Grand By All Means: Asia Grand View Hotel, Coron, Palawan

August 16, 2015

Hogging toiletries and videoke aside, what's a Filipino's favorite thing to do in a hotel? 

Breathing in the view. And if there's a pool to swim in, that too.

Luckily, for guests of Asia Grand View Hotel (or AGVH), all those are a given. Yes, including the toiletries (Yay for hoarders!).

This Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence awardee's name is a composite of two focal themes: Asian culture and arresting views of Coron Bay. Asian ornaments adorn walls and corners; tropical plants fringe corridors and roofs. Thatched bamboo huts, reminiscent of rural huts in Asian villages, comprise the spa and wellness center. 

Saddling up the quieter hills of Governor's Avenue in Coron, AGVH is far from the hubbub but close enough to dining and shopping facilities and attractions in both Busuanga and Coron. 

And in contrast to most hotels in the bustling town 10 minutes away, here the panorama of Coron's tree-lined  islets is neither obstructed nor interrupted by roofs and electrical wires. 

The takeaway: a solid sunrise and sunset-ogling experience, especially at the on-site bayfront resto (which we GRAVELY abused).

Now, how's this for breakfast?

In other words, lots of ooohs and aaaahs. 

And oooh-ed and aaah-ed we did.

Big First Impressions

Our 5pm arrival was received with AGVH's signature lemongrass water - a welcome cure after a two-hour flight delay outta Manila. Bellboys were quick to carry our luggages down several staircases leading to the 46-square meter poolside deluxe room, which our party of four-and-a-half shared for three days.

Flanked by tall white walls and kickass high ceilings with dark wood beams and a fan, the deluxe room is the biggest of three room types - a massive build that can accommodate a party for The Mountain and his cohorts, even.

Deluxe rooms are lofty and sufficient for families and groups.

Guests can opt for either a king-sized bed or two twin-sized beds. Either way, the sheets and the mattress are so snug you'd want to bury yourself in it for days. Extra beds are available upon request.

Like the superior rooms, each of the 12 deluxes is equipped with an air conditioner, LCD TV with cable, a mini-fridge, a mini-bar (actually, a mini space beside the fridge with a thermos, China cups, and glasses), a spacious desk with intercom, and a cozy veranda. 

Next to a small cabinet with a safe lies a walk-in bathroom, stocked with a full range of toiletries, water heater, and a shower. 

Superior Rooms 

The superior rooms in AGVH supply the same effect and facility as the deluxe rooms, differing only in view and location. 

The six gardenfront Superior Garden View rooms - also 46 sqm - sit from the stairwell across the lobby, adjacent to the hotel spa. 

Superior Garden view room

The two Superior Bay View rooms are located in a separate building - below the restaurant -and offers a prime view of Coron Bay.

Location-wise, the deluxe rooms are the farthest from the resto, requiring two staircases and a two-minute walk. The superior ones are a bit nearer, though to get to the lobby and the resto, one must still tread up a staircase - something to consider if you're vacaying with seniors.

Each Superior Bayview  Room is 35 square meters, and features the same amenities as deluxe rooms.

Construction of a second building housing similar rooms from the street across AGVH is ongoing too to accommodate more guests (rooms get filled fast during high season, so as always, for good measure, book in advance).

Veranda of Superior Bay View room faces Coron Bay.

How Much does a Stay Cost?

Superior rooms start at P4,700 a night; deluxe rooms at P5,500 during low season. Peak season rates range from P6,000 to P7,000 a night. Children below 5 get in for free; kids ages 5 to 12 are charged at P400 per head . If you're coming with an infant, you may request a bassinet, free of charge. 

How's the Service?

If the 4 stars of this hotel are any indication of their service, it's fair to say it lived up to the twinkies. Whether we were phoning in for hot water and beer or asking the front desk inane questions (How many geckos live here?), we found the multilingual staff to be warm, superbly accommodating, and deft in delivering requests and answering inane questions.

I also appreciate the proactive attitude among employees. If you asked about trikes, they'll volunteer to hail one for you (no extra charges; P20 per head from the hotel to town).  If you mentioned you're going on a tour  - and you're not eating the complimentary brekkie at the resto - they'll pack everything for you in tupperware containers. 

Such hospitality was extended equally to both expatriate and Filipino guests, something I can't say for other hotels in the country.

I'm specially fond of the restaurant staff,  largely because they've been so wonderful to my daughter despite her nasty habit of throwing cocktail umbrellas and neat table clothes into disarray. 

A hotel built on a hill, you can expect plenty of stairs and leisurely walks along beautiful, tranquil gardens in AGVH.
Naturally, room service can be a little slow sometimes due to the distance of the main building to the rooms.

Every meal they never failed to ask if she wanted a toddler chair or a booster foam on her seat. They even gave her a free coco for breakfast (hint: hot coco is NOT free) . "For baby", they said. *heart melting!*

What Amenities are Available?

There's really plenty, and I mean plenty, of recreational amenities here it's understandable how some guests never really leave the hotel (Although, c'mon. It's Coron. Why would you not want to go on a tour?).

There are two infinity pools: the bigger 4 feet pool, and an 8-foot deep pool below that, fronting the dive shop.

Towels and small bodyboards are available at the pool area.
Towels for tours can be borrowed for free at the front desk.

And yep, there's a newly built dive center complete with brand spanking new diving gear and a super cute European instructor (emphasis on super cute).

For sports activities like ping pong, billiards, and darts, head on to the activity center on the second floor of the dive center. It also has everyone's personal favorite: videoke!

Lia, in her overloaded diaper, taking a shot with me fellow travel bloggers,
Ate Gay of Exotic Philippines and Channel of Channel Marie

Or you can take a short stroll north of the dive center to the uber serene mangrove forest-slash-resort pier (I know. Their OWN pier.).  You can rent a kayak (P800/day) to explore the surrounding bay from the dock.

Do check out the spa and wellness center, too. This cozy three-bed spot offers Swedish, hot stone, and traditional hilot massages and other pampering services.

On your way out, you'll find a small souvenir shop at the lobby, stocked with native goods, shirts, munchies, carved wood art, and paintings crafted by locals. 

Meetings and team huddles may be held at any of two conference rooms. 

If you're too worn to explore town, there's the in-house Bayview Bar and Restaurant, where guests can dine from 6am till 11pm.  Complimentary buffet breakfast is served here -  a mix of Pinoy, continental, and Western dishes. Room service is available too between those times. 

There's a sizable roofdeck lounge furnished with chairs, a couch, and tables atop the resto-bar.  The best vantage point in the hotel thus far, sunrises and sunsets are fantastic from up here. During sunrise, Palawan's evasive swiftlets flock to the tree adjacent to the deck -  a pretty magical sight (and sound) to witness.

Then There's Food.

Two words can pretty much sum up the breakfasts and dinners we had at AGVH's resto: food coma.

Extensive buffet breakfast comes free with reservations.

While the buffet breakfast is not essentially diverse,  the menu is a great jumpstart for a rigorous day of island tours. 

Speaking of tours, you can book yours straight from the 24-hour concierge. Coron land and island tours are available here, as well as jaunts to farther destinations like Calauit and Culion (we weren't able to try this though as we had previous arrangements with the amazing peeps at Coron Blue Lagoon Adventure). 

On the full-course breakfast spread are pastries, seasonal fruits, two types of meat, one veggie dish, pasta, rice, and light dessert (turon, cookies). Wheat and white bread, plus marmalades are served too.

Staples include cereals, hams, yogurt, cheeses, and congee, which you can top with hardboiled egg and dried fish.  Eggs are cooked fresh upon request, and you can pick your own ingredients to go with your omelette.

Sweet and sour pork, calamares, sinigang and spring rolls.

For lunch and dinner, a complimentary basket of loaf and butter is served before the mains. Prices per dish range from P150 to P400. Fried dishes are fit for solos, but soup-based dishes are good enough for sharing for 2-3 persons. Beautifully plated and upscale, dishes are handcrafted by skilled European and Filipino chefs.

While I'm not so crazy about the just-okay calamares and the soggy Pad Thai (a bit bland too but plentiful), every plate we had was above par. 

Spell food coma. T-H-I-S.

Do try the kinilaw, bulalo, and spring rolls. There's also this delicious chicken in creamy white sauce dish (first row, upper left photo) -  named after one of the owners, but whose exact name escapes me -  that's REALLY worth a try. Their artisan pizzas are a hit too particularly with the expats.

And if you've a sweet tooth for afters, the Fruit Trips Pagoda, a three-layered dessert of fresh ripe mangoes and paper-thin, crunchy dough, is a sweet treat to cap off a meal. 

The Lowdown

Everywhere in Asia Grand View Hotel,  you'll be greeted with this mantra:

We aim to offer distinct, comfortable and elegant accommodation yet reasonably priced to discriminating tourists both local and foreign. We are an environmentally-friendly hotel and support efforts to conserve natural resources.

In our three-day stay, I feel they did just that - and more. 

She's happy with her stay. We all were.

Accommodations were sponsored by Asia Grand View Hotel (save for day 1 dinner). All opinions expressed here are based on honest and unbiased personal views.

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