Category Archives: Local

DUSIT THANI DAVAO: AN OASIS IN DAVAO

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Ever since Davao’s downtown traffic became unbearable, I was always looking for a tranquil place to stay whenever I would come home to Davao. Now I have found the place – Dusit Thani Hotel in Lanang, Davao City.
If you are looking for a hotel with a view, this isn’t the hotel for you. If you want a place that is away from the traffic and noise of downtown Davao, then this is the perfect place. If you really want a view and the sea, ask for their Davao Beach Club or their partner resorts like Lubi Resorts in Samal Island.
Check-in was a breeze. It is usually during check-in and check-out that a hotel screws up its reputation. I was impressed with the speed and service that the front desk gave me. I felt welcomed like I was a returning guest, albeit it was my first time. Check out was also quick. I can only suggest that the issuance of an official receipt should be automatic.
The room was ample, and the bathroom was even more spacious. And what I thought was very special was the fire extinguisher in the room. I do not remember any hotel in my recent trips that had a big fire extinguisher inside the room. It was placed behind a stand aesthetically built for the purpose. That sends an exceptional message to the guest – your comfort and safety are important to us.
The amenities were complete, although it was a bit difficult to open the cap of the toothpaste. It’s either my age or the fact that the cap was smooth, and my hands were wet. The hairdryer was a serious one – I am sure my wife will appreciate that kind of a hairdryer. The shower space was generous, and the hot shower option was “kind.” By “kind” I mean you do not get the scalding hot water spewed as you try out the water controls.
There were more than enough towels. I was just confused about the towel that was hung on the handle of the shower cubicle. I thought it was the foot towel. It was actually the bath towel. The foot towel can be found in the cupboard beneath the water sink.
I am also particular with the TV and internet facilities. As I bring along my movies, I always look for a TV set that either has AirPlay for my Mac devices or is placed in a way that I can reach for the HDMI slots behind the TV. Dusit’s room TV is not only smart but is also conveniently placed on the wall. It was easy to pull out the TV to plug my HDMI cable. The internet speed was also excellent.
I had lunch and breakfast in the Madayaw Cafe. Over lunch, I had the Ginataang Seafood, which was savory and delicious.
The boneless bangus and dangit caught my attention at the breakfast buffet the following day. On both occasions, I noticed something consistent: the rice. Perfectly cooked, I reckon it was jasmine rice. I loved its “stickiness,” and it had just the right whiteness and consistency. It was a perfect companion to my ginataang seafood and boneless bangus. It was definitely not good for my diet.
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For breakfast, the coffee was patiently brewed and pressed for each patron. It was a nice touch. The coffee itself was also excellent. I wonder if they roasted their own coffee beans. Nothing beats a cup of hot fresh coffee in the morning.
For merienda, I had coffee and pastries with my mother and cousin in the Dusit Gourmet. This is a small cafe with a wide choice of bread and pastries. I had the ube ensaymada and a cup of coffee. I think the bakery department should do something about the ensaymada. The consistency itself was not really ensaymada. And the butter icing on tap was too much. On the other hand, my mother enjoyed her chicken pie.
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It was unfortunate that the Benjarong Bar and Restaurant was closed for lunch. As this is a Thai hotel chain, this prime restaurant should have been open for lunch. As I had to leave just after breakfast, I did not have the chance to savor the Thai dishes of Benjarong.
I did not have the chance to linger in the hotel’s Lounge. Although small, it has a small conference room for business meetings with a big TV screen. And the breakfast buffet was just right – not too many choices but enough to fill a businessman’s stomach on a busy day.
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While all these facilities, amenities, and food are great, what makes Dusit Davao a great place to stay are the people. The demeanor of the staff reminds me of the politeness and friendliness of the Thais. All over the place, people smile, greet you, and you get a feeling they are always ready to help.
This is now my default hotel in Davao.

RESTAURANT REVIEWS: MACTAN, CEBU

I have been reviewing restaurants for a number of years now. TripAdvisor ranks me high among their contributors. I use a pseudonym in TripAdvisor although I believe this is not really necessary when I travel abroad. However when I am in the country, it helps to be anonymous when I write about restaurants and hotels. Just recently I was in Cebu and I have these to say about a number of restaurants I visited.

The Cowrie Cove at Mactan Shangri La

Their happy hour is “buy one take one.” And it’s from 5-7 PM. After that they have DJ music.As a Shangrila outlet the bar pulls no stops to offer the best only a Shangrila can offer. So you can order almost anything you want. The appetizers are a bit limiting though. And at P500, their “kinilaw” is a bit too high considering the serving is very small.But with beautiful people around, a nice night view of the shoreline and especially on a moonlit night, allow yourself to chill a bit in this piece of expensive heaven.

The Oriental Spice Gourmet

First, Mary Ann, the wife of the Chef-owner Cyril looks after what you want and need. We were going to be a group of 30 and she went through the menu with us, the host. We discussed the variety as well as the number of dishes as well as how much spice to put in the dishes. Her advise and suggestion was perfect. There was hardly any food left. And we enjoyed the meal at a cost that was one of the most reasonable I had ever paid.

The dishes served were excellent. It was, of course, less spicy than what it would have been, but still the dishes were really good. Topping among the dishes were we was the fish sambal. Make sure you make this as a priority to order. Second is the nasi goreng, or fried rice. This ensures that anyone on a diet will breaking his/her diet. My suggestion to them will be to stick to the authentic taste and “spiciness” of the dishes. My mistake was to ask them to hold back on this “spiciness.” So the curry lacked the kick I was looking for.

The restaurant has no wines. I didn’t ask but maybe one can bring some rieslings to match the Asian dishes. This was the only missing ingredient in what is probably one of the best Asian food restaurant in the country.

If you come to Cebu, go straight to this restaurant as soon as you land, or before you leave. This is a, definitely, a must-visit restaurant in Cebu.

These are only two of the many places I went to in Cebu the last two weeks. More of my reviews to come.

In the meantime, here’s a good read on innovations in restaurants:

Innovation in Restaurant Design

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here…I hope I will have more time to dabble in more interesting things in life.