April 6, 2019 — At the invitation of my good friend Pete Dacuycuy, I took a break from my usual weekend routine and spent three days exploring Subic, Zambales. It’s been a year since my last trip out of town and this media familiarization tour gave me a way to end the unwanted hiatus.
The exchange of hellos between me and the unfamiliar faces representing different media companies sounded all too normal. It took more than three hours of travel on the road yet the soft, almost mute, tune whispering in the background connected me with these strangers as if it wasn’t our first time meeting one another.
After two expressways, one stopover and a half bottle of water, the media group and I hopped off the bus. A handful of people were singing a sweet ballad along with the sound of the ukulele upon our arrival. I could tell that they weren’t professional performers but I found their gesture of hospitality endearing. Ms. Jho Floresca, the hotel owner herself, approached us and gave each one a refreshing cup of Nai Cha Pearl Milk Tea.
The hotel, Le Charme Suites, stood in the middle of the bustling Subic Freeport Zone. The area seemed like a strange spot for a leisurely stay because it was supposedly a furniture showroom. Much to my surprise, during my time at Le Charme Suites, I discovered that the strategic location was one of its advantages.
Of course, Le Charme Suites was inspired by the Parisian living of sorts. (Aside from its name, the miniature model of the Eiffel Tower in the lobby area gave it away.)
Ms. Jho led us to a conference room to share with the group information about Le Charme Suites such as the history of the hotel, its concept, current promotional campaigns and other attractions in Subic. This, after all, was a media tour. Not long after the briefing, I, together with a budding journalist, checked in our home from the next two days. Our room was a twin deluxe suite furnished with two queen-sized beds, a 50-inch LED flatscreen cable television, cotton slippers, bathrobes, a personal vault, mini fridge with complimentary coffee/tea set-up. It also has an office chair and table suitable for business travelers.
Our chamber overlooked the vast parking space at Royal Duty-Free store which stood a few steps away from the hotel. With a scaffold positioned only a few inches from our window, it seemed that the management is working to improve their facilities. I didn’t hear any construction noise during my stay but on many occasions did my roommate and I notice the workers at our window view. We never opened our curtain again after their multiple appearances despite informing the front desk of the incident.
Nonetheless, the experience I had at Le Charme Suite went beyond my expectations. The highlight of the suite, for me, is its cozy bathroom. Powered by smart hotel technology, it features a sleek motion sensor light and fan that leave an impression to its guest. The shower and bathtub, which was spacious enough to fit two persons, promised temporary comfort after a long day of travel. Bath amenities such as body lotion and bath gel (packaged in small plastic containers), hair blower, towels, dental kit, shaving kit, makeup remover wipes, and Q-tips were laid neatly on the sink table. Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel are placed nicely inside refillable bottles mounted on the shower wall.
Before I slipped under the covers, I had spent a good fifteen minutes in the tub half-filled with warm water. The soothing songs playing through my earphones set the mood for my time of relaxation. Nights inside room 306 were the best ones.
If Siargao is known as a surfer’s paradise and Anilao as a diver’s destination, then Subic is dubbed as a biker’s haven. Though a central business district, the SBMA Freeport has decongested roads, a spacious sidewalk, amazing nature trails and seascapes that allow bikers to enjoy a leisurely stroll with friends.
The hotel symbolizes the active lifestyle of Subic. With its bicycle-friendly facilities such as bike ramp at the hotel entrance, the bike racks inside the rooms and the wide hallways, Le Charme Suites encourage its guests to try — and possibly embrace — the sport.
If you’ve had a good run with your bicycle, there are lots of other activities to do at Le Charme Suites. The Ibiza Roof Deck has a 4-feet deep half Olympic-size swimming pool, stylishly set against an astonishing backdrop, that invites hotel guests to take a plunge, catch some sun and admire the 360-degree view of Subic.
Aside from the abovementioned activities, this modern chic hotel has a lot more to offer. Adrenaline junkies may brave the wall climbing facility while the wellness tourists may spoil themselves to a spa treatment. Lastly, the kids and the kids at heart may venture on a journey while playing heart-pounding virtual reality games. (We played the one with the zombie!)
Located on the third floor of the hotel is a Spanish restaurant called Mi Tapas. On our first night, we were served a buffet-style dinner with options varying from Cheesy Baked Mussels, Pork Sisig to Seafood Paella among others. Of course, these were complemented with elegant notes of a glass of red wine.
The balcony has wicker lounge chairs and tables that provided the hip 20– and 30-somethings a spot for socializing whilst being presented an amazing night view of the city. Overwhelmed by the hospitality, we maximized the outdoor KTV setup with enormous screen prepared by Le Charme Suites solely for our visit.
The 46-room, four-story boutique hotel is a project of Grand Pillar International Development, Inc. Under the same management, there are various shops, leisure establishments, and cafes located on the building’s ground floor including Shabu-Shabu Restaurant, Teppan 101, The Cube VR Game, Tai Chi Wellness Spa, and Nai Cha Milk Tea.
A whole day stay at Le Charme Suites will not only give you a glimpse of Paris but also a taste of Spain, Taiwan, and Japan. Aside from the in-house restaurant Mi Tapas, we also experienced hotpot dining at Shabu-Shabu restaurant. It was a potful of flavors — from thinly sliced beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, a variety of meatballs and a selection of fresh seafood.
After we picked up our preferred ingredients, we settled down on the U-shaped seating and heated up the pot. The fun in cook-it-yourself concept is in bringing friends to drink, eat and chat while fixing their meal exactly as they want it.
Another Japanese approach to experiential dining is Teppanyaki. It features a fashionable way to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine prepared fresh in front of the customers. The chef laid out the ingredients on the iron plate and started to work his tricks smoothly on the grill. It was a feast not only for our tummies, but for our eyes as well!
Le Charme Suites is perfect for young families, barkada, and even for couples. Book a room today through their website!
This trip was part of a media tour sponsored by Le Charme Suites. Itinerary and expense are not published.
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Le Charme Suites
Address: 2nd fl. La Terraza Bldg. 1131 Palm St., Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo 2222
Contact number: (047) 250 3333