon as I arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport of the Chek Lap Kok Airport 赤鱲角機場, I was met by the staff of Novotel Citygate and was chauffeured to the hotel. We went straight to the Premiere Floor where I checked-in. From the room, I got a really nice view of the Nong Ping Cable Car and the HKIA. One good thing about the Premiere Floor is that they serve afternoon tea and evening cocktails to their guests. So after settling down, I had some cookies, cakes and fruits.

Dinner was at the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival which I will talk about in another post. The next morning, I had a sumptuous breakfast at Essence Restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel. The breakfast buffet spread had a wide selection to choose from. For the day, I explored parts of Lantau Island.

Novotel Citygate has a really nice swimming pool. But since the water temperature that day was at 20 degrees Celsius, it was bit too cold for me to take a dip.

In the evening, we all proceeded to Novotel Century Hong Kong for a reception dinner and poolside barbecue organizes for all the bloggers they invited. There were nine bloggers from nine countries in the Asia-Pacific - Australia (Minh Giang of Eat Show & Tell), New Zealand (Family Travels with Deborah Dickson-Smith), India (Ajay Jain of Kunzum), Indonesia (Budi Sutomo of Gizi Dan Kuliner), Malaysia (Lee Khang Yi of Masak-Masak), China (Zhao Yun Yi), Singapore (Brad Lau of Lady Ironchef), Japan (Owen Shaefer of Tokyo Weekender) and me for the Philippines, plus several local Hong Kong food and travel bloggers - Fabrice Lau, Lo Yan, Jason Tse, Razlan Manjaji and Kelvin Ho.

Great food! I had the (1) Beef Carpaccio for starters, followed by the (2) BBQ Angus Tenderloin, and (3) Chocolate Mousse that was encased in a light sponge biscuit for dessert!

After the dinner, the foreign bloggers were treated to a foot massage at Dragonfly Spa of Novotel Century which I really enjoyed. After the really relaxing massage, we were driven back to Novotel Citygate on one of Novotel's Mercedes Benz service cars. Too bad I had to cut my trip short but it was definitely a fun stay.

To those visiting Hong Kong, I'm giving out a special code for Novotel hotels in Hong Kong. Simply quote 'Novotel blgr' when you make a direct booking with any Novotel hotel in Hong Kong, and you will be given a free upgrade to the next room category. It's valid until end of August 2011. E-mail the following for reservations - Novotel Century Hong Kong:; Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon:; or Novotel Citygate Hong Kong:

Where to eat in Boracay: Fishbar Boracay and Zuzuni

Boracay just has too many restaurants to choose from. And many are really good! Here are two of the restaurants we ate at during the SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour. The first is Fishbar Boracay in the D'Mall area. And the second is Zuzuni located along the beach front in Station 1.

Fishbar Boracay is obviously a seafood restaurant. But they do serve other dishes too (good for me)! We were served a whole gamut of dishes from their very popular Beer Batter Fish and Chips, Fish Burger, Calamares and a large platter with a little bit of everything among many others.

For dinner, we had the most authentic Greek cuisine on could find on Boracay at Zuzuni. We were first served pita bread bread with three kinds of dips: Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), Tirokafteri (feta cheese spread), and Tzatziki (yogurt dip). Then there was the Greek Summer Salad made with kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumber tossed with herbs, olive oil and red wine vinegar and topped with feta cheese.

On skewers was the Souvlaki which is assorted grilled meat or fish and vegetables. There also was Garides Saganaki Pasta which has prawns in pomodoro sauce, and Moussaka which is something like lasagna with eggplant , ground beef and ground pork, topped with bechamel sauce and cheese.

But the pièce de résistance is none other than the Mati Chocolate Sin dessert. In fact, Zuzuni is very famous for it. This dessert is Valrhona chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream. I can still remember the rich chocolate ooze out of the cake as I savored every bite.

Boat Station 1, White Beach, Boracay
+63 920 982-9848
+63 36 288-4477

Friday, November 05, 2010

Boracay: Mandala Spa is the best spa in Boracay!

No doubt, Mandala Spa is among the best spas in Boracay. I've heard so much good stuff about their treatments, I had long wanted to try them out for myself. And I finally got the chance some weeks ago. And I wasn't disappointed since the facilities and service was superb!

It's a bit far from most establishments since it's quite close to the Cagban Port. But this secluded spa is tucked deep inside the sprawling property making it very exclusive for its clients. In fact, you'll have to walk several meters from the road into their driveway to reach the main reception pavilion.

You actually get your own private hut when availing of spa treatments at Mandala. Each private hut is spacious and complete with your own massage and bathing facilities. I availed of their Mandala Signature Massage (Php2850) which lasted for an hour and 30 minutes. I noticed the therapist's meticulous attention to detail as she carried out the spa treatment. It was one of the best spa treatments I've experienced.

Mandala Spa also has a resort if you want to avail of their holistic Boracay experiences. Looking also at their menu of services, I was intrigued with the other treatments, particularly the Water Dance which is an underwater therapy (yes you'll be wearing nose plugs) with the therapist leading you through a harmonious routine in a pool of warm water. Maybe I'll be able to do that on my next visit.

Mandala Spa and Villas
Boracay Island, Malay Aklan
Tel: +63 36 288 5858
Fax: +63 36 2883531

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Boracay: SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour

Boracay has many other beaches aside from the very hip and happening White Beach. In fact, many of the other beaches offer peace and quiet one would not think is still possible on Boracay. Diniwid Beach is one of them. And thanks to the SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour, I found myself back in Diniwid Beach since we stayed in the very comfortable Microtel Boracay.

Here's an old post I made on Microtel Boracay which says it all. I was pleasantly surprised that Diniwid Beach got its sand back since when we first visited two years, the beach was almost gone. It actually looks like a shorter stretch of White Beach now sans the activity.

For our first night, we had dinner at Mama's Fish House, the restaurant of Microtel Boracay. After dinner, we all boarded the free shuttle of Microtel to check out what was happening at White Beach.

Microtel Inn & Suites Boracay
Diniwid Beach, Malay, Aklan
Tel No. +63 36 2884311
Fax +63 36 2884312
Mobile +63 917 7165004

Boracay: Halloween fun in Boracay with SEAIR

I found myself on a SEAIR flight to Boracay just in time for the Halloween. Boracay is actually one of the best places in the Philippines to celebrate Halloween. Halloween being a Western tradition and Boracay being a destination for Western tourists, you'd see a lot of Boracay visitors in some of the most creative, wildest and funniest costumes as they party on Halloween night.

The festivities actually start in the afternoon when the kids and those young at heart go trick-or-treating around D'Mall and other participating areas. It was a bummer though that this year's Halloween was a very rainy.

After checking out the trick-or-treating, I claimed my free pair of Havaianas. I was on a lucky SEAIR flight where every passenger is given a pair of Havaianas.

In the evening, we visited Discovery Shores Boracay to enjoy their special Halloween buffet spread and check out their horror house.

The buffet spread was quite creative, particularly the desserts. Aside from the usual decor, there was the Bloody Fountain Station (white chocolate fondue that was colored red to make it look like blood) and Black Liver Mousse (chocolate mousse with tomb stone fondant) among others.

And kudos to the staff of Discovery Shores for the effort they put in the horror house! Each chamber in the horror house was conceptualized by one department. And the actors inside are the staff themselves. You could hear the kids scream from outside as they went through the various rooms of the house.

From Discovery Shores, we walked along White Beach to check out the Halloween happenings. Most establishments had something for Halloween. Even the henna tattoo artists were dressed up for the occasion. Unfortunately, there weren't too many people compared to previous Halloweens since it had just rained.

But by 9 p.m., the foreigners were trooping back to D'Mall to party in their crazy costumes. Indeed, Boracay is a major Halloween destination for the Philippines. Even if it rained again, the partying still continued. Check out the SEAIR Fan Page or SEAIR Boracay Beach Party Coverage 2010 on for more photos.
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