Thursday, January 24, 2013

Discovering The Shores Anew

The wedding invitation of dance teachers Serge Machon and Lina Basa, destination Boracay, changed my plans for January.  Instead of going to Thailand on a writing assignment or to Cebu for the Sinulog, I opted to attend the wedding in this sun kissed island famous for its pristine white sand and azure blue sea that doesn't seem to change its hue until the horizon. 

Discovery Shores, my home away from home, beckoned my unresisting spirit and from the moment I saw the familiar faces welcoming me upon my arrival, I knew I made the right decision. 

When Carlo Arboleda, Guest relations Manager, handed me a mixed bouquet of brightly colored perennials, I felt a warmth surging up my spine & realized that the personal touches will be consistently there. Other personal touches worth mentioning are the refreshing cold towel upon alighting from the van, their usual welcome drink- pandan juice, the soothing foot massage when one has settled in, the streamer with "Welcome Home Miss Mayenne" and the pillow cases embroidered with my name on it.  The last item, I never saw that in any of the other hotels that I patronize as well. Beat that! 

General Manager Leeds Trompeta hosted a dinner for my friends and me on our first night. Leeds warned us to bring our appetites with us as the dinner he and his team prepared was a Michelin star dinner.  The elegant dinner table was set outdoors, under the stars. The heavens cooperated with the Discovery team as the stars shone their brightest. We dined in starlight and candlelight! What could be more romantic than that. Too bad all of us were not with our love partners.  The cool breeze added to the ambiance, what an extra treat! 

We all rated the dinner with 3 stars, the highest rating  restaurant critic Andre Michelin gives to a restaurant, which prompted Michaela Pinky Puno,(international Ballroom dance competitor)  to say, "From now on, I will always stay at Discovery Shores! Good bye to Shangril-a Boracay! "   Leeds was so happy to hear that and immediately warned her, "I will put that on my FB tonight!" 

The dinner started with an array of hors d'oeuvres, including a melange of different kinds of cheeses embellished with walnuts and candied fruits on the side, followed by a selection of brown bread with a balsamic/virgin olive oil dip, salmon mouse on brioche & mozarella/cherry tomato. The "piece de resistance" for us was the amuse bouche- foie gras,seared to perfection! The main course was a choice of Chilean Sea Bass or a Prime rib steak, and the dessert was a  blast- from- our childhood-past- Ovaltine flavored ice cream topped with caramelized pop corn, caramel sauce, sweetened bananas with a scoop of cream on top.  Red and white wine and bubbly were our choices of drinks. 
As an added personal touch, COO  of Discovery Properties, Jun Parreno called me from Cebu to check that everything was OK with our dinner!  What a thoughtful gesture! 

The next day, I ran into Malu Francisco, Rustan's Manager of Communications, who was bonding with her son and daughter for the weekend.  She marveled on the excellent service of the Staff. "I was sunbathing and every now and then, someone would come up to offer to clean my sunglasses, put cucumbers on my lids, fold my sarong, or give me a drink. I never experienced that anywhere else!"

What is remarkable to me is their butler service. Everyone, from the top of the ladder downwards, is a multi- tasker. You will never hear someone in Shores saying, "that is not my job."  I recall saying to GM Leeds "I feel so tired I think I need a massage." He immediately called the spa in his handphone and booked me a massage. He did not assign his assistant or his front desk manager, he did it himself. I can go on citing more examples of their butler service but suffice for me to say," on your next vacation time, try the Discovery Shores experience. It is always service with a heart!" 

Chief Operating Officer Jun Parreno flew in Sunday morning to do his usual monthly check. We decided to have a magazine interview which was constantly interrupted when he would greet a group of hotel guests coming in or when he would fix something in disarray. "I  conceptualized the butler service so I better do it too." Leading by example, way to go, mistah! 

After my relaxing massage in Terra,
I decided to bask under the setting sun. 
With every bite of the delicious foie gras,
Pinky Puno was convinced more and more that
Discovery Shores was her new fave resort!
GM Leeds Trompeta was delighted! 
The Lily was the perfect centerpiece! 
Ryan Jago, dance athlete partner of  three ladies
in the dinner party (Pinky Puno, Belinda Adora and myself) \
was my dinner mate! 
Dance Diva Belinda Adora and Carlo Arboleda, Guest Relations Manager.
Our guilty pleasure! Calorie laden dessert! 
Pinky Puno is an international dance competitor who inspired
me to study ballroom dancing, the way professionals do it. 
Arlene Co with her dance teacher Anthony
Cocktail time with COO Jun Parreno and Ryan Jago
On my last evening, a surprise gift from the pastry chef
- a moist chocolate cake beneath a pink sugar icing
topped with a dancer's shoe!
That made me feel like I was the best dancer in the world! 
Pinky Puno's one bedroom suite had a Jacuzzi in the patio
I loved my poolside  junior suite! So neat and bright and well appointed! 
Pristine white sand, tranquil azure waters that blend
with the pale blue sky, this view across
Discovery Shores is paradise indeed!