Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Venezia Hotel is a value for money proposition in Subic Bay

It was a blissful Friday night (October 17, 2006) in Subic Bay. And the day was so fun that I thought of making several blogs about it, namely; Hotel Venezia, Mini-stop at the corner of Manila Avenue and night out at the Olongapo’s Magsaysay Drive. A beach resort is not an option right now.

Photo from

Our friends arrive at the Mini-Stop near Comteq College, at around 8:00pm after leaving the heart of Metro Manila at around 4:30 pm. Yes, it took them more than 2:30 hours to escape the clogged arteries of the Metro. ‘Even at night, SCTEx was a pleasant surprise. Super relaxing ride,’ one of the four said, while stretching his legs.

Mr. A, who was the host for the evening, opted to book them at Venezia Hotel. I haven’t been to the Venezia, mainly because a gambling joint wasn’t my cup of tea.

‘He must have a good reason for choosing Venezia,’ I said to myself. From a far, Venezia looked like a marine barracks trying to look like a, well, a hotel.

‘Or, uhh, a gambling joint…,’ I snuffed, expecting to see scores of puffy-eyed gamblers drowning their misery with expensive shots of inexpensive liquor. ‘But hey, at least they had fun,’ I told myself, it is after all their moolah.

To my surprise, entering the Venezia lobby is like entering a smaller and less glamorous five star hotel in Metro Manila. Well, at least, there were no depressed souls lingering around that would break our guests’ hearts.

I am not easy to please, but the hotel’s welcoming feel is unique, almost similar to the more sophisticated embrace of the Lighthouse Marina lobby at the boardwalk area.

The hotel staff were all smiles --- very warm. Not, forced or trained, like some of the places along the boardwalk area. So pleasing, I thought, that even the unluckiest slot machine addict would be forced to smile back.

But the secret and the most wonderful surprise is the food at its New Feng Huang restaurant. By the restaurant’s name you easily know it is Chinese. So prep up those oriental taste buds if you opt to fill the tummies here.

The set meal for 10-person we ordered tasted as good as those served at the restaurant across the street. I credit that to the ambiance they’ve created.

And how much did it cost us? Our friend paid, so I did not bother to get the exact figure. But the waiter reminded us that since order was worth more than P2,000, they were giving us an additional chicken order and three other orders from their dim sum and dumpling selection. Nice, if you eat meat. 

It certainly went well with their P2,688++ overnight twin sharing superior soom. I took a peak of the rooms and they were decent enough. If you ever stayed at the dingy and insect filled rooms of Legenda Hotel, well, this was quite different. It was clean. So much so, that that room smelled sanitized.

We’ll get some more feedback from our visitors about the hotel service, the bed, the linens and the finer details that should help you decide.

But my take is that Venezia is way better and more reasonably priced that most places in Subic Bay, except for maybe one or two along the waterfront area.

It is too bad that I did not get a chance to compliment the hotel manager. If I did, I’d slip a business card of a good couturier. Uniform and draperies are something that they could improve on.

(Next: Olongapo City's Best & Worst Series: A night out at Magsaysay Drive)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Olongapo City's Best and Worst: Failed re-branding of Magsaysay Drive

(This series is an ongoing thing just for you. Every Friday, I will review one or two party places in the city. Hopefully, this will help you choose where to spend your hard-earned moolah. :-))

Failed re-branding of Magsaysay Drive

Before I spill the beans on some joints along Magsaysay Drive in this series, allow me to digress a little from party places and events. After this post, all will be well again. I promise.

Over the last few years, the city hall kept reminding businesses and the media that the city’s famous entertainment strip should be called RM Drive and not Magsaysay Drive.

Why am I spending a couple of hours writing this post or asking you to keep scrolling for a few minutes for
something that really is about business and politics?

The answer is simple. As a visitor and tourist, you might get lost.

Businesses spent millions advertising pesos to market Magsaysay Drive as the city’s entertainment center, not just in the 80’s, but more so after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1990’s. Why the sudden change? Will this benefit the businesses along the strip?

Let us see. Since Mayor James Gordon Jr., took office, his entire government pushed the renaming effort. 

They’ve spent almost two full 3-year terms for this campaign. They say that the re-naming is meant ‘to diffuse the sleazy image that Magsaysay Drive became associated with.’

Mayor Bong Gordon
Ok, it makes sense… Or does it?
It makes sense if:
1) ---> City hall made enough capital investment (infra, signages, etc) to make the RM thing stick;
2) ---> supported the businesses in their marketing efforts (after all, businesses spent millions of
pesos to print marketing collaterals, broadcast advertisements using Magsaysay Drive for their address);
3) ---> it is not really sleazy (or comparable to a red light district);
4) ---> and, convinced the people that the change would benefit the city.

Item 1    >  No. Check out the streets. It’s not because the strip is peppered with Magsaysay Drive signage. It is because there is no significant signage to alter the memory banks of the people. If a simple name change can’t be significantly implemented in 6 years, then, what else can you do?

Item 2 > Again, No. Businesses are businesses. They will support an endeavor it is makes sense and cents for them. Nobody knows RM Drive, why put my brand and my name in a place that people (clients) can’t find. Even radio stations cringe when they are asked to put RM Drive simply because they wants to help their clients maximize their advertising money.

Here is a sample radio tag. If you were the owner of this joint, which would you use for your print and broadcast advertisement?

‘Come and visit Gigolo Disco Bar at # 23 RM Drive, Olongapo City’
‘Come and visit Gigolo Disco Bar at # 23 Magsaysay Drive, Olongapo City

Item 3    >  Magsaysay Drive is sleazy as can be. It is the reason why people frequent the strip. Sure, there are no more nude dancing and no more drunk Americans. But this is only because they left in 1992. Check out Magsaysay Drive when there are US warship in Subic Bay and you will see what I mean.

Maybe the city officials should ask their fellow city officials if there really is no prostitution, gambling, drugs and other activities associated with the image of the old Magsaysay Drive. (Liars, liars! Pants on fire!)

Circa 1980 photo

Item 4 > Lastly, No. Ask any resident where Sam’s Pizza is and they will tell you that it is along Magsaysay Drive. Where is the City Mall? The answer will be ‘along Magsaysay Drive.

A businessman, who did not have the balls to make his views public, told me that the only reason he can think of for this silly effort to re-name of the famous ‘Gapo strip is because of politics.

Dude (read: Mayor Bong Gordon),
It only made the Magsaysay name a conversation piece whenever people hear the RM Drive stuff.

Olongapenos will vote for you because you served them well, not because your administration removed the
surname of your political rivals; Mitos and, as rumors would have it, Vicente (GoVic).


 Rep. Mitos Magsaysay

 Former Zambales Gov. Vic Magsaysay

Magsaysay to the people of Olongapo is not the politician. Magsaysay is not even the most beloved president
of this country.

Magsaysay is the strip that many generations made a living from. It is the lovely strip where they fell in love with their wives. Where they were touched by humanity by seeing young women dream of a better life with the American servicemen. 

It is the same strip where many residents made millions giving them the resources to provide well
for their families. It is the famous hang out where residents shared priceless memories with fellow Olongapenos and visitors who eventually became friends.

Mayor Bong, you’ve been had by your people. Or at the very least, you got bad advice from your staff.

To Mayor Bong’s bright boys who thought of this idea:

Who ever you are, even if Mayor Bong succeeded in sanitizing the strip by changing it to RM Drive, isn’t he just moving the sleazy image to another strip now bearing the his surname?

I doubt if Mayor Gordon would be happy with that change.

Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | Best Buy Printable Coupons