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Staycation: Hamanda Hotel in Pampanga

A research conducted by the Department of Tourism in 2020 showed that people are itching to travel to keep their sanity. I personally think this is an accurate insight. More than a year in the pandemic, most of us are coming up with creative avenues to destress and cope with the life changes whether personal or professional. As intercity borders slowly open, stringent travel requirements are put in place to aid movement across cities, and we can see more people are searching on where they can go.

But, it’s still a big question of safety. Is it already safe to travel? While we have not fully eradicated the virus, it will never be 100% safe to travel. But maybe we should be asking ourselves, how do we learn to navigate around it while we learn how to fight it?

Before I share my staycation experience in Hamanda, let’s talk about some tips I follow whenever I travel especially in the middle of the pandemic. Hopefully it will be helpful for you too.

  1. Know the travel requirements of your destination. Do your research. Websites and social media pages of local government units, department of tourism, and of your hotel usually post announcements on travel requirements and restrictions. As of June 16, 2021, Pampanga is under MGCQ, so minimum safety protocols are in place and accommodations are open. See more information here.
  2. Find out if there are checkpoints if you are going by land and make sure you have the necessary documents.
  3. Know the COVID situation in the area you are going to. Are there active cases? If there’s a high number of COVID cases and local transmissions, I would suggest you postpone your trip.
  4. Know the safety protocols and extra precautions that your accommodation is implementing. The more the better, the safer you can be. And make sure you follow them.
  5. Wash your hands. Wear your mask.
  6. Research on what’s open and what can be done in the area. Your accommodation might be open but the places you want to visit around you may not be. This way, you can manage your expectations and fix your itinerary beforehand.
  7. Get yourself tested before and after your trip. It’s additional cost but it will keep you and your family / loved ones safe too.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Hamanda Hotel.

Hamanda Hotel is located in Pampanga which is roughly about two hours away from Manila. When we went, tourist areas around it were not yet open so we decided to maximize the restaurant and facilities.

The architecture and mood of the place, accentuated by the mixture of old wood and cement-styled walls, gives a modern rustic vibe from the entrance to the restaurant and the room. It gives you that old ancestral home but with a modern twist.

I forgot to take photos of the room so here’s what I can find in google. We got the Classic Room for Php2,800 for 2 pax with free breakfast. The room was spacious, and the toilet has complimentary toiletries too, including facemasks. I do wish they can offer more choices for breakfast, including healthier options. I wasn’t able to take photos of the menu and the food, but it features a variety of Filipino comfort food. Perfect to pair with beer!

The food in Souq which is just literally beside the hotel offers local cuisine. They have big servings so you can definitely share several dishes with your friends.

This is the room we got! Photo from Traveloka
You can lounge in the balcony overlooking the pool. Photo from Windowseat

Finally, my favorite part of the hotel was the pool area. It gives off a Ubud, Bali vibe with the design and layout. We spend 80% of our time here in between working and eating.

Did I say you can rent the whole place good for 14 pax for less than Php18,000? Also, they have a pet-friendly room!

Overall, it was a great staycation and good to get out of Manila even for just the weekend!

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