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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: Courtyard by Marriott Bali Seminyak

It was the last two days of my month-long Southeast Asia trip, and I've had the privilege of spending it at the newly-opened Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak

I traveled from Ubud, and despite being new, my taxi driver didn't have a hard time finding the hotel. It's located just a few minutes away from Seminyak Beach and high-end beach clubs, and a stone's throw away from restaurants, shops, ATMs and foreign exchange.

As if going through airport security, security officers and a K9 inspected the taxi thoroughly. Guests were also required to pass through a metal detector, and the bags, through the scanner. I noticed this is a standard in Marriott properties as guests' safety and security is of utmost importance.


The cheerful staff welcomed me, and offered a welcome drink and cold towel. Check-in was quite a breeze too. 

By the way, if you're a Marriott Rewards member staying at selected Marriott properties, you can skip the queue by checking-in/out through the Marriott Mobile App. How cool is that?

Pool Bar
Didn't mind waiting because I had this view

I arrived earlier than the official check-in time, and had to wait a bit for the room to be ready. While waiting, Melinda, one of the front desk associates, chatted with me and shared some info about the hotel. We also talked briefly about my trip.

Immediately noticeable from the lobby is the Pool Bar. 

If you think the pool is small, well, think again. It's actually a three-tiered pool with a lagoon-shaped main pool in the middle, and a more shallow, almost wading pool-like part towards the end, which is perfect for kids.

I arrived on a very sunny day, and the pool was glistening. The bright blues looked so inviting it made me want to jump in.
Wading pool with daybeds

I was given a room on the 'upper ground floor'. Like most rooms, it has a private balcony overlooking the pools. Not satisfied with just a view of the pool? You may also book rooms with pool access.

The room may be modest in size, but the amenities are complete.

I love the clean lines and the freshness that the room exudes. It's simple, but tastefully decorated. 

The closet, though small, has ample space for your things. Bathrobes, slippers, and electronic safe are also found inside the closet.

The writing desk has a number of universal power outlets, and was easily my favorite spot. I spent most of my time here catching up with work. I just wish there was more space between the desk and the closet as it could be a nuisance sometimes.

The complimentary WiFi was fast, and didn't require the usual annoying alphanumeric password. You just need to enter your room number, your last name, and voila! 

Natural fibers were incorporated in some of the furnishings to somehow give the room a tropical vibe.
Of course there's the usual coffee and tea making facility, mini bar, and complimentary bottled water that were replenished daily. 

The bathroom was spotless and very spacious - almost half the size of the room, actually. 

It has a separate toilet and bath, and the bath is fitted with a rainshower head, which is always a plus point in my book. 

Toiletries, grooming kit, and towels were aplenty, and were replenished/replaced daily.  

Buffet breakfast is served at Seminyak Kitchen which has a casual and cafe-like feel.  

They serve fresh salads, cold cuts, cereals, eggs, noodles, and Indonesian and Western fare among others. My favorites are the freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit juices, and ice cream. And, get this, they serve breakfast all day

Seminyak Kitchen

Since I have an early morning flight back to Manila, I decided to pre-arrange the airport service with the hotel. And when the front desk staff found out that I need to check out by 5:00 am and wouldn't make it to the buffet breakfast, they made sure I'll have a breakfast box ready when I check out. They filled it with Danish pastries and bottles of fruit juices. It was a really sweet and thoughtful gesture that I have never experienced anywhere else. :)

Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak successfully blends the comfort and security of a hotel, the playful yet relaxed ambience of a resort, and the personalized service of a bed and breakfast. 

What it lacks in Balinese design, it makes up for in Balinese hospitality.

It was definitely a sweet ending to my trip.


~~ I was hosted by Courtyard by Marriott Bali, Seminyak for 2 nights, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Jalan Camplung Tanduk No 103 SP,
Dhyana Pura, Seminyak, Bali, 80361 Indonesia 
Tel: +62 361 8499 600

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page  and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Villa Maydou, Luang Prabang

When the tuktuk driver dropped me off at a temple, I thought he brought me to the wrong place. 

A group of Germans then approached the same tuktuk driver, so I asked them if I was indeed at Villa Maydou. They assured me I was in the right place, and pointed me towards the reception inside a two-story house with the numbers 1936 inscribed on the facade.

This signage was on the other side facing the road to Nam Khan Bridge.
The tuktuk driver dropped me off inside this temple's compound.

Tucked between a temple and the Nam Khan bridge, Villa Maydou is located in a quiet area a bit off from the city center

It's sort of a compound with 5  traditional Lao houses separated by lush gardens for privacy. 

I immediately fell in love with the ambience!
One of the 5 traditional Lao houses
Pathway to the restaurant
Lovely seating area near the reception
Bikes guests can use free of charge

I arrived earlier than the check-in time so I had to wait until the room was ready. While waiting, I was served freshly-squeezed pineapple juice. 

My room was on the second floor
My own veranda

I was booked in a pool view room, which is part of 2 new additional buildings. 

I had a veranda with couch and plush pillows where I had - as the name implies - a view of the saltwater swimming pool.

Double doors and windows with elegant French cremone bolts added a bit of flair to the rustic room. 

Dark wood flooring, cream-colored walls, and jewel tone accents adorn the room.

I enjoyed walking around barefoot (even though there were slippers provided), but the creaking sound of the wooden flooring made me worried that I might be disturbing the guests downstairs.

The bed was decked in beautiful Laotian tapestry.

The room was spacious with high ceiling, and plenty of windows which allow for natural light into the room. 

The usual amenities are present like flat screen TV with cable channels, air conditioning unit, telephone, cabinet, and personal refrigerator. 

There's also a working desk with enough power outlets for your electronics.

The WiFi can be unreliable -- abysmal, to be honest (as is mostly the case in Luang Prabang), but it wasn't really a big deal for me at the time because I just wanted to relax after traveling for 2 days on a slowboat.

I had to use the AEE camera just to get a whole shot of the bathroom because it was a tad small. I wish they made it bigger given the large size of the room.

The tub doubles as the shower space. And even though there's a shower curtain, the water from the shower inevitably splashes onto it, and eventually spills on the floor. 

Other than that, the room was fine for me. 

You can only hear the sound of crickets at night.

They serve a good breakfast set, too, which consists of eggs, ham, a bread basket with spreads, fresh fruits (in season), coffee, and fresh fruit juice.

L: Lemon Butter Chicken for dinner (room service); R: breakfast set

The Laotian staff are courteous and nice, but you have to be patient when making some requests because of their limited English proficiency.

Overall, I would recommend Villa Maydou for travelers looking for a relaxing stay in Luang Prabang.


~~ I was hosted by Villa Maydou for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Ban Meuna - Luang Prabang
Tel: +856 7125 4601-04
Facebook: Villa Maydou

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page  and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Alaya Resort Ubud

Staying at Alaya Ubud was like stepping into a dream. 

It has all the components of MY ideal Balinese holiday: a tropical-themed room overlooking rice paddy fields, frangipani and coconut trees-lined grounds, soothing massage, and warm hospitality.

I was really looking forward to my stay at Alaya ever since I saw pictures of it online, and it did not disappoint.

The minute my cab pulled in front of the open-style lobby, I was immediately greeted by a staff wearing a traditional-style uniform, but with a modern flair.

Check in process was a breeze, and within a few minutes, they handed my room keycard together with a map of Ubud.

As the staff walked me to my room, I couldn't help but notice the use of natural materials throughout the hotel which gave it a rustic feel. This, combined with modern fittings, will surely please all kinds of travelers.

I was given the spacious and beautifully furnished Alaya Room (Room 311) which had a terrace overlooking the rice paddies.

The bed was just gorgeous! It's huge and fluffy with lots of pillows. 
The frangipanis on the bed and towels were also a nice touch. :)
Kimonos, slippers, an eco bag guests can borrow (can be bought from the front desk), electronic safe, and plenty of fluffy towels are kept inside the spacious cabinets. 

The usual coffee and tea making facilities, and mini bar are also available. 

Aside from the air conditioning unit, there's also a ceiling fan both in the room and in the terrace.

The decorative wall was a nice backdrop. It extends from the room onto the terrace.

My favorite part of the room? Easily the 'open' bath area with a huge stone bathtub. 

There's a generous supply of top-notch organic toiletries such as Lime Lemongrass shampoo, Cinnamon Frangipani conditioner, Vanilla Rosemary shower gel, Lavender Eucalyptus body lotion, and Spearmint Patchouli hand soap. If not for the big bottles, I would've taken them home!

Even if you opt not to have a spa treatment, you can still treat yourself to a decadent bubble bath. The Rose Coconut bath foam smells divine!  

dolce far niente!

When I managed to drag myself out of the room, I walked around the resort to enjoy the landscaped garden and lush surroundings. 

Some of the guests were just lounging by the lagoon-shaped pool, and I really can't blame them. The atmosphere is just very relaxing.


And what's a Balinese vacation without having a spa treatment, right?

I was so thrilled they gave me a complimentary 2-hour treatment at DaLa Spa.

European glamour meets Balinese aesthetics
DaLa Spa's design is so charming. I'm loving the chic porter's chairs!

I arrived 15 minutes earlier than the appointment schedule, and while waiting, I was immediately served cold lemon grass and pineapple juice, and a cold towel.

The staff then explained to me the scope of the 2-hour Manis Klepon treatment. 

I was then asked to fill out a personal information/preference checklist where I need to indicate if I have any allergies or medical conditions, any specific body parts I want my therapist to focus on etc. I even get to choose the room temperature, pressure, and the kind of music I want to listen to while having the treatment.

After handing the form to the staff, she walked me to a table where my therapist, Putu, was preparing the 'ingredients' that will be used for my treatment. She grated some coconuts which she then mixed with palm sugar. This was for my body scrub.

We then went down to one of the luxe treatment rooms. 

Putu handed me a robe to change into. Slippers were provided as well. She also taught me how to assign a PIN code for the electronic safe where I can store my valuables.

After changing, Putu started with the foot bath, which was then followed by the coconut and palm sugar body scrub to exfoliate dead skin cells. Next was the pandanus and suji leaves body mask, which started out warm then gradually gave off a cooling sensation. 

Putu then showed me a basket of flowers, and explained what each one was while gradually dropping them into the tub filled with warm water. This is for the Seven Flowers Bath, which was very relaxing, and washed away the remains of the mask. 

Putu gave me 15 minutes to enjoy the bath while she prepared the new robe and disposable underwear. She also left me a cup of tea by the vanity desk before she left the room.

Finally, it was time for the one-hour Balinese massage. 

Putu was very careful with the strokes, and was continuously checking if the pressure and room temperature was just right for me. It was really relaxing that I nearly dozed off.

The treatment ended with a chamomile facial spritz which woke up my senses. haha

After the treatment, Putu brought me back to the main hall of DaLa Spa where I was then served hot ginger tea with Balinese dumpling stuffed with palm sugar, and served with grated coconut named...Manis Klepon!

I highly, highly recommend their spa treatments! You will definitely feel like royalty. :D

Pardon the grainy pictures. These were taken using my phone's camera.


For breakfast, guests get to choose from Petani Restaurant's set breakfast menu. Don't be disappointed if it's not buffet style because I assure you, the breakfast set is as good as brunch.  

I had the American breakfast set which consists of a bread basket (toast, croissant, Danish pastry) served with butter and jams; fresh fruit platter served with fresh homemade yogurt; omelette, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, potato, broccoli, and cauliflower; freshly-squeezed orange juice, and latte.
Petani Restaurant

Alaya is located along Jalan Hanoman so it's close to a supermarket, a number of ATMs, restaurants, souvenir shops, and is just a 5-minute walk to the Sacred Monkey Forest. 

I still regret not staying long enough in Ubud, and in Alaya. The laid back vibe, culture, and the lovely people easily made it one of my favorite destinations to date.


~~ I was hosted by Alaya Resort Ubud for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Jalan Hanoman, Ubud
Bali 80571 Indonesia
Tel: +62 (361) 972200
Twitter: @AlayaUbud
Instagram: @AlayaUbud

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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