Monday, July 15, 2013

Hotel PonteFino: The Pride of Batangas City

I had been itching to go out-of-town for a few days and just get away from it all, so when I got an invite from the guys at Hotel PonteFino to check out the three-star hotel in Batangas City, I was all for it and brought Jericho along for the ride!

We met up with our guide and the rest of the media people at Starbucks at 6750 in Makati early on a Saturday morning and took PonteFino's shuttle bus all the way to Batangas City. It was too early for comfort for me, and having come from an event the night before that ended at 3 o'clock in the morning, I was passed out for most of the ride up there.

Coming up the driveway, the impressive hotel façade is the first thing you see - it is welcoming without being intimidating, the big red-and-cream being a sight for sore eyes, especially mine, as I barely got two hours of sleep in the night before.

Read more on the PonteFino Series:
★ Hotel PonteFino: The Philippine Azkals' Second Home
★ PonteFino: The Prime & Residences Properties
★ Hotel PonteFino: A Cultural Tour of Batangas City
★ PonteFino: A Groundbreaking Event for The Terraces

If you plan on heading to PonteFino by car:
  1. From Manila, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way until it becomes the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway. The two arenow connected so you do not have to make an exit from SLEX.
  2. Stay on the STAR Tollway and exit at the Batangas Toll Exit (to your left).
  3. Upon passing through the exit, take the rotonda and take the National Highway on the left – toward Batangas City proper.
  4. Keep going straight along the National Highway until you reach a fork on the road with a Rotary Lion markert.
  5. Take the right side of the fork (Hilltop Road) – and take the first left after this.
  6. You’ll need to make the next left turn after this to get to P. Herrera Road. (You can also be guided by signs pointing to SM City Batangas, since Pontefino Hotel is along the same route.)
  7. Make the first right into the road that leads directly toward Gulod Labac and Pontefino Hotel.

We were greeted by the very friendly staff of Hotel PonteFino when we got there, and settled in to a hearty breakfast buffet of Filipino favorites. I stuck to the egg and pandesal mostly, while Jericho had his fill of rice, scrambled eggs, and longanisa. I was looking for the kapeng barako to help me with the rest of my day, but they didn't seem to have it then. Drat.

Jericho also indulged himself with a bowl of hot, comforting chicken noodle soup. I didn't think he'd be able to finish the bowl, since he had already had his fill of rice, but it must've been pretty good, since he finished every last drop - a natural way to shoo the sniffles away.

We headed up to our rooms afterwards to unpack and get settled in. Although the elevators to the hotel rooms can give you a case of claustrophobia, surprisingly enough, the suites at Hotel PonteFino are quite spacious, with a living area-slash-office space and the bedroom separated by sliding doors. This for me more than makes up for the shoebox elevator.

The rooms are ideal for long term stays, with a fridge and microwave set up for blitzing pizzas and the like. You can host informal meetings in the living room, although there's no wi-fi in the rooms, so you'll have to go down to the lobby if you need to access the interwebs.

The bedroom is very spacious, with the king-sized bed right in the middle of the room. I found the sheets a bit scratchy, but other than that I got a good night's sleep. After chatting with out other friends that stayed their with us, this was actually the smallest room and they all came with king-sized beds. This is a pretty sweet deal since you can easily fit two adults and two small children in there. If your child is not-so-small, you can always kick daddy out and have him sleep on the sofa.

The bathroom was clean yet pretty worn down, with some of the chrome accessories rusted over (Eeep). The complimentary bathroom products would've looked much better in a different sort of packaging. Jericho and I just used the soap, and stuck to the bath products that I had brought with me instead.

We came down for lunch and a tour of Batangas City a little past 1 o'clock and were greeted by yet another buffet spread. Most of the dishes they served for lunch were specialties of Batangas, like the Chicken Caldereta and Taal Ribs.

The Taal Ribs were superb! Initially I thought it was the sickly sweet and fatty Humba, but upon closer inspection found out it was ribs braised for hours until the meat practically falls off the bone. This had just the right balance of sweet and salty, it was practically all I ate.

For dessert, we had vanilla ice cream and Sinukmani - a sticky rice dessert with a latik-like sauce topped with diced fresh pieces of mango. This dessert can really fill you up, I managed to finish off half of the serving.

Jericho and I went to exploring Hotel PonteFino's grounds and found ourselves staring at their magnificent pool. The lounge seats in the shallow end of the pool is reminiscent to that of Boracay's Astoria Resort. Whoever whould've thought that there would be a 5-star pool smack dab in the middle of Batangas City?

After the cultural tour, Jericho and I spent the rest of our afternoon pampering ourselves at Piandré, a popular high end beauty salon. Who would've thought they'd have a branch in Batangas City and at Hotel PonteFino, no less? Jericho enjoyed a relaxing massage and a haircut while I got a cut and color, before covering an event at the hotel and then passing out from exhaustion.

Breakfast the next morning was yet another simple buffet spread, and I helped myself to some bread, jam, and eggs. They had spaghetti in the line up, which I found to be an odd carbo-load option, yet at the same time it is something very Filipino. And thankfully, there was coffee, and good ol' Batangas coffee at that. I think I got myself at least three cups before checking out and heading back to Manila.

So, when mucking around Manila and thinking of taking an out-of-town trip, nix the expensive plane ticket and head on over to Hotel PonteFino instead. Relax and get away from the city for a weekend, work on your tan by the pool, or treat the kids to a wet and wild time, taking breaks from exploring the city and the famous restaurants Batangas City is known for such as Casa Rap.

Just mucking around Manila,
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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel of The Pixel Project Manila

Hotel PonteFino
+63 43 723 3466
Pastor Village, Gulod Labac
Batangas City