Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday, February 04, 2015
The roof deck pool of Hotel Fina with a spectacular silhouette view of the majestic Mayon Volcano
The grand lobby of the hotel



S T A Y 

Tabaco in Albay is wealthy in creativity and exceptionality. Roughly 30 minutes of passenger van ride from the provincial capital of Legazpi, the city is as sharp-edged as the tabak after which its official seal was patterned, yet it’s also romantic with the presence of its prominent tourist and environment-friendly pedicabs, the majestic Mayon Volcano silhouette, and its sliver of attractive San Miguel Island.

Emerging Favorite

My recent 3-day immersion of Tabaco City had me linger in luxe living, however short, at the newly-opened Hotel Fina. Located smack dab in the middle of the city proper next to the busy public market and near the town plaza and Catholic church, the 5-storey hotel has both been a popular dining and special events destination by locals aside from being a new favorite jump-off point by foreign tourists to the nearby island of Catanduanes.

Deluxe Room
The hotel corridor
The view of Mayon Volcano from the hotel roof deck
Aboard the hotel's e-trike for a quick tour of the city

Convenient Shuttle Pick-up

Hotel Fina made sure I experienced both Tabaco City’s sharp and romantic side. As guests are normally given access to shuttle pick-ups from the Legazpi City Airport or Legazpi Grand Terminal to the hotel, I had the convenience of being picked up by its representative from the latter since I opted to take the long 9-hour bus ride.

E-Trike City Tour

I also had the chance to tour the city aboard the hotel’s cozy 4-seater e-trike or electric-powered tricycle, a good alternative to riding the environment-friendly pedicabs of the area. The oldest existing house and Catholic church are just 5 minutes away so an afternoon visit of both sufficed. We made essential side trips to the city plaza to see the tabak marker and a neighborhood buchi and kamote cue stall for a filling merienda. I culminated my late afternoon with sunset gazing at the fabulous roof deck of the hotel where I had the chance to make a quick dip right before the full silhouette splendor of Mount Mayon revealed itself against a misty skyline.

The rolling hills of Tabaco City's Sitio Rawis at San Miguel Island
San Miguel Island Immersion

Also, with Hotel Fina as base, I conveniently experienced a day trip to San Miguel Island for a quick beachfront skinny-dip at one of its secluded shorelines. From the hotel, the city pier is roughly 10 minutes away, so reaching the island aboard the hotel’s private boat enabled me to schedule the visit after a late breakfast. It was in the island where I satisfied my wanderlust for rolling hills and stunning cliffs that face a dreamy ocean. This one in San Miguel’s Sitio Rawis had me appreciate a spectacular view of mainland Albay from various high points all of which were verdant and breezy.

Read more about this island visit on my next blog post.

Grand Room
Roof deck pool
Bona's Cafe of the hotel
The bathroom of the Grand Room

Quiet and Comfy

As for my hotel stay, it couldn’t get more relaxing than being cocooned inside the zero-noise ambiance of Hotel Fina’s Grand Room. It has a couple of single top-of-the-line beds with memory foam, pillows and bedding, plus access to deluxe amenities like a 32” LED cable television, wireless internet access, mini bar, in-room coffee and  tea set, electronic in-room safe and telephone. Its private bathroom has hot and cold shower, cotton towel sets, bathroom amenities, bathroom telephone as well as hair dryer.

The 20 air conditioned-room tourist inn looked and felt grand starting at the high-ceiling lobby. The presence of pristine white and dark earth colors in its interior design palate impressed upon me the establishment’s pursuit for both the opulent and no-frills features of hotel stays.

The roof deck jacuzzi with a view of Mayon Volcano
The 5-storey establishment also has three more room types that cater to different number of guests. For a maximum number of 4 people, the Executive Room will work well with its two queen-sized beds. A variation of that is a room for 3 people called the Presidential Room. For couples, the Deluxe Room and its smaller variant, the Go Deluxe Room, can each accommodate two people for that necessary private space. 

My booked accommodation was inclusive of complimentary breakfast.

Remarkable Showers

My most remarkable moments spent inside the room was at the bathroom for power showers. The temperature control of the shower was amazing in that I did not have to wait no more than a minute to let hot water come out of the showerhead. Also, a quick crank for adjustment to lukewarm water was also on spot. I had a lot of issues to the contrary with other hotels I’ve stayed in for me to be amazed by a simple shower and I’m not ashamed to admit this.

The roof deck pool and jacuzzi by late afternoon and night time
(left) French Toast with Ice Cream; (top right) Lechon Kawali Pakbet; (bottom right) Sweet & Sour Lapu-lapu
(left) Tempura Shrimp; (top right) Beef with Broccoli; (bottom right) Shanghai Fried Rice
(top) Squid Salt & Pepper; (bottom L) Hot & Sour Soup; (bottom R) Banana Choco Shake

Fancy But Affordable Meals

Food at its F&B facility called Bona’s Café was also a delight especially since servings were hefty for affordable pricing. I learned from some of the locals that they initially thought the food at the hotel seemed pricey because plating was fancy and the restaurant ambiance felt classy, but when they learned that most orders were affordable for the hefty serving, they made sure to be patrons and referred the place to more relatives. For desserts, the cheesecake is a best-seller.

For late lunch upon check-in, I had the pleasure of dining over a full course meal with Chicken Corn Soup for appetizer and orders of Fish with Broccoli and Pork Spareribs Salt & Pepper for main course which I paired with the most recommended scrambled egg-wrapped Fina Fried Rice. My sinful dessert was a plate of French Toast that was topped with two scoops of ice cream.

(top) Fish with Broccoli; (bottom L) Fina Fried Rice; (bottom R) Molo Soup
My other meals during my 3-day stay were as satisfying as my first one. I was able to sample two types of chicken dishes – the crunchy Fina Fried Chicken that tasted better than Jollibee’s Chickenjoy and the flavorful Garlic Chicken. I also tried another spareribs dish called Ching-Tu which was evenly deep-fried and mixed well with seasoning sauce. Other memorable dishes were the filling Lechon Kawali Pakbet, the Squid Salt & Pepper, Sweet & Sour Lapu-lapu with Soy Sauce and the restaurant’s own version of Tempura Shrimp. The jolting Hot & Sour Soup and the smooth-tasting Ilonggo favorite Molo Soup were also memorable as appetizers for my other meals.  

Presidential Room

(top) Garlic Chicken; (bottom L) Fina Fried Chicken; (bottom R) Pork Spareribs

After touring the nearby San Miguel Island, I found the restaurant’s Banana Chocolate Smoothie to be quite refreshing that I finished the tall glass in just a few minutes.

I learned from the chef that the restaurant’s family-style set menus are so popular among the residents of the city because the hefty servings of dishes that are good for 5 to 7 people cost no more than P1,500 only per set.

Ease of Travel

Since the Cagsawa Travel and Tours’s main office is located at the same block as the hotel, I found it easy to book myself a solo seat bus ticket there back to Manila. After check-out, I simply had the hotel shuttle drop me off at the bus company’s Tabaco City station which is just 10-15 minutes away as an alternative to waiting for the bus to reach the Legazpi Grand Terminal.

For hotel guests riding a plane to and from Albay, a shuttle pickup is possible. Simply arrange with the hotel’s front desk. See the contact information further below.

Experiencing Tabaco City wouldn’t be complete without a reliable tour base and Hotel Fina ascertained that for me.

Hotel Fina

Quick access to Hotel Fina room rates here

Address: AA Berces Street, Tabaco City, Albay, Philippines
Phone: +63 (52) 487-8885 or +63915 898 9055 (Globe) or +63933 600 9205 (Sun)

For a visit of San Miguel Island, contact Hotel Fina.

More Photos Below:

View of Mayon Volcano from the hotel roof deck after sunset
The hotel facade
Stopping at the Typhoon Reming Memorial Shrine from Legazpi City aboard the hotel shuttle
Aboard the Hotel Fina shuttle


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