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The Art of the Staycation

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Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila Facade

Ahh, vacations. There’s nothing quite like getting off work, packing your bags, and driving to the airport to fly to your next adventure. Vacations are an important reminder to take care of yourself, that you’re human—not just a cog in the machine. And as a young professional, you finally have the cash to spend to conquer Cambodia, explore Estonia, and wander around Wales. 

But let’s get down to the brass tacks. Vacations can be expensive. Just calculating the expenses for the fare, the reservation, the food, the leisure and entertainment—preparing for a vacation is always an exercise on number-crunching and sacrifice. If you dial down your budget, kiss some of your convenience and comfort goodbye. Shore up your itinerary with fun and variety and you’ll probably be selling some of your clothes just to get back home. It’s simple economics. However, these past few years have seen the rise of vacations spent at home. With a fast-paced world nipping at everyone’s heels, people have to find rest and relaxation anywhere possible. Enter the staycation. Simply defined as “a vacation spent at home,” the staycation is the answer for enterprising individuals who don’t have a lot of cash, but desperately need a bit of spoiling. Recently, staycations are starting to be redefined. Hotel staycations are the name of the game these days. As a novice staycationer, you have quite a lot of options in this urban jungle of Manila. But to truly enjoy a genuine staycation experience, you have to bust out a fraction of your vacation budget and book a hotel.

Cocoon Boutique Hotel

The most luxurious of hotels can be pretty pricey, but you don’t need to break the bank just to pamper yourself. Boutique hotels are the answer. Boutique hotels are non-chain hotels—indie hotels, if you will—that cater to staycationers who don’t have a fortune but still have a bit of cash to spend. Boutique hotels also boast of features that are unique to them. Some boutique hotels have an in house herb garden, and others offer nature walks. If you are looking for great and memorable experience without burning a hole in your bank account, boutique hotels are for you.

To back up these claims, I stayed at a boutique hotel that offered a full staycation experience: Cocoon Boutique Hotel. Suffice to say (and pun nothwithstanding) the experience was transformative. A four-star hotel by its own right, the Cocoon Boutique Hotel differs from your typical hotel experience with its focus on resource sustainability. As such, it’s aesthetics differs— more Mother Nature than glitz and grandeur. The hotel lobby is a feast for the senses with its warm wooden paneling, sleek Filipino design, and the fragrant lavender and peppermint smells wafting in the air. It was an invitation beckoning me to kick off my boots and come inside.

 

Cocoon Boutique Hotel – Pool (left) , & Lobby (right)

Once you enter, the receptionists treat you with grace and respect. Drinks are mandatory. A refreshing glass of ice-cold calamansi juice definitely hits the spot after an afternoon of walking around in the sun. It wasn’t a short wait because they cleared the reservation in less than 2 minutes. The room was supposedly vacated and ready so they waived the 2 PM check-in time and assisted me with my bags to the 5th floor. 

Entering the deluxe suite of Cocoon Boutique Hotel was like stepping into a homely yet uniquely modern log cabin. More wooden paneling here, both on the wall and floors. The key to a successful hotel staycation is having all of the creature comforts of home and hearth within easy reach. A comfy bed, excellent WiFi, great food, and lots of free time. I can happily say I experienced all these during my stay at the Cocoon Boutique Hotel. A flat-screen TV on the far wall to while away the time; room service for when I got hungry; fast and free Internet to share hot Instagram pics of my room; and the plushest, comfiest bed for impromptu naps. The toilet and bath are nothing to sneeze at with a deep soak bathtub separate from the rain shower. 

The pinnacle of human relaxation is probably the massage. Staycationers can avail for the hotels’ in-house masseurs. For my stay at the Cocoon Boutique Hotel, I opted to try their in-house foot spa. The feeling of getting your feet massaged after a long week of commuting and standing has no equal. If you are looking for a wider range of entertainment, Cocoon Boutique Hotel is near the Tomas Morato restaurant strip. That’s what clicks for a lot of people when it came to staycations: the indulgence. For the working man or woman, arranging trips to far flung places constitutes more work. During hotel staycations, the objective is clear from the get-go: treat yoself

Cocoon Boutique Hotel (top-left counter clockwise ) Suite, Bathroom, & Suite’s Living Area

Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila

A fabulous four-starred hotel, the Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila is the real McCoy. Four or five star hotels are definitely heavier on the pocket, but their price ranges can vary depending on location and a myriad of other factors. Of course, booking a starred hotel is a much easier strain than planning your next trip abroad. In return, you can enjoy classy service, excellent amenities, fantastic food, and probably the finest sleeping experience you can enjoy. Since most starred hotels attract expats and foreign dignitaries, they’re designed to cater to a certain class of society. If you want to try different hotel chains, expect a consistent and exceptional quality of service each and every time. As soon as you enter, the Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila almost immediately awed with it massive and dazzling marble lobby. A sparkling chandelier graces the ceiling, and warm golden walls surround the receiving area. Right from the onset, one is struck with a sensation of glamor, and the sharply dressed receptionists and bellmen ensure that that sensation only amplifies during your stay.

Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila – Executive Suite Bedroom (left) , & Executive Suite’s Dining Area (right)

In the Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila, luxury bleeds from every tile, sheet, and surface. Along with the relaxation essentials of TV, minibar, electric kettle, and WiFi, a Golden Phoenix hotel also boasts of an iPod dock for you to listen to your vacation playlist. The room blends neutral colors to seemingly induce maximum relaxation. The Golden Phoenix Hotel has the select distinction of offering custom designed beds and mattresses to correct postural alignment for a healthy night’s sleep. Fall into the chiropractor-approved bed and feel it massage and caress every aching square inch. Snuggle in the fine Italian-inspired Frette sheet covers and the elegant down-filled duvet. Never get out of bed again. Staycations might be an escape from the stress and strain of daily life, but self improvement and exercise should always be part of your routine. The Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila understands the physical needs and whims of its guests. Before taking my well-deserved nap, I visited their high tech and fully decked out fitness center to get my grind on. Pumping iron and running digital laps on the treadmill have never been so rewarding knowing that you can finish your session with a dip in the pool, concluding with a hot shower and the embrace of your chiropractic bed.

Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila (Deluxe Twin)
Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila – Executive Suite’s Living Area (left) , Gym (right)

The true beauty of staycations is in their simplicity. You pick a hotel, check in, and just spend some time. Geared towards the number crunchers, the costs are relatively less extravagant than going to a destination vacation. And while it can’t be considered technically ‘adventurous,’ a staycation can be just as fulfilling or memorable than a flight abroad or a road trip to the beach. Staycations are becoming a pretty viable option. If you get some free time, go on TripAdvisor, pick a solid hotel, and book a room for a night or two. Wherever you decide, no one can argue that there are few sensations greater than falling into your hotel bed and breathing in the clean sheets. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. 

You’ve arrived. D+C

WORDS: John Ravino B. Duanan
IMAGES: Cocoon Boutique Hotel + Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila

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