Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Staycation at Azure

Have you ever felt the need to get away from the city's hustle and bustle but the beach is too far away? I bet you have. Right at the heart of South Metro Manila lies the perfect getaway spot for you and your loved ones.

Azure Urban Resort, also known as Azure Paris Hilton Beach Club is designed by the hotel heiress herself. It is located at ParaƱaque City, in the City of Dreams Manila. 

Azure Urban Resort is developed by Century Properties and offers accommodation to people who want to have a quick escape from the city. It is a residential resort that allows unit owners to have their spaces rented.

Azure Urban Resort has a huge wave pool and a man-made beach for you to enjoy. The resort's exterior is stylish and elegant. For our accommodation, I messaged their Facebook page to reserve our room. I spoke to the page's admin, Anne, and she booked us our room owned by Ms. Joan Gamboa. Anne gave us Joan's contact details and instructed us to contact Ms. Gamboa prior to our arrival so she can meet us at the lobby to assist us in checking-in.

She also reminded us the following upon checking-in:
1.) Bring one (1) valid ID
2.) A 2,000php security deposit is required upon checking-in (Deposit is REFUNDABLE during check-out, upon satisfactory inspection of the unit)

Per room costs 3,500php for a beach view room, and 3,000php for a city view room. Each room has its own toilet and bath, as well as a kitchenette, where you can bring your own food to cook. Just across the resort is SM Bicutan for your other needs. That's where we did our grocery shopping for our two-day stay. I also suggest buying paper plates, cups and plastic spoon and fork. Although there's utensils available in the rooms, I think it's more preferable to use your own. Don't you think so, too? 

The resort also has their own cafe that serves combo meals as well as cake and pastries. Their combo meals range from 110php-150php. As for WiFi, it is only free for unit owners. The resort is clean and well-maintained. 

The pool and the man-made beach were great! The use of the water facilities cost 30php for guests. They also have lifeguards on standby. The sand was white and fine and they also have slides for your little ones to enjoy.

For more inquiries about the resort, you may contact them via their Facebook page or on their website. So far, we had a great experience at Azure Urban Resort.

It is a good value-for-money and a great escape without needing to travel long distances. Check out more of our photos below.

Til' the next staycation!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Adventure in Hong Kong Day 3 (Disneyland)

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. It is a place where we see our childhood heroes and heroines come to life. My daughter, Francine, wanted to celebrate her 10th birthday at Disneyland, thus making this the highlight of our trip.

There are many websites offering discounted Disneyland tickets ranging from 3,100php to 3,400php per person. I already had an idea that per ticket would cost around 3,500php and since there would be three of us, I would like to find the cheapest tickets I can.

After searching value-for-money tickets on numerous sites, I finally found the best deal. I booked our tickets at the Hong Kong Disneyland website. I also encourage you to check their site from time to time for fantastic offers.  On our case, we took advantage of their “Play and Dine” ticket offer which cost $537HKD for adults and $389HKD for children 3 to 11 years. Per ticket includes an all-day access pass and a combo meal from any of Disney’s signature restaurants. You might want to take advantage of these kind of offers since food inside the park is somewhat expensive—ranging from $80HKD to $115HKD for full meals—and food bought outside the park is strictly prohibited.

Our hotel, Rambler Oasis, in Tsing Yi is only a few minutes train ride to Disneyland. From Rambler Oasis, we took the bus to Tsing Yi Station and paid $10HKD bus fare for the three of us. At Tsing Yi Station, we took the train to Sunny Bay. 

Travel time is only 5 minutes and tickets cost $3.25HKD per person. Upon reaching Sunny Bay Station, we took the Mickey Mouse themed train immediately to the Disneyland Resort.

When we got off the train, we proceeded to the train ticketing booth and paid our fare for $6HKD each to get through Disney’s grounds.

When we got in, we headed to the park’s ticketing booth and presented a screenshot on my phone containing the confirmation ID which was sent to my e-mail. We were then handed our all-day access pass and meal vouchers.

After getting through security check, we patiently waited in line for the gates to open. Disneyland opens at 10:00 am and closes at 8:00 pm after the spectacular fireworks show (subject to weather conditions). Maps are also found right at the entrance and you can take one freely.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse stood at the other side of the gate a few minutes before the park officially opened. After waving their hands and welcoming their guests, they proceeded to the park’s pavilion. Finally, the gates were open and we were stoked to begin our magical adventure.

Below is a photo of us with Disneyland’s most famous couple. We waited about an hour and a half in line to get this photo with Mickey and Minnie. Had we known it would require a lot of patience and perseverance to get this photo op, we could’ve raced to the pavilion. 

Nonetheless, it was worth it. I still look at our photo from time to time and it never fails to paints a smile on my face. I also had shirts printed for effect, indicating the date we set our feet at Hong Kong Disneyland .

After having our photo with Mickey and Minnie, we took the opportunity to take more photos with other Disney characters we can find on Main Street then began exploring the park’s different themed areas.

We first went to Tomorrowland and instantly spotted Darth Vader and Stormtroopers. A few steps and we got to Disney’s newest attraction: The Iron Man Experience. Since it was the newest attraction, the line was overwhelming and so we decided to spend our time exploring other areas of the park instead. There is a statue of Iron Man outside though, hence the photo below.

Just next toTomorrowland is the jungle themed zone, Adventureland. Adventureland is the land of Simba, Tarzan and many wild animals lurking at the jungle.

We rode the Jungle River Cruise and sailed around the island not knowing what “dangers” were waiting for us. We had an English speaking guide that entertained us all throughout our safari journey.

After our encounter with wild animals and tribes men, we headed to the musical arena of Pride Rock to watch the “Festival of the Lion King”. This musical re-telling of Simba’s story is something that you should not miss. It is 100% entertaining and will surely give you a dose of nostalgia especially hearing The Lion King’s entrance song. And who does not want to see Timon and Pumbaa?

We were still not halfway exploring the park and so we ate as fast as we could. The meal voucher entitles us a combo meal to any of Disneyland’s signature restaurants and we chose to eat at Clopin’s Festival of Foods.

After stuffing our tummies, we headed to Fantasyland, which is my personal favorite because it is home to the Disney princesses. We entered the Fairy Tale Forest which displayed medium sized castles of Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora and Snow White.

We explored the Mystic Point and Toy Story Land, too, as well as the wild wild west of Grizzly Gulch.

Since the rides like the Grizzly Gulch Rollercoaster, Slinky Dog Spin and RC Racer were too extreme (well, for us) and we weren’t adventurous enough, we decided to watch the “Happily Ever After” show that presented musical numbers from Baloo of The Jungle Book, the Genie from Aladdin and princesses like Rapunzel, Tiana, Ariel, Merida and Queen Elsa. It was entertaining and we had fun singing along. Check out "Friend Like Me" number below:

Here's a cute mashup of "When Will My Life Begin" and "Part of Your World" by Rapunzel and Ariel:

And Queen Elsa's stellar performance as she sings her hit song "Let It Go".

After singing our hearts out, we went back to Main Street and visited some shops were we can grab a few souvenirs. After purchasing, we had a quick snack at the Main Street Bakery. I got myself a Jedi latte for $28HKD and a Minnie Mango Mousse for $36HKD. My daughter wanted a frozen treat despite the cold weather and so we got a Minnie Mouse ice cream bar for $35HKD.

Here are two of my favorite photos of her at Main Street:

It was almost dark and we were looking forward to the fireworks display. To while away the time, we jumped into the Mad Hatter Tea Cups and enjoyed the hilarious 4D show at Mickey’s Philharmagic.

When we went out of the theater, the parade already started and we had to look for a spot near Sleeping Beauty’s castle fast to get the best view of the show. 

Unfortunately, it was already jam-packed. However, I still managed to record short clips of “Disney’s Magic in the Stars” and our view from where we were was not bad at all. Below are some of the clips:

Disney never fails to amaze the kids and the kids at heart. They say Disneyland is a magical place where all your dreams and wishes come true. Seeing my daughter’s eyes glow at every spectacle and hearing her telling her wonderful stories after the experience, I can say that both our wishes and dreams did come true. Thank you, Disney! 

I hope this blog gave you a handful of tips as you plan your adventure with your family. If you need to know more information, don't hesitate to ask on the comments below. Have fun and may you have the most magical Disney experience! To infinity and beyond!