Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Top of the Strip - Stratosphere Casino and Tower Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada

8:38:00 PM

Old experience (3 years ago to be exact. You've been warned LOL) but I just want to share this. I remembered with my recent post about The Peninsula Manila so I figured, why not share the other hotels I've been to. You may want to proceed with the idea that the experience was 3 years ago so there might have been changes. 

It was my first time at Las Vegas, but I'm in charge of booking everything for the trip. So after several days of googling, and checking the budget, I finally decided on The Stratosphere. Jie also agreed, especially when we saw the cost of Php 9,800 for 6 nights. Who wouldn't be tempted? We booked through Agoda for this trip. (I checked the rates just now, and for the same period, Agoda gave me Php6,500 for 6 nights! Wow.)

So how was this hotel given the price? Hmmm :)

Stratosphere from afar

Stratosphere is located at the south of the Strip, opposite end from the Las Vegas welcome sign. If you want to be part of the nightly action, then  you may want to reconsider staying in this hotel. All the other famous ones (MGM, Mandalay, Linq, Harrah's, etc) are in the opposite side. Stratosphere is quite a long walk away. Though Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps, we felt that we were not in the center of the action.

How far from the previous hotel

According to Wikipedia, Stratosphere is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. It stands at 1,148 ft so it is still an experience to stay here.

The room we booked through Agoda was actually nice. It came with a king size bed, tables and chairs in case you would want to dine in room. The bathroom though is quite different as the sink is inside the room, not in the bathroom. So expect your room mate to see all your nightly rituals LOL

Sink just beside the bathroom
A big feature of the hotel is their attractions on top of the tower.

Air Bar
Air Bar is located at the top, before reaching the observation deck and the rides, yes the rides. The Air Bar is at 896 ft high above the air where you would be able to look at the Vegas Strip while getting drunk.

They encourage drinking and riding the attractions

one of the tables in the bar

One of the doors announcing how high you are where you are currently standing

The view

Us, enjoying our drinks

On top of the Air Bar is the open air observation deck. This also the way to the rides on top of the tower.
The view. You can see from the far right one of the rides
I am not very sure of the names of the rides because I did not even consider riding.  But I know you can try bungee jumping from the tower, plus the other 2 below.

One of the rides

All in all? Staying at Stratosphere is an experience. The hotel is a more affordable option when staying at The Strip. There are buses along the boulevard so getting to and from the other locations is not that hard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Manila Peninsula Membership

4:26:00 AM
We recently renewed our membership with The Peninsula Manila. We initially decided that we would no longer renew this, but when our agent called us again to inquire, we decided that the perks are still worth it. 

The package recently came and I just want to share the perks of being a member of this luxurious hotel. 

Package arrived in a black box, and inside contained a leather card holder. It contains the Peninsula Card, Global Privilege Card and all the discount coupons that came with the membership. 

With welcome remarks from the general manager

Below are the privileges of being a member*:

  1. To dine in any HOTEL restaurant on a complimentary basis on the condition that he/she is dining with at least one other person.
  2. A twenty percent (20%) discount off the total food & beverage bill in Salon de Ning.
  3. Special rate in a Superior Room, inclusive of buffet breakfast for two (2) adults and two (2) children at Escolta.
  4. 20% discount off the total Food & Beverage bill at The Bar.

·        20% discount off the price of all itemsSpa Benefits on Presentation of Membership Card
·        15% discount off the published price of the annual Spa Membership Fee.
·        10% discount off the regular menu price for treatments & packages at The Peninsula Spa.
5. The Flower Shop Benefit on Presentation of Membership Card
·        15% discount off the published price of bouquets at the Flower Shop.
 6. Laundry & Dry Cleaning Benefits on Presentation of Membership Car
·        15% discount off HOTEL laundry & dry cleaning services.
7. Certificates
Dining Certificates
                                   Lunch or Dinner Buffet for Two in Escolta Compliments of The Peninsula Manila
Celebration Cake Compliments of The Peninsula Manila – 2lb cake
Sunday Brunch Celebrations in Escolta for Four to Twelve Persons – 50% off the bill
Weekday Lunch or Dinner in Escolta for Four to Twelve Persons– 50% of the bill
Complimentary Bottle of Wine of the Month when dining with 4 or more persons
Weekend Lunch or Dinner in Spices Restaurant for Four to Twelve Persons – 50% off
Set Lunch or Dinner in Old Manila for Four Persons – 50% of the bill
Member for a Day Compliments of The Peninsula Manila (3 certificates)
Complimentary Bottle of Peninsula NV Deutz Champagne for a Party of Four or more at Salon de Ning
Afternoon buffet for 2
·        Accommodation Certificates
                                     One Night of Superior Room Accommodation with buffet breakfast
 40% off Peninsula Premiere Room Rate for a stay of up to three (3) consecutive nights
 Weekend Buy One Take One in a Premier Suite Room 

The membership currently costs about Php9000. Feels kinda steep but we also feel that availing of the following can already compensate the cost:
  • free overnight accommodation with buffet breakfast (About Php6,000, buffet breakfast at Php1,600 each)
  • buffet dinner for 2 (weekend seafood dinner Php 2,800 each)
  • complimentary cake (Php 2,000?) 
  • afternoon buffet (Php2,100 each for the Filipino Merienda Buffet) 
Above cost is already at Php 21,000, not to mention the other benefits not availed yet.

When booking, Peninsula staff usually recommends to book for weekend dinners (seafood buffet) or afternoon teas (Filipino merienda) which were the more satisfying options. 

And oh, you also get additional benefits once you reach certain amount at the hotel or referred members. So just let me know if I need to hook you up with our agent (wink-wink). 

*Note, as with all promotions, that terms and conditions apply. There are also black out dates like Christmas, New Year, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc, 

UPDATE!!!! July 2019
We have just renewed our Manila Peninsula Membership Card! Yey! This is our 5th renewal, I think. 

Our current card will actually expire next month, but our agent called us and urged us to renew in advance as they would be implementing changes. I am not aware of all the changes that will happen but what they initially told us is they might be limiting (or removing altogether?) the complimentary night. Oh no!

They urged us to get / renew a membership as they are limiting the complimentary night vouchers for the succeeding year. I hope it was just a sales strategy for us to renew in advance LOL!

Anyway, you might want to avail earlier, if you are still considering availing of the membership. 😁

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Splendid Weekend - Splendido Tagaytay

2:26:00 AM
It was one of those weekends where we had a spur of the moment decision to go to Tagaytay. I immediately went to my go to booking site Agoda and checked available hotels for that weekend. We decided to book 2 rooms at Splendido because it was cheap at Php2200. The room cost came with buffet breakfast for 2.

Going to the hotel that Saturday, this was our landmark. It was a steep drive down going to the hotel.

The Country Club

Checking in was a breeze. Staff were friendly. They even have cookies, juice and coffee at the lobby.  

The lobby contains sofa sets so guests can be comfortable while waiting.
When we arrived at the room, we were pleasantly surprised given the cost. It came with two double beds. I tried to request for one big bed but they told me that I booked for twin sharing. (I am not sure if all the rooms are actually for twin sharing. We went back again weeks after, this time getting 3 rooms, and we all got twin sharing rooms). 

Each room also had a mini-bar, ref and TV with Cignal cable. 

The bathroom came with a tub.

Toiletries were made from Australia
The 2 rooms we got had balconies with mountainside view. There is also an option to get the one with the lakeside view. We also realized when we booked again later on that not all rooms have balconies. So perhaps it can be requested during checking in, though we never asked.
The balcony

View from the balcony

The country club can be seen from our room's balcony
All the amenities were in the other building. One can request to be brought there and the staff will bring you using their cart. One can also opt to walk but be sure to ready your leg muscles. It would be a steep walk.

Amenities include gym, swimming pool, kiddie pool and  kiddie playground. There is also a billiard table, table tennis and bowling alleys. There are additional costs for playing billiards and bowling. There is also a small shop which sells swimsuits and some toiletries.

The swimming pool for those who want to brave the Tagaytay breeze.

The cart that would bring you to the Country Club and back to the hotel
We guess the only downside to the place is the lack of options for restaurants. One may choose to dine there but options are limited. We had to bring the cars and drive back up to the city proper for dinner.

All in all, Splendido is a cheap staycation option when in Tagaytay. Of course, this assumes that booking is through Agoda. One can also book through their website : though when I checked, price varies from Php 3,800 to Php 5,500 per night. I suggest to check both options or other booking sites.

Keep in mind though that the place is for those who have their own vehicles as it is quite a drive going to and from the hotel.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Plaza Mocha, Paniqui Tarlac

1:37:00 AM
I accompanied JA on a business trip in Tarlac a few days back. We left Muntinlupa at around 9am and arrived in Paniqui Tarlac at 12 noon. We did not stop by any of the food options along the North Luzon Express Way (NLEX), choosing instead to eat in the Paniqui to save time. We were supposed to be in the area by 1:30 pm for an appointment.

We arrived at Paniqui Tarlac at a little after 12 noon. We drove around a bit to check where we can have our lunch. We passed by Plaza Mocha which was about a street away from the municipal hall, and decided to try the place.

The interior was nice, with a combination of booths and coffee tables. There is a counter where one can order. Menu is also on the wall. I think the place is mostly a coffee shop because they have several drinks and coffee options. Its too bad it was too hot at the time, plus we were hungry, thus we opted for their full meals instead.

I allowed JA  to order for both of us and he originally thought that each meal was good for one, when in fact the servings were actually quite big. We ended up having too much on our table hahaha

We ordered their best seller salad salad with passion fruit vinaigrette (P160), which was actually good. I liked the vinaigrette which was sweet. 

JA also ordered their Savory Baby Back Ribs (P265). The dish arrived with 2 big slabs of ribs, which was actually good for both us. I think he did not see that it was good for two! Hahaha!  

JA also ordered their grilled tuna, which we asked to be wrapped because we were already so full with the ribs. We were able to eat it though later in the day, on our way home. The dish was also good. The accompanying sauces complemented the  tuna well. 

They also gave us complimentary fries which they said was their best seller. I am not sure why but we accepted it and thanked the server. I think an order costed P125, I am just not sure how big a full order is. (And yes, because we were already full, we also had it wrapped.)

I think the place was quite popular with the locals. We left at around 1 pm and people were still coming in, and some were already waiting for seats.

If you happen to find yourself near the area, I would definitely suggest to try the place.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Little one's first birthday

6:23:00 PM

I can't believe time flew that quickly. Just like that and my little one (LO)  JEEA is one year old. Her birthday falls on a February and I started planning by December. I was thinking that after the holiday festivities, I would run out of time to prepare for her birthday.

I was googling a lot of venues and checking reviews. I had a lot of considerations:
Shall we hold it in Makati? We live in Muntinlupa but we have visitors who would be coming from the north.
  • Who would style the venue?
  • Which caterer?
  • What style of cake? I have a baker in mind already. And a design based on my theme
  • Kaya ko ba mag DIY? 
  • Literally, hay. Ang daming kailangan isipin. 
Come January and I have not crossed off anything in my to-do list.  But i have read a lot of sites and reviews (Perhaps I should create a post regarding that.) I have to decide on the venue before I can move. The venue would actually dictate a lot of the next steps.

Finally, following the advise of my friends and my husband, I settled on the clubhouse of the condominium of where we live. That would be most convenient for us since we can just go to our unit in case we need something. Plus, its the most practical of all options.

Second is the caterer. I already have a caterer in mind and it's just a matter of choosing the menu.

Third, the event stylist or at least who would decorate the venue. I had my eyes on an events company and already approached them for their quotation. My only concern is they would be coming from Manila. @jie_golo cautioned me that since they would be coming from afar, it might stress me out if they would be late. But I so wanted thema sana. Hay.

So I googled again for a nearby supplier, read reviews, joined supplier groups. Of all those I checked, NicPatJan seemed interesting. I asked for a quotation and agreed to meet one Saturday.

My chosen theme is "You are my sunshine" as we feel that JEEA has actually filled our lives with so much sun and laughter. I informed NicPatJan about this and we were pleasantly surprised that Ma'am Gina, the owner, showed some ideas when we first met. She also informed me that they can do catering, tables and chairs, photobooth, the works!

@jie_golo and I decided to try them out and ask for a package quotation for the whole event. I just chose which ones I wanted and this included the following:

  • catering + kiddie meal
  • decor
  • magician / host
  • photo booth rental
  • candy buffet
  • chocolate fountain
  • tokens
  • photo coverage
  • 2 layer fondant cake
For the food, we had a food tasting of 2 of the dishes two weeks prior to the party. We paid the downpayment, and the full payment one day before the party. 

On the day of the party, they started their set-up at 9 am, the party was scheduled at 3 pm. 
I would let the pictures speak for them for their set-up. 

My first year frame provided by JEEA's godmother when she was born

For the cake, I already have a baker in mind but she was due for a trip on the week prior to the party and would be back a day or two before the party. She declined as she might not be able to finish it. Fortunately, NicPatJan can also provide cakes. Mam Gina mentioned that her daughter can bake it. This is what I showed them to try to copy. It was a design from Delana's cakes. For the sun topper, we told them to just use whatever sun they would be using for the decor so it would be consistent. They can also simplify the details.

This is what they came out with. I was actually pretty impressed.  For the cake itself, it was very moist with caramel inside. I loved it as it tasted like dark chocolate, which I love, and was very rich! Siksik. The sun though was just printed on thick paper. But we were okay with that.

For the food, I have to be honest but it was simple. Lutong bahay. I did not hear super great raves. But I did hear that their caldereta, relyenong bangus and chicken teriyaki were good. I also noticed that their mixed veggies contained a lot of quail eggs LOL! 

Bami - combination of canton and bihon
Beef caldereta
chicken teriyaki

releyenong bangus

mixed vegetables

buko pandan

They had a different set for the kiddos: I chose spaghetti, chicken lollipop and puto for them. 
kiddie spaghetti


chicken lollipop
We briefed the magician that there were only a few kids. And there were more seniors in the audience than kids haha! So his jokes and games should cut across. We think he did a good job considering all the laughter we heard for his performance especially the puppet show. 

My verdict with all these? Over all good party
But the important thing for me is to make the event memorable. And it is. Because we were surrounded with the people we love, all there for JEEA's first birthday :)




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