When I was a kid, my family and I went to Subic Bay on a couple of occasions for a sort of getaway. They weren’t elaborate vacations at all, mind you; they were just three days spent eating, shopping, sight-seeing, more eating. Pure childhood bliss too fun to not repeat, so almost 20 years later, we got the chance to do it again. Back then, we stayed at a house in Binictican. This time, we stayed at Subic Holiday Villas. No one actually recommended the hotel to us. Budgeted travelers that we were, we logged onto agoda to check out what’s available and affordable and this place popped up so we booked a room and hoped for the best.
Located right in the Freeport Zone area, all the major spots like malls, restaurants and outlet stores are just a few minutes away, though I’d suggest having your own vehicle as the area leading up to the villa is pretty dark at night. Driving up, the hotel is surrounded by so many trees, I thought Dr. Moreau would emerge from the building. But seriously, it’s a pretty great location; the trees make you feel like you’re tucked away in some remote island, even though a three-minute drive is all it takes to get to the nearest Starbucks.
According to their website, Subic Holiday Villas is a leisure and retirement facility, so I was honestly expecting never-ending handrails and a lot of ‘Golden Girls’ types playing bridge (whatever that is) or doing tai chi. I wouldn’t have minded, truth be told, because then that would at least mean we’d have peace and quiet during our down time. Turns out, a lot of families and groups of friends check in there too, so it really is more than just Cancun for seniors. We were assigned a room at Villa Cecilia, so we followed our bellboys to one of the inner buildings.
Our room was very clean, and we were surprised to find a mini kitchen with an overhead exhaust, which meant you could probably cook there (not sure whether you’d have to bring your own stove or you can rent one, though). The fridge is also bigger than the mini ones you normally find in hotels that can’t hold more than a couple of soda cans. A door at the far end of the room opens to a balcony that faces the street. Not much of a view, but at least smokers have a place to puff away. Cable TV and free Wi-Fi make this the ultimate hideout for those whose plan is to hole up until it’s time to go.
The bathroom looked nice too, though I did have a couple of concerns. There was neither a bidet nor a tabò in sight, which meant guests whose crapping habit involves washing before wiping will find themselves in an awkward position (on a positive note, there is an exhaust fan to, er, ward off your olfactory worries). There’s also the issue of the broken drain cover in the tub so you can’t have a nice soak if you wanted one. Also, the shower didn’t get quite as hot as I liked. Still, these are pretty minor concerns, all things considered.
We didn’t get to try out the pool, which was a pity, because it was huuuuuge and pristine. The kiddie and adult pools are connected and the deepest end is at 6 feet. On one side is the hundreds of trees belonging to the natural backdrop of the place, making it look like you’re lounging in some sort of lagoon.
The standard breakfast was pretty good. They’re served already plated (during our visit, it was a choice between corned beef or chicken sausages both served with eggs and fried rice plus coffee or tea) in the cafe, which is a bit on the small side but suited the number of guests that time. Across the cafe is John Henry’s Bar where, according to the website, karaoke seems to be the main form of entertainment. They have a gym too, free of use to the guests. On top of the amenities building is a roofdeck that looks like it can probably handle about 200 people at a time. Also, the staff was very accommodating and polite, making us feel taken care of throughout the short visit.
For the amenities within the villa and the convenience of its location, the price (our overall rate for an overnight stay was in a studio unit for two + 1 extra person with breakfast was Php 4,100 thanks to agoda) is definitely worth it. Hopefully they’ll have fixed the small nuances by the time we come back.
Overall rating: ★★★★☆
Subic Holiday Villas
George Dewey Convention Center Complex, Subic Bay Freeport Zone
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