Where to Stay, Eat and Swim in General Santos City8:03 AM
If you can recall, we've listed General Santos and Davao cities among our dream destinations for 2015 (Read: My 2015 Travel Wish List). That may sound a conservative dream especially to you who come from Mindanao. It is kind of a big step in my travelling plans actually as I have not been to the country's southern-most provinces. At least, not until three weeks ago.
Thanks to my blogger friend Morgan of www.supermorgy.com, I have finally seen the country's tuna capital. And we were not there on a backpacking vacation. We were in GenSan on a travel spree, serviced by a first-class accommodation at the newly opened Suites 88.
Suites 88 started as Venue 88 when they only provided events places for weddings and corporate activities in this rapidly booming city. Catering to weddings and birthday parties of GenSan's elites appeared to be lucrative that Suites 88 was born in July 2015, or just a month ago. Just like other startup businesses, the hotel became busy with impressing its first batch of guests and with its breathtaking interiors, it surely did.
I didn't really have an idea that flights from Manila to General Santos City takes 2 hours. That's almost the same flying time when you leave Manila for Hong Kong. And after spending an additional 20 minutes floating over the city because it was raining hard and the runway wasn't visible, I was secretly wishing for a great bed as soon as we land. Thankfully, we landed safe and I a few minutes later, my back landed on a relaxing bed inside my humble but sparkling clean room.
Suites 88 is 20- 25 minutes away from the airport. It is located not far from the center of Gen San, in Mabuhay Road, San Isidro. It may be near the downtown area but the place is a peaceful refuge for a tired traveler.
I will post here some photos that I got from my 3-day adventure together with some notes that you should read before hopping on that first flight to GenSan.
Suites 88 classifies itself as a budget accommodation. A night stay at the Standard Single Room will only cost you PhP988. The rates are PhP1,488 at a Standard Double and Superior room, PhP2,488 for Deluxe and PhP3,988 for Suites which can accommodate a family of six. I'm sure you don't mind a budget hotel looking this fancy.
At the receiving area on the second floor, you'll see these hanging seats. You can sing "Wrecking Ball" while sitting here but the place is too sophisticated for that though. Just in case you want a new view outside your room, grab your book and spend the day here.
The management hired a Manila-based interior designer to maximize space, making this balcony area a favorite among brides for pre-nup shoots.
A portion of the receiving area on the ground floor as seen from the second floor balcony.
And then this bed which is designed for one person. But there's really enough space for two. Bury your head and you're in for a great sleep.
Suites 88 is 10 to 15 minutes drive from restaurants in GenSan but why go out of your way when you can have a cozy meal at Ghabriel's Cafe.
I saw some happy wedding moments the next day and I can't blame them for picking this place for some nuptial shoots. Suites 88 could just be GenSan's fanciest place.
A bigger pool is still under construction. This is the kiddie pool which is 2-feet deep. There's a bar at the side of the pool where parents and friends can also have a good time while the kids go for a swim.
The best halo-halo I've tasted, no kidding! Try this at the Sarangani Highlands which is so close to the airport.
I wasn't really hungry but when I saw this, my stomach changed mood. Here is a generous serving of their signature Baby Back Ribs. Now, you know where to eat when in GenSan. Trust the awesome reviews of Ranchero's Grill and Seafood Restaurant posted on Trip Advisor here.
We had a fantastic first night dinner in Ranchero, one of the upscale restaurants in the city. Don't let the word upscale there scare you. They may have awesome food, including the to-die-for Dragon Fruit Shake, but prices here are maintained to be province-friendly.
You will think Baguio is vegetable haven then GenSan is going to be your fruit favorite. Delicious-tasting fresh fruits are being sold here for lower prices. The pineapples from neighboring town Polomolok are just divine!
I kind of underestimated GenSan's beaches. This southern city has its fair share of white sand beaches too!
I know that GenSan is the tuna capital but I am in the mood for some lechon while missing my hometown Cebu. Ledwina's Lechon House didn't disappoint!
This was taken inside the plane when I flew back to Manila aboard Cebu Pacific. I am guilty of pre-judging GenSan unpleasantly but my three days in the city went on as one of the best local trips I had. We will definitely be back!