How about a fresh mango shake and a good book as you lounge at your veranda with spectacular views of Honda Bay? Isn’t it dreamy? Yes definitely Astoria Palawan Hotel and Resort got you covered with that. Tucked in a 5 hectare mango orchard, the resort is a perfect getaway to relax and rejuvenate. Its seclusion offers not only tranquility but also a laid back sojourn to guests .
As Astoria Club Members, Derick and I were entitled for a 1 week stay at any Astoria properties this year. That being said, we decided to use our entitlement for our 10th wedding anniversary in Astoria Palawan. The resort has good reviews in TripAdvisor plus my parents and siblings had an amazing experience during their vacation at the resort last year. With all the positive feedback we heard, it was an easy choice. We made our reservations with high expectations of having a memorable experience.
Were our expectations met? Let me share our experience and how they ruined our special day.
The travel from the airport to the hotel was more or less 90 minutes. It’s a little far to be honest but our comedian driver Mr. Paquito somehow made it a less boring commute. By the way we booked our hotel transfers at the resort prior to our arrival to avoid unnecessary hassles.
Lobby & Reception
The reception area has a striking blue accent from the wall and floor up to the furniture. It’s not a bad thing tough, however, for me it made the area dark and cramped like there’s so much going on all over the place.
Upon arrival, the reception staff entertained us right away and we got settled into our suite in one of the villas of the resort.
Our 1 bedroom suite consist of a spacious living and dining area, a kitchenette and a huge bathroom. The room is equipped with 32″ LCD TV, DVD player, safety deposit box, coffee tea making facility, microwave oven, induction stove, refrigerator and the bedroom has 2 queen size beds.
What I love about our suite aside from the spacious bedroom is the huge toilet and bath. It has a luxurious bathtub, double sink and a separate shower area and toilet. The toiletries provided were exquisite too.
Facilities and Recreational Areas
There’s no reason to be bored, the resort has indoor and outdoor recreational areas to enjoy. Indoor recreation area is located inside the Reception Pavilion where billiards, card and board games, ping-pong, and computer stations / video games for children can be found.
At the moment the beach is under construction and it may take a while to finish it. However kayak and paddle board are still available. The resort pool and the water park are the best option if you want to go splashing.
There are two restaurants within the property, the Pavilion and Aquacena. The Pavilion is the main restaurant of the resort. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. While Aquacena is at the water park which only opens for lunch service.
The food was okay (not very good, not excellent) and food selection was just average. Staying there for a whole week, we almost memorized their menu already. Their breakfast buffet has minimal choices but decent. The grilled station serves the same items everyday and their seafood weren’t that fresh anymore (it’s frozen and thawed already).
Resort guests and Astoria Club members has a complimentary one time use of the park.
The water park is a short walk from the resort, however you can request for a shuttle service at the reception to bring you to the park. It’s not the biggest I’ve seen but just enough to have fun and enjoy the water. Towel and locker rentals are available within the park. Shower and changing rooms are also provided.
When Derick and I checked-in we clearly informed them that we were there to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We requested to have a romantic dinner on our special day which was about four days from the time we made our request. Actually they have ample time to prepare for it. Right then and there, they gave us the price (3,500 Php/couple) for the romantic dinner. We didn’t have any issue on how much it costs, however, our main concern was the food to be served at the dinner. I have several food allergies so it is critical for me to know the kind of food they will prepare. We told them that it would be helpful if they can give us a menu for the special dinner ahead of time so we can choose. They gave us an affirmation, that’s why we thought everything was taken cared of.
The next day we went back to follow up, still they don’t have any details on how to execute it however they told us that the 3,500 Php was consumable for the food only. If we want a bigger anniversary cake we have pay extra. The same is true for the drinks.
On the third day, we again asked the reception if they already have the menu for our special dinner. They told us that we can choose our meals from the restaurant menu. Knowing that, we were very disappointed. Seriously, romantic dinner? It is supposed to be special, right? And we’ll be paying 3,500 Php for the same food we will be eating for the entire week. Considering the prices of the food in the menu, 3,500 Php was too much for a 3 course meal even if we include drinks. To our dismay we decided to cancel the romantic dinner and just eat at the restaurant for our anniversary instead. To make matters worse, after our cancellation of the romantic dinner, the receptionist didn’t even had the decency to say sorry. He simply doesn’t care about it.
Base on our experience in other hotels and resorts that we have stayed in the past, the moment they learn that their guests are celebrating a special occasion, it is automatic that they’ll do something to make it a memorable stay. However in our case with Astoria, it was totally the opposite.
Perhaps they value special milestone of their guests but they are selective. Because the night before our anniversary dinner, we saw how they surprised a Korean lady who was celebrating her birthday. The restaurant staff enthusiastically sang a birthday song and warmly greeted her with a slice of cake with a candle to blow. It was heart warming seeing them do that.
Actually I was still hoping that they will do something about it and we will have a memorable anniversary as I was expected. Unfortunately, it didn’t happened. On the night of our anniversary dinner, we ate at the restaurant like any other usual meal we had at the resort, bought ourselves a slice of cake and instructed the waiter to write a ‘Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary’ dedication on it.
At that moment I felt like Astoria didn’t care about their members. More often than not, Club Members will often book Astoria properties because they already invested their money in them. Unlike regular paying guests, they want entertain them more so that the guests would return and again stay at their hotels. I hope I’m wrong, but after our experience I can’t help but think that way.
Frustrated and emotional, I called the attention of the General Manager who happened to be at the restaurant. I poured out all my frustrations to him. He tried to do something about it, which I appreciated a lot. But still that did not change the fact that our special day was already ruined big time.
Obviously their service has irregularities. For instance during our first dinner at the restaurant, all the staff were very friendly and attentive to us. All the complimentary items that they have were brought to our table. The food that we ordered was served quickly and the presentation was nice. Excellent service during our first two days. However on our third day, we experienced something different. This happened when Derick and I came in for a late lunch after our city tour. We ordered pizza in the hope that it will be quick since we were starving. After a few minutes the waiter informed us that no one was preparing our order because the kitchen staff was having a briefing. Since there’s nothing we can do, we waited. No complementary bread were given even though the waiter was aware that we were already hungry. The restaurant manager saw us but didn’t bother to send someone to the kitchen to prepare our food. Again they didn’t care even if we were close to passing out because of hunger. Their briefing was more important than a hungry guest. They only gave us the complementary bread when I started complaining and on the verge of freaking out. Imagine it took more than an hour to serve our food.
As much as I wanted to be considerate, they still need to address those issues we have encountered during our stay. It would have been a perfect stay if they did not messed up our special day. Not everything was bad though. I love our accommodation. And also I would like to commend some staff who did a good job like the drivers, the spa therapists, the security guards, one of the girl in the reception who was very helpful and the general manager. We’ll surely be coming back but not during special occasions.