LG... Life's Good
Wow it’s been a while since I wrote a blog, and what a month I had!
We all know that photos on any property’s website are usually deceiving, requiring you to lower the expectation those photos build by at least 50% to remain satisfied when you arrive. APPT’s location of choice in Cebu, the Shangri-La Mactan Resort, exceeded not only my “reduced” expectations, but the original by a mile, and after six nights staying there it still continued to pleasantly surprise me until the day I checked-out with such particular attention to detail to ensure all guest’s have a perfect holiday. As always, we made a video showing off the location so make sure you check that out.
There’s over 13 acres of land, like a huge playground of beachside tropical gardens to explore. Throughout the grounds are a few huts with massage tables in them – the hole in the table where you put your head and usually look through to the floor, has a bowl of colourful petals floating on water so you’re not staring at a slab of concrete. When you lay on the beach someone comes around with refreshing pieces of pineapple and mango on a stick, and when you’re running on the treadmill the trainer comes around every-so-often to give you an icy-cold towel soaked in subtle lavender. It was heaven! And of course, the APPT was a great success, with the numbers going well over the original cap of 300. After word gets around on how amazing the resort is, I have no doubt numbers for next year will skyrocket.
I could rave on and on forever about how amazing it was, but I did feel guilty for enjoying the luxury of the resort when at the very same time one of my dear friends was traveling throughout the Philippines on an aid-mission. The stories of her experiences had me in tears, with the disease-ridden communities built on rubbish tips where your feet sink 10cm into the ground with every step, or the orphanages for abandoned disabled children left to just lay there all day, every day, with no stimulation or ability to move around. I know this is a problem the entire world is faced with and I certainly do not have the knowledge or experience to preach about it, but I did do my tiny bit to help, with my partner and I sponsoring a child through Kadasig Aid and Development to put her/him through school for the tiny price of $235 per year (we haven’t received our child’s file yet so I will post a picture when we do! ). My friend had the privilege of meeting her sponsor child and had dinner at her family’s house who cooked their once-per-year-special-occasion -only-treat, a chicken. If you don’t yet do your bit for the world with donating to some sort of cause, this, and of course the RSPCA, are the two that I encourage.
With the poverty aside, isolated within the paradise of the resort you literally feel like you’re in heaven. The resort is swarming, and I mean swarming, with such friendly staff on every corner you turn, all there ready and waiting to greet you, “Good morning ma’am”, “Good evening ma’am”, with such genuine, delighted smiles on their faces putting everyone in such an uplifted mood. From the concierge, to the cleaner, to the gardeners, to the henna tattoo guy on the beach, to the girl that takes your room service order over the phone… Each person oozes such an appreciation, enjoyment and love for their job.
So then, when I was done in one paradise resort, I was off to another – LAPT Costa Rica – but I wasn’t getting there easily. My flight path was Cebu-Manila-Brisbane-Sydney-LA -Houston-Costa Rica. I was dreading it, but in the end it turned out pretty well! When I boarded the plane in Sydney for LA, I was pleasantly surprised with my seat number… AGAIN! Upgraded to Premium Economy!! I couldn’t believe my luck! Out of my four major trips in the last five months, this was my third upgrade!! Suddenly the 13hr flight wasn’t such a burden after all.
The PokerNews team hired a car and we drove four hours from the airport to the resort which was amazing with the thick Palm Tree-filled forests over the continuous hills. Although the only thing that ruined it were the psycho drivers!
The LAPT location - Paradisus Playa Conchal - was AMAZING! And HUGE. So huge that every minute an open-air bus drives past to shuttle you around the resort. Everyone had their own villa and it’s all-inclusive so you can enjoy the eight restaurants without opening your wallet once. Unfortunately I kept forgetting to book dinner each morning for the team so most nights we ended up “stuck” at the buffet, which was the option at the bottom of the list, yet still had amazing food. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the 80’s Young Talent Time style entertainment during dinner, but it sure gave us a lot of laughs, even though that wasn’t their intention.
My highlight of the trip was when Garry and I got up early one morning and took a couple of quad bikes on a tour through the beaches and forests. My legs and hands were sore for days afterwards, but it was so much fun. Although every time I turned around Garry was shaking his head at my pansy quad-bike driving skills…
I really enjoyed that tournament. My last few gigs have been on the APPT so it was nice to mix up the crowd a little and meet a whole new bunch of people.
Next was back to Australia for APPT Sydney – unbelievably my very first visit to Sydney, and I was impressed! Melbourne definitely wins for the people and atmosphere, but Sydney is serious eye-candy along the harbour and Bondi – I loved it. Although in typical south-eastern-Australian-Summe r fashion, my experience of Bondi was ruined with unexpected torrential rain.
Midway through the APPT Sydney Main Event I decided to try my luck in the Ladies Event. Having very little faith in myself in a $550 tournament, being only my second live tourney, I ended up selling off a huge percentage of myself which I regret in hindsight seeing I ended up taking third! Paying out a thick-wad of cash to eight different people was painful, but I was still happy with my collection – which went straight to paying off my car rego… boring! If you ever really want to put the people at your table on tilt then I suggest having Stephen Topakas and Tony Hachem amongst your rail who encouraged my eager backers to do Mexican waves every time I was involved in a hand That was until I finally bust in third place out of 39 players with those evil pocket Jacks, sending us off to bed at 4am, but still with a big smile on my face
Next stop on the poker circuit is PCA (Bahamas baby!!) and then of course my favourite Aussie Millions at Crown in my hometown Melbourne.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and NYE! xxx