Monday, May 9, 2016

Countryside Sanctuary : Bellevue Bohol Hotel and Resort

Call me biased, but I will always favor Bohol than any other famous beach in the country.

This is my second time to visit Bellevue Hotel and Resort (BHR) in Panglao Island, Bohol.  My first trip was a company-sponsored event and there was very limited time to enjoy the place so I made a mental note to visit again with my family.  I knew my daughter will love it there.  We also had a summer vacation in Bohol many years ago and I’ve always thought that the beaches of Panglao Island are among the most beautiful in the country. I’m glad that the pristine beaches continue to be unspoiled by commercialization, at least, this side of Panglao.

Quite a sight to behold! I knew we'd be back for this!
Unlike our first family vacation in Bohol, we stayed bit longer and skip the country side tour packages, mainly just enjoy the place and have an endless time for relaxation before going back to the daily grind.

After 40-minutes or so of shuttle service from Tagbilaran airport to Bellevue Hotel and Resort, porters at the front fa├žade will greet you with a welcome garland (was actually a local handicraft necklace). Checking-in was swift and efficient. I requested for two adjoining rooms and while this was not what were initially booked for us, the lady at the reception/check-in was able to find us the two connecting de luxe units at the ground floor, with a small patio that opens up to the pool area. Cool!  And yes, rooms have Wi-Fi and cable TV.

De luxe room with two twin bed set up

Bellevue Bohol at night. No filter. 

 Around the Resort
Beachfront with a view of the hotel and dining pavilions
Bellevue has a vast infinity pool that overlooks the beach. I love that the pool has been divided into areas for toddlers/young children to frolic, a modest 4-feet section for non-serious swimmers like me and a 12-feet dive pool.  There is a generous array of outdoor loungers/divans in front of the swimming pool and the beach, I spent one afternoon there in lazy splendor and toasting under the hot summer sun.  The platform at the center of the pool is ideal for those who love bikini-clad selfies with a dramatic view of the sea while draped on a lounger. Yes, you get the drift. But no, I didn't attempt to do one.

This platform is in the middle of the pool,
must be wonderful for after dark drinks and partying too!

The beach was something else. We spent one morning burning breakfast calories off via a 30-minutes of kayak.  Like most resorts, there are water sports and adventures to choose from like parasailing, catamaran ride, speed boat and the likes. The beach on this side of Panglao is littered with corals though hence people favor the pool better than swim at the beach.

Food and Dining

Bellevue Bohol boasts of two major dining facilities. The Lamian world cuisine is the air-conditioned dining hall where buffet breakfast is served daily.  The breakfast spread is 5 out of 5 for me, with wide variety of food choices as if you are in a metropolitan hotel’s breakfast buffet and that is a great way to jumpstart mornings. And I love their brewed coffee-- this is a make or break for me. During our stay, there were successions of corporate events at BHR and Lamian restaurant has been exclusively booked during lunch and dinner.

Alternatively, Marea offers al fresco dining experience and a wonderful view of the beach and the pool area, with live music entertainment even during week nights. The menu extensively covers local and international favorites, the taste, presentation and service definitely world-class. BHR can also set-up special themed-dinner buffet for company events like during our stay, there was a Luau-themed party at the beach front and another 80s themed dinner party with live band crooning to popular 80s dance music.

One ought to try their (gigantic bowl of) halo-halo and Pork Humba Boholano style.

Al fresco dining at Marea while a live band serenades with pop music
Other Activities at Bellevue Resort

I booked for a relaxing massage at the Azure Spa. They can also provide an in-room massage service if you so desire. Aside from spa and different types of massages, they also do facials and traditional hilot.  It was soooo soothing that I almost fell asleep while soft music and light scent of verbena drifts in the air! You are also treated to a strong brew of ginger tea after the massage.

I appreciate that BHR also offer a hosts of activities throughout the day like Koi-feeding, arts and crafts, Zumba, outdoor sports like volleyball or badminton, indoor facility for table tennis and other games – keeps boredom at bay especially for kids who might be looking for other ways to spend their energy other than in the pool!

Should you want to have a countryside tour or dolphin-watching with island-hopping, there is a DOT-accredited tour desk that can attend to you and cater for these arrangements. I decided to forego this time to have a stress-free holiday.

Bellevue Hotel and Resort truly lives up to its promise of Luxury of Sanctuary for travelers looking for a five star pampering, stress-free holiday at the countrysides! The staff are most wonderful, very professional, courteous and responsive to our special requests for Kevin's needs. 
Infinity pool overlooks the beach

The 2-ft section of the pool

If you consider doing some serious baking under the sun....

Early morning Kayak before the sun is out

View of the Marea restaurant and pavilion from our room's patio

This short boardwalk connects our room to the pool area
The busy Lamian restaurant during breakfast

Thanks to all the staff of Bellevue Hotel and Resort Bohol
for making this a wonderful vacation!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Acuatico Beach Resort Weekend Get Away

Looking for a short vacation south of Manila?

You may want to check out Acuatico Beach Resort in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas.  It is a 3-hr drive from Metro Manila which makes it a great choice for a weekend getaway.

There are 21 contemporary Balinese-designed rooms and villas.  If you don't like staying in crowded resorts (like me) and fighting for every inch of pool space, this is perfect!

Acuatico has a spacious infinity pool, or you may also head over the beach if you want to do some serious swimming, snorkeling, kayak or other water sports.

Acuatico comes with an in-house restaurant (Oceano, run by Tamayo's Catering) with buffet spread or you can opt to order a la carte at the pool-side bar (Acua Bar) for refreshing cocktails (and non-alcoholic drinks) and snacks.

If you want to stay connected, there is WIFI access and Cable TV in every room. We were fortunate to get a villa that is right in front of the infinity pool and loungers. When I don't feel like dipping in to the pool, I can simply snooze in front of the villa and relax.

They also have a facility for conference room that can house as much as 30-50 people, can accommodate theater seating arrangement style. Should be great for moderate sized company event.

Section of the Infinity Pool
Splish-splash at the Laiya Beach
Mid-afternoon snack in front of our 2-room pool-front villa

View of Acuatico from the beachfront

You-and-I Moment
Pool is well lit for night swimmers. This is view from Oceano.
Loungers at the Beachfront

Until the next time!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Vivere Azure: Haven of Serenity (Kevin's Birthday Vacation)

The soothing view of blue sea and sound of gentle rolling waters will always be Kevin’s favorite place to be. To celebrate his 15th birthday, 2015's choice was a 3-day R&R at Vivere Azure. 

Kevin loved to hang around at any place with great views of blue sea.
The Edge pool overlooks the Anilao's famous beach.
Worth the drive!

Tree Top Hideaway

Relaxing afternoon dip at the Edge pool

Early morning Kayak is a great exercise to burn those
calories from a hearty breakfast
...while I take more pictures of the beachfront

Our last brekky was served ala carte and I chose
Steak with mashed potato and vegetable sides
Vivere Azure is located at Anilao, Batangas and offers a five-star luxury boutique resort experience.  There are thirteen themed-rooms to choose from, each with a unique interior design. The rooms are cozy cottages spread over multi-level, so be prepared for some hike going up and down if you want to access the beach area or the pool area. 

We were able to book for the Enchant room which is one of their more spacious room, fit for a family of four and is closer to the beachfront but will require a hike if we wanted to go to the pool area. The room comes with equally luxurious amenities, has WiFi access and cable TV.

The package include meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Food lived up to its five-star quality promise.  The meals can be served buffet style on peak days/seasons or either family-style or straight from the ala carte menu during low season when there are fewer guests. 

We spent early morning at the beach by flexing our muscles using the kayaks and Kyla did little bit of snorkeling while Kevin and I got lazy over at the loungers.  Warning-- the beach is teeming with corals and rocks, so we thought it was wiser to stay at their Edge pool for swimming. The pool offers a relaxing view of the beach and if you stay long enough in the afternoon, you will get a glimpse of the glorious Anilao’s sunset.  Vivere Azure is the place to be if you seek peace and quiet kind of relaxation.

The staff are also very professional, accommodating and ready to anticipate your family’s needs.  I am also thankful that they granted my request for a birthday cake for Kevin which they delivered with a happy birthday song during our first dinner which coincided with Kevin’s actual birthday.

Overall, it has been a very relaxing three days… our kind of vacation where the view is glorious, food is a delight and there is nothing much to do except bask in the glow of disconnectedness from the daily grind.

More pictures...

Reception area.

Kevin's Birthday dinner.
The staff sang him the birthday song and gave him a birthday cake.

More from the reception area.

They have a recreation area at the mezzanine of the dining hall/bar area.

Family style candle light dinner

Sumptuous breakfast overlooking the sea
Our room had a small terrace that gives you a glimpse of the beach.
Kevin and Kyla loved to hang out in this area.
And finally, breathtaking view of the Anilao sunset.