- Tuesday, September 08, 2015
- By Ion Gonzaga
- 0 Comments
- Monday, September 07, 2015
- By Ion Gonzaga
- 0 Comments
A view of the Dubai Creek and the Burj Khalifa on a hazy midday silhouette welcomed us in our spacious deluxe suite in Al Ghurair Rayhaan Rotana.
It's another family staycation and we're happy to be spending it in the middle of the busy Deira district. It is the familiar hotel attached to Al Ghurair Mall.
The elegance can be felt by the aura of the well decorated hotel the moment you step out of the lift. We arrived way ahead of the check-in time but we're accommodated pleasantly and told that the suite is already being prepared.
While waiting, we had to go to Carrefour supermarket which is just few meters from the hotel doors to buy a kiddie toothpaste (because we left hers at home). The hotel being attached to a mall gives a lot of convenience. Imagine if you forget to bring a swimsuit or a sunscreen, you can buy. If you want to treat the kids to arcade or play areas, you can do it. Or if you want to try other flavors, you can check out more restaurants.
The suite is ready when we returned to the reception.
We love our luxurious king deluxe suite at the 10th floor. It is a 1-bedroom 111.6 sqm. space with a comfy king-size bed, a dining table for three, a big living room with classic sofas, working desk and arm chair. There's also a separate area for the closet.
The creek view and Burj Khalifa silhouette can be seen from the living room. The bedroom gives a view of the old Deira and the swimming pool.
The minibar has chocolates, crackers and soft drinks. Did I say it's non-alcoholic? Yes, all Rayhaan hotels by Rotana are not serving alcohol.
Rayhaan respects the beliefs and culture of the guests whilst fostering the image of a new Arabia in today’s world. In Arabic, the word ‘rayhaan’ describes an aromatic plant which is mentioned in the sayings of prophets within the Holy Quran.The suite has 2 smart TVs and has multilingual channels as well. High-speed internet access can be requested upon check-in or directly by connecting to wifi.
The bathroom is shining clean. All toiletries and dental supplies are arranged on the dish and canisters. The bath tub in the middle is so inviting. There's also a separate shower cubicle. I don't usually describe the bathroom much but this one just exudes elegance. The wife even wanted to just stay there.
It's swimming time
When my 3 year old Aya saw the pool from our bedroom she wanted to plunge at that very moment. It's not a huge pool but a simple beautiful one.
We went down around 4pm. It was about 42°C but the area was already shaded. It's a bit busy - the weather's calling it anyway. We tried the kiddie pool first though it was too shallow already for Aya's height. So after just few minutes of splashing and playing with other kids, we moved to the main pool.
It has a leveled 4ft. depth and the water temperature is controlled. We love the effect on the body of the mini waterfalls by the side.
It's definitely the little one's playground but after almost 3 hours, we had to take a break and return to our room. Good thing, the pool is open until 11pm we planned a return after dinner (depending on our energy).
Dinner at Liwan
It wasn't a busy buffet at Liwan restaurant. The night's fare includes salads, mezzes, traditional Arabic main courses, Indian favorites, Asian selections and sushi & rolls among the international cuisine spread, and a mix of fruits, cakes, jellies and mousse for desserts.
There were live cooking stations for pasta and noodles preferences. We enjoyed our kebabs from the flame grill station too.
|The roast beef is the star of the dinner|
The passion fruit iced tea is a winner! Never miss a glass (or more) when you're at Liwan. They only use the freshest passion fruit. The mix of raspberries and mint leaves makes it extra soothing.
I finished my dinner with a hot plate of Umm Ali.
After dinner, and a little playtime, Aya fell asleep. The planned night swimming didn't happen but I went down the pool area just to check it and take some night snaps.
Our activities on the first day and the sumptuous dinner enabled us to have a very good sleep.
All love for the breakfast spread. I had yogurt, fruit juice and coffee. My first plate is for hard boiled egg, bread and butter.
My second plate found sausages, ham slices, prawn crackers, veal bacon, baked beans and fried eggs. Then I had the fluffy-licious waffles and blueberry pancakes for my third plate. I had danish pastries for sweets. Yes I am a heavy breakfast guy.
We requested a cheese and mushroom omelette for Aya at the live cooking station.
Pool at Arjaan
After the hearty breakfast, we hit the pool again. This time the one in Arjaan side. Yes, guests in Rayhaan can hop over there to use the bigger pool.
The mighty sun is brightly shining through. There's no crowd at that hot and humid morning. Thanks to a little shade we somehow managed the weather.
Aya wanted to stay longer but the heat is becoming unbearable. She continued her bath at the tub and she enjoyed every bit of it with the mom.
It was truly a relaxing and enjoyable stay. It may just be within the city but it allowed us to experience being away.
Click here to learn more about the hotel and to do a reservation. You may follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates and promos.
Let the photos continue the story...
|Al Masraf building at the background|
|The city view at night|
|The connecting pathway to Arjaan - the mall can be seen through the dome roof in between the hotels|
|The main pool at night|
|The little one enjoying her carpet run at the hallway|
|The pool area at night|
|The live grill station - we love the chicken|
|Some of the breakfast delights at Liwan|
|Aya ready for her cheese and mushroom omelette|
|The healthy station|
|The pool in Arjaan is ours on a Saturday morning|
|The view from the other side - the Fish roundabout|
|Yes we are happy|
We were guests of Al Ghurair Rayhaan Rotana, but this review and opinion are 100% my own and unpaid.
- Sunday, September 06, 2015
- By Ion Gonzaga
- 0 Comments
Welcome to BER months. “Pasko na naman!” Many Filipinos in Dubai and around the world are starting to fill up their giant gift boxes to send to their loved ones in time for Christmas. Truly indeed, Filipinos recognize Christmas as early as September, hence we have the longest Christmas in the world.
For many OFWs and their families back home, the balikbayan box is not just about the latest shoes, stylish clothes, trendy bags, imported shampoos, olive oil or whatsoever novelty items bought by the Filipino expat's hard-earned money.
The box is full of love and intimacy. It is one way to make-up for the lost time together, for the special occasions that we were not present, for the presents that were not given. The box is full of emotions, especially for OFWs who cannot spend Christmas at home. The tears of longing to celebrate the Yuletide holidays is within every space of the box.
That's why I rely on LBC to handle my precious packages. No worries. Just a steady peace of mind that my box of love will reach its destination safe, in good condition and on time.
They have this LBC Shopping Suki Bundle Deal promo. They are offering AED30 discount for any two boxes sent via sea cargo for a minimum total sending fee of AED300; and AED50 discount for any two boxes sent via air cargo for a minimum total sending fee of AED600.
You can also get discounted rates even when you send to more than 1 consignee. And, when you tag a friend along to avail the bundle promo, you will also receive free movie passes to watch any Star Cinema movies for free.
The promo is good until September 12 only.
I had a chat with the guys at LBC, who just won the Preferred Freight Forwarding Company and the Preferred Remittance Service Provider trophies at the recently concluded Filipino Times Awards, and they said that the Shopping Suki Bundle promo is part of the cargo service’s commitment to moving lives and bridging the distance between overseas Filipinos and their loved ones back home.
Their branches in 30 countries proves that they have already cemented the trust they built with their customers. Well, credit that to how easy and affordable it is to avail their services.
Here in UAE, you can go to any of the 3 branches to avail of the promo:
DubaiShop 4 Mubarak Khalifa Building No. 75 10D Street, Al Karama
Abu DhabiShop No. 3, Sultan Sultan Al Suwaidi Buliding, Hamdan St.Tourist Club East (E13) Basin (C59)
SharjahSheikh Khalid Bin Saqr, Qasimi, Al Yarmouq, Sharjah (behind Gold Center)You can call their hotline 800-035-702-444 for further info.
OFWs will not stop sending balikbayan boxes at walang anumang inspection ang makakapigil sa 'min. :P
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- Saturday, September 05, 2015
- By Ion Gonzaga
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|View from my Standard B room at the 8th floor|
After the initial consultation with my surgeon, I went to the admitting section to reserve a room 3 days ahead of my scheduled operation.
I reserved a Standard Room A at Php2,900+ per day. Confirmed.
Come the day of admission, I was still asked to wait up to 4 hours for my reserved room to become available.
Not interested to wait any longer, I picked a Standard Room B instead. The difference is only a refrigerator anyway. Rate is Php2,650 per day. But not until they read through my patient info form and saw my UAE ID. Upon learning that I do not reside in the Philippines anymore, they gave me another rate sheet, in which the Standard Room B costs Php3,100+.
Siempre nag-rebolusyon na naman ako. Why in the world that a Filipino living overseas should pay higher for availing a medical service in his home country? No, not actually service, but just the room rate.
What advantage will I get from the same room? Are there unique room services that I'll receive with that extra cost? I asked them these questions. I called up the supervisor's attention and got blanks in return. No concrete answers. There are no differences in the room type and no extra services (hotel?). Same bed, same couch, same TV, same bathroom.
The final answer they gave me was, because they have to put my Dubai address in the patient medical report, hence it costs higher. Am I stupid? Maybe they'll use gold ink to print my address overseas.
I don't get it. Maybe the staff was misinformed or they just really have no answer to it.
I told her to look closely at my ID because it's clearly written that I am still a Filipino citizen. After few questioning and less response from the supervisor, she gave up and eventually put me in the "normal" room rate.
Oh, the hospital? The Medical City in Ortigas.
I opted to have my operation done in Manila because it is relatively more affordable there and the excellence of medical professionals in the country's premier hospitals are at par with the world's best. And my trust with the doctors and nurses remain the same.
This is just disheartening.
- Friday, September 04, 2015
- By Ion Gonzaga
- 0 Comments
We rushed to the emergency room to seek immediate aid only to be told that they need to move us to a quarantine facility because we came from Dubai.
My 3-year old daughter, Aya started vomiting a day before we fly to Manila. Whenever she takes food or milk, she throws up. She never had fever, no colds or cough, nothing. She's breathing properly. Just throwing up.
She did not vomit during our 9-hour flight though. She did not take any solid food anyway.
But she vomited again few hours after arriving in Manila (23rd August) - one in the car, and another in a restaurant at lunch. So we rushed to the emergency room of The Medical City in Ortigas for immediate aid - that's the closest 'good' hospital from where we were.
Her temperature was okay, 36°C. Blood pressure was normal too. One of the first questions the nurse asked was, "Galing po ba kayo'ng abroad in the last 30 days?" (Did you return from abroad in the last 30 days?).
Fact is we just arrived 3 hours ago. She quickly asked us to wear face masks, and within 5 minutes, the nurse ushered us to a room outside the ER.
It's the isolation room. She said, "Sorry po ha kailangan po kasi nating gawin to, protocol po kasi... Sorry po talaga." (Sorry we have to do this as part of the protocol, really sorry.)
The door was locked from the outside. There's only a single bed and one monobloc chair so I was just standing all throughout.
I was clueless of what's NOT happening. We only see eyes peeking through the glass like we were infected monkeys. We waited for half hour before a team of doctors and nurses came in 'full battle gear' - lab wardrobe, head gears, face masks, gloves and goggles.
We felt a bit humiliated.
They asked few questions about Aya's condition, but did nothing at that point. They informed us that as per Department of Health's protocol for patients coming from abroad, we have to be moved to RITM quarantine facility in Alabang for a suspected case of MERS-Corona Virus - and we have to stay there for freaking 10 - 14 days. Wow!
I was appalled. Yes vomiting could be a symptom of MERS but only IF the patient also feels some respiratory ailments and fever. Aya has none of those.
I fumed about the quarantine. I was outraged because no thorough check-up was done yet they want to transfer us to another facility. I loudly objected and said that Aya's case was definitely not MERS and vomiting alone is not enough symptom to indicate so. They left the room to apparently consult with RITM officials and higher hospital doctors about my objection case.
A nurse came back with a glass of pedialite for Aya. My daughter didn't like the grapes flavor, she just tasted it. They did not give any alternative medication.
The medical team returned with a diagnosis of acute gastritis, and most likely not MERS. Definitely not! She did not even have fever in the last 6 months.
Since we insisted to not go to RITM, they recommended that we keep Aya isolated at home for 14 days. Okay.
I just said okay, matapos lang to. We're so tired and sleepless from the long flight, I just wanted to finish this unfortunate ordeal.
After staying 2.5 hours in the isolation room, we got our bill. There's a Php 1,880.00 for emergency and isolation room charges.
I talked to the billing section, the doctors and the head nurse on why we were charged for the isolation room. I understand the ER charges, but isolation room? It's not our fault that we came from Dubai that they had to lock us in an inconvenient room. It's not like a favor we asked you to give us. And the doctors already confirmed that Aya's case is not respiratory. It's beyond
I didn't win the argument after wasting half hour more.. They wanted me to talk to the customer service department. Knowing that they have very slow processes, and we're really tired and jet lagged, I just eventually paid the bill.
Why charge us with the way they handled things and in the lack of immediate action?
I understand that the government is doing its job to prevent the possible spread of MERS. If TMC really cares and supports the DOH protocol, just practice preventive measures, not added business.
Aya's real case
The next day, our friends helped us bring Aya to a pediatrician's clinic in Taytay. Upon checking the pulse and her facial response, she was diagnosed with dehydration and immediately recommended to be admitted to a nearby hospital. She was given IV fluids and after just 6 hours, she's okay.
She's back to her usual playful self in no time.
THAT was the quick action I expected to get from The Medical City, known as one of the best hospitals in the country.
If it's a DOH-protocol, why other clinics and hospitals don't do the same? Why did we receive a better treatment from a smaller clinic? And why Taytay Doctors Hospital did not push us away to a quarantine?
There's another story that happened to me at The Medical City and it has something to do about my address being Dubai, here.
Photo from Google Image search.