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Monday, 23 November 2015

Staycation in the City - Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu


Do you ever feel like you need a break, but can't afford to go abroad, or even have the time to waste on a plane flying somewhere exotic? Well, staycations are becoming really popular right now, and they're the perfect solution for a relaxing weekend right in your own city!

Club Suite
The good people at Le Meridien recently arranged a little weekend getaway for me to get to know the newly renovated hotel, and also my own city just a little better! Nestled right in the heart of KK city, Le Meridien is perfect for both business and pleasure, as well as locals and tourists alike. You may have seen my room review vlog, but if you haven't, here it is:

Be sure to hit subscribe on Youtube

Of course, as a KKian on a staycation, I definitely took full advantage of the 5 star hotel facilities.
The rooms were cosy
The gym was fully equipped with a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi
The pool was gorgeous; there's an outdoor jacuzzi
And the sunset view? Breathtaking.
Le Meridien made sure we were happily fed as well, and the new restaurants feature a taste of Sabah, with their Tampatan "stall" in Latest Recipe, and the best Italian food in town at Favola.
Latest Recipe
Tampatan stall at Latest Recipe: Authentic Kadazandusun cuisine.
L-R: Prawn Hinava (also made with fish), Bambangan, Tuhau (wild ginger).
Favola interior and sample of dishes
Here's some tips to make your stay a great one:

Big points for tourists: Le Meridien is within walking distance from so many of our local
                                        attractions, such as the Sunday Market on Gaya Street, the jetty where you
                                        get the boats to the nearby islands (they're only a 15-minute boat ride from
                                        the city!), not to mention the hotel is directly across from the Filipino
                                        handicraft market, and the Waterfront where the night comes alive.

Big points for locals: It's in the middle of town! Looking for trinkets? Centrepoint is right next door.
                                     Prefer a more branded mall? Imago and Suria are practically the same distance
                                     away from each other, in opposite directions, not to mention everyone's
                                     favourite Saturday night hangout: the Waterfront.

Food:
Breakfast - Non-halal: Right next door to Le Meridien is Sinsuran, where the famed Sinsuran Sang
                                        Nyuk Mee originated, a must try as this is a Sabahan favourite! No pork
                                        noodles anywhere else are quite the same.

Breakfast - Halal: Le Meridien Signature Breakfasts. Fusion food with a local twist, with dishes
                                such as Omelette Roulade stuffed with Black Glutinous Rice & Sambal, and
                                Sweet Potato Muffin with Chocolate-coated Tempe & Caramelised Mango,
                                they're definitely something different!
We got to try out copying the food design:
Mom made Poached Egg with Pan Fried Sweet Potato Cake & Lemongrass Hollandaise Sauce,
I made Toasted Layer Brioche with Coconut Jam & Honey Caramelised Banana
Lunch: Laksa/Curry Mee at Seng Hing, Sinsuran; Five Star Chicken Rice at Palm Square in
              Centerpoint

Coffee: Starbucks is right across the road! If you prefer Coffee Bean, you can find both in Palm
              Square, Centerpoint.

Tea: TWG Teas at Latitude 05, Le Meridien Hotel. Make sure to try the Silver Moon Tea - yum!
TWG Teas & sweets to complement!
Juices/ Desserts: Fruto in Oceanus sells great fresh & cold-pressed juices, while Just Berries has the
                              best desserts - try the mango little balls!
Fruto's Breakfast Bowls - Goodness with a view!
Dinner: Welcome Seafood is cheap, and located not far away in Asia City. For better quality
               seafood, which of course comes with a "better" price, Seremban Seafood in Segama is
               definitely a fave if you have cash to spend. For an all-out tourist experience, try the seafood
               at the Filipino market, right opposite Le Meridien!
Seremban Seafood: Just look at that crab claw! =O
Drinks: Waterfront is the it place for both tourists and locals alike. If you're into clubbing, B.E.D.
               lives up to its name as Best Entertainment Destination. For a Somersby and good pizza,
               Lush is where you wanna be, while if you like playing darts, check out Beer Nest Mixo. If
               you prefer a more relaxing evening, the jazz band and comfy sofas at Latitude 05 are your
               best friends!
Latitude 05 @ Le Meridien
The Good: Both hard and soft pillows provided (have you ever slept in a comfortable bed with a
                    pillow that was way too hard or soft for your liking? Le Meridien fixes that problem!),
                    the decor (loving the lobby now, and the Table of Curiosity is genius!), the service
                    (everyone is super friendly, and genuinely so!), the facilities (pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam
                    room), the food (great variety, and I love that they have hard-to-find local food!)

The Could-Be-Better: The TV in room (too small for such a big bed! But I did hear that the rooms
                                       will all be renovated come next year), housekeeping (didn't replenish face
                                       towels/all toiletries, left dirty face towel in corner), food (while variety is
                                       amazing, quality control needs to be observed such as satay too hard, and I
                                       feel there is definitely room for more desserts choices! =P)

Overall it was a great stay and would definitely go back for more! For those of you who are thinking of taking a family vacation, Le Meridien has also teamed up with Lego, and every child under 12 will receive a free Lego pack upon check-in!
Free Lego upon check-in! =D
Dreaming of my next staycation,
Calista xx

Saturday, 7 November 2015

GIVEAWAY: All Day Dining at Avangio Hotel, Metrotown

By now, Metrotown is a normal part of Kota Kinabalu. Well-known for the eateries and beauty salons, the area is set to get busier with the introduction of the new Jesselton Medical Centre and the elegant Avangio Hotel, managed by Accor.
Night view by the pool
Avangio's all-day dining restaurant Mercato has just revealed their all new a la carte menu, and what better way to introduce these dishes than by pictures:
Appetisers L-R: Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Cake, Hinava, Nicoise Salad
Main CourseClockwise from Left: Ultimate Burger, Salmon Quiche, Spaghetti Bolognese, Fish & Chips
And of course no dinner is complete with a little sugar at the end:
Dessert
L-R: Sago Gula Melaka, Creme Brulee, Mango Panna Cotta
Stomach growling already? Well have I got a treat for you! In collaboration with Avangio Hotel, I'll be giving away dinner for 2 at Mercato restaurant, and if you're reading this, you're already halfway there! All you have to do to win is:

1. Share this blog post on Facebook
2. Follow me on Instagram @CalistaLeahLiew 
3. Drop me a comment below with the Facebook link and tell me which dish is tantalising your taste buds. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!
OR
Tag the person you'll take for dinner on my Instagram post (spot the Creme Brûlée!) with the caption FEED ME!

Good luck!

If you don't win, it's ok, because for the whole month of November, all you have to do is mention #MERCATONEWMENU and you will get 10% off your food bill (excluding drinks). So it's the best time to try somewhere new! For reservations, call Mercato at 088-536888.

***This giveaway will end at 10pm on 15th November 2015. Winners will be announced via Twitter @CalistaLeahLiew, so make sure you're following us on Twitter! Winners will be chosen by www.random.org.

Happy Dining!
Calista xx

*This post is sponsored by Mercato @ Avangio Hotel, Metrotown