Thursday, May 29, 2014

What We Found Out About Hotel Star Ratings in the Philippines Will Surprise You!

Ever wonder what it really means when a hotel says they’re rated  5 stars?

When it comes to hotel ratings, the usual assumption is that a hotel
is evaluated on a five-star scale, where more stars = more amenities =
more luxury = more expensive.

But after doing some homework, we found out that Philippine hotels do NOT have official star ratings!

Before last year, there was no formal star rating classification for hotels.

Hotels were simply classified into one of four categories: Economy, Standard, Deluxe, and First-Class.

The Department of Tourism is
just now starting to streamline the way it classifies and accredits
hotels in the country. One of the improvements is moving to a more
universal star rating modeled after international standards.

Makati Shangri-La Hotel
We wouldn’t be surprised if the Makati Shangri-La, looloo’s top-rated hotel, gets a 5-star rating.
The DOT’s audit process is ongoing and there’s no official list of all hotels that have been reviewed yet.

Based on the newly-released National Accommodation Standards for Hotels, here’s what we can expect in the near future:

The Five Star Hotel Grading System

Each hotel that will go through inspection by the DOT will
be assigned a particular star rating. This rating will be determined
based on a score out of 1000. Below are the score ranges a place must
get to be assigned a certain star rating:

Hotel Star Rating Required Point Total
1 Star 251-400 points
2 Stars 401-550 points
3 Stars 551-700 points
4 Stars 701-850 points
5 Stars 851-1000 points
There are 7 dimensions, each scored individually, that constitute a hotel’s total score:

Business Area Percentage of Point Total
Arrival & Departure 10%
Public Areas 10%
Bedrooms 30%
Bathrooms 15%
Food & Beverage 15%
Amenities 10%
Business Practices 10%
TOTAL 100%
Each dimension specified above is then further evaluated. There will
be a a maximum of 177 indicators inspected qualitatively all in all.
Think of it as a 177-item test wherein each item is subjectively scored
and graded. Let’s just say it’ll take more than a few all-nighters to
ace this one.

1-Star Hotels

1 star hotel
Don’t expect much, we imagine. Better than sleeping on a bench at least!
Hotels that fall under this classification, well… they’re probably going to be the types of places you’d place under the “basta may matutulugan
category. They’ll fulfill the minimum requirements set by the DOT to
operate, but probably not much more than that. Mandatory features
include having its name actually visible from the street, a room size
that’s at least 16 square meters, and a working toilet… WITH toilet
paper! Classy.

2-Star Hotels

2 star hotel
Not great, but not terrible either.
Expect a bit more breathing room when you book a 2-star hotel. You’ll
get at least an extra 2 square meters of space compared to 1-star
hotels. Don’t expect room service at 3AM in most hotels under this
classification, but reception should be available for at least 16 hours a
day. Expect your bedroom to have relatively good levels of comfort in
terms of beddings, window curtains/shades, and noise levels. A unique
indicator that you’re staying somewhere with a 2-star rating is if
you’ll find a list of emergency contacts and telephone numbers in your

3-Star Hotels

Right in the middle of the pack, you’ll find a few more of the
comforts of home in a 3-star hotel. For starters, having coffee/tea
facilities in the room is mandatory for places that are to receive this
rating. You’re also guaranteed a telephone, which you can use to contact
the 24-hour reception desk or full-service restaurant.

3 star hotel
We wouldn’t mind if 3-star hotels in the Philippines looked like this!
Rooms will be comfortable and spacious, and porters will be available
to help you with your luggage. Design and aesthetics will be big
factors for 3-star hotels as well, so you can probably expect a
well-maintained hotel exterior, and public areas that you wouldn’t be
ashamed to take selfies from.

4-Star Hotels

At the 4-star level, you’ll really start to feel a bit more luxurious
when it comes to amenities and facilities. Things like in-room tourist
guides, valet parking, and additional fine dining/specialty restaurants
become mandatory at this rating tier. 4-star hotels will go the extra
mile when it comes to comfort — you might find that linens are softer,
towels are fluffier, and the building’s overall design to be
well-thought out and pleasing.

Sweet suite ya got there. Source:
For hotels to reach the required score for this rating, you can
expect to find a lot of “extras” to make your stay more pleasant. There
will be wellness centers, conference rooms, pools, and if you feel like
it, the option to book a suite.

5-Star Hotels

The creme de la creme of accommodations. With the number of points
and “Outstanding” ratings these places will need, these are the hotels
that you wouldn’t mind living in, let alone visiting. From the moment
you walk in, you’ll immediately feel, for the lack of a better term,
like a straight-up BALLER. These are, after all, where top-tier
celebrities, politicians, and VIPs will be staying… that list will then
include you!

5 star hotel
You’ll have to drag me back home if my hotel room looked like this. Source:
Some of the country’s best bars, restaurants, and spas will be found
in these hotels too, which will make staying at a 5-star hotel is a
vacation in itself. Spiral, HEAT, and Inagiku for instance, are all found in hotels (Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Shangri-La Hotel EDSA, and the Makati Shangri-La)
that are likely to be given 5-star ratings based on their current DOT
standings as “De Luxe” hotels. With a well-trained staff willing to
accommodate almost any request (assuming you can pay for it), luxurious
rooms, and almost every creature comfort you could think of within arms
reach, no one would blame you for not wanting to leave the hotel at all.



After speaking to a representative from the Department of
Tourism, and getting on the phone with a few hotels (which we will not
name), we’ve come to the conclusion that when a hotel in the Philippines
says they’re “5 star,” they’re basing that off the current ratings
(i.e. De Luxe, First Class, Standard, Economy) with the understanding
that De Luxe = 5-star. Technically, no one can REALLY say that a hotel
is 5 star… yet. We hope the DOT releases the final list of hotels under
each class soon so we can finally ditch what might just be some bogus
marketing claims.

Also, because a final list of hotels under each class has not
been released, the photos used here are from hotels outside of the
country which have received star ratings from their respective
governments/hotel rating organizations.


NAIA for n00bs: Which Airlines Fly From Which NAIA Terminals? by EJ dela Vega

Let’s face it, our NAIA Terminals aren’t worth bragging about. After bagging the title of being one of the world’s worst airports
for several years, the number of improvements have yet to turn the
Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s image and reputation around.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
Photo Credit:

For locals and foreigners alike, flying through NAIA has become quite
the chore. Never mind the issues about cleanliness, congestion, and the
lack of decent dining options.

The biggest frustration that travelers face is the fragmentation of
its terminals. Most major cities/countries have two major terminals, one
for international/legacy carrier flights, and the other for low-cost
airlines. With its 4 different terminals, NAIA seems to be an example of
“the more, the merrier” gone wrong.

Making flight transfers, finding transportation options from terminal
to terminal, and just getting to the right one from the get-go are
issues for most NAIA first-timers, and are major setbacks for excited
travelers. That being said, we thought we’d put together a simple guide
that should help ease the pain:

Which terminal do I go to?

Here’s a list of which airlines fly out from their respective terminals:

NAIA Terminal 1 (a.k.a. “the International Terminal”)

Air China Air Niugini Asiana Airlines Cathay Pacific-NAIA Terminal China Airlines China Southern Delta Airlines-NAIA Terminal Dragon Air Emirates-NAIA Terminal Etihad Airways-NAIA Terminal EVA Air-NAIA Terminal Gulf Air Hawaiian Airlines Japan Airlines-NAIA Terminal Jeju Air JetStar-NAIA Terminal KLM-NAIA Terminal Korean Air Malaysia Airlines Qantas-NAIA Terminal QATAR Airways Royal Brunei Saudi Arabian Airlines Singapore Airlines-NAIA Terminal Thai Airlines-NAIA Terminal Tiger Airways-NAIA Terminal United Airlines

*Tiger Airways: International Flights Only

NAIA Terminal 2 (a.k.a. “the PAL Terminal”)

Phlippine Airlines NAIA Terminal 2


*PAL Express: Only for flights departing for/arriving from: Tagbilaran, Bacolod, Cebu, Laoag, Davao, GenSan, Iloilo, Kalibo)

NAIA Terminal 3 (often referred to as “the CebuPac Terminal”)


Air Nippon Air

Cebu Pacific Airlines NAIA Terminal

PAL Express

*PAL Express: All other flights aside from those listed above for Terminal 2

**Air Asia: Only for flights departing for/arriving from: Incheon, Jinjiang

NAIA Terminal 4 (a.k.a. “Old Domestic Airport”)




*AirAsia: For Air Asia Zest, Air Asia X, all other flights aside from those listed above for Terminal

**Tiger Airways: Domestic Flights Only

Where ARE the different terminals?

Particularly useful for those planning on hopping from airline to
airline, we’ve also put together this map locating each terminal and the
approximate distances between each:

NAIA Terminal Map

Distance Table (via car/taxi)

Terminal 1 Terminal 2 Terminal 3 Terminal 4
Terminal 1
2.1 km 4.9 km 2.4 km
Terminal 2 2.1 km
6.2 km 2.7 km
Terminal 3 4.9 km 6.2 km
3.9 km
Terminal 4 2.4 km 2.7km 3.9 km
Hopefully, these little bits of information have armed you with
enough know-how to make your next trip to or from NAIA a little less of a
headache. Come unprepared, and, well… buckle up, you’re in for a
turbulent ride.

3 Most Beautiful Places in the World

Once in a while it is good to divert your mind from the daily hassle
and dissonance of daily working environment and find a cool place where
you can relax and enjoy with your family. There is one good place that
exceeds nature and its beauty. Spending some time visiting and watching
some of the most beautiful wonders of the world will make you forget all
your worries and realize how much is given to you by your creator to
enjoy. There are so many breathtaking places in the world that you can
visit but here we are going to concentrate on 10 most beautiful places
in the world. They are so beautiful that you might think of changing
your current career to travelling; after all travelling not only helps
you learn but can also decide to write guides for others who might want
to know more about their world.

Most Beautiful Places in the World

1. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
This is an amazing site located in between the border of Zambia and
North of Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River. This breathtaking site
occupies around 2 kilometer mile and is 354 feet high. It emits mist
that is spotted by somebody about 20 kilometers away and hence it’s
traditional “Mosi-oa Tunya” that simply means “thundering smoke”. It was
named Victoria Falls by a Scottish explorer David Livingstone.

2. Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

It is a sanctuary on a lagoon, and it’s not only amazing, but also preservative. In fact, Venice has
maintained it’s beauty for more than 600 years. The city has 118
islands and more tourists than residents and this is a fact contributed
by availability of many beautiful sites and places to go while in the
city. Among the places is touring with the Grand Canal, which is a 230
passenger boat. The tallest and the oldest building in the city is the
Campanile, which was built 325ft tall. To reach the top, people take a
lift, but in the old days the Roman Emperor Fredrick III rode a horse to
the top.

3. Fairy Pools Isle of Skye, Scotland

Fairy Pools Isle of Skye, Scotland

Fairy Pools are located two miles from the Glen
Brittle beach. They are a part of a stream coming from the Glen Brittle
forest which flows in clear quiet streams and beautiful waterfalls.
There’s not so much public transport and you can take a walk through the
pools enjoying the serene beauty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More Money for Mickey as Disneyland Again Raises Prices

It seems like we were just talking about Disney and their plans to increase admission to some of their theme parks, and now just weeks later they’re doing it again—this time over in California.

The parks that make up Disneyland Resort are rising once again, and this
is certainly going to take away from your oversized turkey leg and
churro budget. Things have been bumped up by roughly four percent, as Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park will now set you back $96. Parking is also going up by a buck, and that’s now going to cost $17 for each and every vehicle heading into the lots.

So far it seems like the $100 per day mark is safe, but have to imagine
that won’t be the case for long. Another similar increase in 2015 would
finally take admission costs into triple digits. Unfortunately we cannot
resist a little Mickey Mouse, and if we’re in the neighborhood—we’d
still line up for a ride aboard Space Mountain.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Race is on to deliver first BBJ 747-8

The race is on for the delivery of the first BBJ 747-8 head of state aircraft and Boeing
Business Jets president Steve Taylor wants to be at the office in the
front when the delivery happens sometimes in the next month.

“At this point we don’t know which one will be first – but whichever it is I know I want to be flying it,” he said at the show.

The handover – believed to be to either Qatar or Kuwait – will be a milestone for the American manufacturer which has seen a surge in its widebody orders.

the past eight years, Boeing Business Jets has distinguished itself in
the VIP widebody market,” Taylor says. “We saw an opportunity in the
business jet market for widebody ¬airplanes and now we are seeing it pay

Aside from the two 747-8 aircraft, even more Boeing VIP widebody airplanes will enter the market this year. One BBJ 787
delivered in 2013 has already entered into service, and Taylor saysfive
more will be delivered by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, design work is
underway by Andrew Winch Design on the first of the larger 787-9
airframes. A total of 14 787s have now been ordered for VIP missions.

But BBJ’s traditional 737
platform is also entering a new era. The first BBJ based on the 737-8
Max – ordered in March for 2018 delivery – has seen an increase in range
over the original projections. Taylor said the BBJ Max8 has an
additional 890nm of range over the BBJ2 – a 16% improvement, enabling
customers to have greater flexibility by allowing them to fly farther.
“Even with seven auxiliary fuel tanks it can also carry three times the
cargo of a BBJ2 – and that is really important in some markets, “ Taylor

An additional six metre fuselage stretch can add another
passenger zone to the larger cabin. The extended range for the BBJ Max
of 6,435 nautical miles comfortably connecting Western Europe with west
coast USA. The BBJ Max9 – the enhanced BBJ3 – will add a further 915nm
to the existing capability.

What the British Airways 787 Dreamliner Has That Other Airplanes Don't

An average day sees 12 British Airways planes soaring up into the skies on their way from New York to London. Only one is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Perhaps you've already heard about the advantages of the new
787—the quieter cabin, lower interior pressure, larger windows, improved
fuel efficiency, automatic toilets,
and general spaciousness—but since each airline can do what they want
with their 787s, this often means further improvements beyond the

So why is this 787 so special, and why should you pony up to enjoy it in BA's version of Business Class, "Club World?" Here's just a few reasons to book it and make the trek to Newark:

It's the last flight out

Because the BA 787 departure from Newark to London is the very last
flight out from that terminal, you'll not only have shorter lines going
through security but fewer fellow travelers in general. It almost feels
like the terminal is there for you and only you. Head to the newly
renovated BA Galleries lounge for the dinner buffet and drinks, and spread out until the flight is called for boarding.

Extra seat privacy

The BA Dreamliner is the only BA aircraft to set up Club World in a
2-3-2 seat layout. Who cares? Well, you should if you enjoy privacy on
an overnight flight, because that middle-most seat is super primo! Not
only does it have a few extra inches of space on the side (handy for
keeping your laptop or a thick novel at hand), but it's snuggled so well
in the center that you cannot see any other passenger, and no one else
can similarly spy on you. It's the best option for celebrities,
in-flight sleep droolers, and anyone who simply enjoys shut-eye without
being eyed.

Sleeper service!

Because the BA 787 departure is so late (10:50pm out of Newark!), the
focus is on preparing for sleep before you even board. This means
enjoying pre-flight dining in the lounge and no wasting valuable sleep
time having to wait for a multi-course meal onboard. Yes, there's still
the option to eat after takeoff, but most Club World flyers will be
ready to dim the lights and knock out under a fluffy blanket once at
altitude. A quiet, dark cabin is ideal for getting work done, watching a
movie or joining the others in dreamland on the Dreamliner. No matter
what your activity, the extra-large windows with dimming function means
you'll still be able to peek at the slick wings and shoo away any
feelings of claustrophobia.

There's a secret button

On other BA planes in Club World, the privacy screen between seats is
activated by pushing a button atop and between the seats. It's not where
you'd expect it to be, and pushing the button is an obvious gesture
which can cause embarrassment. On the 787, however, the button is also
located on a control panel nearer your elbow, making it a hidden and
intuitive action.

Bacon rolls!

Breakfast service is very British, with the option of ordering bacon rolls before arrival at Heathrow. They're small, but so scrumptious. Do not skip them! Add a cup of BA's special blend Twining's tea
and a fruit bowl to complete a balanced breakfast. Okay, so Club World
flyers can enjoy this on any international BA flight with a morning
meal, but it just tastes so much better when you awake with a clear

Fast track to the Arrivals Lounge

Flying in Club World means you're handed two special pieces of paper
with your immigration forms. Hold on to these—Fast Track for access to
the express immigration line and a pass for the BA Arrivals lounge with
Elemis Spa.
Even if you enjoyed those bacon rolls, there's more to come in
LHR's Arrivals Lounge. The flight time of the BA 787 Dreamliner has you
into Heathrow around 10:30am, past the early morning rush and with just
enough time to hop into one of the Arrivals lounge's 90 shower rooms,
freshen up, and make any lunch plans in central London. On the flip
side, it's still early enough to make any onward connections to Europe.

To fly on the new British Airways 787 between Newark and London,
book BA flight numbers BA 186 and BA 187. To check out the BA 787's
other routes (to Toronto and, soon, to Austin), visit British Airways'
official 787 site.