Tuesday, May 26, 2015

TRAVEL | The Oriental Legazpi: Beautiful hotel but showing early signs of aging

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The Oriental Legazpi's lobby as viewed from the stairwell between the 4th and 5th floors.

Enamored by its bright and airy design, not to mention its fantastic view of the Mayon Volcano -- at least from what I've seen in pictures -- I have long wanted to try The Oriental Legazpi. Our recent trip to Bicol finally allowed me to, as we decided to spend our third night closer to the airport. We thought it would be too much stress if we'd come all the way from Sorsogon City.

So how was it? Here's the rundown.

Online booking is available on the hotel's website, so there was no problem at all in this aspect. Rooms are also available on several hotel booking sites like Agoda and Booking.com.

The Oriental is detached from most of the city and it isn't near any establishment at all. It's perched atop a hill and I reckon it wouldn't be very easy to access unless you get a cab or hire a car. Nonetheless, it probably has the best views of the city and of the very imposing Mt Mayon.

Checking in was supposedly swift until I requested for an extra key card. I wanted one because Kwittiegirl and I may not be leaving the room together all the time and I didn't want to disturb her in case she's asleep when I come back. As with a lot of hotels the key card used to open your door is the same one used to activate the electrical power.

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I find the lobby quite nice. Too bad the front desk is manned by illogical personnel. Well, at least one of them is.

I don't know what the front desk lady's problem was but she thought it would be much more efficient that they open the door for me every time. This would of course mean going to the front desk every friggin' time. And yes, she insisted on that setup. But I was adamant, so she finally said there's a deposit.

Geez, she wanted everyone to go through all that crap for a mere Php 100!

Architecture and ambiance
To me The Oriental Legazpi is a beautiful hotel, one that's modern and hip. Because it sits atop a hilly part of the city, it towers above everything else and in effect, enjoys an unobstructed view of the majestic Mayon Volcano.

With its really high ceiling, white walls and beams, and its generous use of glass panels, the hotel's lobby immediately ushers guests to a bright and airy grandness, however minimalist the aesthetic this space follows. To the right is even more space, but with color tastefully introduced. Although it's thoughtfully filled with several clusters of couches and seats, there's still a lot of space left, which is more than enough to hold exhibits and what-have-you.

I also like the furniture, decor, and lighting fixtures. It's a complete 180 from the familiar warmth of traditional Filipino design we just experienced at Siama Hotel but I like it. They may lack the heart and classic appeal of hardwood but their modern edginess suits the place just fine. Perfectly fine, so to speak.

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A mere slice of the hotel's generosity of space, more than enough to hold exhibits like this actually.

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An introduction to color. I like that there are a lot of places to lounge at the lobby alone.

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The edgy furniture and decor prove to be the perfect complement to the hotel's contemporary design. (Sorry I couldn't take a proper head-on shot because of one of the sculptures on exhibit.)

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Nice modern touches everywhere.

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This was in front of the lifts. Nice, no?

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Interesting lighting fixtures.

However, in spite of the hotel's beautiful design, the quality of its construction apparently didn't follow. It's a bit sad to see that this early, the building is already showing signs of wear. Please note that The Oriental is still a fairly new hotel and already, there are leaks and water stains in the lobby.

What did I say about the leftover space at the lobby being more than enough to hold exhibits? There were two when we were there, both of which were showcases of Bicolano talent and artistry. First was a selection of volcanic rock sculptures and the other, fashion installations from native materials.

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A sampling of the pieces carved out of rocks spewed by Mt Mayon. There was a group of women giggling at the sight of a penis but who took selfies with it anyway. Ladies, I tell you, that penis is rock-hard.

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More volcanic rock sculptures on display. They're for sale, too.

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Fashionistas represent! Such colorful creations!

Props to The Oriental for hosting such exhibits to promote local artistry and craftsmanship.

Our room
We booked a Deluxe Queen Mayon, which I think is already pretty descriptive of what the room is. It's just about right in size and, awash in mostly white paint, is consistent with the hotel's contemporary aesthetic. The bed's headboard is curiously almost as tall as the ceiling.

It's just disappointing to see water stains on the walls, which had me thinking where all that water came from in the first place. For that to happen to a young hotel could only mean construction problems.

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The room is just as bright and airy as the lobby.

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From another angle.

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The sliding glass doors open up to a balcony with a commanding view of the Mayon Volcano.

The bed was fine with me except that it felt damp when we first came in. It was like housekeeping had a little too much linen spray on their hands. They also weren't very generous with pillows; there were only two.

The room is fitted with a closet, console, and a work table. There's also a personal fridge (which was empty, though), TV, a complimentary tea and coffee-making facility, and an electronic safe that's wide enought to fit a MacBook.

The bathroom is fairly spacious although it could have benefited from a wiser layout to probably afford the sink just a wee bit more elbow room. While everything here is functional, I had a problem with the sink as it was positioned a tad too far from the faucet.

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The sink and shower room.

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Notice how the sink is positioned too far from the faucet.

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The view from our balcony. How beautiful can it get?

Our room also has a balcony, though devoid of any furniture. But with "Mayon" attached to this room category, the view it offers of the famed volcano is unobstructed and simply breathtaking. It probably is the best part of this room.

There's a restaurant on the ground floor near the front desk. I haven't tried it except for the buffet breakfast. The variety was just about decent but overall I found it meh. At night, or at least when we were there, this same restaurant transforms into a happening night spot with live music.

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I don't have photos of the restaurant but that's the entrance on the left.

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There's also a cafe at the lobby.

At the far end of the lobby is a cafe, although I haven't checked what they serve there. Room service is also available for those lazy moments where you just don't feel like leaving your room.

I haven't exactly surveyed the entire hotel but I do know that it's probably the only hotel in Legazpi that can host big conventions and other such events. They also have this open space downstairs next to the pool where guests can stroll or simply hang out.

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The area next to the pool, as viewed from our balcony.

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The parking and drop-off area at the back of the hotel.

In addition to the above, the hotel has a gym and a well-appointed spa. The masseuse was good that I easily dozed off halfway through the treatment. That said, the spa is worth a try.

Contrary to my not-so-pleasant experience at check-in, checking out was decidedly efficient.

In hindsight
The Oriental Legazpi may not have the most convenient location but it easily has the best views of Mayon and of the rest of the city. It's a beautiful contemporary hotel with adequate facilities but with construction problems that I hope management can address to avert its accelerated decay.

I wasn't happy with the food although my experience was very limited. The spa is worth a try, however. While some hotel staff could use a little more training on customer experience, I probably wouldn't mind staying here again. I mean, the view is quite difficult to resist.

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The Oriental Legazpi is located at Taysan Hill, Sto. NiƱo Village in Legazpi City, Albay. Legazpi is serviced by multiple daily flights from Manila, Cebu, and other select domestic locations. It also is accessible by land travel. Bus trips are available at Cubao, Pasay, and other terminals in Metro Manila. Travel time is approximately 12 hours.



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