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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hooray for Out-of-the-Way Marina de Bay

marking their territory :D
 It all started with Phil and I looking through Agoda for a resort in Puerto Princesa, Palawan that could cost effectively accommodate a family of 6. While we were looking for cost-effective, we weren't looking for budget locales. Our research yielded Marina de Bay, a resort that offered a family executive villa that could fit all 6 of us, for less than the price of 2 standard rooms (which would have been the norm for a group our size).

 heading up leads you to the Fiesta Marina Restaurant

After confirming our Agoda bookings with Marina de Bay, I was surprised to get an email saying we had to pay for 2 of the kids (as one of our 4 kids wasn't able to come). To cut the long story short, we contacted Agoda and asked why we were paying for 2 more extra beds when our package was for 6 pax. Agoda gets in touch with them, resort says it was a misunderstanding, and our extra charges were waived.

Getting off at the wrong foot with our bookings, we were expecting the worst from Marina de Bay.

our villa's facade
Arriving at 9 in the morning, the resort driver, Manong Jess, promptly picks us up (by standing in front of the airport with a signboard for us to see). He informed us that the resort was 15-20 minutes away. As he drove on, he did a running commentary on the places of interest in the area.

It would be advisable to pick up snacks, toiletries and what have you on the way to the resort as there are a few snack choices offered in house in Marina (other than the stuff in their menu). Your preferred soda, chips and sweets may not/aren't available in the resort.

the menu at the Commodore Bar and Grill

The time going to the resort may have been cut into half had the local government built decent roads in the barangay (smallest administrative division in the Philippines) where the resort is located at. HOWEVER, once you get a glimpse of the bay and the mountains on the way to and surrounding the resort, you will forget to hate the government for their failure to create a paved road and a path made of dirt and filled with pot holes.

Commodore Bar and Grill p.2

I was concerned about our early arrival, as normally, hotels and resorts only allow checking in after 12 nn. Marina de Bay, at no additional cost to us, allowed us to do so before 10 am.

no Wifi and cable..bringing siblings closer together

Upon arrival, checking in was a breeze. They offered us complimentary welcome drinks and a cool face towel to freshen us up. Someone was promptly on hand to carry our belongings into our room.

our bed

Entering the villa, the kids went around exclaiming how much they loved the place! The room was well maintained, clean and did not look dated. Our queen sized trundle bed had one of those egg mattresses on top of the standard mattress (just like home), allowing a comfy night's sleep. The pillows were fluffy, not lumpy and more than enough.

a small closet and a couple of drawers made up our storage space
There was enough storage space in the closet for our stuff however the tv in the room only had 3 or 4 local channels. Wifi was weak in the room as well.

The bathroom had a toilet (with a bidet)  and a urinal. It also had a sliding door enclose tub and a shower that had a multi jet shower system.

Complimentary toiletries came in the form of shampoo in sachets and mini bars of germicidal soap.

The bathroom was nicely built with stone walls and flooring though. Towels were changed daily during the course of our stay.

You may want to wedge something to keep the door from totally closing in as there was no doorknob opening the door from the outside on our door

A lanai with an excellent view of the mangrove forest and bay behind the resort was accessible through a doorway on the far side of the room.

a good place to chill, eat or hang your wet clothes :D

A bamboo bench and small table allowed us to dine there whenever we'd get room service.

At the top of our bed is a loft with 3 more single beds. Perfect for the kids.

The A/C installed 3 feet above the main door is strong enough to circulate cold air in the room. A ceiling fan in the loft is there just in case the occupants would want the room to be much cooler.

breakfast buffets are available when the in hose guest totals 30 pa or more. Trust me the ala carte complimentay breakfast is waaaay better
 The resort houses 2 restaurants as well. One, in the main building, and the other, a "boathouse" may be found at the end of a long pier.

Commodore Bar and Grill

Both restaurants serve the same type of dishes found in the resort's extensive menu.

The boathouse and it's pier also enables you to fish and go karaoke without disturbing the current residents of the establishment.

you could go below deck and fish there
The food was a "hit or miss" experience. Must trys  and the not so good together with the full menu are featured in this blog entry : Rub a Dub Dub, Marina de Bay Grub.

Spa services are available in the premises. I got me the rejuvenating package on the 3rd day after all our tours around the city were done. The  masseuse had me so relaxed, I zoned out halfway through the massage :D The foot spa wasn't such a great idea considering I had scrapes and cuts from being swept into a bunch of corals in Starfish Island.

the view from the spa
A salt water pool, a jacuzzi and an infinity pool are also there, much to the delight of our family.

Getting transportation of the resort may prove to be a challenge. Luckily, they provide a shuttle service at 6 PM, should you want to dine elsewhere. The shuttle leaves for the resort at 8:30 PM too.

another interesting place for a meal, the gazebo in front of the main hotel building

Laundry services and transportation in and out of the resort during the day may also be arranged.

the M/V Virginia, a functional hotel building in the shape of a boat

Upon checkout, the Marina de Bay allowed us to check out at 4 PM as our flight was scheduled at 7. Again, no extra charge was forwarded and the resort's van, shuttled us out efficiently to the airport.

If you want to be in the hubbub of things, Marina de Bay is not for you.  However, as things mentioned above point out, Marina de Bay is a great place to see the beauty of Puerto Princesa without having to go far.

view from the boathouse

The lazy charm and activities in the resort were enough for a teenager, a tween and a toddler to not get cabin fever. It also came in handy in recharging our minds and bodies for the activities we signed up for in the borders of the city.

It's also a great place for romance and getting away from it all. BTW, Marina de Bay also arranges tours for the Underground River, a look at the city and island hopping in Honda Bay. No info though on how they are as we had pre booked with another travel agency ahead of time .

For more info, visit their website here.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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