I believe it was in the year 2005 or so when I first discovered the beauty of a "Staycation". Even though I was already working then, I was still living at home, so I didn't have rent or mortgage to think about. Meaning I had money. I purchased a "Club Membership" from an exclusive Hotel in Makati, that offered room vouchers that gave me huge discounts, and just to seal the deal, they even included an overnight stay, absolutely free.
At first, I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical. I wondered to myself, "Why pay money for an overnight stay in a hotel that's just around 30 minutes away from my house?". Nonetheless, the membership also gave me a 50% discount at their famous buffet, so that was enough for me.
Within minutes of checking in, I saw exactly what the whole point of a staycation was. The point was to get yourself absorbed in all of the relaxation, without the hassle of long airport lines and bumpy plane rides. You drove a few minutes away, yet you're taken to completely new world.. One free of stress, where your every whim is catered to.
As a blogger, I was fortunate to have been invited to a staycation late last year, and made some wonderful friends from the blogging world along the way. That experience inspired me to expand my horizons in 2013, and try to write more travel posts, including some amazing places in the metro where you and your family could enjoy a relaxing staycation.
Early June, I was elated to be able to add another hotel to the list of places I've had a staycation in. Considering it was a Hotel that I pass by every day on my way to work, nothing could further epitomize the concept of "Staycation" than F1 Hotel Manila.
My very first experience with F1 was off to a great start because of its parking system. I liked how we were immediately assigned a slot number, giving us a stress free experience on the onset. It's those little things that you think wouldn't matter, but in truth, it contributes to the good impression you'll have of the hotel.
The lobby is a spacious area on the fifth floor. My blogger friends and I were afforded an early check in, (which was good because Rain was getting a little bit antsy, and I had used up all the voices I use to make her laugh.. One can only mimic "Elmo" so many times without the people beside you getting annoyed). After we settled our bags in our rooms, we all met up again at the F1's Premier Lounge to meet the people behind the Hotel.
At the lounge, we were greeted by Micko and LJ, who gave Rain and Rina a little token of appreciation.
We hung out at the Premier Lounge for a bit, where we helped ourselves to some refreshments, which included some Danish Pastries and coffee and juices. Rain LOVED the Mango Juice! The premier lounge looked like a nice quiet place to read a book or get some work done.. or in my case.. catch up on my Blog's backlog (It's almost at ridiculous 50 unwritten entries!).
The Premier Lounge also includes a Board Room that can seat roughly around 12 people comfortably. A projector and screen is readily available, making it an ideal place for business meetings and presentations.
General Manager Louie Pena was on hand to personally welcome us to F1 Hotel Manila. He explained that the hotel, formerly known as Best Western F1 Premier, takes pride in being completely run by a Filipino staff, once it parted ways from the American hotel franchise.
It was the Director of Operations, Tony Co that explained to us the thinking behind the phenomenal Luzviminda Buffet that he helped conceptualize with Chef Sau Del Rosario.
THE FORT SUITE
Rina and I were ecstatic to find out that F1 Hotel Manila had booked us their Fort Suite! The Fort Suite reminded me a lot of the the one bed room condo in Makati that Rina and I used to rent before we found our current house. It was nice because it made us feel more like we were just relaxing at home than a strange hotel room.
The living room area featured a very comfortable couch (Which apparently can fold out and turn into a bed, a 32 inch TV, soft lounge chairs, and a Refrigerator. Wifi was also readily available.
The room also had a nice, fluffy Queen Sized Bed in the bedroom. Which sadly, was still too small for me because Rina and Rain don't sleep unless all limbs are spread out.
Although the living room already had one, the bedroom was also affixed with a 32' flat screen TV, giving this couch potato a dilemma.. where do I sit my butt down to watch TV? The couch or the bed?
Our room offered a glorious view of the ever-growing Bonifacio Global City. With Bonifacio High Street in our direct line of sight, it was quite a spectacle to see in the evening.
The bathroom was a little small compared to other bathrooms, but spacious enough for you not to feel too cramped.
I was happy to see the rainfall shower head that I love!
(Not to mention the shower area was spacious enough for two.. rawr)
The bathroom had a large Mirror, which Jane and Spanky proved to be perfect for their selfie-ing their #OOTD (That's "Outfit of the Day" for you guys who aren't with it).
Despite the many toys we brought for her, Rain seemed to have the most fun playing with the telephone. She would get the phone, put it to her ear and say, "Ewwooo?".
I dunno about you, but to me, a hotel isn't complete without a swimming pool. I actually didn't think that F1 Hotel Manila had a swimming pool at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had three!
They had a small wading pool, which also serves as the "Kiddie Pool"..
Which was the perfect place for...
My #OOTD Pictorial!
("Outfit of the day" for you old fogeys)
A second pool, which was a bit larger
And one of the most gorgeous lap pools I've ever seen in the Philippines
With the Philippine humidity being what it is,
there was no way I could resist taking a dip..
Baby Rain had so much fun.. She really loves the water!
My two gorgeous girls!
Do you think you guys would be able to handle the swimsuit edition
of my next Fashion Post?
Here's a little teaser hehehe
F1 Hotel Manila is also equipped with a mini Gym, that has several treadmills and a few other machines that looked really heavy or tiring to move around.
I was with my blogger friends, and I was telling them how I used to be really fit and would go to the gym on a near daily basis. Just to prove it to them, I decided to try one of those machines that required me to pull down on some weights....
And It didn't go as well as I had hoped.
We hung out at the Canary Lounge, which was by the poolside on the third floor. The logo and font type they used kinda reminded me of the 80's hehe.
What the Canary Lounge offered was a "Tropical Vibe in the Cityscape". You could order food and drinks by the poolside, and relax while watching the sun fall down on the beautiful view of Bonifacio Global City.
Though we had the pleasure of meeting them earlier, it was still a surreal experience being able to watch the chefs responsible for the LuzViMinda buffet in action, through a cooking demo.
First off was Chef Martin Jickain. Look, make no mistake about it.. I am a straight man. But even I had to admit, this guy was one good looking dude.
Next were the boys from Cebu.. Chef Karl Noel and Chef Paul Sidney Uy, whose comic banter added some of the lighter moments of the demo.
Chef Ed Tuazon of Marco Polo Hotel Davao, brought his team of pastry Chefs along with him.. Including an awfully cute one hehe..
(The one in the middle, smartass)
Chef Ed and his team showed us the intricate techniques involved in creating his trademark Durian Pana Cotta.
After the cooking demo, we were given time to relax in our rooms. When the evening came, we all headed back down to the Canary Lounge for our Barbecue Bonding Dinner. I love me a good BBQ, so I was ecstatic to see that we were given choices of meats to choose from, and they would slap it on the grill for you on the spot!
I don't know about you, but to me, a good BBQ isn't complete without liempo!
Rina loved the grilled sausages
This stunning BBQ platter was prepared by the chef for us, and it included CHicken BBQ, Pork, Beef, Pork Ribs, Sausage, Baked potato and some veggies..
I thought it was overkill. So I removed the veggies.
We capped off an amazing evening with stories of Ube Jam and a few drinks, as we watched the beautiful skyline of Bonifacio Global City come to life in the evening sky.
Dim the lights please.
Turn up the Barry White. Or Marvin Gaye.
I don't think there could have been a better way to de-stress, than with an in-room massage, which F1 Manila has available upon request.
I gotta admit though, it wasn't easy to relax knowing your daughter is watching a middle aged woman climb on top of you, while she holds the phone saying, "Ewwooo?" every thirty seconds.
BREAKFAST AT F1 ALL DAY CAFE
One of the first things you'll see as you enter the third floor of F1 Hotel Manila is their grand- and I must say- very unique sofa, that does a little loop-de-loop.
Wasn't sure how to sit down on it though.
Let me make it easy for you. Hotels, please always have bacon in your buffet. It's a must. It makes people happy. Trust me on this. I know i'm a nobody blogger and my opinion doesn't matter, but believe me... If you have bacon in your buffet line up, everything else will fall into place.
Case in point:
The chicken longanizza was average.. But it doesn't matter cuz I had bacon.
The Beef Tapa, was a tad dry. Doesn't matter. Had Bacon.
The scrambled eggs were a tad under seasoned, but it was nice and runny just the way I like it. Normally, I would just add a little Knorr seasoning and mix it into my fried rice, but this time I had to do something different.
I trooped on over to the omelet station, and saw a nice selection of ingredients that could easily pimp up your morning eggs (that sounded weird). Ham, onions, peppers, mushrooms.. But I noticed something missing.
I handed that missing ingredient over to the omelet chef, and told him to add some onions and cheese. After a few stirs and flips, out came the finished product...
Behold... MY Bacon Omelet.
Eggs made better, because it had bacon.
Other breakfast fare they served was Daing na Bangus..
And Vegetable Fried Rice..
Also available were assorted danish pastries, breads, and some delicious powdered donuts!
From the second we entered the parking of the hotel, to the very moment we drove out, we enjoyed every single minute of our Staycation in F1 Hotel Manila. This was a real eye opener for me as well, because F1 Hotel may seem smaller compared to it's other big name contemporaries, but can stand toe to toe with the best names in Hotel Chains from around the world. Something that the Philippines should be very proud of.
Baby Rain was exhausted from all the swimming and (
fake) telephone calls (I'm so scared she's gonna be telebabad when she grows up), that she fell asleep before we could check out.
With the strategic location and array of amenities, F1 Hotel Manila should definitely be on the list of places you could have an enjoyable Staycation!