Goundar Shipping is going to Kadavu

After my misadventure to Kadavu, I was glad to find out that Goundar Shipping was coming the next day to bring supplies for the government. It was a bigger ferry and much nicer than the old one I was on coming to the island. Venu Shipping has a boat straight out of the 1700’s (in my opinion) Read more


Kadavu is amazing but remote

I met a guy that ask me to help him get to Kadavu because I knew Fiji. I did not mind trying to make the trip because I had not been off the main island where Suva and Nadi are. It would be fun and I knew that Kadavu was a wild place. The US and Australia were just there arresting people for drugs. I knew it was the wild west of Fiji. The very first person I met when I got off the ferry was the local weed guy! Read more


Wifi in Suva is a challenge

I can not recall a single place that offers free wifi in Suva. I just can’t. I do not even remember the hotels offering. It not as expensive as the internet in Samoa but very much the same problem: if a place has it, it is pricy. The logic behind this is mind blogging and just doesn’t make sense. Fiji does need to get into twenty first century. Read more


South Seas Hotel is a no go!!!

I stayed at the South Seas Hotel in Suva, Fiji a few times and it is a cool building. It has a great location and they do have a small kitchen you can use for basic cooking. The other thing I liked is you was within walking distance to the rest of Suva City (at least downtown). Read more


Art Village @ Pacific Harbour in Fiji

If you are going from Nadi to Suva, you will pass what they call the Art Village in the Pacific Harbour on the main island of Fiji. It was his grand plan to develop a city for people to retire to. It didn’t work out but it does have some very cool stuff for backpackers now.  Read more


Bamboo Beach Hostel (Fiji) Thoughts

While I was in Nadi, I use to stay at Bamboo Beach Hostel in New Town often. I would not stay there again but more on that later. It is in a good location and they are mastering the online platforms for hostels. I do have to give it to the owners for that. I also think they have made the operations into quite the success over the years. Read more

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Sadie’s by the Sea in Pago Pago, American Samoa Review

I stayed for a night at Sadie’s by the Sea in Pago Pago. It was a nice place that I would call a three star hotel. It is not really a resort but it is pretty nice by American Samoan standards. It is also worth noting stating that I did not sleep there. My experience is limited to the restaurant and bar. More the restaurant really; I do not drink. Read more

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Cost U Less in American Samoa is a life saver!

There is no Wal-Mart, Target, or K-Mart in American Samoa. In fact, there is only a Costco type store in the territory known as Cost U Less. (There is also one in Fiji). It is nothing special and many American Samoans feel it is Cost U More due to their pricing structure. However, without an ID to use the military PX, options are very limited in American Samoa. Read more

Gran Prix Hotels in Ermita Manila is seriously overpriced!

I had some business at the US Embassy in Manila and was highly recommended by the staff there to go to Gran Prix Hotels that is just a block or two from the Embassy. It was said to be clean and updated. They did not lie but there is no bang for the buck here.

First of all in the scope of hotels, this one is closer to a upscale hostel or what they call a Pension House in the Philippines. There is not much more than a room for you and the equally overpriced restaurant (more on that later) on the 7th floor.

The benefit of Gran Prix Hotels was the fact that I was just walking distance to the embassy to do my business and I was not more than a jeepney ride to the VA complex if I needed something from there. The other benefit is I am a little over a block from Robinsons Place Manila that is a sizable shopping mall. One thing I did like is being across the street from Andok’s chicken, one of my favorite hole in the wall chains in the Philippines!

However, I found for the service offered and for the price, it just was not worth it. It could be said that the whole area of Ermita is overpriced (I tend to agree)

What is the rooms at Gran Prix Hotels like?

They are clean and the air conditioner works very well. They have a bed, a nightstand, and a bathroom. That’s it to speak of. In reality, I have stayed in rooms that are $10 in the Philippines that are nicer than these who are $35 a night. I am pretty disappointed in what was offered to the price. Being close to the Embassy is not worth triple the price.

The bed is a little on the thin side but that is very common in the country. It is unheard of to have a nice soft mattress with a proper box spring in the Philippines. I would think at the prices they ask (in relation to the local economy), they would have better beds but they are as comfortable as most hotels in the area.

The shower does work well. It is quite hot to be honest. I would recommend making sure you set the temperature you want before jumping under it (like I did). It was like pouring boiling water on me. However, a hot shower is considered a luxury in the Philippines.

The real pain was the door card (keyless entry). It works sometimes and sometimes not. Every day, I had to go down and have them re-enable the card so I could get into my room. It was more annoying than anything else. I realize that using this system is becoming the standard for hotels around the world. I just think it is annoying as a customer. Maybe, I am the grumpy old man at the ripe age of 37!

What about the food?

This is where I was seriously disappointed! The breakfast is included if you call it that. The meals for the rest of the day are horrible small for the price. $5 (200 pesos) gets you very little in the restaurant which is odd in comparison to other hotels in Metro Manila. There seems to be a contest on who can have the biggest ripoff among the Ermita restaurants. I thought Max’s Chicken was over priced for the qualitity but nothing like Gran Prix Hotels.

The breakfast in the area are normally buffets. You hand them the coupon, you grab a plate and help yourself to as much food as you wish to eat. Well, that is not the case at this hotel. They actually serve you one piece of a few things. A spoon of rice, one piece of egg, and one sausage. It was pulling a leg to get them to even give me a cup of hot tea with my breakfast.

The lunch and dinner was not much better. It was not worth anywhere close to the P200 ( $5) they asked for it. I have the honey mustard chicken with rice. It was literally two small pieces of boneless chicken with rice. The breaded chicken was a little better but still quite small for what that price should buy in the Philippines.

It is also important to know that the restaurant is closed on Sundays at two in the afternoon so if you will need to go somewhere else to get your dinner. You will save money doing so!

Who is this hotel for?

Well, I think several people end up there because of how I did: the embassy recommends it. I am not sure why they have a contract with the State Department considering the cost and service but they do. Several people in the hotel there were send there by the Embassy as well.

The other reason is that just around the corner is LA Cafe, one of the world’s most well known bars for freelance prostitution. It is clearly part of their cliente. They have a strict rule of “guests” visiting. I am not sure why legit tourists would need such a strongly worded rule that you must agree to in writing. In other words, they expect the customers at Gran Prix Hotels in Ermita to be there to whoremonger!

Besides those two groups, I just can’t see much of a reason to be there (or any of the hotels in the area.) If you want to get barbecue, you would need to walk up to Pedro Gil and grab a jeepney all the way over to Makati’s A Venue which has better hotels in the area. If you want to have a nice dinner, Global City is just as far. Manila International Airport is two cities away as well.

The only real things to do in the area that is family friendly is the Manila Ocean Park which can be pretty interesting and a stroll through Intramuros which is the old walled city knowns historically as Fort Santiago.