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Manila and Boracay: GH MNL, JL J, and The Lind Hotel Boracay

Manila and Boracay: GH MNL, JL J, and The Lind Hotel Boracay

Old Nov 5, 2022, 4:36 pm
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Manila and Boracay: GH MNL, JL J, and The Lind Hotel Boracay

After 2.5years, it was time to head back to the Philippines to see my wife's family and friends. This time with our newest (already 20 months) addition, his sister, his stroller, his activity bag, his diapers, his wipes, well..you get the picture. You ask yourself, what could go wrong? (albeit in the context of very lucky, thankful, and privileged travelers). Well, just a few hiccups, but all and all a great trip.



Routing:JFK to MNL via HND aboard JL J class, a stay in MNL at GH Manila for a week, a quick flight to Boracay for 5 days at The Lind hotel, and then back to JFK via MNL-NRT-JFK on board JL J









Terminal 1 was moderately busy with a number of long-haul departures all within the noon-1pm window. With that in mind, I stumbled upon VIPOne a few weeks before, which is T1's version of CLEAR. For $35 per adult, we had a separate security area, with a private escort who took us to the front of the Pre-check line and helped us through security. With the two kids and all their accessories, this helped greatly and was well worth the cost.











Inside the VIPOne "lounge"





The door that leads to the front of the security line





JL J gives you access to AF Lounge, as well as the PrimeClass lounge. We made it to the AF lounge and were initially directed upstairs, which was extremely crowded, with no seating available for our family of 4. We headed back downstairs and found some seats by the windows. The lounge had a fine spread, with fresh fruits, salad, a few hot dishes, snacks, and full bar. The lounge itself has seen better days and is in serious need of updated furniture and flooring. Most of the chairs were torn and carpet terribly stained.































The White Claw was an interesting choice







Needs a good refurb/cleaning







Left the lounge and made our way to the gate. Some excellent wide-body plane spotting along the way.











The 777 taking us to Haneda





When we arrived at the gate and boarding passes scanned, the attendants informed us that my wife's seat was broken and did not recline. Obviously, this was really disturbing news to find out for a number of reasons, one that it is a 14hour flight and two that we were traveling with a 1.5yr old. I was a bit annoyed, and they said that they had been paging us at the gate. I mentioned we were in the lounge, and they should have attempted to locate us there. They switched my wife to an aisle seat in row 8 and my daughter and I were in row 10. Thankfully, the crisis was averted when we arrived at the seats, a lovely woman sitting in the middle seat was happy to switch to my wife's aisle seat. The "broken" seat was not occupied and actually ended up working, so low and behold, we had 4 seats to choose from.











So happy to see my little one in my happy place. She had a tough year, after finding out she had a rare brain tumor in January. She had immediate surgery to remove it and is happy and healthy these days. I promised her we would take her to the Philippines to get mango shakes once she was recovered.





PDBs were offered





Yes, I wear shorts on a plane and yes, I've thrown out my yeezys.







A glass of rose, along with some nuts and olives to start





Japanese starter





Japanese set plate





The extra seat came in handy





Mid-flight snack of salted chicken and pork katsu sandwich





Pre-arrival meal





One of the most important flight accessories, highly recommend it





Landed in HND. He's already an AvGeek





Making our way to the transit security area, which was not terribly crowded and moved quickly.





Through transit clearance and onto the Sakura Lounge, which was recently re-opened. First up was a shower, which is located in a lower satellite lounge that is closed, except for the shower rooms. Rooms were tight but we took 2 of them and were refreshed for a long layover at HND.















Closed satellite lounge where showers are located












Back at the lounge and we headed for the food. No buffet at the moment, but a fair amount of a la carte options, with quick and efficient service.











The curry was delicious as usual









Was happy to see iced coffee available, along with Pocari

Sweat









Lounge lockers





Plenty of lounge seating

Available





















Helpful and friendly staff, who were really sweet and accommodating with the kids





Left the lounge and stretched our legs in the terminal. Most of the stores were closed, with very few available food options open later in the evening. If you did not have lounge access and had a late flight, you were likely stuck with vending machines, which in Japan, is actually not that terrible of an option.





FamilyMart vending







JL 77

Departs HND at 1:25AM

Arrives MNL at 5:00AM

Boeing 767-300

A 15yo 767 was taking us to Manila, outfitted with the JL Sky Suite II. My first time in the Sky Suite II and while it's a bit narrow and while I'm a bit of a giant, it was perfectly fine for a quick hop to MNL.



















We all slept most of the way and landed in Manila a bit earlier than scheduled. Quickly through immigration and customs, where we collected our bags and found our Grand Hyatt representative















A GH van was waiting to take us to the Grand Hyatt, where we checked in quickly and were in our room shortly thereafter. After dropping our bags, we headed directly to the club lounge for breakfast.











We arrived at the GH in time to see the orchid refresh in the lobby





Front Desk at the GH Manila





Grand Executive Suite





























Lots of cold water and mango juice provided for us





Fresh fruit, dried fruit, and nuts welcome snack





Endless city views from the 55th floor





Balmain soaps and lotions





Club lounge pics from over the course of our stay

























More views from the Grand Club





Up next, more of Manila and the Lind Hotel in Boracay…
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Last edited by benjahman; Nov 6, 2022 at 6:44 pm
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Old Nov 5, 2022, 9:58 pm
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Great start! Looking forward to the Boracay portion.

Doing Manila and Boracay in April 2023.
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by benjahman
Needs a good refurb/cleaning
I think it's too late for cleaning....
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 10:42 am
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Nice read! From another dad whose daughter has had brain surgery, I am glad to hear that your daughter is happy and healthy.
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Old Nov 14, 2022, 5:18 pm
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Originally Posted by benjahman
The White Claw was an interesting choice
Hahaha, I'd expect something like this at LAS or if Frontier/Spirit had lounges.

So happy to see my little one in my happy place. She had a tough year, after finding out she had a rare brain tumor in January. She had immediate surgery to remove it and is happy and healthy these days. I promised her we would take her to the Philippines to get mango shakes once she was recovered.
Glad to hear your daughter is happy and healthy these days!

Yes, I wear shorts on a plane and yes, I've thrown out my yeezys.

I feel like only a fool wouldn't wear shorts on a long haul flight. Glad to hear it about the Yeezys. Not get to all OMNI but what a dangerous fool that guy is...


Left the lounge and stretched our legs in the terminal. Most of the stores were closed, with very few available food options open later in the evening. If you did not have lounge access and had a late flight, you were likely stuck with vending machines, which in Japan, is actually not that terrible of an option.

Any sense as to whether the stores/dining outlets were just closed early or semi-permanently closed until passenger numbers rebounded? I was just at ICN yesterday (!!!) and even worse was that all the luxury stores were open but the F&B outlets were only down to a handful. One whole food court looked like it was permanent closed.

Club lounge pics from over the course of our stay
Tapa, eh? I assume they had sinangag and fried eggs there too? Build your own tapsilog!

Glad to see a new TR from you. I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip.
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Old Nov 24, 2022, 9:44 am
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I stayed at The Lind for 3 nights in August. Looking forward to the rest of your TR!
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Old Nov 25, 2022, 11:46 am
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What's the brand on that little fan? Could definitely come in handy on Japanese flights when the heat is cranked!
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Old Nov 28, 2022, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by ruby&carlos
What's the brand on that little fan? Could definitely come in handy on Japanese flights when the heat is cranked!
​​​​​​Snawowo Mini Baby Stroller Fan, Handheld Personal Portable Clip On Fan with Flexible Tripod for Stroller Bike Desk Treadmill Crib Car Seat Outdoor Camping, USB or Battery Powered (Black) ​​​​​​Snawowo Mini Baby Stroller Fan, Handheld Personal Portable Clip On Fan with Flexible Tripod for Stroller Bike Desk Treadmill Crib Car Seat Outdoor Camping, USB or Battery Powered (Black)
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Old Dec 21, 2022, 4:20 am
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Looking forward to the rest of the TR.
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Old Feb 22, 2023, 8:09 pm
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Manila and The Lind Hotel - Boracay

Finally getting around to finishing this report.

Some more pics of GH Manila and around Manila
















Conrad Manila Bay



Went to visit my MIL's grave. She is buried in the Cemetary of Heroes as she was a lieutenant in the PH Army. While we were there, we stopped by the controversial resting place of Ferdinand Marcos.






After a week in Manila, it was time to head to Boracay for a fabulous stay at the Lind Hotel. Checked out of the GH Manila and headed for NAIA, which was busy but moving efficiently. We were flying Cebu Pacific today, which is a mainstay of domestic PH travel and international routes out of MNL.

NAIA



They have a new-ish fleet and while it is no frills, the planes are usually in good condition and always a cheerful crew.







Baggage Claim at Boracay Airport



Van ride to port to speed boat to another van and you're finally on Boracay Island and on your way to The Lind. It's all fairly seamless and the transfers are not too painful.




Lobby at The Lind















Gym at The Lind



Breakfast buffet was included in the room rate and it was fairly comprehensive for a small-ish hotel. Lots of options, heavy on the local taste with many different Filipino options. Really enjoyed all of the choices.










A la carte eggs benedict option









Water stations dotted the property






Kinilaw - Filipino ceviche



Super tasty Nasi Goreng



Excellent Halo Halo



Kids club with hair braiding available



More Nasi Goreng with a view






The weather was just absolutely perfect the whole time









Infinity Pool



Kinilaw and Pinakbet with a San Mig


Sunset with the fam



Next up will be the Sheraton Manila and JL J home via Narita
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Old Feb 27, 2023, 6:40 pm
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It's crazy how off the radar the Philippines is compared to Thailand and even Vietnam these days. TBH, the horror stories about making a connection at NAIA certainly don't help when considering Boracay for a vacation. I had a couple of extra vacation days to burn in late 2022 and I toyed with the idea of going to MNL but I settled on the much closer and easier YVR instead. Hopefully someday I'll make it out to the Philippines.
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Old Mar 1, 2023, 7:32 pm
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Thanks for the report! How was the location of the Grand Hyatt? I know traffic in Manila is crazy but did you find it somewhat convenient to get to certain places across the city?

Also wanted to say I thought your writing was great compared to the typical trip report—detailed enough but also personal, witty and even a bit self-deprecating. Definitely one of the more unique voices in a trip report I’ve read!
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Old Apr 26, 2023, 8:44 pm
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Finally getting around to finishing this report.

​​​​​​
Back at Boracay airport to head back to Manila. Small but efficient airport, which happened to have a Starbucks and some other food options in the waiting hall.




Cebu Pacific back to Manila









I love the no f's given vibe.



Landed and picked up the bags we had stored at NAIA. We then walked from Terminal 3 via the Runway Manila, which was a controversially expensive pedestrian footbridge that connects NAIA to the Newport City development, which houses many hotels, such as the Sheraton, Okura, etc.






Hopped in the hotel-provided van for a 2-minute ride to the Sheraton Manila - NAIA




Lobby






Taxi and runway Views from some rooms and the hallways



Large pool area which is shared with the Okura hotel



The hotel was built in 2018 and looks fairly new, with very nice finishes. We stayed in a King Club Level Room on the 10th floor.













Club Lounge evening spread
















A really decent and well-equipped fitness center was available. I got in a quick workout while the fam took a nap.










Took a closer look at the pool area, which had cabanas and a poolside bar



After a long nap, the fam woke up and our little guy spiked a fever and had a stomach bug. This was about 3 hours before we were due to leave for the airport. Unfortunately, due to scheduling constraints and insane pricing to rebook flights, we decided the best but not easiest decision was for my daughter and me to head back to NYC while leaving my wife and son in Manila. Our condo was in between renters, so she headed there and after 10 days, they made their way back to NYC.

Traveling back to JFK via NRT with my 5yo. She's a real trooper and had a smile the whole way home.

NAIA Terminal 1



JAL Check in desks






JAL Sakura Lounge at NAIA



Whoa, some slim offerings



The 767 taking us to NRT






Late night steak dinner and movie on the way to NRT



We both promptly fell asleep after dinner and slept for a few hours before an early morning arrival at NRT. We cleared transit and headed to the lounge, where we immediately got a shower room, freshened up, grabbed a bite, and boarded our flight to JFK.













Shower rooms were fairly good sized, with lots of toiletries provided.



The downstairs portion of the lounge was quiet, so we parked there and grabbed some food upstairs.









Headed over to Gate 72, which was mobbed.






We then settled in for our long haul back home. It was a bit bittersweet to be traveling without the rest of our crew.




We were parked next to an Air India 787


First time seeing this ANA livery up close



Quite the line-up of airlines and unique liveries



Someone looks out of place and far from home



Fast roll and take-off out of NRT over a very green Japan coastline






If you ever wondered how much space was available under the ottoman in Apex Suites, now you know.






Glass of rose bubbly, along with some olives and nuts. Movie and a view!



Starter plate



Uninspiring steak plate



Fell asleep for a few and woke up over Canada



Passing by EWR on our way to JFK



Some nice city views as we come in for landing



Let's Go Islanders!



Another amazing trip with the fam. A few hiccups, but nothing a few OTC meds, and some money couldn't solve.
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Last edited by benjahman; Apr 28, 2023 at 10:05 am
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Old Apr 28, 2023, 7:35 pm
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Just left Boracay and I have to admit the beach looks way better than the Shangri La beach.
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Old May 1, 2023, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by injian
Just left Boracay and I have to admit the beach looks way better than the Shangri La beach.
I've stayed at the Shangri La before and found it underwhelming. The beach in front of the Lind was gorgeous, although, at times, a constant stream of plastic trash would wash up. The local kuyas told us that it's likely coming from surrounding islands and unfortunately ends up on their beaches.
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