Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Beating the Summer Heat in Baguio City

It's summertime (2014) once again and the heat in Metro Manila is becoming increasingly unbearable by the day. So we decided to to go up north to Baguio City. Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines where temperature is still below 25°C when it is already high above 34°C in Manila.

After several hours search over the internet on a place to stay in Baguio City, we finally decided to go for Azalea Residences. Their online published rate for a one bedroom unit is P4,100.00 per night. I called up their reservations hoping to get a lower rate than the published rate, but, surprisingly it was higher at P4,400.00 per night. Frustrated, I just thought of postponing my booking the next day to finally firm up my decision whether or not to settle for Azalea Residences. The following day, to my surprise, the online rate increased to P4,800.00 per night! Wow! Their prices are just like the stock market! I called up the reservations and finally booked a four days and three nights stay. I got my preferred days for the original P4,400.00 per night but they would need a 100% non-refundable advance payment to confirm my reservations. Azalea Residences remains to be one of those establishments with such a very unfriendly customer reservation policy. I don't know if this kind of payment scheme is legal under the policy of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Anyway, I still decided to go for Azalea Residences because of the attractive amenities they offer in all rooms such as Kitchen and Dining Area, Electric Cook tops with Range Hood, Microwave Oven, Refrigerator, Cookware, Crockery Electric Water Kettle, Samsung LCD TV, Samsung DVD Player, Cable Channels, iPod docking station, FM Radio, Ceiling Fan, Mini-Bar, Complimentary Coffee & Tea, Complimentary Bottled Water, Complimentary Bath Amenities, Iron and Ironing board, Hairdryer, Bath Robes, Slippers, Alarm Clock, Private toilet and bath.

I was only given one day to confirm my reservations by depositing the cash payment to their bank account which I did immediately and emailed them the scanned copy of the deposit slip. My payment was acknowledged immediately by Ms. Julie Macayanan in less than an hour and I was happy everything has been settled. However several hours after their confirmation, I received another email from Ms. Jam Estrada informing me that my reservations will be cancelled unless I make a full payment on that hour! I was furious and called her up immediately to clarify this payment issue. After spending several minutes on a long distance call she finally found my payment slip in their system. Azalea Residences should definitely upgrade their system or change their terrible reservation officers immediately.

We decided to take the bus instead of taking our car. So after a long five and a half hours non-stop ride in the first class bus of Victory Liner, we arrived at the hotel around 4pm. At the check-in counter, I was again asked to present proof of my payment for my stay. Tired and hungry from a long trip, I am now again confronted with these Azalea Residence people who have nothing in mind but to secure their payment above anything else instead of providing first comfort to their clients. Why in the world would they ask again for my proof of payment when in fact I have emailed them the photocopy of the deposit slip of my full payment? And they would have cancelled my reservations if I have not made a full payment two days before my arrival. Aside from the full payment, they demanded another P3,000.00 pesos as security deposit. Gee, Azalea Residences should really reconsider upgrading their customer service practices.

Only after the people in the front desk has reaffirmed themselves that I have paid them fully in advance for my three nights stay and with additional cash deposit did they finally led us to our room, The unit was large but under-lighted and the bathroom was too small. To my dismay, some of the amenities they posted in their website are not available in the room. There is no iPod docking station, no FM radio, no Mini-Bar, no iron, no hair dryer, no bath robes. This is false advertising. I called up their front desk regarding these amenities and I was told that these amenities are no longer available.

It's Sunday and time to hear mass at the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral located just a few steps from session road.
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral Baguio City
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral

After the mass, we went for a full vegetarian dinner on the first night at the "Oh My Gulay" restaurant located along session road.

Oh My Gulay Restaurant
Oh My Gulay Restaurant
The restaurant was located on the 5th floor and there is no elevator, dinitely not for the elderly nor with people with disability. The meal was alright at P600.00 for the four of us. Be very careful walking around the restaurant because the stairs, floor and mezzanine are very unsafe. The risk of fall is very high.

After a hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel (breakfast is part of the package), we went to the famous Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto via taxi for only P80.00. Taxi fare in Baguio City is a lot cheaper than in Metro Manila maybe because they do not need to turn on their air-conditioner. It's 250 stair steps to reach the Grotto but there is also an access road uphill for those who prefer not to take the stairs.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
250 Steps to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto





Souvenir Shops in Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Souvenir Shops in Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
We just rented a taxi for P300.00 per hour to go around the city. Next spot is the "Tam-Awan Village" also known as the "Garden in the Sky". The place used to be a residential village of the Baguio natives and now converted into a tourist destination. They charge entrance fees of P50.00 per adult and P30.00 per child. I would say that this place is overrated because there is really no garden to see here except for a few nipa huts and no natives at all.
Tam-Awan Village
Tam-Awan Village
Here are the other places we visited:

Easter Weaving BAguio City
Easter Weaving located at No. 2 Easter Road, Guisad, Baguio City Philippines, 2600

Easter Weaving Baguio City
Easter Weaving Baguio City

Chinese Temple or Bell Church
Chinese Temple or Bell Church

Chinese Temple or Bell Church
Chinese Temple or Bell Church

Chinese Temple or Bell Church
Chinese Temple or Bell Church

The Mansion House Baguio City
The Mansion House