boutiquehoteltagaytay1.jpgThe Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay is one of Tagaytay’s newest accommodation providers, and arguably one of its most stunning. A lovely little bed and breakfast in the tradition of premium accommodations for traveling couples of distinction, the Boutique Hotel is an absolute must-see (and must-stay-at) if you’re a couple looking for an unforgettable night of romance (and, heck, I might as well say it, passion).

I personally have not stayed at The Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay. However, last night, I continued to search for a lovely out-of-town hotel at which Cathy and I could stay for our 5th year wedding anniversary, because staying in Manila just didn’t seem, well, 5th anniversary-ish.

Enter The Boutique. If you conduct a search on this lovely Tagaytay bed and breakfast, you’ll find almost unanimous approval from couples who’ve stayed there. It’s not a family hotel, it’s not a budget hotel, it’s not meant to be touristy. Everything I read seemed so unique so I sent a text message each to its proprietors Melon Santiago and Allana Montelibano asking about the property, and guest room availability, especially on such short notice.

Within minutes, their guest relations officer Lynlyn (I hope I spelled her name correctly) contacted me. Lynlyn filled me in on all information I could’ve possibly needed regarding the stay, the accommodations, room rates, amenities, and features. In all my years of travel, I have never received this kind of personalized guest service (well, technically, I have, from the Discovery Country Suites – what is it about Tagaytay bed and breakfasts?).

I think, if only for the fact that I, a potential guest, was extended such courtesy, especially by the owners of the property, I feel it is absolutely essential the Ganns Guide has an entry on The Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay. I’ve provided a wealth of information on this page, so those of you thinking of a romantic getaway in Tagaytay need not look much further. Choose either Discovery Country Suites or The Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay. (A third option is Sonia’s Garden, if you don’t mind not having air conditioning.)

Rooms

boutiquehoteltagaytay3.jpgThe Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay has only seven rooms, each with its own name, reflecting the emotions sought to be brought about by the stay in that particular room. On the first floor are rooms I Lust, I Escape, I Surrender and I Love; on the second floor are I Dare, I Desire, and I Dream.

All guest rooms come with:

  • Wall-mounted LCD televisions
  • iPod-ready docks,
  • Choice of pillows (goose down, hypoallegenic, microfiber, etc)
  • In-room WIFI access
  • King-size beds with 300 thread-count linens
  • Breakfast in bed for two

boutiquehoteltagaytay4.jpgEach room also has its own special touches.For instance, I Lust, this Tagaytay hotel’s presidential suite, is the only room with a bath. I Love comes with a four-post bed and a patio; second floor rooms I Dare, I Desire and I Dream affords guests a magnificent view of Taal Volcano. I Love and I Surrender have patios; I Escape has a little garden outside.The Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay experience begins upon check-in. Guests choose a set of body essentials from the hotel’s personal “Pamper Me” line. Soaps, essential oils, shampoos, and conditioners are all organic and natural, adding to the feeling of luxury; guests can choose from tea tree, choco-mint, lavender and lilac, milk and honey, peppermint and green apple, among other fragrances. One can also select room fragrances, including blackcurrant, orange, strawberry, grapes, ocean breeze, rose, apple and hydrangea. The objective of the hotel is to provide guests with such little niceties and attention to detail that there will be, ideally, no need to leave the room. Other special touches include hot chocolate and marshmallows at bedtime (side note: we got milk and cookies at nearby Discovery Country Suites; more countryside bed and breakfasts should do this!).

It seems to be all about connection (spiritual, emotional, physical) at the Boutique. There are “naughty” pillow cases, makeup sets, even strip poles! (God, how I want to stay here!)

Amenities and Facilities

boutiquehoteltagaytay2.jpgPrivacy is apparently the word at The Boutique Hotel, and the main focus is to ensure you focus on your companion. Since most amenities are already provided en-suite, the only other two facilities of note are a gift shop to remember your stay by, and the Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue, which serves international and grilled cuisines, emphasizing a particularly good baby back ribs. (I dunno; it’s pretty hard to top Racks, as far as I’m concerned.)

Rates and Reservation Rules:
Check-in time at the Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay is 2PM; check-out time is 12:00nn. Payments in cash and major credit card are accepted, with room rates ranging from US$140 to US$220, with rates going higher, naturally, during the peak traveling seasons of December. Expect to pay somewhere near PHP10,000 per weekend night at their presidential suite.

Contact Information

45 Aguinaldo Highway
Silang Crossing East, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Tel Nos: (+63-46) 4131885; (+63-46) 4131798; (+63-46) 860-2716

To get to the Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay, exit at the Sta. Rosa exit from the South Luzon Expressway. Turn right at the public market (your landmark: the Iglesia ni Kristo Church) until you reach the Tagaytay Rotonda. (Your landmarks: the Bank of the Philippine Islands and a 7-11 convenience store.) It’s a few hundred meters past Day’s Hotel. (You’ve gone too far if you pass the famous Josephine’s Restaurant.)

Press Coverage

Guests who stayed at the Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay and have posted blog testimonials about their stay include:

Photo credits: Anton Diaz; Fireflyzephyr

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) recently did a story on the growing popularity of eco-tourist activity whale-shark swimming. Known to locals as butanding, the unaggressive whale shark can whaleshark.gifgrow as big as a school bus and weight as much as 30 tons. More than 11,000 eco-tourists have swum with whale sharks in 2006, the goal of each excited swimmer to spot its distincting pale yellow spotted back and fins.

A common sight in the waters of Donsol, Bohol, the butanding frequently feeds on plankton whose populations explode in the time between January and June. These gentle giants are protected by Philippine and international law and are now the source of significant income for the inhabitants of Donsol. In 2006, the former sleepy fishing town earned more than PHP12M in tours and related activities.

Little was understood of the butanding prior to a CEMEX-sponsored study by a small team of marine biologists and volunteers, led by eminent marine biologist Angela Quiros. Local scientists are now building a better picture of the whale shark thanks to this groundbreaking study. Meanwhile, local tour guides continue to advise eco-tourists to swim to within a few dozen feet of the whale sharks, considered a safe distance in case the butanding decides to turn over.

Interested eco-tourists will find the experience exhilirating. Given that Donsol doesn’t have the infrastructure to host most visitors, eco-tourists usually have to book rooms at some nearby Bohol resorts. A popular Panglao resort like the first-class Flushing Meadows Resort in Bohol often offers Guests a great homebase from which to making appointments to visit Donsol to swim with the whale sharks; the wide selection of facilities and activities at this Bohol resort, including its world-class tennis courts, offer variety appreciated by eco-tourists throughout the world.

outside.jpgPuerto Princesa, the capital of the Philippines’ most breathtaking ecological paradise, Palawan, was on the list of must-visits for my wife and me, and in September 2006, we stayed for three days and two nights at the cozy Hotel Fleuris, one of the more respected, ideally located hotels in the city. My wife and I had always wanted to go to Palawan (why travel abroad when the Philippines has 7,107 beautiful islands we could visit?), and this is the first trip we took with just the two of us outside of Manila, so we were obviously very excited.

The official website of the Hotel Fleuris offered a three-day, two-night stay package for locals titled “Explore Puerto Princesa” that is chockful of value: complimentary airport transfers; welcome drinks; two lunches, a dinner, and two breakfasts; a City Tour that includes the Crocodile Farm, Butterfly Garden, Mitra’s Ranccofishop.jpgh, Baker’s Hill, Plaza Cuartel, and the Cathedral; and, of course the highlight, the Underground River Tour, including a swimming stopover at Sabang Beach.

Reserving directly with the Fleuris was pleasant – thanks, specifically, to the services of staff on call, including Assistant Sales Manager Ms. Vivian Msungi, who coordinated with us via email – and despite the lack of instant confirmation online that we had with other hotels in the Philippines (the oh-so-plush Diamond Hotel in Manila and our favorite Manila hotel, Discovery Suites in Ortigas), it was otherwise a pleasant experience booking at Fleuris.

The Guest Room Suite at the Hotel Fleuris is larger, apparently, than their Deluxe Room, ned.jpgand was more than adequate in size and amenities for my wife and I, who don’t need a large place in which to stay. It had a receiving area, which included a comfy couch, a table and two chairs, where my wife and I sat and talked quite often during the course of our stay; a king-sized bed; and more-than-decent toilet-and-bath facilities. For a boutique hotel, definitely a pleaser.

As mentioned earlier, service was pleasant. It is a relatively small hotel, and service was warm and personalized. Three restaurants – the Coffee Shop, the Piano Lounge, and the We Be Sushi! Japanese restaurant – provided food that was simple, delicious, and more-than-affordable. We had a sushi platter that was simply delightful – I guess fish tastes better when it’s fresher. ;)

Location-wise, it would be hard to trump the Fleuris. It was about a five-minute walk from Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa’s major road, and easily accessible tomeindining.jpg the city’s largest supermarket/mall, NCCC. Popular Filipino fastfood restaurants near the area include Jollibee, Chowking, and Shakey’s (I love my pizza). It is a few more minutes away from the public market, where we enjoyed the cheapest, most delicious roasted cashews EVER!

On the downside (if you consider the following, downsides), the air-conditioning in the suite was off to the side of the bed, which meant uneven distribution of the cool air. Plus, the Fleuris isn’t that fancy. Well, so what? There are no five-stars in the Puerto Princesa city proper (the big resorts, which include the spectacular Amanpulo) are off the coast of the province.

What delighted us most about the Fleuris was the opportunity it presented us to really enjoy our stay. Puerto Princesa is a beautiful place, an ecological paradise, and it was a thrill being able to enjoy it, knowing everything was taken care of. Comfortable accommodations, a delightful tour package, pleasant service, and a breathtaking city all combined to make our Palawan stay a truly unforgettable one.

Picture it: Manila, December 2002. After checking out of the Manila Hotel, a newlywed couple gets lost on a self-driven road trip down south, envisioning an unforgettable stay at Villa Escudero and ending up spending their second night together in a godforsaken pool resort somewhere in Laguna (or is it Cavite)? After that horrific day, the newlywed couple heads back to Manila to start the rest of their lives together with a stay at the Manila Diamond Hotel. It’s a great start: four years later, the couple is still going strong, and the Diamond Hotel is going even stronger.

For us, the Diamond Hotel is arguably one of the best hotels in Manila, and with good reason. We had heard good things about the Diamond Hotel, and after viewing the photographs and writeup on the Diamond Hotel’s official website, we knew we wanted to stay there eventually. Little did we know the terrible trip after our wedding would bring us to the Diamond Hotel earlier than we anticipated. Much to our pleasure, the Diamond Hotel did not disappoint, and instead delivered delightfully.

The superior guest room we were given was spacious, clean, elegant, and afforded a wonderful view of the world-famous Manila Bay. A lovely fruit basket and complimentary bottles of mineral water greeted us upon check-in, and we truly enjoyed the comfortable – extremely comfortable ;) – bed. Lighting was comfortable, air-conditioning was more than pleasant, robes and slippers were provided, and carpeting and beddings was spotless.

The bathroom facilities were no less impressive. Set in marble and immaculately clean to a fault, the Diamond Hotel’s guest rooms delighted us immensely, and has since set the standard by which we judge hotels in Manila. We were given the opportunity to use the exercise room, the swimming pool, and the jacuzzi, but only my wife took advantage of that; I stayed indoors and enjoyed my “me time” with the Diamond Hotel’s stellar cable service providing me quality CNN time.

A separate mention for the Diamond Hotel’s pool. While it wasn’t large by most five-star hotels’ standards, it was landscaped so prettily that my wife could not resist a dip in it. With landscaped waterfalls and plants all around, it was a lovely place. To rephrase Pacha, “when the sun hits the water just right, the entire pool area sings.”

We also had the opportunity to dine at the Diamond Hotel’s fine-dining facility, Le Bellevue. I had a steak well done, and my wife a lovely fish dish the name of which I forget at this moment.

The breakfast buffet is among the best we’ve enjoyed in Manila. Good selection of healthy foods – oatmeals, rice porridges, cereals, and breads – to go with the food that is good for the soul (corned beef, all types of sausages, eggs, and other meats). I even had the opportunity to speak with the omelette chef (!), who regaled me with amusing stories about how she ended up a chef, while she made me a killer cheese and tomato omelette.

The only flaw, if any, in the Diamond Hotel’s set-up is a relatively open parking area. While obviously patrolled by hotel staff and the occasional meter maid/man, its open parking does not lend itself to perfect security. Parking inside the hotel – its basement, I believe -is available, but that particular day we checked in, we parked outside, and I wasn’t sure we would wake up the next morning to our car still being there (thankfully, it was, and we would advise all travelers checking into the Diamond Hotel to insist on parking inside the hotel).

Service, accommodations, food… there was virtually nothing the Diamond Hotel could not provide that did not satisfy or thrill, and we would not think twice about staying there. Truly a jewel in Manila.

Original review on TripAdvisor.com

1.jpgAfter spending a positively memorable wedding anniversary at the Discovery Suites in Pasig City, Philippines, I opted to select another Discovery property for the wedding anniversary the year after that, and I selected – as a surprise for my wife – Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay.

For those unfamiliar with Tagaytay, this city is an absolutely lovely place to be. It is famous for its pleasing cold weather (cold, of c2.jpgourse, in Philippine terms, is more than comfortable for international visitors more used to the biting cold of the West), its natural resources and parks, and a spectacular view of the active Taal Volcano.

After reviewing the photographs and room write-ups on their official website, I contacted the property directly and selected the Ceylon Room. One of only seven rooms at this extremely private property (it is more like a comfortable, large lodge than a hotel per se, and with only seven rooms, it is a great place to avoid the riffraff that come with larger properties), the Ceylon Room is located on the hotel’s garden level, and has a private entrance. It is the room closest to an outdoor jacuzzi and dining area.

The3.jpg Ceylon room was comfortable and cozy in its yellow and orange tones. A king-sized bed with smooth beddings, a divan (did I say that right?) beside the bed, a large T&B, and a TV with DVD player added to the many things we could do at the Country Suites. I really can’t describe the Ceylon Room better than cozy; it was a private getaway, after all, and we felt like we were the only two people in the world. It was a lovely room.

There were little culinary niceties that added to our enjoyment. For instance, in the afternoon, we were served ‘afternoon tea,’ which was a selection of cheeses to go with two glasses of wine. In the evening, after a dip in the jacuzzi that positively steamed in the crisp Tagaytay air, we were given warm milk and Christmas-themed cookies for a nightcap. The room came with an American breakfast, if I remember correctly, that was delightful and filling.

The services and perks that we got at the Discovery Country Suites are ver5.jpgy similar to the Discovery Suites in Manila. At the Discovery Suites in Manila, we were upsized for free when they learned it was our anniversary; here, the staff transferred the WIFI box – or whatever you call it – to our room because we wanted the free Internet access they offered but couldn’t tap into because the Ceylon is precisely that – private and separate from the rest of the hotel). Almost all the staff at the Country Suites knew our names, and we had the option of borrowing DVDs, VCDs, books, or board games from their (admittedly sparse) library for use either in our room or a large communal area.

As a reminder of our more-than-pleasant stay, we opted to purchase ceramic wall decor from their wonderfully quaint gift shop right beside the welcoming desk.

What we liked most about the Discovery Suites in Manila, we received in spades at the Discovery Country Suites. If you’re looking for a private getaway in the Philippines in a place with great weather and a host of things to do without leaving the hotel, the Deens wholeheartedly recommend Discovery Country Suites.

Original review posted on TripAdvisor.com.

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