Why AMCO-ing somewhere else next time (hotel review)

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I went to the Aurora province, and I mentioned in my post about the vacation (click here if you haven’t read my blow-by-blow of the experience) that I stayed at AMCO Beach Resort and that I’d tell you about it in a different post. Well, that time has come, so I hope I get the word out soon enough about the place to those who are considering going to Baler and staying at this hotel.

Once we were decided about when to go and which places to see, my friend and I then proceeded to look at available hotels, and believe me, it was no easy feat. It was the beginning of the summer months and we were going on a weekend, so most of the places we were considering were full. A couple that weren’t were beyond our budget, and then there was AMCO.

AMCO Beach Resort Baler Aurora EatPlayLog 1

From the photos, AMCO Beach Resort looked acceptable enough. At the very least, the room we wanted would have two beds, air conditioning, cable TV, hot shower, and a complimentary breakfast. At least that was what the lady told me when I inquired about the place (when I could get ahold of her, that is. There were times that I had to wait until the next day for her response). She said there was an available room for us with all of these wonderful amenities, and with the date of our trip nearing, I decided to go for it despite the hitch in communication. She gave me the account number and bank where I had to deposit half the amount to reserve the room (the room was Php2,000 a night). I had to prod her whether it was a savings or current account, and whether I needed to email her a photo of the deposit slip because she didn’t readily volunteer the information. Weird, right?

Anyway, the day of the trip came, we arrived at the Aurora bus station, and took a tricycle to AMCO. From the outside, the hotel looks kind of like a really small version of the Malacañang Palace: white facade, lots of windows, pillars up front, etc. There was also a koi pond and a bridge up front, and we could see they were currently building a pool at one side of the property.

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Inside, you can immediately feel that the place is aged, and not necessarily in a good way. I mean, it’s one thing for a place to have the traditional but still maintained feel, but this one was definitely in need of an upgrade. Or a good cleaning, at least. Also, the balcony at the third floor was missing a pillar so anyone could fall through it, and the second floor one didn’t even have a railing. So yeah, very safe. The furniture up there did have a bit of charm, though, since they looked traditional.

Downstairs, we saw most of the staff busily setting up the function hall for a wedding that, according to Carol (the manager, I think), would take place that night. We got there at 7AM and check-in wasn’t until 12PM. They do allow early check-in for a fee of Php100 per hour if the room’s available but ours wasn’t, so we decided to have breakfast at the hotel for now and maybe do a bit of exploring before checking in.

Anyway, the food was OK; it was tapa flakes, a sunny-side up egg, white rice, and coffee. Carol said they don’t really serve buffet breakfasts unless a large crowd is staying with them, so they provided us with a plated meal.

AMCO Beach Resort Baler Aurora EatPlayLog 5

After eating (we ended at about 9AM since they took a while to prepare the food), Carol announced suddenly that our room was now available. Hmm… We didn’t see anyone check out, so that made me wonder if the room was available to begin with and they were just taking care of some issues about it. She asked for the rest of the room’s payment, and my friend left his ID (not sure why this was necessary) and we headed upstairs.

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Our room (Room 10, if I remember correctly) was pretty small; it would probably be best for one person and one single bed, but that was OK. There are two single beds, a table with a plastic chair, a lamp, and air conditioning.

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Here’s what wasn’t OK about it: The main light doesn’t work. Yep. Carol laughed it off, saying “Gamitin na lang ninyo itong lamp. Malakas naman yan,” (Just use this lamp; it’s bright enough.) before she left. Ooohkaaay. When I had texted the lady before the trip, she said the room had cable TV. Well, there was a TV, but no cable.

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The bathroom was the most interesting part of the room, I thought, but not because it’s impressive. It ran the whole length of one side of the room, like a narrow hallway. On one side was the toilet (which flushed properly, at least), and on the other was the shower. The whole bathroom was also pretty grimy. Actually, the entire room needed a good cleaning.

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This is probably my biggest issue with the room, particularly because it’s summer: the air conditioner was a radiator pretending to be an air conditioner. It was not producing cold air at all. We thought it just needed a few minutes before it finally made the room cold. A couple of hours went by, no cold. Good thing the room had a wall fan because, with the lack of chill and the day’s heat outside, it felt stifling. In the morning, when I stepped outside, it was way colder in the hallway than it was in our room.

We would’ve asked to be transferred to another room, but we were operating under the impression that the hotel had no other available rooms. Bad move on our part, I know, but still, that room was pretty bad.

What was good about it is it was very close to Sabang Beach if you’re going to Baler to surf. And many of the restaurants were only walking distance from AMCO. Carol was also pretty nice, and there was a so-so complimentary breakfast. That’s about it.

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All in all, I guess this is the perfect example of the expression “you get what you pay for.” We wanted a budget accommodation close to the beach and restaurants, and we got it. Disappointingly, I know there are probably other hotels or inns that cost about the same that was better than this one.

Feel free to give AMCO a try; maybe you’ll have a better experience than I did. I’m planning on coming back to Baler soon, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll be spending a bit more on accommodations so won’t have to stay here again.

Overall rating: ★✭☆☆☆

AMCO Beach Resort
Buton Street, Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora

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