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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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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Was Cebu 2015? ( 1 of 4 series) : The Mandarin Plaza Hotel Review

there's a crosswalk under the flyover. Here we are, a 2 minute walk away from Ayala, with the hotel in the background

Coming back to Cebu for an out of town Christmas Party/Phil's law school batch mates' reunion is perhaps one of the best reasons to head out to the Queen City of the South. At least, it was on our part.

Upon the recommendation of a friend (and Cebu resident), we opted to book in the Mandarin Plaza across Ayala for our 7N and 8D stay. Even with a day trip to Oslob and an overnight stay at Bantayan Island, we pretty much used this hotel as our jump off point for everything.

I have to warn you, this post is not laden with pics, but I do guarantee that on a scale of 5 stars, with 5 being the highest, we rated this place at 4.6 average. Here's why:

polished floors, immaculately clean beds, fixtures and furnishing - a norm here

1. SERVICE: everyone we dealt with was pleasant and quite knowledgeable about our concerns and queries. From the guards, the front desk and restaurant staff to even the bell boys. On our final day, where a very early check out was needed, we asked if the kitchen could pack something for us. The hotel resto opens at 6 am and availing the complementary breakfast was totally impossible for us. We ended up receiving take out from McDonald's and complementary bottled water. Not exactly from them, but they still managed to produce breakfast, at NO extra cost. 5/5

UNPACKING TIME. The room along with the bathroom (with it's huge bathtub and toilet) is also quite clean.

2. CLEANLINES and AMENITIES: Kid or no kid, this one is a top criteria. I had no issues with this in the hotel except maybe for the fresh towels. For sure, we'd get them, appearance wise, in pristine conditions. My issue had something to do with the smell of the towels. Despite being laundered, there was this hint of some stale cigarette smoke odor that I'd get from it, making me think that they don't segregate the laundry from the smoking and non-smoking rooms. I didn't raise my concern as our room was always cleaned and straightened out when we'd get back. The lobby, elevators restaurant and everything else we saw was dust free and in order. Unrelated to cleanliness, the duvet covers are a bit short, so if you plan to use em as blankets, you could end up with cold feet at night. I'm not that tall at 5'6", but I still found them a bit on the short side.

As for the other stuff, there's a bar and a restaurant (so-so), a fitness center and pool (didn't get to visit) and a small parking area for guests. 4/5

the castle looking structure is The Waterfront Hotel. Should ou feel like heading out to the casino, this one's a short cab ride away

the hotel across us (view from our room)

3. LOCATION: right along Cardinal Rosales Ave., it's the prefect location if you want to be in the city center.  It's also a stone's throw away from Cebu's Ayala Center  making shopping, re stocking up on toiletries, medicine or bottled water, soooo easy. The transport terminal is also right across (actually a part of Ayala), that trying to commute in and around the metro won't be an ish. Cabdrivers know where this hotel is at, so no need to print out maps. From the airport to the Mandarin Plaza (as with most hotels in the city), expect to cough up around 250 PHP for a white metered taxi fare. Anything higher than an additional 50 pesos or someone saying you the fare should be double, (happened to one of our friends who flew in to join the reunion/out of town party) is highway robbery. 5/5

whatever food preference you have, there's bound to be a little of everything at the breakfast buffet

4. RESTAURANT/ROOM SERVICE & MENU: the complementary breakfast was, if anything, quite varied with some staples thrown in such as fruit, breads, white rice white, bacon and kimchi . Given our week long stay, none of the food items 'cept the staples, were repeated. Quite a feat. Some were quite good, some so-so, all depending on what was served that morning. As the hotel seems to be blessed with a lot of bookings, almost always, the breakfast area is filled up. This and servers having to refill chafing dishes in a 30 minute period is the norm. Come real early (6 am) or bordering on closing time (10 am), and you'll definitely get a seat.

a breakfast staple: Congee. The condiments vary though.

there's always some sort of pasta or noodles. Today it was pasta Alfredo, with the bacon and eggs as the staples.

plain rice (topped with crunchy garlic from the congee station), beef tapa and calamari

The room service menu is quite short but varied. Portions are just right, and the priciest meal you can order off it is around 300 pesos. Food arrives within 15 minutes of ordering and is bound to charged with an extra 10% service charge. Room service meals were quite decent, where MAX became a fan of their corned beef. Fries are quite small portioned but overall, a-ok. 4/5

5. VALUE FOR MONEY: I'm sure there are cheaper options, but for the price we paid per night, we booked a day ahead of our arrival, so we could check in early in the morning the next day. We also retained our room, leaving the stuff we didn't need, for our overnight stay in Bantayan Island. Yes, it is affordable and quite reasonable at that. 5/5

Overall: We'd probably book this hotel in our next trip back to Cebu. 

FYI: They have strict rules on bringing in dried seafood and strong smelling items inside the hotel. No worries though. The guard will make you leave your smelly finds at the guard station, with the proper tags and claim stubs. 

BTW, there's a pool on the 3rd floor that we didn't get to visit. Suffice it to say, our trip was quite eventful and down times were spent resting. For more on the hotel, please visit this link.

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

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