Imperial Hotel Tokyo: Lost in translation?

Remember my last post about Imperial Hotel in Tokyo where I left in a hurry because of a Monobloc stool in the bathroom?
Well, something really strange came to mind and this is what happened.
Last June, I went to Tokyo with my brother Dennis who booked us at Imperial Hotel using his corporate rate (cheap).
This was my bedroom

Imperial Hotel

and this was the bathroom

Imperial Hotel

Check out the floor tiles and the side of the bathtub :(

Imperial Hotel

and the Monobloc stool in the shower. Gross.

Imperial Hotel

I just had to get out. At first I went to Tripadvisor to check out the options, bathroom-wise (not much). I then called the Front Desk for help to transfer to another room with a better bathroom. I really don’t mind paying for an upgrade.
So this man came up and showed me an equally scary room and bathroom in the same wing. I refused it.
He took me to another wing which was being renovated. The bathroom was slightly better. I was about to take it when he told me I would be the ONLY guest in that wing because it is noisy because of construction. Of course I was scared.
I made references to Jack Nicholson in The Shining. He merely laughed at me.
With that, I made a decision to move to the Andaz Tokyo. Luckily I was able to check out of the Imperial without any penalty—thank God for that.
And then I remembered something.
In 2009 I remembered having had a pleasant stay at Imperial Hotel, so I went through my archives.
In April 2009, this was the bedroom I shared with my sister Ana.

The hotel room

and this was our bathroom!!

Look at the beautiful tiles and stool—it is not Monobloc!

Our bathroom

It is a Prince Aha stool by Kartell!


So they did have better bathrooms in the hotel! Were they fully booked then?
It makes me wonder why the man told me that all bathrooms at Imperial looked like the bathroom I had.
Most hotels will offer you a better room if you ask for it, for a higher price—I would’ve taken that because I have done it before.
On the positive side, I discovered the Andaz Tokyo which was great, more expensive, but bad location.
As for Imperial Hotel, I will never go back. Location is good, but if bathrooms are important to you, don’t stay there.

You can read about my 2009 stay HERE.

25 years later: the Hyatt Terraces Baguio remembered

July 16, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the great earthquake that devastated Baguio.
In 1990, I was working as a lifestyle writer at the Daily Globe. Our office was on the 2nd floor of a building in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong.
Our bosses were Ben C. Ramos (husband of Tita Virgie Ramos) and Teddy Boy Locsin. The Style section was led by Emmie Velarde assisted by Tess Mapa. On the staff were Elvira Mata, Alex Magno, and I.

Off-duty staff from L-R: Food writer Michaela Fenix, Tess Mapa, (standing) Alex Magno, Emmie Velarde, myself, Elvira Mata, and photographer Edgardo Santiago during a hotel sleepover

On July 16, 1990 at 4:26 PM, the earthquake struck while we were at the office. I remember feeling the building shake. At first I hid under the desk. But when the lights went out, I stood up to hug Tess Mapa.
I could hear an editor at the news desk counting in seconds: one, two, three…presumably to report the length of the tremor.
Tess and I were crying and praying till the earth stopped shaking. I remember heading down the stairs for safety and saw lots of footwear left behind at the stairwell—signs of panic among the building employees.
I didn’t go home but called to check up on my boyfriend who was working in a tall building at that time. He was OK.
Then the news started to trickle in and I heard it on the radio: “Hyatt Terraces Baguio…partial collapse.”
My heart sank.

I had spent many summers and Christmas holidays there. I loved that place.
Many people died at the hotel. But I don’t want to write a sad piece about it. Instead, I’d rather go back down memory lane with an entry I wrote in December 2010.

We were very small when my dad first took us to the hotel he and his group had just opened. Back then it was called the Terraces Plaza. That was before the Hyatt brand came in and renamed it the Hyatt Terraces Baguio.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

I’m lucky to have found these pics on Facebook, where former employees have formed a group.
That’s my dad in the middle of staff on their 5th anniversary at the Hyatt. Mr. Heinrich Maulbecker, the beloved General Manager, is on his left.


Does it remind you of this??

The Shining

Mr. Maulbecker

Mr. heinrich Maulbecker

Dad and Mr. Maulbecker awarding employees

Dad and Mr. maulbecker
Hyatt Terraces Baguio

Kaili Coffee Shop is where we enjoyed Southern Fried Chicken in a basket and Spaghetti Mama Leone.
Do you remember what you ordered?
I loved sitting on those tall chairs. It was always occupied, so when I got to sit there, it felt like I had won a prize.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

The place was really packed between Christmas and New Year and during Holy Week.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

Us kids loved going up and down the first glass elevator we had ever seen.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio Hyatt Terraces Baguio

I wonder how they managed those plants.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

During the holidays, there was a grand display at the reception/lobby.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

These were the very first automatic escalators we knew. They would start moving only when you stepped on them. My brother Dennis was quite a menace running up and down those escalators.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

There was the Fireplace with the brass detail.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

The Gold Mine (aka Crystal Cave) was the first disco I was allowed to enter at the age of 12.
I even remember my baduy disco outfit—with lights!

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

I was too young, however, to sit at the bar.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

I haven’t been to back to Baguio in 13 years. The last time I was there was when Ben was a baby. We stayed at the Manor which was new back then.

When Ben was a blond

I still dream of going back and I keep checking for new accommodations, but I haven’t found a place with a bathroom I like. Sadly, the bathrooms at The Manor are not chuva-approved (sorry!).
I want to go back to Baguio and build memories with my kids. I love that place so much. I really hope I find a place to stay.
What’s your favorite memory of Hyatt Baguio? Share pictures if you have them.

Hyatt Terraces Baguio

This post originally appeared at

How to enjoy free Instagram from Smart

Do you remember life before Instagram? I do.
Before Instagram came along, everyone was obsessed with Twitter. Then the first adapters started using Instagram and and linking their posts to Twitter.

I first discovered Instagram through Pia Magalona, whose use of dramatic retro-looking filters appealed to me.
At first I couldn’t join because I don’t use an iPhone. But when Instagram became available to Android, I signed up, and just like the rest of you, I got hooked. Here’s my first Instagram post :)

Now that practically everyone’s on Instagram, I’m happy to announce that Smart Communications is offering FREE Instagram along with the company’s top prepaid and postpaid promos.
Anyone who subscribes to a prepaid offer or postpaid plan from Smart can get FREE access to Instagram without having to worry about additional data charges.

Smart ad

Prepaid subscribers can enjoy free Instagram browsing and posting up to 30MB per day, along with any prepaid promo such as All Text 20, Unli Call & Text 30, All in 99 and Mega 250, among many others.
Users who subscribe to any of Smart’s Surf Plus Plans can enjoy the Free Instagram offer as part of their freebie app bundle for 30 days.
Experience the “Smart Life” via FREE Instagram on your Smart phone, along with a vast world of entertainment through iflix, FOX, SPINNR, YouTube, and other services.
For more information on this offer, go to

Ladurée to open at 8 Rockwell

Just a few years ago, traveling out of the country meant hoarding or stocking up on one’s favorite things—from basic supplies to fashion items, even food. Thanks to signs of progress, all that has changed.
The next global brand to set up shop in the Philippines is Ladurée, the French luxury bakery and sweets maker famous for its double-decker macarons.
Boite 24 macarons Prestige T1 ouverte HD 4
Ladurée was founded in Paris in 1862 by Louis Ernest Ladurée, with the first pastry shop at 16 rue Royale designed by Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist.
More than 150 years later, about 15,000 Ladurée macarons are sold everyday.


Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez, Managing Partner of H&F Retail Concepts Inc. (the group behind Homme et Femme and Univers, among other brands) announced the opening of Ladurée at 8 Rockwell end of August.
Ladurée is H&F Retail Concepts’ first food venture. What made them decide to bring it in?
“The macarons are simply the best,” said Jappy, a frequent traveler to Paris. “The texture, the ganache, the flavors—never too sweet. The sugar doesn’t overcome the flavor.”
Jappy says the first Ladurée in the Philippines will be a more of a gift shop or takeaway store—but not limited to macarons.
Boites Macarons permanentes
Coffret Caramel Beurre Salé HD 1

“We will also have fine chocolate, candies, jams, honey, tea leaves and tea bags, and coffee grounds. There will be shopping bags, key rings, candles, and room sprays,” said Jappy, who first tried his first Ladurée macaron in 1998.
His favorites?
“The rose, salted caramels, and pistachios.”
Réglette Napoléon ROSE HD (1)
Réglette Napoléon Noire HD (1)

The 45-square-meter store will be rendered in marble, brass, gold leaf and crystals in true luxe Paris fashion. The interiors were designed by Paris-based interior architects.
Next year, Jappy says, H&F Concepts will open a Ladurée Salon de The in the Philippines.

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