Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Pros and Cons of "Cheap-ass" Vacation

This is my first time to do this! As a travel writer, I've been to resorts (both high-end and low-end) and it's been quite a thrill and I've been writing good reviews about the resorts I've been to. But this is my first time to actually write a negative comment on a resort.

As a beach lover, I've been very keen on resort details, I'm not hard to please, but I just hope that the price justifies the service/amenities. All I need is the basic stuff, like a nice bed, a decent and clean bathroom, aircon (not really a must), and a nice beach. But sometimes, when you find all of these things together in a resort, it usually results to a very pricey vacation.

But Coconut Hills Beach Resort in Bauan, Batangas, tested our patience. Mariko and I were able to find a very affordable beach resort despite the influx of Holy Week road warriors. Since Batangas is such an easy place to get to, we had a hard time finding vacant rooms. Mariko and I researched on the resort, and the pictures and the website offered really nice information. It was almost-perfect because of the amenities, or so we thought! Before I get on the bad stuff here are pics of Cocounut Hills Beach Resort, so you guys could understand how disappointed we were of the place.

The view from our window

The pool and the other rooms

The beach

The Fish Sanctuary

Nice isn't it? But it's just that. It's pretty cool for taking pictures, actually but the service, on a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a -5. That's how bad it is, here's why:

1. The website gives this map, for those who've seen it, it seems so simple. Or so we thought (again!). The drive going to Bauan was pretty smooth. But we kept getting lost because the people in the resort can't even give us freaking directions. It was weird because they're supposed to be from there but they can't give us clear directions. The getting lost pat was pretty bearable, although I was quickly losing my temper. The bad part was the resort missed out on information, crucial information on what you and your friends/family would have to pass through before getting there.

When Mariko talked to the resort owner she said we'd be passing through a HILL. But when we got to the HILL, it was really a mountain with super narrow and winding roads. Matarik. I don't think there's a direct English translation for that. My poor baby Huey had to endure that ride. Finally, we saw the end of the HILL, and we were able to park.

2. Bad comment 2. The room was cute. It was like an "attic" type of room. It's got two beds, good enough for 2 if you guys aren't the malikot type. But like 10 minutes after arriving, power shut down. The excuse they gave us was that they had to switch generators because it would overheat. Ok fine! One power shut down is fine, but it happened several times within our stay. It's ok if it was a cool day, but the heat was just too much to take, and not having aircon was just the shiznit!

3. Bad comment number 3. Dinner time, we were starving. We swam in the pool, and the last time we ate was lunch time at McDo at the town proper of Bauan. So we were all hungry. Mariko, Tita Mavic, Ate Lemar, and Peggy all ordered inihaw na manok. I ordered carbonara. Because we were talking and just lounging around, we didn't notice how long it took for the food to arrive, at first. But then day turned into night LITERALLY! It took about 2 hours for the food to arrive and it tasted like crap. My carbonara was salty, and their inihaw na manok was hellah small. It was like we waited for THIS! And the price was over the top. The inihaw na manok cost P190 and my carbonara P180. For P190 we could have had McDo and ordered 3 cheeseburger meals! Mahal na nga ang tagal pa ng antay! Nakakagalit talaga!

It's a good thing their breakfast was really, really good! I had an American breakfast with ham, toasted bread, and egg. It was delicious. Had we known that their breakfast was way better than what we ate the night before, we would've ordered it for dinner!

4. The next day we were preparing for our departure. Since they wanted to take a dip at the pool first, I decided to go ahead and take a bath already. So I got my stuff, but then when I got to the bathroom, THERE WAS NO WATER! I opened the sliding door, which serves as a "balcony", overlooking the pool, and I shouted at Mariko who was at the pool: "KOKS WALANG TUBIG!". I talked to the staff and they said they were going to send someone to take a look at it. After like 15 minutes of waiting, I asked another staff and she said that someone had already knocked on our door. I was inside waiting, no one freagen knocked! Mariko talked to the owner and she said that the tank will take time to get filled up with water because people had started checking out all at the same time. Not wanting to wait for the tank to fill up, me and Mariko decided to shampoo our hair at the poolside shower.

5. This last complaint is not about the resort anymore but the parking area. It says on their signboard that for an overnight stay you'd have to pay the attendant P100. So I gave the lady P100 but then she asks for P50 more. Her excuse was that it was already 1PM. Overnight lang daw, so she had to take it literally.

I know this is a lot to take in. But if you guys decide to go to Batangas, I suggest you go to Laiya or the usual beach spots there. It's a good thing we had fun! Although I must say the FISH SANCTUARY was absolutely beautiful. There were lots of fishies! That was the highlight of our overnight stay. It's a good thing Mariko rented that boat.

Oh and a tip with regards to the boat, don't ask the resort about an island hopping tour. Just go by yourself and look for boatmen. It's still a bit pricey, but at least it's much lower than what the resort offered. Mariko said that the resort offered like P2800 for a group of 15. When we talked to the boatmen, they gave P1500 with unlimited hours.

So yeah, there are more cons than pros. But hey! At least we were able to swim in the sea and see fishes. It was an ok experience, it's a good thing I was in good company or else I would've flipped.

To Coconut Hills Beach Resort, please fix your website, your service, and your resort. Mariko was saying it had promise, because it did have promise. But if your staff isn't as ready to serve people, and your generators conk out on you, and your tank can't keep up with people taking a bath all at the same time, then you won't have a great business. Actually, you won't have business AT ALL. Tell people about that ridiculous climb up that mountain. Inform them that they should bring a 4x4 and not a regular sedan. If you offer really nice service/amenities, no matter how hard it is to get there, people will come, and COME BACK. But with what we experienced, there is NO WAY IN HELL I'm going back there!

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