On staycations and spending for those you love.

On staycations and spending for those you love.

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“Why bother ‘staycationing’?” some of my well-meaning but maybe thrifty (?) friends have said. Why book a hotel in the same city you’re in?

For me, it’s simple: Our family likes staying in nice hotels. We do! And we take our hotel stays seriously. Even if it’s a 3-star hotel or a nice hostel, we enjoy clean, well-maintained places that let our family have a break from routine and our busy home life in the city.

We also don’t spend much on other things. Luxury bags? Nope, I don’t own any and don’t really plan on buying one because not a lot of those bags go with my personality or my standard of living. Fancy jewelery? I don’t own anything fancier than my engagement ring, which is tiny. Expensive furniture? Well, we believe in investing in things we’ll use daily, like our living room furniture, our beds, our chairs, and we’ll spend for quality more than designer labels.

discovery suites ortigas review

We’ll spend on things that matter, like getaways and holidays that allow us to bond, rest and relax as a family. These staycations matter to us even more, now that our children are very young and dependent on our closeness, understanding and attention. They allow us to take a breather from our busy lives as working parents, and invest our time and attention on our family, our relationships, even our dreams and goals (because we have more time to talk about these while on staycation).

Living in Manila, we get stressed easily! In a country with the worst traffic jams in the world, it can get easily stressful in this city, and it sometimes takes so much work and effort just to plan a trip out of town. While we do plan for those things, we just can’t go on provincial or international trips as often as we’d like. And that’s where the staycationing comes in: We can be on vacation for just a while, even if we don’t have the time or surplus to travel out of town.

In one of my past articles, I talked about slow living, and how staycations can be a component of that. It’s not about spending money that we don’t have; it’s about being able to take these appointed breaks and mini-holidays and being intentional about it. For example: We do set aside a fund for these kinds of staycations. Sometimes they are given to us (such as this one I’m featuring on Discovery Suites Ortigas), and we are very grateful for them. Other times, we save up for hotel bookings and deals that will let us have that family time to slow down.

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

I truly believe that these getaways are great for us. We don’t do them often, but when we get to do our staycations, we always feel refreshed and happy right after. There’s a sense of anticipation when we book a stay at a new place we’d like to try, or a feeling of comfort and assurance if we’re coming back as return customers. In fact, my son gets involved with us in the planning and dreaming-up of our future staycations, and he looks forward to the time-outs we’ll be having as a family.

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Discover Suites Ortigas is a full-service business hotel and serviced residence. It is located at the heart of the Ortigas Business District, and is a stone’s throw away from some of Manila’s popular shopping and dining haunts, like SM Mega Mall, The Podium Mall, Shangri La Plaza Mall and Robinsons Galleria. It is an ideal staycation hub for families seeking a break from their weekly routine. Allow me to share some photos from our recent staycation there, which was a celebration of my husband’s birthday last January.

discovery suites ortigas review

Dinner on the 22nd floor at 22 Prime. We enjoyed a fabulous surf & turf full course dinner. Yum!

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discovery suites ortigas review

Discovery Suites also has a wine & cheese platter delivered to your room prior to turn-down service. We enjoyed this in their Discovery Suites location in Tagaytay, too.

discovery suites ortigas review

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discovery suites ortigas review

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discovery suites ortigas review

Fluffy beds and sheets: My number one criteria next to a clean bathroom, for all hotels.

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

We love breakfast buffets, can you tell? And don’t judge me for the pile of bacon on my place. Haha! We live a little when we’re on staycation!

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

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discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

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discovery suites ortigas review

discovery suites ortigas review

The children’s room and play area has capable babysitters on standby.

discovery suites ortigas review

Please see more photos of our family’s Discovery Suites Staycation, as well as the other rooms and amenities the hotel has to offer, here in my album on Facebook: Make it Blissful @ Discovery Suites, Ortigas Center

I hope you enjoyed peeking into our Discovery Suites staycation. We really love how the Discovery Group hotels are able to strike a balance between the convenience of a residence with the signature amenities of a hotel. If you’re visiting Manila, it’s perfect for your extended stay. Discover your home in the city. For rates and packages, please visit www.discoverysuites.com

A place to hide away: Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay

A place to hide away: Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

My birthday was spent quietly amidst the fluffiest luxurious white sheets, surrounded by warm cuddles and kisses, and sweetened with helpings of strawberry shortcake, cheese platters and (just a leeeetle bit of!) wine and hot chocolate. Thanks to the Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay, my family and I were able to enjoy a relaxing overnight stay in our favorite quick getaway destination in the hills just outside the city. What a treat!

Each suite in the Discovery Country Suites is uniquely themed and luxuriously appointed. For our stay, we were billeted in the Nantucket Suite, which has a beautiful view of the lake.

discovery country suites tagaytay rooms

discovery country suites tagaytay

A personalized welcome for out little family, looping on the TV. Cute!

discovery country suites tagaytay room

A “Welcome” photo frame of our family, to make us feel right at home in our lovely room! Nice touch.

discovery country suites tagaytay room

discovery country suites tagaytay

The Nantucket Suite was the perfect size for us. Vito took the bed nearest the window — a double bed — since he sleeps on his own, and Ton, Krista and I had the king-size bed. The suite is a perfect size for a family of four, I’d say. You can request for extra beds to be brought in, as the room is HUGE.

The kids took to the suite right away.

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Since we had a simple itinerary (i.e. to sleep, mostly, and then take the kids to ride horses), we looked forward to just enjoying our room and the B&B’s grounds. The room was enough reason to just stay in and cozy up, and you can see why below:

discovery country suites tagaytay

Starting 5PM, the Suites offer a wine & cheese platter for guests to enjoy either in the restaurant or in-room. Since we couldn’t get over our room, we of course opted for the service to be brought into our little living area in the suite. The restaurant also sent over some of the desserts from the lunch buffet, including some more of that gorgeous strawberry shortcake.

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

We ate dinner away from the hotel, after taking Vito horseback riding nearby, but when we got back, there was a turndown service waiting for us: Homemade cookies, a jug of warm vanilla-infused milk, fresh mango juice, brownies, two large bowls of popcorn, and a set of kid-appropriate DVDs for Vito to enjoy. (I told you: Staying here means the staff will spoil you so that you won’t want to leave your suite! Haha!)

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Our kids usually wake up during the night when we’re staying over at a new place, but we didn’t hear a peep from them after we’d put them to bed. It must be those fluffy cloud-like sheets and eiderdowns; Ton and I agreed the beds were uber-comfortable. I love it when the whole family wakes up fully rested, and ready for a good breakfast the next day. And that’s what we had!

discovery country suites tagaytay room

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

The hotel staff were really sweet to remember my birthday! After our breakfast, the entire team sang me and birthday song and surprised me with a decadent chocolate cake with raspberry coulis!

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discovery country suites tagaytay

Thanks, team Discovery! I certainly felt special. Afterwards, I also got to peek at some of the other suites available, in case we wanted to book another stay during the coming holiday weeks. Of course, most of the suites are booked already for the long holiday stretch, but there are still some weekday periods available for bookings.

discovery country suites tagaytay

Ceylon Suite: The smallest suite, with a private entrance leading to its own patio, which is a few meters from the outdoor heated jacuzzi.

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

The Nara Suite, which is Japanese themed, and opens up to the garden area.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Family area and den, outside the Nara Suite. Usually big families will book these two large suites on the garden level, and this family area is where they can relax, chill, and play games by the fireplace.

Family area and den, outside the Nara Suite. Usually big families will book these two large suites on the garden level, and this family area is where they can relax, chill, and play games by the fireplace.

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

The exterior view of the back of the hotel, which offers a garden view and a wide view of the Taal Lake.

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There are only seven suites, so naturally bookings here are limited, especially on weekends. I recommend going on weekdays if you can, because there aren’t as many guests and you can enjoy the amenities with more privacy.

I’m looking forward to our next stay! You might want to consider it, too. To book your Discovery Country Suites getaway for your family, visit their official website and log into their Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates. 

https://www.instagram.com/discoverycountrysuites/

 

 

Babymooning Benefits (and another Taal Vista getaway)

Babymooning Benefits (and another Taal Vista getaway)

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Our family loves heading up to Taal Vista Hotel once in a while for a staycation. The hotel is the perfect distance from our home in Quezon City (less than a two hour trip, provided traffic is agreeable). These days, the cool weather makes the trip even more worthwhile!

In late October, we had a lovely staycation and early “babymoon” of sorts at the Taal Vista Hotel. We had the chance to stay again in our favorite wing — the Lake Wing — in our regular room of choice, the Premier Lake Wing room. It’s just the right size for the three of us, and already comes with breakfast for two (yay!)

Premier King Lake

taal vista hotel lakeside wing

Babymoons are a time for husband and wife to bond with one another, before the arrival of a baby. In our case, the babymoon was a breather from all the activities, from the work and busyness of Manila. We brought Vito along, but usually babymoons are between husband and wife only. Still, we wanted time away as a family, especially since Vito is going to have a baby sister for the first time, and it’ll be a a huge change for him. Bringing him along was really part of the whole meaningful experience for us.

There are so many reasons why babymoons are a great idea, especially if you espouse the idea of having a meaningful pregnancy. For me, here are three great reasons to escape the daily routine for a while (even just overnight, like our stay at Taal Vista).

1. Bonding.

Out of town trips and staycations are wonderful times when the family can connect with one another. In our case, talking about the new baby was the topic of most of our discussions. In bringing Vito with us, we were able to involve him in the anticipation. He’d even planned on what to play on the hotel lawn (his favorite running spot!) when his new baby sister arrives.

taal vista hotel

taal vista hotel

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2. Relaxation.

I personally like going on staycations because they take me out of the house routine. While I love being at home and making a home, I also believe in taking a break! Taal Vista being in Tagaytay is my go-to hideaway for when I want to feel like I’ve escaped Manila. I feel relaxed and refreshed every time I sink into the creamy white sheets of our bed there!

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For preggy moms like me, relaxation is especially important throughout the semesters. At the time we headed up, I was well into my second trimester (or the “honeymoon” stage of the pregnancy), so I was starting to feel big and generally sleepy most times! Hieing off to the hotel helped me to recharge my batteries, and just concentrate on resting up for the little one inside me.

3. Reflection.

When we’re on staycations, I like to take some time out for myself, too. If Ton and I travel together, we like heading over to the hotel spa for massages (like we did during our anniversary) When we have Vito with us, we take turns having “me” time: Ton stays in the room with Vito, or takes him out to play, while I go off for some tea and read a book, or draw, or something. During our last trip there, I opted to hang out by the fireplace in the Lobby Cafe and do some doodling.

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I actually made two drawings for my daughter’s wall, which I’ll have printed on nice paper and framed. What do you think of it? Not bad, no? I drew this while at the lobby, the afternoon we arrived. I wanted to decompress after the drive up, and lounging in the lobby cafe was the perfect excuse. (My order? That’s some yummy saba con hielo, one of my favorite desserts here. I also love their selection of TWG teas.)

I’d say that for any preggy mom, “doing nothing” is as essential as going to the spa or relaxing.

taal vista hotel 75 years

By the way, Taal Vista is celebrating 75 years of service this year. They have a number of offers for those who want to book vacations here. Check them out at taalvistahotel.com!

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Of course, going up to the hotel means that there’s also family-friendly food. I enjoy breakfasts here, especially when we go on weekday mornings when there are no crowds at the hotel. If you can manage a trip on a weekday, do take advantage of it! It’ll likely be more relaxing!

taal vista hotel buffet

My plate and Vito’s, from breakfast the following morning. Yes, we like bacon!!!

Healthy pa rin.

Healthy pa rin.

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Thank you, Taal Vista, for always making our stays enjoyable! Thank you for this early babymoon as well — we’re surely coming back before the baby comes to relax some more!

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Vito says “Mwah!” Thank you, Taal Vista Hotel, for our stay.

 Taal Vista Hotel is located in Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway , 4120 Tagaytay City. For bookings, visit www.taalvistahotel.com, and for updates on hotel promos and events, please “like” them on Facebook.

Blissful Getaways: Dorsett Hotel Singapore

Blissful Getaways: Dorsett Hotel Singapore

Dorsett Hotel Singapore poolside

We chose the Dorsett Hotel for our stay during our four-day trip to Singapore earlier this month. It turned out to be the perfect choice, for many reasons. We’d like to thank Agoda.com for the convenient booking experience and for the unexpected upgrade of our room during our stay — yay!

Dorsett Singapore - dorsett hotels

Photo courtesy of Dorsett Hotels

It’s location — Outram Park (right beside Chinatown) — was the perfect location for the places I needed to frequent during this trip: Tiong Bahru, Smith Street, and the old Kampung Bahru district. It was also conveniently on the same side of the street as the Outram Park MRT station, which was fab because we decided to take the MRT straight from the airport and to the hotel — just a SG$3 trip from Changi Airport!

We arrived at the hotel around 10:30AM, and the hotel staff were very kind and accommodating to let us check-in early. We were able to shower and freshen up in our room:

Dorsett Hotel Singapore room

Dorsett Hotel Singapore room 3

Our room had the usual amenities expected in a 4-star hotel: mini bar and fridge; ironing board & hot/steam iron; hairdryer; laundry services; complimentary bottled water and “welcome fruits”; spacious room and bathroom (sorry, no pics of bathroom as I tend to feel strange posting them on my blog! But trust me when I say the bathroom is clean, stylized, and has a rainshower head — no bathtub, though).

What I liked most about the location, again, was its proximity to the places we intended to visit during our trip. Since I’d be spending much of my time in the Tiong Bahru area, I could easily take a cab to Bloesem Lab (where I was attending a workshop and also interviewing the owner) and back again to the hotel if I wanted to take a nap or freshen up — which I found myself often doing:

Dorsett Hotel Singapore room 2

Mid-day on Saturday, just after breakfast in Orchard Road, and just before my afternoon workshop in Tiong Bahru.

If you’re OK taking the MRT, bus or taxi, then here’s an idea of how long it takes from the Dorsett Singapore to some popular locations:

To Orchard Road: Less than 10 minutes by taxi; around 20 minutes by MRT

To Harborfront: (drop off point to Sentosa, Resorts World and Universal Studios): One stop on the MRT

To Chinatown:  You literally just walk five minutes and you’re in Smith Street, a.k.a the Chinatown Food Street, one of the best places this part of town for local fare. Had yummy oyster omelete, duck noodles, tea tarik, and dimsum here — everything for under $10.

To Changi Airport: 45 minutes including changing trains over two different lines

Dorsett Hotel Singapore wifi

I should mention that the hotel has very reliable, hi-speed wifi for all its guests — yay! So we could Skype with Vito every morning before we would head out for the day. That was important for us all, since this was the first time Ton and I left him to go on a trip abroad. (The last time I had left for a trip out of the country — the Tuscan Blogger Adventure — Ton stayed in Manila with Vito.)

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Dorsett Hotel Singapore queen bed

Next time, though, we can definitely bring Vito along since Dorsett Singapore is a family-friendly hotel. In fact, we noticed there were a few families who were at the hotel for an extended period, since it is a full-service residential hotel, too, with amenities like swimming pools (lapping and a whirlpool), gym, and business center.

Dorsett Hotel Singapore pool

We took a dip in the pool just before we left for the airport on our last day there.

Dorsett Hotel Singapore lobby

Booking your stay at the Dorsett Singapore is most convenient when you book through Agoda.com. We chose the Dorsett Singapore because the booking system on Agoda was convenient, informative, and helpful. The site has location and proximity maps so that you can look up your hotel’s locale and see what places of interest are nearby, what kind of transportation is most readily available, and approximate distances to and from the hotel. Love Agoda!

The Dorsett Singapore is located on 333 New Bridge Road, Chinatown, Singapore 088765. For bookings, visit Agoda.com’s Dorsett Hotel portal.

 

Your Questions About the Life-Bliss Weekend

Your Questions About the Life-Bliss Weekend

We’ve been busy preparing for the Life-Bliss Weekend, a unique out-of-town retreat for women who want to live meaningfully. We’re grateful for those who’ve signed up, but we realize that some might still be on the fence about signing up! We received some questions via email, and we decided it’s best to answer them through a blog post — so here we go! 🙂

To answer the question: Yes, you can blog from Casa Luminaria — see below?
However, we recommend that you use most of your time to EXPERIENCE the retreat, so that you’ll have LOTS to blog about after!

casa blogging

Some questions about the Life Bliss Weeekend

We asked our exuberant facilitator, Apa Alviar of The Exuberant You Consulting, to shed some more light on these email questions. Thanks, Apa!

1. Can you please explain what the life-bliss activity sessions are all about? What is going to happen in these sessions?

Apa: The Life Bliss weekend takes participants through the steps that will bring them to a deeper level of exuberance. Each of the sessions will guide them in understanding various aspects about themselves. Through carefully designed modules, they will pick up significant pieces from their history, objectively assess their present realities, and effectively craft their plans for the future.

In a spirit of acceptance, friendship, and support, participants will likewise jail the fears that hinder them from becoming truly exuberant in life.

 

2. Do we get to have personalized strategizing time with a coach?

The program is primarily designed for a small group of participants to ensure that any questions that they are comfortable raising during the event are optimally/ sufficiently addressed. The attendees will also be given individual activities where they may, albeit briefly, spend personal time with the facilitator.

The great news is that the participants who would like to avail of confidential one-on-one coaching sessions beyond the Life Bliss Weekend can avail of a special rate, which will be announced by The Exuberant Life Consultancy during the Life Bliss Weekend.

 

 

3. How can a retreat like this help someone like me? I am single, working, finding out how to make an impact as a small business owner.

The Life Bliss Weekend helps any woman re-discover the things what matter most to her. This rekindled passion will allow her to define success (not necessarily according to the world), identify barriers to her growth, and make solid commitments to achieve the life of exuberance that she longs for.

4. I’m a mom. Why will a mom like me benefit from this retreat?

It’s simple: Whether we’re single or married, or separated, or whatever: We all deserve a life of exuberance. When we embrace the process and take the simple steps to exuberance, we can make leaps in the way we relate with the people around us.

One of the principles that will be applied in the Life Bliss Weekend is that of Sowing and Reaping: In order to get the most out of the weekend, participants are encouraged to immerse themselves in the workshop and plant their realizations in their journals. The benefit is not just for them but for those around them.

Over the past few months, The Exuberant Life conducted similar workshops to over 400 participants, who declared that the changes they will make in their lives as a result of their attendance to the programs will positively impact and directly affect close to 10,000 family, friends, and colleagues, and clients.

Life Bliss Weekend - BENEFITS

5. Why does this kind of retreat have to be out of town? What’s the benefit of traveling to attend it?

Participants of the retreat will benefit the most by having time away from their usual environment, schedules (and distractions!). We chose this idyllic venue because it not only provides the respite from our daily grind; it will also be the backdrop where participants can commune with their inner selves to reach the milestone resolutions they need (in whatever life-stage they’re at).


6. This retreat seems expensive. Why is it priced this way just for one day?

Sometimes people just see an event like this as a two-day activity. Actually, we’re giving you a HUGE deal out of this retreat! What you don’t see are the weeks we invest in preparing the retreat materials, coaching tools, and creative activities. You don’t see the oculars we’ve done of the venue, or the marketing we do months and weeks before this event happens. So, all these are factored into the retreat.

But over all of that, you get these awesome inclusions:

Life Bliss Weekend WHAT YOU GET sign

 

Did we answer your questions about the Life Bliss Retreat? Remember to check our our Life Bliss Weekend Page for ALL the other information you need to know.