Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Weekend at The Boutique Bed and Breakfast @ Tagaytay, Philippines

The Boutique at TagaytayAfter weeks of preparation and keeping Cols in suspense, we drove out to Tagaytay this Sunday afternoon and left the kids with the maids at home (some responsible parents we are! har har). I booked us at The Boutique Bed & Breakfast along Aguinaldo Highway, the main thoroughfare in Tagaytay that runs across all the major attractions. It was a short 1-hour drive since there was no traffic. Once you reach the main rotonda in Tagaytay, you just proceed about a kilometer further towards the direction of Josephine. You will see Days Inn to your left after a few meters. Then a few more meters after that would be The Boutique. Actually, if you're driving too fast, you might miss it altogether as its quite small.

Map to The Boutique

Signage of The Boutique and Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant along Aguinaldo HighwayAccording to their official website, the Boutique opened just October 2007. It was originally intended to be just a branch for the Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant by its owner Happy Ongpauco (Heart Evangelista's sister), who also owns several other concept restaurants like World Topps and Bento Box, I believe. But she fell in love with the place and ended up inviting her friend Allana Montelibano to make it into a place for a romantic weekend getaway.

Its hard to explain the design of the place other than to say its a fusion. The external facade facing the highway looks very Asian modern with rectangular angles painted in white. The steps leading up to its doors are lined with pots containing herbs like rosemary, peppermint, lemon grass, and others. Upon entering the door, the design of the lobby looks more classical European. There's an old-fashioned chandelier hanging on the low ceiling, and a couple of odd-looking rectangular box sofas.

For those of you who have stayed in bed and breakfast (B&B) places in North America or Europe, let me forewarn you that The Boutique is very unlike those types of B&B. It is really a small, well..., boutique hotel. In US or Europe, when they say B&B, they are referring to houses (usually inhabited by old couples) where 1 or 2 rooms are rented out to travellers. And they really serve breakfast in the house's kitchen.

Lobby of The BoutiqueIn one end of the small lobby is the reception counter. It was a very small counter. I felt the 2 to 3 people inside could hardly move without bumping into each other. After confirming my reservation, the lady led us to a room behind the counter (you can actually see what's inside the room through the glass behind the counter) to pick up our toiletries. The Boutique has its own line of toiletries (shampoos, conditioners, body lotions) under their Pamper Me line. We went with the lavander flavor as the others were not really much to our liking. For the room scent, we went with the one that the lady recommended (she said its Kris Aquino's favorite).

I Love Room of The BoutiqueWe were booked at the I Love room (the other rooms are I Escape, I Surrender, I Dream, I Desire, I Dare, and I Lust). Visit this page for their official price list. The most expensive room, I Lust, gives you a view of Taal Volcano from the large picturesque window beside your bathtub. Our room was just at the ground floor. In fact, its just a hidden/recessed door away from the main lobby! Immediately next to the lobby is the Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant.

Flat TV at every rooms of The BoutiqueAs advertised (or rather publicized, since The Boutique is thriving more on word-of-mouth rather than traditional advertisig), the room came with modern amenities like a Samsung LCD TV, a NextBase DVD player (well, that's an el cheapo brand), speakers with subwoofer, and free wifi. I was looking for the iPod dock as frequently mentioned by other bloggers who have stayed there, but found none. Not that I have an iPod, but I was just curious if it was true. What they have is a mini amplifier/receiver that you can connect an iPod to (if you have the necessary RCA cables), but it is certainly not a docking station.

Welcome Drinks from The BoutiqueAfter being led to our room, we were offered welcome drinks. There was a personalized letter on the desk greeting "Mr. & Mrs. Robertson Chiang" from the owners. If they actually signed it, I would have been really impressed. But no, it was just an unsigned letter. Nonetheless, it gave a personalized touch. I just have to wonder why they assumed its "Mr. & Mrs.". In a place like this, I would imagine there would be a lot of unmarried couple having a tryst. I sure don't remember mentioning that I'll be here with my wife. Anyway, we then availed of the complimentary 10-minute cold stone facial massage. Its basically stones dipped in ice water and rubbed all over your face. It wasn't really fantastic. I would not pay for it if it wasn't free. :)

You can also borrow any DVD movie from their library. This one really puzzled me though. All their DVD's, as far as I can tell, are **pirated copies**! Some of the titles are way too new (eg. Will Smith's I Am Legend) to be available on original DVD format already. We borrowed Evan Almighty. The copy they gave us was also pirated. For an establishment which relies on word-of-mouth marketing, the last thing they want is bad publicity (like a joint raid by the Optical Media Board and the NBI). I hope the management address this one in the future.

Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant at The Boutique TagaytayDinner was quite heavy at the Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant. The mushroom soup with macadamia nuts was served in a big bowl which Cols and I shared. We also had their barbecue chicken in mango puree sauce. The servings were quite big. There were also several other patrons who just come in for the restaurant, and not stay for the night.

At 9pm, The Boutique serves free hot cholocate with churros delivered to the room. Since Cols and I were still quite full with the dinner, we had it delayed by about half an hour. I don't know if they have to prepare it ahead of time (since the bar has to close). But by the time it was delivered to our room, the churros felt a little cold and hard already.

Breakfast in Bed at The BoutiqueAfter a long night sleep, we were greeted next day (Feb 11) with a heavy breakfast-in-bed. I chose the Hawaiian breakfast which comprised of a big omelette and two burger patties. Cols had the Filipino breakfast with Pampanga longanisa. The big bed tray is hidden under the bed for each room. So the waiter just pulled it out and set it up on the bed. Both breakfast sets came with a hot chocolate or coffee starter; juices; and a fresh fruit platter dessert. Very heavy meal indeed that both Cols and I skipped lunch without feeling hungry!

To view all my photos of The Boutique, check out my Google Photos album. On a final note, the official website of The Boutique is done almost entirely in Flash. While it looks good on screen, it is terrible for search engines. In fact, doing a query on "The Boutique" at Google will yield mostly blog sites. I could not find any reference to the official site even after going through 5 pages of query results already. Pretty sad. They should consider re-doing their website to make it more accessible to searchers by following some basic SEO tips.

The Boutique Bed & Breakfast
45 Aguinaldo Hi-way
Silang Crossing East
Tagaytay City
Tel: (63+46) 413-1885, (63+927) 363-2660 , (63+46) 413-1798 & (63+46) 860-2716


mitch depp said...

If not for your blog title, one would think you've been blogging for quite some time. Very nice blog sir.
Coincidentally, it appears we were there the same time as you at the Boutique. But yes, we were the people who were only there for the Hawaiian Bar-b-que, a sort of mother's day treat for the mother of my children. Indeed, the servings were large. We ordered ribs for each of our twin teenage boys, mango chicken for myself plus a bunch of others for my little girl and my wife. We couldn't get up for several minutes after eating! It seems each serving is good for 2-3 people.
From what I read from your posting, next time it'll just be me and the wife...
Have you tried T-house or Verbena?
Good day and good blogging to you sir!!

Jeremy said...

I like the nice way you narrated it. But don't like the idea of skipping lunch since your breakfast was heavy. On our tour, we make it a point to have light breakfast.