It couldn’t have come at a better time. I was starting to feel bouts of listless depression resulting from this never-ending quarantine restrictions when my good friend, Pete Dacuycuy, invited me and his other friends to a weekend in Subic. With the recent lowering of the metro’s alert level, freeing people like us from “bondage”, I practically jumped out of my seat and gave him a big YES!
In no time, I found myself and my driver on the expressway en route to SCTEX, the shortest way to Subic. What made this weekend escapade even more fulfilling, aside from the fun activities Pete laid out for us, was that the hotel we stayed at was not only easy to find (just make a right turn after entering the Subic Bay Freeport Zone), it also had a lot of pleasantly unique service attributes that make it stand out from other hotels I have been to.
Le Charmé Suites is a 5-year-old boutique hotel, perfect for families because it has 45 large, functionally designed rooms, each with a balcony overlooking Subic’s business hub. On every floor is a playpen furnished with colorful toys and activity sets to keep the toddlers busy, while making it easy for parents or nannies to watch over them.
Before the pandemic set in, the hotel had a very healthy year-round occupancy rate, running in the high 70s, mostly families and couples from the National Capital Region looking for a more sedate and peaceful environment far away from the metro’s polluted concrete jungle. Now that staycation is once again allowed, the hotel is well on its way to regaining its foothold of the metro’s leisure market.
Josephine Floresca, Le Charmé Suites’ perky and amiable managing director, recalls that, on a two-week visit to Paris, she was fascinated by the beauty of the world’s most romantic city. She decided to deploy her newly found preference for anything French by utilizing tasteful French décor in the hotel and displaying her beautiful handpicked art pieces in its every nook and cranny.
During our chat, she pointed out that the hotel’s Taiwanese investors, on their first visit to Subic, confided to her that they were charmed by the refreshing and sedate ambience of the area, especially by the relaxing view of the surrounding mountains and lush greenery. That feeling, and her proclivity for anything French, made her decide to give the hotel its name.
As mentioned earlier, the hotel has charming qualities that can easily captivate any guest. When I entered the lobby, I was delighted to see that the lounge seats have cute and cuddly teddy bears propped up on some positions, instead of the usual, cheap-looking giant “X” marks used by other hotels to ensure physical distancing.
The moment I entered my room, I got a call immediately from the front desk asking me if everything in the room was to my liking, and telling me they were just a call away if I needed anything else. I found this unexpected gesture refreshingly endearing.
The culinary specialties put together by the hotel’s young chef, Diana Marie Frias, can easily be the favorite of foodies of all ages. I had the opportunity to sample her signature dish, Paella Marinara, and her version of cochinillo, and they were no different from those I tasted in the restaurants of Madrid. And the cheesecake I had for dessert was just as good as that of Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, known to make the best cheesecake in New York City!
But what gave me a pleasant surprise was when I found out that the hotel’s Le Charmé Cafe serves Tsokolate Batirol, the way my mother used to make. I felt nostalgic because the last time I had this Filipino breakfast staple was when I was still in high school. The hot chocolates I had through the years here in Manila or any of the cities abroad never tasted as good as the ones my mother used to make using a batirol and I’m pleased to say that Chef Diana certainly picked up where my mother left off!
Ending the hectic day was also an enjoyable experience. The hotel employs massage therapists who specialize in the Filipino “Hilot”, which I prefer to the other types of massage. I valued the style of the therapist who attended to me because she asked me first if I had muscular aches and pains that I wanted her to spend more time on. Naturally, by the end of the massage I felt like a new man! This therapist certainly had a helpful and effective strategy!
There are many more of these remarkable hospitality features that make the hotel a class of its own. It has its own sailboat which could be arranged for guests’ exclusive use in case they want to go sailing along Subic Bay. And I was thrilled to discover that the hotel’s roof deck swimming pool, which has a fascinating view of the entire Freeport Zone, is heated, making it easy for anyone to do several laps any time of the day.
These and other marks of distinction can easily mesmerize any jaded traveler like me. In fact, after having discovered this “estate of French charm, flair, and superb service measures”, I certainly wouldn’t settle for anything less the next time I visit Subic.
Wouldn’t you want to be charmed by Le Charme’, as well? Find out more about it at www.lecharmehotels.com
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