Subic Summer Retreat at Lighthouse Marina Resort

Third Friday of the month:  Fun / Travel and Leisure

"Like a beacon that steers boats to shore, this magnificent establishment on the Subic waterfront can serve as a venue that beckons travelers seeking world-class comfort."www.lighthousesubic.com

It was a brief yet relaxing summer retreat for my family last week when we decided to forego a choice destination by plane, and traveled instead to a place up north that's a bit closer from the city -- The Lighthouse Marina Resort in Subic Bay.

The Lighthouse Marina Resort, Subic Bay

Our two-and-a-half hour leisurely drive to Subic Bay in Olongapo City was a refreshing change, especially for the kids, while we breezed through a scenic route via the fairly new Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) connecting Manila to Subic.  One striking view as we passed thru Pampanga was seeing mounds of lahar in the fields so the kids learned a bit of history trivia at that point. Flashback to the 90s, the once lush lands of my mother's home province have been buried in tons of volcanic ash after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in '91. Two decades later, a new geographic landscape has risen, literally from the ashes, in the province of Pampanga and nearby Tarlac and Zambales. So going back to our journey...

It was a smooth ride all the way to Subic, with just a quick stop for lunch. We arrived at our destination right about check-in time.

I actually found out about The Lighthouse Marina Resort online while I was searching for a nice hotel-resort in Subic. Their website is easy to navigate and has all the details and info that you need to know about the establishment so for this entry, I will just take you through a photo essay, sort of a quick tour, while I reminisce on our wonderful 2-night stay.

The hotel's overall mood and feel was bright and airy.  Located at the far end of the road, overlooking the bay, the lighthouse is a distinct landmark in the complex. I really liked the very modern tropical-oceanic theme of this charming 3-level hotel.  It's not expansive so it creates a homey yet luxurious feel.

The reception and lobby was spacious and inviting, with it's high ceiling, large picture windows and long, comfy sectionals ideal for waiting guests or for lounging around.  A cream-colored baby grand was a scene stealer by the corner.  Their receptionists were all very friendly and accommodating. They gave us directions and a map of the Subic freeport zone for our reference. We also received a discount card for dining and other hotel services was also part of the perks for check-in hotel guests.

At the second level overlooking the lobby is a more private, beautifully furnished lounge area. This is a good place to have quiet conversations or even have casual meetings.

On the third floor, we were ushered in to our rooms by courteous staff.  We got the Aqua Suite while I booked the standard Aqua room for my in-laws.  Ours was suite 301 and it has a view of the bay.  It was a lovely room.  The kids don't wanna leave!

With it's calming hues, the suite features a king-sized bed, and all the modern amenities you could expect from a five-star hotel, except free wi-fi. :(  You have to buy a card to have internet access from the room. However, guests can stay at their bar and get free access while having drinks.

We requested for an extra bed for the nanny and it was all set-up when we came to the room, complete with a set of towels. All rooms have a complimentary fruit platter and guests were treated to welcome drinks -- refreshing glasses of iced tea served at our room.  My girl was about to snatch that large banana down there when I was taking pictures. Next thing, she was already sitting-pretty on the lounge chair eating her fruit for the day.

One of the highlights of the Aqua Suite is their jacuzzi bath tub! We all took turns bathing in it and it was fantastic! The bathroom is separated by a glass panel, with roll-up blinds for privacy. Here you can see the bed from the inside.

Their plush bathroom has all the contemporary fixtures. It's tastefully designed and warmly lit, with well-stocked toiletries and attention to detail. See that lighthouse soap dish? Cute!


Since I was in the pool every time the kids went swimming, and hubby can only sit and watch while nursing a sore ankle during the whole trip, no one was not able to take decent photos of this part of the hotel.  I was able to swim a few laps in their pool with a curved ledge you could walk on, which divides the deeper side from the kiddie pool you see on the left.  They also have an elevated jacuzzi pool to the right side (not in photo).  We were there on a weekday so we enjoyed the privacy with just a few other guests.

As you walk towards the other side of the hotel from the lobby, you will find yourself in the classy Sands Resto Grill and Deli where they offer local and international cuisine.  You can also view the bar and the pool when sitting by the far end of the restaurant.

We were only able to sample their breakfast menu, consisting of Filipino, American and European breakfast selections. Day 1 we were given a choice of plated meals, and on day 2, a Friday, there was a buffet spread. Overall, the dishes satisfied our appetites with all-time favorite dishes like on-the-spot cooking of scrambled eggs, fried boneless bangus (milkfish) with garlic rice, native sausages, selection of breads and cheeses, cold cuts, cereals, tropical fruits and sweets, and even adobo and oatmeal. Small children (6 y.o. & below) ate for free.

Another perk for hotel guests is having complimentary cocktails and hot drinks for a perfect night-cap. Two kinds of cocktails are served daily from 4 - 6 pm. We had tasting portions of crispy dory fillet and cheese quesadillas, then mini pizza toasts and aglio olio pasta on day 2. We ate by the pool side after our daily afternoon swim.  Food attendants were thoughtful enough to offer our night-cap drinks in advance when we learned that drinks were not included with the cocktails.  It was a choice of a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea. The drinks can be brought up to your room until 11 pm for a soothing drink before bedtime.

The hotel is situated along Moonbay beach, a public beach that is safe enough to swim in, but it was discouraged.  Instead, we just took a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, catching the breeze.  The boy and the girl, with daddy in tow, found bricks lying around on the sand and decided to build a "brick castle" to pass the time.  Along the beach, you will find peddlers of hand-crafted ethnic accessories which you can bring home as souvenirs.

The first night, we ate dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant (where hubby's Galaxy phone got pick-pocketted!) , and the second night we opted to dine al fresco by the 720° Bar with the magnificent view of the lighthouse and the bay behind us.  We loved how the lights changed colors every few seconds.  Here's a view of the London-themed bar as I went down the spiral staircase from the view deck. You can also play billiards there while having drinks.

It was a cool and relaxing evening and we enjoyed our simple and delicious dinner composed of caesar salad, seafood pasta, chicken teriyaki, and a couple other dishes that I missed taking note of. With our discount card, we got 10% off on all orders from the resto and the bar.

What we missed during our stay was the chance to go on a sunset cruise and avail of massage services offered to hotel guests at 20% discount.  Maybe if the kids were not around, I would have treated myself to a full body massage in the room! :)

Aside from a wonderful stay at the hotel, we also went to the popular Subic attractions to entertain the kids. I'll do a separate post of our day tour.  The only setback we encountered was the lack of a drivers' quarters at the hotel grounds.  Upon inquiry, I was already told that the driver may have to stay at a neighboring resort for his lodging and we can't reserve a room in advance. We took the chance and went as planned.  Hopefully, The Lighthouse can have their own quarters since many of their guests bring their drivers during the trip. It would have been more convenient for everyone.

Ours was a very laid back 3-day trip and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of city life.  And what's great about this for me personally was that for 48 hours, I was able to detach myself from the "online world" and refrained from using my cellphone!  What an escape!
Moonbay beach, Subic Bay

Reserve your rooms online:
The Lighthouse Marina Resort
Moonbay Marina Complex, Waterfront Road
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Zambales, Philippines
Toll Free Manila Tel.:  (632) 711-0019
Trunk line: (6347) 252-5000

More road trip destinations:
Acuatico Beach Resort
Taal Vista Hotel
The Cliffhouse and Nuvali
Zoocobia and Paradise Ranch

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