Review: The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel in Ortigas

A few weeks ago, our family decided to check-in at a hotel in Ortigas to save on commute because of several appointments in that area. After looking around for affordable hotels to stay at, we settled on The Exchange Regency Hotel in Meralco Ave. cor Exchange Road (fronting Benpres Bldg.)

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I made a quick phone call to book the hotel and was answered by the front desk right away. I was told that weekday room rate was P3,300 for the Deluxe Room (with plated breakfast) and Friday and Weekend Promo Rate is P2,800 (no breakfast included.) I asked to confirm my booking and the earliest time we can check in. Typically, you check in at a hotel around 1PM or 2PM but we were told that we can check in as early as 12PM if we wanted to.

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When we got to the hotel, the first thing I noticed was, the hotel lobby was not air conditioned. On the reception area where our check-in was being facilitated, there were electric fans on the side which to me is a bit of an eye-sore in contrast with the hotel lobby’s ambiance. Anyway, you will be asked for a security deposit of P1,000 upon check-in (so be sure to prepare if you are paying cash) and gave them my credit card so they can make the imprint. The good news though was, at the end of the check-in we were told that we have been upgraded to a 2BR Suite Room instead of the Deluxe Room that we initially booked. We were totally excited as we hardly ever get upgraded to any of our hotel trips.

2BR Suite Room

2BR Suite Room

The suite room feels more like a posh 2BR condo to me than a hotel. If you have stayed in  many other hotels, you can totally tell the difference. But all-in-all the suite was big and clean and the air-con was already going when we got in. The unit was well appointed and had a small selection of snacks and beverages at typical hotel prices.

The hotel feels a bit like they decided to put a hotel into a residential building, small things like the beds not quite fitting in the room right. Also the flooring and fixtures are more what you would expect in a freshly turned over condo unit not a hotel. I don’t think they will stand up to the wear and tear a hotel room is going to be subject to. This didn’t affect our stay however as everything is brand new.

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Sheets and pillows we high quality, and the bed was very comfortable. The views were really good from our unit on the 17th floor. There is construction going on next door but they had us facing away from it, and we were never aware of it inside the unit.

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The amenities are really good too. The gym is large and stocked with high end name brand equipment. The pool is nice however is does boarder the construction so its good for a fun dip with the kids but not a relaxing lounge by the pool. There is a billiards table as well in the game room.

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Breakfast our first morning was a buffet next to the pool area, it was a beautiful morning and the food was above average for a hotel in this range. The second morning was a set breakfast at one of the restaurants on the ground floor which I will be reviewing as well.

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You will have to keep in mind our stay was during their soft opening. I thought the staff were amazing, already well trained and proficient at their jobs from the front desk manager who had us checked in (early I must add) to the room cleaners we met in the hall and elevator who were very friendly and easy to talk to. The porter who helped us with our bags, stroller, car seat for our baby etc  didn’t even wait 1 minute for a tip. Had to leave it for him at the front desk. I think they put a lot of work into the staff and it shows.

Pros & Cons:

Pros: Price is very reasonable, rooms feel more like home and less like a hotel, great location, great views, it’s new, the staff, amenities, the entertainment set up was great HD TV with SKY HD cable and SKY broadband internet! Every unit has its own modem, as well as a DVD player.

Cons: This review is a hard one, we got a great room but if you got one facing the construction it might be a different story. The driveway is steep even Toyota vans that cab drivers have scrape, I think if you had a lower sports or luxury vehicle you could do some serious damage to your exhaust system or ground effects. That’s really all I have for cons.

Final Thoughts:

I would stay here again without hesitation, they are new but starting right. I hope they continue to provide the level of service we received.  I think the next year will be challenging with the construction next door, but as you are now an informed consumer you know to ask for a higher level room facing away from it. If you have any business in Ortigas and need a place I recommend this one, they also have some deep discounts for long term stays.

The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel
Exchange Drive corner Meralco Avenue
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Philippines 1605
T: +632-312-9999 F: +632-312-9998
E: reservations@theexchangeregency.com
www.theexchangeregency.com

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Review: Guitar Salon in Quezon City

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R&G Building 305 Roosevelt Ave corner M.H. Del Pilar St.
1105 Quezon City, Philippines
Hours 9am – 6pm
Mobile: 0917-589-9361
Landline: 441-6700

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Review: Mazza Shawarma at McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio

424251_426111654132790_2141129358_nI got to try this restaurant last week when I attended a training in McKinley Hill. The restaurant appears to be fairly new as the interior still seem to be not too beat-down. There were a good amount of diners so I thought the food must be good.

I asked the waiter what their best-seller is and I was told of the “Beef Shawarma Wrap” and “Beef Shawarma Rice”. I decided to order both to try them at the same time.

A few minutes later, the food was served. The beef shawarma rice first showed up. The bowl was topped with beef bits with shredded onions and tomatoes (didn’t see any  cucumber in my bowl.) It did look inviting so I had my first spoon-full. My initial thought was, the meat was cooked differently as the usual shawarma you see elsewhere. The beef was juicy but definitely lacks seasoning. Overall, the shawarma rice was a bit of a downer to me. There was nothing exciting with it. There was no “hmm…that’s really good” moment. Halfway through, I even asked for vinegar hoping I could save the taste or something (but it didn’t work.) Towards the end, I barely finished the rice bowl and was hoping the shawarma wrap was gonna be better.

The beef shawarma wrap came with beef bits, shredded cabbage, onions and tomatoes. I was getting positive that this would be better. However, on that first bite, I had the same feeling as I had with the shawarma bowl. I tried the add white dressing but to no avail. The beef was juicy and the pita bread was doughy (wish the bread had a little bit of sweetness to it) but not enough to rescue the entire meal. It lacked flavors I was looking for. Both the rice and wrap tasted flat.

Maybe I ordered the wrong food here for a first-timer and should have ordered something else. The ambiance was relaxing and the staff were attentive but if you put “shawarma” in the name of your restaurant, diners would expect that it’s the one thing on your menu that you get perfectly right.

I was sadly disappointed that nothing excited my palette. When I think of Mediterranean, I think of bold spices and flavors. My entire experience was like, I’m eating it only because I don’t want to waste the money I spent.

My rating: Just ok
(probably will not be going back there anytime soon.)

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Review: Cost of Health Care in the Philippines

We had a hospitalization recently involving our little kid and I would like to give an account of what the cost of health care can be in the Philippines involving children based on this experience.

From what we thought was a short ER trip (no out-of-pocket as HMO usually covers this) turned to a full blown hospital admission for 3 days.

Our little kid was admitted on one of the top 3 hospitals in the country and below were the high-ticket fees and charges incurred during this hospitalization (note that I have rounded-off to ceiling the values here for easy reading and just to give you an idea – this is not the exact/actual amount, but it’s close enough.)

Hospital bills:

  • Anesthesia (during CT scan) P8,000 / US$196
  • CT Scan – head w/o contrast (plain) P6,500 / US$160
  • Holter monitoring P6,500 x 3 days = P19,500 / US$480
  • 2D Echo (Pedia) P6,500 / US$160
  • ECG (bedside) P800 / US$20
  • Pediatric adhesive sensor P2,500 / US$62
  • Combo of cardiac monitor, oxygen, etc. P4,500 x 3 days = P13,500 / US$331
  • Magnesium (blood) P1,500 / US$37
  • Creatinine isoenzymes P3,500 / US$86
  • Adenosine-adenocor vial (6mg/2ml) P1,850 / US$46
  • IV insertion (pedia) P1,250  / US$31
  • Disposable probe thru signal (all fit) P2,950 x 3 days = P8,850 / US$217
  • Pulse oximeter P950 x 3 days = P2,850 / US$70
  • Breathing bag (pedia) P750 / US$19
  • CBG (capillary blood glucose) P300 / US$8
  • CBC (complete blood count) P600 / US$15
  • Propofol-diprivan 200mg/20ml P950 / US$24
  • Pedia ICU (room and board) P3,800 x 1 day = P3,800 / US$94
  • Pedia small private (room and board) P2,600 x 2 days = P5,200 / US$128
  • X-ray (mobile) P450 / US$12
  • X-ray chest (pedia) P1,100 / US$27
  • Clave tri-fuse extension set P600 x 3 days = P1,800 / US$45
  • Consultation/admission fee (pedia urgent) P1,250 / US$31
  • Interpretation fees P2,500 / US$62

Professional fees:

  • Pedia – general P10,000 / US$245
  • Pedia – ICU P11,300 / US$277
  • Pedia – cardio P10,000 / US$245
  • Pedia – anesthesiology P14,000 / US$343

By the end of Day 3, our running total was at a P110,000 / US$2,700. Shortly after, we found out that one doctor forgot to put his PF in the statement of account and so it ended up roughly around P120,000 / US$2,950.

Fortunately, we have an HMO and our kid was covered as a dependent (as well as in PhilHealth) so the HMO paid all of the hospital bills (with the PhilHealth deduction, otherwise, if you do not file for PhilHealth claim, you will pay the amount they should have paid with your out-of-pocket money) except for the professional fees of the doctors not accredited to them. Our total out-of-pocket expense was around P22,000 / US$540 which we paid in cash upon discharge.

Later, I filed a reimbursement to my HMO as the professional fees of the doctors they did not cover is supposed to be reimbursable since we called them asking for a specific doctor and they were not able to provide. Hopefully if that reimbursement claim becomes successful, I will write a review about our HMO and whether or not they can be counted on in times of urgent need like what we just had.

I would be interested to hear what the cost of health care is, for children in other countries. If you are reading this and you do have some information, please comment on this blog!

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Review: Mario’s Kitchen at The Exchange Regency Hotel in Ortigas

I only got to try this restaurant once but I felt compelled to write a review for them for the excellent experience I had dining at their restaurant.

We checked in at The Exchange Regency Hotel in Ortigas last week and Mario’s Kitchen is one of the few restaurants at the hotel’s ground floor. I scanned their menu initially one time at lunch but was in a rush and decided to eat at the neighboring cafe/restaurant. For dinner though, while waiting for a friend to come over and hang out with me and my daughter, we decided to try Mario’s Kitchen.

Their menu has a bit of a Spanish feel to it. They have callos, salpicado, ajillos, chorizos, paellas etc. They also do have some Filipino dishes you can order if you are not feeling spanish at all. I asked what is their best-seller and I was told it was the Oxtail stew (I forgot the Spanish name) and so I said, I’ll order that for me and my 20-month old daughter. The waiter taking our order said however, that if the baby is eating also, she might not like the taste of Oxtail and suggested that we try their other dishes instead. I ended up ordering the Fish Fillet Salpicado which is probably one of the best decisions I have made that day (and that is why I am blogging about it now.)

The plate arrived after 15mins and it was attractive. The fish fillet was cooked golden brown, with lots of toasted garlic bits, very moist and smelled wonderful! It came with some green leaves and some cold slices of squash and served with garlic rice.

The first bite was the baby’s and she smiled from ear to ear while chewing her food. I took the next bite and it tasted as good as it looked. The fish was cooked perfectly. It did not taste to me like the fish was previously frozen. Garlic rice was also the best pair for the dish as it just enhances the flavor of the fish fillet. I asked the waiter for some vinegar as I thought it would give the dish some kick.

The vinegar served had a hint of spice with some sliced onion shoots. I just added a tiny splash of the vinegar to the fish and I knew it! The flavors were just exploding in my mouth I could not get enough of it (we had to order a second serving of garlic rice as we were eating the fish fillets bit by bit.)

My daughter and I enjoyed every bit of food in that plate and left the restaurant wanting for more. We will definitely be back there if we are in the Ortigas area again. I am looking forward to trying their other dishes! The wait staff was great too, especially when the waiter showed concern that my daughter might not like the dish I originally ordered and was bold enough to suggest other dishes in the menu.

My rating: Excellent
(food was above and beyond my expectation)

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