Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our SeriAsia Spa Experience

 About a month ago, I scored 2 Metrodeal vouchers of a 60 minute full body massage and oxygen facial from SeriAsia, a spa in Southgate Mall in Magallanes. When I got the vouchers, I thought of sharing it with my hubby so we can have relax and unwind for awhile.

SeriAsia is at the second floor of Southgate Mall, along with other salons. Southgate Mall can be reached through MRT (alight at Magallanes station), buses that pass by EDSA or jeepneys going to Mantrade.

We can already smell the "spa-ish" aroma from the escalator. Inside the spa, you will be welcomed by their friendly staff who will then offer you coffee, tea or wheatgrass while waiting. SeriAsia also offers a variety of wellness products like coffee with ganoderma mushrooms (from Malaysia, as I was told), lotions, vitamins, masks and a lot more. A former colleague told me that their 6 in 1 lotion is good as it is not sticky and it helps lighten the appearance of stretchmarks.

SeriAsia also offers a wide variety of spa services from massage to scrubs to facials. However, they do not have jacuzzi or steam bath. Perhaps it is because of the limited space.

This is their facial room. The "room" is enclosed by curtains so if privacy is a big deal, you might find this an issue. However, for me, this is just okay. this is even better than Let's Face It's row of beds where you are literally rubbing elbows with each other. SeriAsia can only accomodate 2 guests for facials at the same time.

Their Oxygen Facial is one remarkable facial for me. It is very relaxing yet I can really feel that my skin is deeply cleansed. Initially, the therapist cleansed my face with a combination of facial wash and a sea salt scrub. The usual 5-minute facial sauna (steam) came after. Instead of the tedious pricking (which annoyed me always), they use an intensive vacuum. This will exfoliate your skin and extract blackheads/whiteheads. A cool mask is applied after and will be left for 15 minutes. The oxygen infusion will come after the mask. This is the most relaxing part of the facial. It is cool and hydrating. Oxygen Facial has anti-aging and rejuvenating properties and is becoming popular globally.

You can also enjoy foot scrub or massage here.

Our vouchers also include a full body massage. SeriAsia has a couple's room. Actually, its the only room that they have, so that also means they can only accommodate 2 persons at a time. It is better to book ahead to secure a slot especially on peak days.

What I like about their massage is the pressure. The therapist were able to capture the pressure that I want. Hard on my back but gentle on my legs, thighs and arms. They also use good-smelling aromatheraphy oils and a mentholated balm. I asked what balm was that and they said they sell one in a big jar (P1000) and a small tub (P99). however, the latter was out of stock.

They also provide a robe and boxers for your perusal. The massage ended with a warm towel to remove stickiness of the oils used.

Foodie: La Grotta Cucina Italiana

If you are looking for a great Italian restaurant around Makati City, you may want to check out La Grotta at G/F,Angelus Plaza Bldg., V,A Rufino St. in Legaspi Village.

The ambience of La Grotta is similar to that of Bellini's in Cubao. It looks like a traditional Italian restaurant that has a very homey yet sophisticated feel, thus, perfect for formal meetings and romantic dates. The place is very intimate that it can only accomodate about 40 to 50 pax.

While waiting for your order, you will be served with an assortment of breads, liver pate, butter and a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Their liver pate is a must try. Though it is a sophisticated version of liver spread, their liver pate is good as it doesn't have an annoying after-taste. The balsamic vinaigrette (mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar) also goes well with their warm assortment of breads and is also a great way to tease your palate before your main course.

Our favorite is their Tagliatelle Di Tartufo Crudo, a flat pasta mixed with porcini mushrooms topped with parma ham in a rich truffle cream sauce (P395). We usually split the serving into 2 or 3 as one serving is too much for me to finish.

We also ordered Margherita pizza (Tomato, mozzarella, oregano, basil and extra virgin olive oil). This is good for 2 if eaten alone or for 4 if you will order pasta or other entrees. The tomatoes and herbs in this pizza counteracts the richness and creaminess of Tagliatelle Di Tartufo Crudo. Priced at P380.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Where to Eat Chinese Food in Davao : Mandarin Tea House

We were supposed to try out any of the famous buffet in Davao City but we were able to arrived in Sta. Ana Wharf a bit late for lunch already so we decided to check out the restaurants along Rizal Ave. There's Jollibbe along the way but hey, we're in Davao and we should explore something new. Across Jollibee is Tops (an open-air grill and "silog" diner). Since it's almost 2pm, the sun is really at its peak so we decided not to eat there because my baby might have another skin asthma attack due to the extreme heat.

We walked and walked and walked until we arrived at this Chinese restaurant, still along Rizal Ave. -Mandarin Tea Garden.

We checked out the dining area and it looks clean and the food looks appetizing, too! Think North Park or Super Bowl of China.

Plus, it's a non-smoking restaurant, so we decided to settle here for our late lunch.

We ordered Siomai Noodle Soup for my baby. Serving is good for one, but if you're ordering other dishes, it may be enough for sharing.

My husband ordered Mandarin Spareribs rice bowl. The meat is so tender and tasty. It tastes like sweet and sour spareribs. More on the sweet side.

I cannot decide what to order as their menu has lots to offer so I decided to have Soy Chicken rice bowl. It's tender and juicy. The sauce is a bit spicy but just enough to tease your palate.

By the way, they really have good-tasting chili-garlic sauce that's perfect for siomai and even the Soy Chicken! Our will was P232, not bad for the taste and quality of their food. We went out full and recharged again.

Hof Gorei Beach Resort: A Nature Sanctuary at the Heart of Samal Island

We spent our third day of Samal Island adventure in Hof Gorei Beach Resort. At 8:30 am, the resort's own boat fetch us from Kaputian wharf. The resort has seven boats, one of which is a passenger boat from Kaputian to Sta. Ana wharf. Their boats are big and are crafted to transverse the waves of the open sea. These boats are also available for island-hopping.

In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the resort's own wharf. On the way to the resort you will also see the famous Pearl Farm Beach Resort.

You will be welcomed with your own butler, who will give you this refreshing watermelon juice and cold towels.

Contrary to what I've read in other blogs, Hof Gorei has a new concrete walkway. Guests now will not get scared of crossing the wood panels (the old walkway is made of wood panels) above the sea.

Hof is an Austrian word that means "farm", so Hof Gorei translates to Gorio's Farm. If Davao City has Eden Nature Park and Malagos Garden Resort, Hof Gorei Beach Resort is Samal Island's nature sanctuary. The  owner, Ms. April told us that she is really fond of nature. She loves animals and flowers. She appreciates the natural beauty of things, thus, the birth of Hof Gorei Beach Resort. If you want to de-stress and be away from the noise of the city, go to Hof Gorei and inhale some fresh air.

We checked in at the Beachfront Bungalow for the duration of our day trip. The bungalow is made of bamboo and other native materials. Think like you are in a rest house of your own.

The bungalow is very cozy. It has a king size bed, a sofa, a TV, a mini ref stuffed with assorted drinks and a clean bathroom with hot and cold shower.

After we put our things in the bungalow, we decided not to waste a single minute and went up to the view deck and jacuzzi. We climbed 205 steps to the said area. Trekking here is not boring as you will see lots of flowers and other plants along the way. It's very refreshing to the eyes.

After trekking 205 steps, we arrived at the jacuzzi. It's perfect to massage stiff muscles.

While my baby and husband are enjoying a dip in the jacuzzi, I went around and saw  this cow. Hof Gorei is really nature-perfect.

We also saw these near our bungalow.

Cute ducks in the pond.

Iguana, I guess.

And this is my baby's favorite, a green parrot.

Hof Gorei also has a restaurant that offers Filipino as well as American and European dishes. Prices are P200 up.

I was also able to have a glimpse of their Junior Suite which is located at the third floor of the restaurant.

The room is Austrian-inspired. Still made of native and wooden materials, the room has a king size bed, a mini bar, a lounge and a mini-dining area.

The best feature of the Junior Suite is this one:

A perfect view of Hof Gorei Beach Resort. It is a perfect combination of hills and sea.

The resort also has a pool and a poolside bar where you can grab a booze while having a dip.

Best of all, the resort has its own sand bar, where you can bask in the sun.

So if you want to escape the busy and noisy city for a day or 2, book a bungalow in Hof Gorei and experience being reunited with nature's best offerings.

You may reach Hof Gorei Beach resort at 09228646814 or browse their website at

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Treasures of Talikud Island, Davao

The original plan was to go island hopping in Talikud Island on day 2 of our Davao trip. However, a group of 7 pax, who arrived on the same day and time with us wants to go island hopping immediately because they will go to Pearl Farm the next day. Kuya Aries, a staff of Red Parrot Inn asked us if we want to join the group to cut the cost of boat rental. 

Boat rental for island  hopping in Talikud Island is P1,800 (original price is P2,000 but in-house guests get a discount). So given that we were 9 in the group, we paid P200 each. SAVINGS!!! YEY! At least we can divert our savings to food and pasalubong.

We passed by Isla Reta 1, just across Red Parrot Inn. 

We were supposed to dock in Isla Reta 2 but the waves are really strong that our boat was not able to dock here. Isla Reta 2 is facing the open sea, unlike Isla Reta 1 that faces Samal Island. From afar, we can see that the water here is really clear and the sand is white and powdery. Too bad we were not able to dock there. If you wish to spend time here, it will be better if you start your island hopping adventure earlier. We left the inn at 12nn and the waves are kinda big already.

You can also go straight to Isla Reta 2 from Davao City. Simply catch a boat from Sta. Ana Wharf at 9:00 am (look for the boat with the name "Isla Reta") and it will bring you there in an hour. Fare is P70. Day tour here is P75/pax. They also have concrete rooms at P850. I just wish the staff at Isla Reta 2 would answer text queries promptly. When I inquired from them, I only got 1 text about the rates. When I was confirming our reservation, no one is answering my calls anymore. So I ended up pissed off and did not bother to call them again.

Evident clear water from meters away.

Our next stop is the Coral Garden. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach this snorkeling haven. No entrance fees here plus they have a shore where you can bathe in the sun! Though we walked from our boat to the shoreline because the tides are getting lower that time. There are parts of the beach that are rocky, but the sand is generally fine. Still like the ones in Bantayan, Cebu.

These corals are alive!

Along the shoreline were a lot of cute hermit crabs. My daughter was really fond of them.

We also passed by Babusanta and Dayang beach which are at the opposite side of the island, still facing open sea.

Our last stop was Angel's Cove where the water is sooooooooo deep yet sooooooooooo clear! Kuya Aries said it's  where beginner divers go to practice.

See how clear the water is? I took a shot from the boat and you can still see what's beneath.

The island hopping lasted for about 4 to 5 hours completing a 360 degrees tour of Talikud Island.