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Trip report Philippines: One night Peninsula Manila and 12 nights Amanpulo

Trip report Philippines: One night Peninsula Manila and 12 nights Amanpulo

Old Mar 21, 12, 2:34 pm
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Trip report Philippines: One night Peninsula Manila and 12 nights Amanpulo

We travelled with Emirates via Dubai in business class which was good, and arrived in Manila late afternoon. After luggage claim, we were met by a representative from Amanpulo. Amanpulo had organized our one night stay at Peninsula incl. pick up from airport to Peninsula and return to the Amanpulo lounge the next day. Good and efficient.

Peninsula Manila

Check in went smoothly and the nice lady from reception showed us our room. We had booked a grand deluxe room, and were told during check in that they had upgraded us to a slightly larger corner room (cannot find it at their internet site so I am not sure which category it was). The room was more than OK for a one night stay with a large bathroom, good beds and coffee making facilities. Design pretty old fashioned and not my style. We freshened up and went out to take a look at the shopping malls across the street which had a very good selection of prestige and mainstream brands. Lots of security everywhere to check bags etc. before one could enter hotels and malls. After some shopping, we went to have Chinese dinner at the Shang Palace restaurant in the Shangri-la hotel. Very good food, so good we ended up going back the last evening before our flight back home.

Amanpulo

Pre arrival service
From the first moment I contacted the Amanpulo team to discuss our reservation, preferences and activities; I felt that this would be a great holiday. Nothing was a problem; everything was taken care of in a very professional, warm way with great service all the way. All we had ever asked for in several emails over a longer period of time during planning of our stay was taken care of upon arrival.

Arrival
The Aman driver met us at Peninsula and took us to the Amanpulo lounge. The Amanpulo lounge was small but nice and we were welcomed, served drinks and canapés + cakes while waiting for the flight departure. We travelled with only one more family, so there was no problem to bring excess luggage (there is a limit of 20 kilo per adult and 10 kilo per child). The red carpet was rolled out and we boarded the small plane, and after a little bit more than one hour, we were landing at Pamalican Island where Amanpulo is. By landing we were greeted by senior staff (GMs were away for holidays, so we met them only later when they were back). We were taken on a small trip to see the main areas of the island which was very nice and informative. Drinks were served at the spa, at the clubhouse and at the beach club, before we arrived at our beach casita. More great welcome drinks and some snacks, both for adults and kid, were awaiting us there and the paperwork was done very quickly.

Beach casita
We were slightly worried based on pictures that we had seen, that the casita would look at bit old, but were really very positively surprised. Maintenance is excellent and the design fits perfectly into the setting of this paradise island. It is really not very easy to show on a picture how nicely done and beautiful the casitas are, one has to be there to experience it.
The combined living room/bedroom has a very comfortable bed (we had asked for a double mattress topper to be put on the bed to make it softer since we know that (some of) other (older) Aman beds are quite hard, and this worked really well). There is also a writing desk, two daybeds, a round table with chairs for in room dining, mini bar, TV with DVD player, mini bar, coffee-making facilities and storage space.
The bathroom is very large with large bathtub, good, separate shower, separate toilet, double vanities, a table, and plenty of space for our luggage. My hair and body very much liked the toiletries provided.
One of the daybeds had been made up as a comfortable bed for our son. This bed was later moved to the bathroom where it was plenty of space for it. We prefer it like this since we are then able to use the living room also after he is asleep.
Outside the casita is a large terrace with daybeds from which we had a wonderful view of the beach. Down some stairs there is a very comfortable hammock and a little sand walkway down to our beautiful private stretch of beach where our sun beds and umbrellas had been set up.

Villa
After 7 nights in a beach casita, I was surprised with a move to a villa for the last 5 nights. My husband had organized this secretly with help of the wonderful Aman staff. One of the staff came to say that he wanted to show us some villas after breakfast one day (which I had mentioned that I wanted), and when we came into the 2nd one, I suddenly noticed that all of our things had been moved over there while we were having breakfast. Wow!
While the casita was great, the villa was absolutely stunning. In addition to the two bedrooms (same as casitas), there was a living room with sofas and chairs, a large flat screen TV and a wine fridge, a dining room and – best of all – a huge terrace with very large private pool, loungers and a sala with daybeds. From the villa, a path lead down to a beach, passing an outside shower. Sun loungers and umbrellas were set up at the beautiful beach.
And finally: All villas come with private chef and butler who could not do enough to fulfill all our dreams and wishes. We hardly left our villa after moving into it, and felt like very special living in it. A real highlight.

My recommendation if you want to splurge, would actually be to split stay between beach casita and villa as we did. Enjoy beach and all of the island during your time in the casita and stay in to fully enjoy your villa and private pool when you move over there.


Overall design and atmosphere
Design is very natural and timeless, not at all modern, but very well kept, perfectly fitting with the island.
Atmosphere is very private and very laid back, no need for shoes except flip flops and no need to dress up even for dinner (you can if you like, of course, but we saw mainly casual guests rather than dressed up ones). Most of the time I felt that we were alone on the island, we saw few other guests, and when we saw them, they would mainly not spontaneously engage in a conversation. The personnel in restaurants or activities/beach team are very open and nice chatting to if you like. Senior management goes around talking to guests, we were chatting with them once or twice every day, typically before or after meals. All personnel felt to be really extremely well aware of our preferences and always made sure that things were how we wanted them to be, or even better. Little things like sweetener for the coffee or loads of extra chopped chilies with my husband’s meals was always remembered, no matter which restaurant we ate in. Also in terms of activities or special requests we had, we never experienced any kind of communication problems or “sorry, I have to check and call you back”, really excellent.

Food
You can have breakfast in your casita/villa, at the beach club and at the main club house – or in one of the special salas. The menus vary and selection is best at the main club house, but everything (and anything else you might prefer instead) can be had wherever you are. The items on the menu were all really good - some Spanish specialties were offered at the beach club, while the club house had Pilipino/Asian and Japanese breakfasts as well as the wonderful tropical bircher muesli and tropical fruit, several really tasty sweet dishes in addition to egg in any form, salads, jams, juices, great croissants and other bread. Breakfast was a real highlight I would say. The personnel would always remember our preferences and serve us with a smile.
Lunch is served in villa/casita, at main club house, in the pool salas, at beach club or pizzas at the picnic cove. We are not really eating a lot for lunch, but really enjoyed the pizzas and smaller snacks options in room or at the club house.
There are three locations for dinner in addition to in room dining and the special dinners that they offer; The beach club for wonderful tapas, paellas and other Spanish dishes as well as fresh seafood, the Lagoon Club for very tasty Vietnamese cuisine, in addition to international and Asian specialties (Indian, Thai, Philippine) in the main clubhouse. We were more than happy with the food quality and choice, even for our 12 nights stay, we did not get to try everything. Our preference for extra spicy food was always remembered, and my husband got to try loads of different chilies that really made him sweat! Great!
We mostly ate Asian food during our stay, so I cannot really comment on the international dishes.
Very beautiful sunsets with pre dinner cocktails at the beach club, star gazing at the main club house.
After we moved over to the villa, it was possible to enjoy all meals in the villa, prepared by own chef, served by butler. Our chef were able to cook us Indian, Thai, Italian and Mexican food and the most wonderful own catch fish lunch + great little salads and snacks whenever we felt like it. We would just tell him what kind of food we liked to have, and let him surprise us for the rest, which was always sucessful. Our table was beautifully set up inside or outside dependent on our wishes and the meals very good and enjoyable.

The very best dinner experience we had during our stay, was the private beach BBQ. We got to choose between different menus (or add own wishes) and the food was cooked by private chef and served by private butler at the beach and everything was just beautifully set up with loads of candles, a bonfire and comfortable seating. Very good, very romantic. A must do!


Activities/excursions
While Amanpulo is a wonderful place to do nothing at all, they have a number of excursions and activities on offer as well. We went out for snorkeling (two complimentary trips per day), went with a boat to see the neighbor island and have picnic lunch at a beautiful sandbar (amazing!), we had cocktails and snacks at the kawayan (floating) bar (fun!) and went for sunrise fishing (chef prepared out catch for lunch afterwards) in addition to exploring all parts of the island by foot and buggy and water sports, of course.
All excursions were truly Aman style always with some extra luxury touches; for example we asked for just some croissants take along to eat during the fishing trips since we would have full breakfast later, and found coffee, tea, croissants, butter and marmalade beautifully set up in the boat when we entered it very early in the morning. Another example is the treasure hunt for our son, the island map had been made to look old like a real pirates map. Final example: when coming back from the beach BBQ there were hundreds of candles and floating lights at our villa pool. Amazing!

Spa and sport
I visited the spa three times, for a pulo signature massage, for a full body treatment (steam, scrub, soak and massage) and for a facial. All great treatment and a very skilled and friendly team at the spa. Beautiful view from the spa as well.
Husband and son played tennis every day. There are four tennis courts, two of them with lights at night, great pros. We did not visit the gym a lot (laaaazy holiday feeling), but it is very well done with good equipment. Also yoga and pilates offered (but again did not try).

Beach and pool
The beach is the best I have seen, white, fine, soft sand, crystal clear turquoise water. The main pool was the only thing I would not rave about. Too much concrete around it, not as tranquil as many other pools I have seen. Salas around it were, however, great, and the water nice and warms, drinks cold and service good, so we enjoyed spending time there in spite of the design.

Overall
The best service I have ever experienced after having been at 8 Amans, 11 FS resorts (most Asia) and several other luxury hotel.
The most relaxing holiday I have ever been on.
A beautiful island with dream beach and wonderful people.
Just go!

Last edited by Musken; Mar 22, 12 at 4:59 am
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:33 pm
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Opening flyertalk to find a trip report from Musken is always such a pleasure. I will move Amanpulo way up on my list of places to go, thanks to this superb, insightful, detailed report. Thanks so much, Musken. Remind me -- when will we have an Amanruya report from you???
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Old Mar 21, 12, 3:50 pm
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Wonderful, Musken! Thanks.
I'm taking the libery of also posting your earlier comments about mini-Musken just to keep this all in the same place....

________________________________________

Our son is 8 years old.

Amanpulo is really great for kids. We did not meet a lot of kids (I think we saw two or three younger ones while we were there - most kids are during Christmans, Easter and Chinese New Years I heard), but they are really very kid friendly. Firstly the fantastic beach is great for kids to play, and amazingly, the sand does not get very hot even when the sun is shining on it all the time. They set up as many umbrellas and sun loungers that you need in front of your casita, and have beach toys available.

There is a kids club, focused on rather very young kids, located at the departure lounge at the island airport. Also there is a playground so well hidden that I never saw it, but my husband and son visited one day, and again this was for rather young kids. There are lots of nannies available, and - if requested - they can come to babysit or play with the kids in the villas or casitas as well. Not sure about costs.

Kids club has games and the main library also a number of kid friendly DVDs to watch in your casita or villa.


A very cute tradition at Amanpulo is that all kids get to plant their own tree; someone has already prepared a hole for it, so the kids just put it in and shuffle earth over it and water it and then there is a special wooden sign preparred with name of kid and date + of course cold towels to wash hands afterwards - it is Aman after all. Our son has already told me that we need to go back to see his tree some day, so great future marketing as well as fun!

One day, we asked them to prepare a treasure hunt for him, and he got a map of the island and his first hint on his bed at night one day, and had four of five different tasks to solve before he found his treasure the next day. This was not something they had done before, they prepared it all especially for him, but it might very well be something they do for more kids since it was great fun.

Also he got to make his own pizza, got "chef clothes" and a special Amanpulo junior chef sign (both to keep) and had fun making pizza at the picnic cove with the team there (a little before normal lunch time so no other guests were there).

He (and his parents) got to see turtlenesting at night and help releasing turtle babies into the sea one day. Wonderful and a real highlight.

He played tennis every day (they have kid size equipment), mostly with my husband, but there are also pros that could have given lessons (complimentary) if my husband would not have wanted to play himself.

He learnt to make fruit drinks himself, got to help behind bar at first and also at the excurisons to the raft bar. Great fun.

He went with us on excursions (snorkelling (they have kids size equipment) boat excursions to sand bar, to the raft bar and fishing) and loved it as the staff would always take extra good care of him.

But most importantly: When we moved over to the villa, he and the butler really become playing friends. Our son went to the butler kitchen as often as he could, helped cooking with the villa chef (especially fun cooking his own fish after fishing excursions), he got to visit main kitchen to get stuff for the villa, got to prepare many more fruit drinks or played football or other things with the butler.

Some of these activities were Amanpulo initiatives, others were our own ideas that they organised for us or things happening spontanously just because our son was open for it and the staff is so great (and would be briefed every day about the things he had done, what he enjoyed etc. so that they would know).

All in all the favourite holidays also for our son.

Oh, and the bed thing: They set up the bed as shown on the picture, but actually asked us when we were shown our casita if they should rather move it to the bathroom (did they read here that we always like that or are they just so much better understanding what we want before we even say so???) so we did that and there was loads of space still in the bathroom, so no problem. Also they have kids size slippers and bathrobes automatically in the villa. And kids size mountain bikes, even saw one with those supporting wheels.

In restaurants or for in villa dining there is kids menu with very reasonable prices. And I saw high chairs for those in need of such.

Oh, yes: Also welcome drink and snacks for my son + goodbye gifts.

(and if I go on like this answering questions, I might just drop writing the real trip report ;-)
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Old Mar 21, 12, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Groombridge View Post
Opening flyertalk to find a trip report from Musken is always such a pleasure. I will move Amanpulo way up on my list of places to go, thanks to this superb, insightful, detailed report. Thanks so much, Musken. Remind me -- when will we have an Amanruya report from you???
Thanks a lot for the kind words.
We will be in Amanruya in July.
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Old Mar 21, 12, 4:30 pm
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Thanks also to you, Erika. And copying the child info like you did, makes you qualify as Kages 1st assistant (he already suggested we should do this).
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Old Mar 21, 12, 4:49 pm
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Fantastic report!^
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Old Mar 21, 12, 6:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Musken View Post
We will be in Amanruya in July.
Exactly what I was hoping to hear -- because that means I'll get the benefit of your trip report, presumably, before I'm there in mid-Aug.
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Old Mar 21, 12, 7:19 pm
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Musken - Great report!
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Old Mar 21, 12, 8:34 pm
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Musken previously >
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18223579-post89.html (pics)
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18223709-post91.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18224196-post93.html
Originally Posted by Musken View Post
treasure hunt for our son, the island map had been made to look old like a real pirates map...hundreds of candles and floating lights at our villa pool.

yoga and pilates offered

The beach is the best I have seen

The best service I have ever experienced after having been at 8 Amans, 11 FS resorts (most Asia) and several other luxury hotel.

The most relaxing holiday I have ever been on.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...ot-missed.html >
Originally Posted by Musken View Post
holiday was the best I ever had

right now, I love Amanpulo the most
Originally Posted by Musken View Post
It just got me

total experience was just perfect

The memories from Amanpulo will always be in my heart, other hotel memories are on pictures
yoga and pilates - classes? free?

just wow. seems like whatever issues have been reported at pulo in the past are currently long gone.

me >
exclusives - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18225059-post98.html
villas - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/18148909-post66.html

***

some here going to ruya in june

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Mar 22, 12 at 3:51 pm
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Old Mar 21, 12, 11:48 pm
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Musken, you spoke about food & restaurants. What about prices (food & wine)?
It may seems a stupid question, but how does it work when you're in villa?
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Old Mar 21, 12, 11:58 pm
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What a fantastic report ! Going to Bali for the Aman Bali journey this summer but this kind of reporting makes me (and my parents) long for Amanpulo !
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Old Mar 22, 12, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by Pierre&Cédric View Post
Musken, you spoke about food & restaurants. What about prices (food & wine)?
It may seems a stupid question, but how does it work when you're in villa?
The prices for food a were similar to other luxury resort, i.e. more of less similar to what one would pay at for example Sveti Stefan which I know you have been to. Portions generous, though, so we ended up ordering fewer items than normal once we got to know that. Wine costs not as high as the Maldives, but almost. Think the cheapest bottles would be starting at around 60 euro if I do not remember wrongly. High quality wines, though. I found soft drinks and cans of beer from the minibar to be priced above "normal", I think it was 6 euro for a can of diet Coke and 8 for a can of San Miguel beer.

I fully understand your question about the villa meals; I was also wondering what they would charge for private meals that had been cooked especially for us with no menu to choose from. We actually asked to see an overview of our bill after two days in the villa just to have a look at this, but were very happy to find out that these meals were not priced any higher than eating in any of the restaurants. Meals in villa would be family style (to share) and it was always possible to ask for a bit extra of whatever if we would like. Very much like at home, just much better if you know what I mean.

Beach bbq was more expensive, but totallly worth it.

I have not looked at the total bill, so I cannot give you any more specifics, try to aviod thinking about that

Originally Posted by vincentb89 View Post
What a fantastic report ! Going to Bali for the Aman Bali journey this summer but this kind of reporting makes me (and my parents) long for Amanpulo !
Oh, I am sure that Bali will be wonderful. Bali is my favorite island, since it has so much to offer in terms of culture and nature and great food on top of the relaxation, pools and beaches and the Amans there are excellent and the service is great as well. We have been to all the Indonesian Amans except Nusa (thinking of going to Nusa for the first time and back to Kila next winter, actually), and even though I say that service at Pulo was the best ever, the Indonesian Amans are just a tiny little bit behind, just talking details here. You will love it!

Last edited by Musken; Mar 22, 12 at 6:07 am
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Old Mar 22, 12, 10:59 am
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Musken, as I've said in another thread, having this report before I go there could not be better timing - thank you again for taking the time to write and photograph so much! It is hugely appreciated.
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Old Mar 22, 12, 2:15 pm
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Construction this year

Just was informed that casitas 27, 28 & 29 will be unavailable from about May 1 through December - due to renovation construction
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Old Mar 22, 12, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by lb8001 View Post
Just was informed that casitas 27, 28 & 29 will be unavailable from about May 1 through December - due to renovation construction
I think that they are building new villa(s) next to them. Maybe they make them unavailable to avoid any construction noice because of that?

Would not worry, though, I actually thought the beach was nicer a bit closer to the beach club. Beach and vegetation was "wilder" as further towards shark point (after 29) you would get.
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