Location. Perched on top of a hill at the Freeport area in Mariveles, Bataan. Mariveles is in a cove at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula, about 173 km from Manila.
First impression. After some time driving through zigzag roads, I was relieved to see the hotel signpost welcoming guests. The hotel's white facade is pleasing, softened by tropical palms and its interior is light and airy. Formerly the Bataan Hilltop Hotel, the 1.5-hectare The Oriental Bataan has a 360-degree view of Mariveles bay and the Freeport. Behind the hotel are function rooms and event venues to cater to both local and international events. The hotel used to be the stomping ground of Filipino movie legend Fernando Poe Jr. when on location shoots in the area.
Room. There are only 24 rooms in the hotel. My room on the second floor has an extremely comfortable queen-size bed with two soft pillows. The bed linen is all white and the room is pretty much neutral, decorated with locally made accessories and what looked like basket weave lamps. There’s a flat screen TV, a toilet and bathroom with rain shower, and a full-length mirror. A glass sliding door leads out to a balcony with a view of the trees and the bay. Wi-Fi signal throughout the hotel is strong. The Oriental Bataan after all caters to the business traveler market.
Food. Cocoon Restaurant serves Asian fusion with an extensive menu from Chinese to Southeast Asian fare. If you are to order just one dish, make it the black chicken Sibot soup, similar to the Filipino chicken soup, tinola, with full-bodied flavor from the use of Chinese herbs and beef bits.
Other items to try are the phad thai, scrambled eggs, bean sprouts and prawns; the nasi goreng or stir-fried rice topped with egg, which goes well with the mildly sweet and mildly spicy Singaporean chicken knee; and for veggies, the seafood chopsuey, stir-fried vegetables with loads of seafood. Dessert has to be the Delphine’s secret love, ice cream stick topped with crumbled brownies and a cup of chocolate mousse topped with vanilla ice cream.The restaurant attracts patrons from around the Freeport zone for lunch and dinner meetings.
Activities. Lots of activities to indulge in, from swimming in the pool, getting a spa treatment to going on guided tours arranged by the hotel. Watch the sunset at nearby Sisiman lighthouse or head to Aguawan beach fringed with white sand and home to a quiet fishing community. The hotel can also arrange a tour of Corregidor or a trek up Mt. Tarak.
Service. The staff are helpful and quick to attend to your needs.
We like. The feeling of being close to nature.
Not so keen. No fridge and mini bar in the room.
Verdict. A relaxing stay. Recommended
From Metro Manila, you can catch a Genesis bus to Mariveles, Bataan. Room rates are from P5,250 (about US$113) for a queen room on a deluxe floor. The Oriental Bataan is at the Freeport Area of Bataan Compound, Brgy. Malaya, Mariveles, Bataan, tel +632 536 1111 or +6347 612 3930, visit The Oriental Bataan.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller March to May 2016. Updated April 2016