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8 Suites Tagaytay, Sweeter the Second Time Around

The first time we visited 8 Suites by Fat Jimmy’s in Tagaytay, our stay was peppered with so much WTF moments that I immediately took to my blog to vent my frustrations out. Before checking out of our 7k++ a night hotel room, H was actually betting against any of the staff offering even the slightest bit of apology for messing our stay and he was right. The final straw was after having vented out our frustrations and getting nary an apology, the front desk actually overcharged us by about 500 pesos to which H really lost it.

 Fast forward. A couple of weeks ago we took up the owner on his invitation to experience the improved service, and actually took a gamble by taking two friends along with us.

 When we complained at the front desk during our first visit, after having left all of our contact details, as expected, the simple sorry we were asking for was not heeded. I wouldn’t be much surprised if that complaint form ended up in the bin soon as we backed out of the parking lot. Out of sheer frustration, I went on a mission to get hold of the owner in order to send him the link to my blog post. Just so he knows and can actually do something about it, because it’s a shame to have a gorgeous property— set in a part of Tagaytay the way its meant to be experienced (away from the maddening crowd with an unobstructed, green, green view of the lake)—be run by people who don’t really see the value in good customer service. Plus the frustrated monster in me just really wanted to be appeased.

We basically retraced our steps from last time: Lunch at Antonio’s before heading to relax at 8 Suites. We were not exactly planning on taking Murphy and Dave with us (since they made it known that they wanted to stay somewhere budget and located at the center of town) but after having checked out a couple of places like The Boutique (fully booked) and Days (5k++), we insisted that they were going to get better value at 8 Suites.

 We got there and Mr. Garcia was immediately at the front door to greet us and thanks us for accepting his invitation which I thought was rather nice of him. We were then handed to the care of the receptionist who showed us to our room (we were given Sweetest Suite, P8,000 on a weekend) while Murphy checked into the Premium Suite (P6,500 on a weekend).

 We took out our ‘baons’ – Rose wine, champagne, a tin of olives—and placed them in the fridge before settling in. The room had a different layout than what we had last time. The tub didn’t afford a view of the LCD TV but rather looked out over the lake which was way nicer. The bed was HUGE and higher than most and I’m in love all over with the faux goose down pillows (NAP, New Age Pillows, I took note of the name). Our balcony was located at the side and wasn’t as inviting as the one before which looked out to the garden, but that was OK since many other things made up for it.

 We spent the afternoon just lazing around, alternating between munching on chips, reading books, watching DVD and soaking on the tub. We agreed to meet with Murphy for dinner out in the new dining deck, where they serve their own prepared meals after having booted out (finally) the sorry excuse of a restaurant Merk’s. The menu was quite limited, so I would suggest to phone ahead of time to know their offering so you could bring your own food if it doesn’t suit you (it’s quite far from any other restaurant, and a hassle to go out at night). Ok food review time:

  • Breaded fish fillet – the fish was too heavily battered and much too browned. This should really be prepared just before cooking, a quick deep fry. The idea behind fish is to be light on the palate, not chicharon crunchy and oily. And I’m not too sure about the accompanying rice. I think there should be an option to just have thick potato wedges with this.
  • Beef Salpicao – H liked it, but the beef could have done with more cooking. And it wasn’t too hot.
  • Carbonara – Dave and Murphy didn’t really find it anything special. They were right in pointing out that there should have been pansit in the menu instead which is infinitely more interesting (they’re Americans)

I forgot what Murphy had, but I think they had a valid point on their comment with the food. Even with Merk’s before, I enjoyed the pansit it was just corpse-ly cold. The resto was very new, so I guess (and hope) that these are just teething problems. How to make this better, here are my suggestions:

1.       Food – should have more offerings for the dinner menu.

  • Easy Pinoy favorites that are easy to freeze and reheat like pansit, sisig, adobo
  • Classic Eurpoean favorites like sausages and mash, fish & chips, curry, roast beef, steak
  • American staples like burgers and chicken wings
  • Finger food for those who just want something with their beer like potato wedges, peanuts, or sizzlers

2.       Beverages – more choices especially for alcohol. After we left I remember we had a conversation about how they could make an absolute killing by having a more extensive alcohol selection. I can’t imagine anyone who would be staying here not wanting at least a glass of wine.

  • There’s only canned San Miguel Pale. There should be a San Miguel Light in there (Pales are for dads), and a few selections of the better known imported beers. Many foreigners (and the market for 8 Suites are also definitely foreigners) have an aversion to San Miguel, so having a stock of Heineken, Corona or even Coors can’t hurt.
  • Wine – They should be selling wine by the bottle. At the moment it’s neither in the room nor in the restobar. The hotel and the location scream R&R&R (rest & relaxation & romance), so bring on the wine! What I’m saying is, for those who didn’t have the foresight to bring their own, there should be this option.
  • Cocktails – They need a couple of simple cocktails. Rum & Coke, martinis/margaritas and given the profusion of pineapples just in front of the hotel, pina coladas (they made a kickass pineapple shake for us when we asked for it! Mixed with champagne we had pseudo-mimosa. Yum!). These would do.
  • More juices!

3.       Service – The staff should really always have calamansi, chili, etc. on stock. They should also be trained to be more attentive to guest requests (H asked for water 3x and chili twice before we were told they were out).

Anyway we were just really happy that Merk’s was gone and the hotel can move forward that we didn’t mind these all that much. Overall we still enjoyed chatting over dinner and moving out over to the deck near the garden with our lovely pineapple shake (which should be in the menu btw) to get semi-hammered over champagne and wine.

 The next morning, breakfast. This was the part I was dreading because I really was crossing my fingers and rooting for 8 Suites’ redemption. The Breakfast came in time, and the room service waiter set the plates down on the balcony. I had corned beef mash and H had the continental. We had very simple expectations and thankfully this time they were met. The eggs and rice were warm, the corned beef was great, coffee was better than last time (but could still use some improvement, coffee should be very hard to screw up). I would have to just say though, that the bread could do with some improvement. Like I say with Vivere Azure, you can’t charge this much and give us white bread. A slice of buttered, freshly toasted Gardenia wheat bread at the very least please.

Overall, our stay this time was very pleasant. Service was much improved, and although there were some things that obviously still needed improvement, we didn’t feel as though we were talking to brick walls or that our requests were going one ear and coming out another. Murphy was gushing about how great the room was (especially the tub “I almost don’t wanna tell people about this, I want it to be my little secret”) when they came down, so I’m glad the first referrals we passed on weren’t let down.

Next time we go up to Tagaytay for our treat, wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. Nor would I hold my tongue on referring this place anymore. GO BOOK!

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