Once in Olongapo, one of our Uncles – the very cool and awesome musician extraordinaire - Uncle Macky picked us up from the bus station. (Thanks again, Uncle Macky!) We then traveled what seemed like hours (more like 45 minutes) into Subic where we were staying for the night – at the Kamana Sanctuary.
The Sister and I were particularly excited to stay at Kamana Sanctuary because we saw some awesome pictures online. Though the reviews were spotty, we were willing to give them a shot. Olongapo and Subic aren’t known for their resorts. There’s mostly small mom and pop operations throughout the city and we wanted our Mamang to be comfortable where we were staying. At Kamana Sanctuary, we booked one of their Casitas – an over-water bungalow with direct island views. We were told that these 10-12 Casitas were the best accommodations of the entire resort. Heck, this was my first over-water bungalow and I was excited!
While the resort is beautiful, it was a little bit of a Monet ("Clueless" reference – nice to look at from far but a little scary up-close!)
The Over-water Casitas – great views of the clear water below and awesome patio to relax in.
The Pool – very nice infinity pool and the water was perfect, even for a midnight swim.
The Restaurant – for the most part, the food at the restaurant was good.
The Amenities – well appointed bathrooms with rainfall shower heads AND hot water (hot water is a luxury in the Philippines!)
No lobby area - There was no designated lobby area – in fact, the “lobby” was inside the restaurant area – which made for a very confusing check- in process.
Unfriendly, untrained, and limited staff – The check in staff were less than friendly. After a terse hello, they immediately asked for my credit card and proceeded to tell me that they’re charging the card for an extra $50 for
incidentals on top of what we’ve already paid for the stay. Hmmmm…we’ve stayed at hotels all over the world and this is the first I’ve heard of this. Additionally, members of the staff were confused with who was in charge of what – even getting our luggage to our room. Finally, they decided that it was the security person’s job to get us checked into our Casita. OK, I guess. The poor guard didn’t really know what to do either. After we opened the door to the Casita, he unloaded our bags and say goodbye. Meanwhile, we were left to figure out where the phones, the fridge, and the safe were. While it wasn’t the biggest deal, it showed a lack of customer service and care for their guests.
Broken items in need of Repair – First, our phone was broken. You had to literally dial for 5 minutes before it connected the call to the front desk. Second, tiles in the pool were broken and this can lead to a very serious accident if someone gets one of their hands or feet stuck in the holes. Finally, our safe was not working. To me, one of the most important things inside your hotel room is the safe. Carlos and I don’t even book hotels without them because the first thing we do is put our valuables, including our passports, inside the safe when we travel so that we know they are secure. The maintenance staff finally had to come in to swap out a new safe that was working.
After discovering the broken safe, I finally had to call the front desk to ask to speak with the manager. Amongst
other issues during our check-in, I was also concerned that my emails and even Facebook messages were left unanswered prior to our trip. I wanted their staff to know that this was a special surprise for our Grandma and
wanted to know if they could accommodate a large party for dinner for our extended family during our stay. I
also wanted to see about adding additional hotel guests to our Casita because our cousin wanted to join us for the night. I did not receive a response to any of my prior messages and it was definitely cause for concern. (Looking back now, I should have taken this as a sign that this was not going to be a very good stay and looked for an alternative hotel.)
For her part, Anna, the Manager, did her best. She said that all of their emails and online messages were handled at their Manila office and she was going to follow up on it. It was water under the bridge at this point. She also apologized for the lack of welcome and care that the staff showed when we arrived. She mentioned that because of cost-cutting measures, she had to hire new (READ: cheaper, less-trained) staff and they were still learning the ropes. Right as she was explaining this, we heard a loud thud in the bathroom. (And it goes from bad to worse LoL!) It seems the maintenance person dropped the broken safe on the floor and broke the tiles in the bathroom. At this point, we all just had to have a good laugh. Anna offered to move us to another Casita to salvage what was left of our stay. The Sister and I just looked at each other. We were over this stay – we just had to make the most of the situation.
We got to feed all the fish near the beach under our Casita. This was a real treat! The water was very clear and there was a tremendous amount of fish nearby. We were given bread pieces by the staff members so that we can feed the fish. It was sooo cool! That’s the memory that I’m choosing to keep from this stay at Kamana Sanctuary.
Oh and there's also the wild Monkeys that lived in the forest nearby. So fun to see these little guys! (Just don't feed them!)
We realized that when things don’t necessarily pan out during your vacation, you just have to roll with the punches. While we could have let this experience ruin our trip, we rolled up our sleeves, said “C’est la vie”, and jumped back into the pool!
What were some of your vacation mishaps?