When the husband surprised me with a staycation for our 3rd wedding anniversary, I was a bit doubtful that we’d be able to pull it off. We’ve been having a hard time with the new baby in our lives, and I didn’t want to waste money that would be more appropriately used to buy practical things. Like diapers!
But the husband convinced me THAT WE DESERVED THIS break, so I just closed my eyes and got myself excited for this new experience.
Despite the logistics challenge and figuring things out for the first time, I’m glad we went for it. It was a great way to spend some quality time together, and to let Oliver experience another first. He won’t remember it, for sure, but we’ll have lots of pictures to show him when he’s older.
The husband chose the new Shangri-La at the Fort in the heart of Bonifacio Global City, taking advantage of the early booking rate and the promo they had since they had just opened to the public.
The hotel wasn’t fully operational yet during our stay, so I made sure to not set my expectations too high. Of course, I looked forward to the usual Shangri-La quality, but I went in with a more relaxed attitude. The only goal was to survive the weekend away from home with a happy baby.
As soon as we entered the lobby, I immediately felt that it was a different kind of Shangri-La. It felt a bit more like a business hotel. But just the same, we were greeted with friendly smiles.
We booked a Deluxe Room, which is their most basic room. It wasn’t a basic-looking room though, as it was spacious and comfortable for our small family of three.
Please excuse the disheveled look of the bed. It was much neater when we came in, but Oliver decided to poop on the way up and we changed him before taking this shot of the bed.
I personally loved the bed because it was very comfortable, and big enough for all three of us. We co-sleep on a Queen-sized bed at home so this King-sized bed was a perfect upgrade from our usual experience.
The bathroom was the usual, with a separate bathtub and shower stall. I didn’t really get to use the tub because when there’s a baby in tow, there’s hardly any time to slow down and relax in a tub.
I also tried to paint on this desk, but every time I was ready and in the mood, Oliver would want to feed or cuddle. My baby comes first!
This sofa area was our alternate breastfeeding corner, aside from the bed. I liked that I was able to prop my feet up for those longer feeding sessions.
Each room also came with complimentary snacks. The dried mango was yummy, but skip the dried coconut because that just tasted artificial and the texture was like chewing on a piece of cardboard.
Since they were still fixing things up in the hotel, there were also very little dining options available. We could have easily gone out (which the husband did to buy dinner for our first night), but we had also decided to literally STAY inside for our staycation.
On our first day, we explored the hotel’s amenities, including the pool area, Kerry Sports Manila, Kerry Sprouts (the Kerry Sports cafe), the High Street Cafe (buffet is served here) and the High Street Lounge.
We snacked on some crudite and a carrot muffin from Kerry Sprouts that afternoon while walking around the rest of the hotel. If you’re ever at Kerry Sprouts, buy that carrot muffin. It was moist, filling, and delicious!
On our second day, we didn’t really have much to do so we walked around again.
By the time we reached the High Street Lounge, I was already feeling hungry. Blame it on the breastfeeding! Before giving birth, I hardly ate merienda, but when I started breastfeeding, I felt hungry all the time. I had to eat something!
And because this was a weekend of indulgence, we decided to try out their afternoon tea offerings at the High Street Lounge.
We chose the East (Php 950) set which included an amuse bouche of Pumpkin Cream with Bird Nest and Gold Leaf, savory snacks, pastries, and tea or coffee for two.
The Pumpkin Cream was my favorite for the balance of flavors it had, salty and sweet at the same time.
The Ginger Lemon scones with double cream and pineapple jam were also good, but the rest of the set were not as interesting on the palate as I had expected.
It also felt quite weird that we had to slice everything in half just so the both of us could taste everything. Is this how tea sets for two are usually served? Shouldn’t there be two of everything?
As for my drink, I got a decaffeinated latte. I haven’t had coffee in forever so I was really excited for this. I was truly throwing all caution to the wind since I didn’t know what effect coffee would have on my breastfeeding and on Oliver.
How could I resist? Especially after reading that their coffees were supplied by Toby’s Estate.
So much has changed from when we were just a married couple to now being young parents with a baby in tow. We never ever choose to dine inside our hotel room because the prices are ridiculous and the food is hardly that interesting.
But we had just eaten our afternoon tea, so going out to get some dinner right after was out of the question. By the time we had gotten Oliver to sleep, it was already late and a bit drizzly.
So, yeah, we just decided to order some room service.
I got their Lechon Kawali, which was surprisingly flavorful albeit being rather oily. I liked that it was served with a lot of vegetables. The serving was huge too!
The husband got their Char Kway Teow, which was also a big serving packed with strong flavors. There was real crab meat in it! Take note though that this is a spicy meal, so those who have a mild palate should be cautious.
Normally, we could have shared just one of the dishes, but I guess we were hungry because we finished both.
On our last day, we were feeling adventurous so we decided to avail of their breakfast buffet at the High Street Cafe. Our room didn’t come with breakfast for two, so we had to pay extra for this.
Before the baby, breakfast buffets were my absolute favorite part of staying in hotels. But with a baby, things can go wrong so quickly, so we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to pull things off.
Oliver doesn’t like being in his stroller for very long, but we prayed extra hard that morning for his good behavior, and luckily, our prayers were answered. We only had to carry him a few times, and we were actually able to eat as leisurely as we liked.
Admittedly, the breakfast stations didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. Their lunch and dinner stations were much more appetizing.
But I’m still glad that we were able to enjoy a great start to our morning.
I usually start with a plate of greens and salad. That light green mush on my plate was an avocado spread. It sounded better than it tasted.
Normally, I would eat the pastries at the end of my breakfast buffet meal, but that pastry station had been calling out to me since the first day and I couldn’t resist it anymore.
Loved that cake slice! It was super moist too. I’m just not sure what it really was since there wasn’t any sign to tell me. But definitely try that if you see it.
And for my main meal, I usually go for garlic rice, an over easy egg, and some meats. The bacon was uniquely prepared, freshly cooked right in front of you. You can even request for the doneness too, and of course, I chose a crispier and more charred piece.
In case you’re in a hurry or want something extra after your breakfast, there’s also a Grab and Go cart near the entrance of the High Street Cafe. I think that this is such a cute idea, which is quite considerate as well.
Since this was our first staycation with Oliver (and our first night/s away from home since we brought him back from the hospital), we knew that we were going to learn some things over the weekend.
It was really a sort of experiment for us, and a little preview of what it might be to travel with a baby.
Here are some of the things that I learned and realized:
IT WON’T BE A DISASTER
Before Oliver, we only brought a tiny carry-on luggage during weekend trips. That was already enough for the both of us, and we’d even have room to spare. We had learned the art of packing light.
But having a baby with us meant that we needed to prepare for all scenarios and possible poop accidents. We had to have extras of everything. I was ready for battle!
Although we did eventually use up our extra pajamas, it also wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Oliver was fairly well behaved and good natured. He slept well (dare I say even better than his sleeping at home), and we didn’t have to run out and get more things for him.
FIND THE FUN
Since we still wanted to pack as light as possible, we didn’t really want to bring too many things with us that were unnecessary, especially toys. Luckily, Oliver is in the stage where he LOVES mirrors.
And our favorite “toy” ended up being the mirror inside the bathroom that showed a magnified reflection. The husband invented the “tiny baby, giant baby” game where he would just switch from normal mirror to the magnifying mirror, and Oliver would already have an amazing time.
Oh, to be young and carefree!
RESEARCH AHEAD OF TIME
Before our weekend staycation, we already called the hotel ahead of time to ask what kinds of amenities they had that would help us with taking care of the baby.
They had the usual baby cot, which we ended up not using because Oliver hated it. He cried as soon as we put him in there!
They also had a baby bathtub, and that one we loved! I was ready to give him a super duper quick bath in the giant bathtub, and to pray that he didn’t poop while we were in there. But thankfully, we didn’t have to do that.
Instead, we were able to thoroughly clean Oliver using a more appropriately sized bathtub.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Yes, I already mentioned not bringing too many toys. In our case, we really only brought one. It was our go-to solution for when we couldn’t get him to calm down any other way (thankfully that didn’t happen), or really just to stimulate or focus him.
We brought his favorite Mr. Tiger toy from his Bright Starts play gym, and that was really all he needed. Aside from us, of course! He still really prefers to play with us anyway, so this was just something extra for him to feel more comfortable in the strange new place.
QUALITY TIME IS THE BEST TIME
Whether it was just a weekend at home or this grander staycation in a hotel, it wouldn’t really have meant anything if we didn’t put everything aside and just focus on one another. I’m all the more grateful that the husband prepared for this weekend by finishing all his work so he could spend all that time with us.
He has been working extra hard since Oliver was born, and I don’t blame him, because we now have an extra person to take care of. That made it all the more special that all three of us were present and making memories together.
It was definitely a successful first staycation for our little family of three.