Feb 26, 2014

GJM International All-In Boracay Package

I have 3 travel destination in my faith goals for the year and praying for the Lord's favor and provision. We started our travel early this year... Numero uno reason is that hubby celebrated his birthday last weekend. Also, this would be our first time to travel with family members in tow. My in-laws just turned 60s recently and we want them to get out from their seniorly daily lives to enjoy an inter-island vacation while they still can. So the challenge for me is to arrange and plan out everything for 4 pax instead of my usual 2 pax...of course, the main concern is the BUDGET!!!

But God is faithful, it was December last year when I saw GJM International Facebook post regarding their Boracay Package promo just around the time I got my 13th month bonus. Remember they were the same group who made our land arrangement in Hongkong-Macau. I asked hubby's permission first and when he gave me the go signal. I started coordinating with assigned agent, Grace to plan out our itinerary.

After some few email exchanges, I deposited the 75% amount due to their Union Bank account for reservation and paid the remaining balance a month before our travel dates. They have other payment options but I prefer bank deposits because they do not have processing charges unlike credit cards.

GJM Service: I still find their offerings quite reasonable however comparing my first transaction with them, medyo nakulangan ako sa mga information na sinesend sa akin this time. I had to make several follow ups and at times had to call for details. But generally, I was still satisfied as they were able to deliver what they promised in their advertisement.

The Flights: Unlike in the past travels, I usually arrange the airfare by waiting on promo fare but GJM package already included this. Since this is just a promo so it was expected that the flights are scheduled on "off-peak" hours of the day to take advantage of the lowest fare possible. 

MNL to KLO via Air Asia Zest in Terminal 4 at 6:50am in the morning

It was our first time with Air Asia Zest on an A320 plane and I was quite pleased with it. However, since our fare did not include baggage we had to pay extra Php 350 (for maximum 15 kgs) for hubby's bag because they did not allow the tripod for camera as hand carry.

KLO to MNL via PAL Express in Terminal 3 at 10:40 pm in the evening

We were booked under Fiesta Deal or the Budget Economy in A320 so we had no baggage allowance. While still in Boracay, I tweeted @flyPAL and inquired about their Prepaid Baggage because as estimated we needed one from all the pasalubong plus again the tripod issue. After getting a tweet back, I called up their Kalibo office to get further instructions. Good thing our flight was still later that evening, I dropped by their ticketing office in the airport to pay up Php 350 for maximum of 20 kgs. The usual cost is Php 200/kg so imagine the difference but keep in mind prepaid baggage is available up to only 4 hours before the flight.

Both flights took less than 1 hour, sobrang bilis lang talaga promise. Parang kakatake-off pa lang, pababa na ulet. Mas matagal pa yung traffic sa EDSA! No wonder, a lot of people with money goes to Boracay often.

Kalibo Airport: There are 2 airport that you could fly in to Boracay - Caticlan Domestic airport and Kalibo International Airport. The Kalibo Airport caters to International flights thus the airplanes are bigger BUT it is around 70 kms away from Caticlan Jetty Port. It took us another couple of hours on a van to drive up then down the mountains to get to the port.

Caticlan Jetty Port:  From the boat terminal, it is less than 20-minute boat ride plus a 10-minute tricycle ride is what keeps you away from the white beach of Boracay. Kaya lang for a stay of 5 minutes sa jetty port, you still have to pay for the terminal and environmental fee. Sa sobrang lapit nung 2 island, parang mas feel ko pa magbayad ng fee para sa isang mala-Ocean park see-through tunnel habang naglalakad underwater with sightseeing.

Accommodation: Also included in the package is 3D2N stay in Boracay Travelodge, formerly Boracay Courtyard. The room only has its bare essentials, nothing fancy or picture worthy. But if you plan to stay at the beach and spend the whole day trying out all the activities, this one will do. There is heater in the shower although the water pressure is not strong but the aircorn works fine in room 204. Good thing, it is under La Carmela Hotel Management so we get to eat the daily buffet breakfast there and also use their amenities.

By the way, it is located at Station 2 and a few steps from d'Talipapa. A place of many many souvenirs shop and wet market where you can buy fresh food especially sea food and have it cooked in the restaurant nearby for a fee or what we call "Paluto". Think: Dampa-style here in Manila.

Additional Charges: Lastly, although our package stated all-in there were additional expenses on the way. I do remember confirming with our agent in one of my calls about the terminal fees, sabi covered daw but when we were there the person attending to us confirmed hindi. I checked my print out service vouchers, walang nakaindicate specifically so indi ko na pinush. We were already there and I see no point of calling my agent to verify it. Lesson-learned na lang to make sure to have it in writing for all the inclusion.

Caticlan Jetty Port
    Terminal Fee - Php 100/head x 2 (back and forth)
    Environmental Fee - Php 75/head

    Kalibo Terminal Fee - Php 100/head (going back to Manila)
    Baggage Fee - Php 350 x 2

    The package only included daily buffet breakfast for 2 pax so you have to pay extra for the other 2 in the group.

     Although we did not do any of this considering our companions, I overheard that mostly they offer Php 1,300/head for 5 activities like helmet diving and AVR ride, etc.

I know there are already a lot of information in the internet about Boracay but I hope this still helps! Feel free to comment in this post for questions or share your own experience in the planning stage of your trip.

P.S. Do not call Boracay as Bora, there is an ongoing petition by the locals on that as they do not want to be confused from Bora-Bora which is another travel destination found in French Polynesia.  

More about Boracay here.