By The Sea Resort Hotel – Barrio Barretto, Olongapo, Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines
By the Sea Resort Resort Hotel is fairly standard lodging for Barrio Barretto, Olongapo. Subic Bay has long been a sex tourism destination in the Philippines, dating back to the US Naval Base located there, which was closed in 1991. The area has calmed down quite a bit since then, but there are still a couple of dozen hotels operating on The Strip and a few dozen go-go bars lining both sides of the highway. I stayed there over Valentine’s Day, mid-February, 2011.
By the Sea offers one of the cheapest rooms on the National Highway Strip. It’s directly across from a variety of go-go bars, such as Voodoo and Lips, and is located in the center of “the action” that is Barrio Barretto. The location isn’t bad but given the vicinity to The Strip, it can be noisy; this is simply the cost of staying in Barretto.
Checking in was easy and the front counter staff was friendly and accommodating. Originally, I was going to stay in a Standard Room, costing ₱1200 ($800NT or $28US) per night, but I changed my mind upon check-in and upgraded to a Parkview Room, which cost ₱1500 ($1000NT or $35US) per night, because the Standard Rooms only have a cold shower. This turned out to be a mistake on my part, as the water heater was worthless; retrospectively, it would have been better to save ₱300 ($200NT or $7US) a day, as this was the only real difference between the two rooms. The sizable mini-fridge in the room was a wonderful surprise, however.
The hotel is laid out nicely, including a small outdoor bar that offers an all-you-can-eat Mongolian Bar-B-Q every Friday night; I did not partake in it, as I thought the cost was too high (only in the Philippines does $10US for a massive meal seem overly expensive). By the Sea features a small beach area; most people would tell you to not swim in Subic Bay, which isn’t even a tempting thing to do given that By the Sea has a great little pool that is nicely secluded from the rest of the resort, on the opposite side of their huge pavilion, which is always ready to host an event. By the Sea also offers packages to do tours and other water sports, but again, most people would tell you to head an hour north to San Antonio or San Narciso if you are really looking to hit the beach.
The real selling point, food-wise, is the little joint across the street; their tacos are fantastic. Its name escapes me, but it’s directly next to Voodoo and a taco that is the size of a dinner plate will run you a mere ₱100 ($70NT or $2.50US). I ate at least one every day and left the Philippines having gained weight, which I think is often the sign of a good vacation! There was also a small locally-owned-and-operated convenience/dry goods store less than a block away where I did all my shopping; I never, once, stepped foot in the 7-11 (something I am particularly proud of). About a half-kilometer down the road is the local market, selling all sorts of fresh produce and other sorts of “this-and-that.” It’s worth checking out, as I encourage everyone to always shop local, when they can. Especially in a place like the Philippines, where poverty is high and corporate greed corrupts both the government and marketplace, I think it really adds to the experience of traveling there.
While I don’t feel that By the Sea was sub-par, I doubt I would stay there, were I to go to Subic Bay again. There are just too many other places to check out, and nothing about By the Sea is particularly impressive, although nothing is particularly unimpressive, either. All-in-all, it was a nice stay, and if there were fewer other tempting options in Barrio Barretto, I’d certainly stay there again.
By the Sea Resort Hotel is located at 99 National Highway, Barretto, Olongapo City, Philippines. Their phone number is +6347-222-2888 and their website ishttp://www.bythesea.com.ph.
*** Pictures of By the Sea Resort Hotel can be found on my Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150124585720849.282340.502455848 ***