Fun on water
When the 147-room Hotel H2O opened eight years ago right on the edge of the bay, behind the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, I immediately had questions in my mind. With such unusual name, would tourists from abroad take it seriously? Will its end-of-the-boulevard location be interesting enough for people to choose it over the other bigger bayside hotels here in Manila? Will its being hidden-from-view, behind a historical landmark, be a marketing disadvantage?
My sons and I were so fascinated with the print ad of the newly opened (then) Manila Ocean Park, which the Hotel H2O is a part of, so one morning, we decided to visit and see the new tourist attraction up close. As we got to the lobby, we were faced with a plethora of restaurants and snack parlors to choose from, and decided to have early lunch in one of them.
As we were seated in the restaurant, I was mesmerized by the tranquil view of Manila Bay. It was such a soothing experience that, I think, it added to the flavor of what we were eating. We certainly enjoyed our lunch and the view.
We then proceeded to check out the Ocean Park. It is the country’s first world-class marine-themed park. Its marine life attractions are enthralling, even to adults like my sons and I. And, walking through a glass tunnel underwater, with all kinds of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, and stingrays floating all around us, was surreal. I have to say that it brought out the little boy in me once again!
Upon the advice of friends who have been to that facility before, we didn’t miss the Fish Spa. And I hasten to add, those who are ticklish, are weak of heart, or have loose urinary bladders, beware! The tingling sensation from each fish gnawing at the dead skin of your foot can be unbearable and, even when you scream with delight and pleasure, it will not diminish the intensity of the stimulation. Nevertheless, everyone has to have this unique once-in-a-lifetime “thrill” in their bucket list.
Since we were already there, I decided to check out Hotel H2O. It prides itself with being the only hotel in the metropolis with marine-themed rooms that give guests a breathtaking peek of natural underwater beauty.
Right away, I was impressed with the Bay de Luxe Room that the Guest Relations Officer showed me. It has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a stress-relieving, panoramic view of Manila Bay. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats the beauty of nature as an antidote to the stress we experience in our harried environment.
I also saw the Aqua Supreme Room, with its pièce de résistance, a giant aquarium wrapping around a major part of the room. We saw all kinds of attractively colored tropical fish merrily going around the full length of the glass reservoir, giving us a feel of the peaceful life under the sea.
After seeing the hotel rooms, it didn’t take long for my sons and I to decide to spend one weekend at the hotel, but as to the type of room we would stay in, the selection process dragged on to a long-winded discussion. Eventually, they both acceded to my choice, the Bay De Luxe, since I was the one who paid for it. Needless to say, it was a very relaxing weekend for the three of us, especially with another foray into the titillating and heavenly stimulating Fish Spa!
Hotel H2O also offers venues for all kinds of small- to medium-sized celebrations. I like how the hotel’s marketing officers brand these celebrations as “water-colored events.” It reminds everyone that, whichever venue they choose to celebrate in, their guests will always be treated to the mesmerizing view of Manila Bay.
The Promenade is another one of my favorites. Towards sunset, this al fresco, wooden-floored deck is filled with guests who just sit there, with drinks in hand, enjoying the fresh sea air blowing from all directions, witnessing the glorious sunset that Manila Bay is known for.
I now realize that the questions I had in my mind when Hotel H2O first opened were all unfounded. Guests, who are mostly local, keep the hotel’s occupancy rate vibrant throughout the year, with help from groups coming from Australia, the UK, Korea, and Japan. With the hotel’s 82 percent average occupancy at an average room rate of P3,200, the owners know that business is good and will continue to do so. This is why they have decided to add 29 more guest rooms which will be ready by the end of this year.
So, does anybody want to have fun on water, without having to drive several hours to get there? There’s Hotel H2O, the hotel on the water!
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