Discover the healing powers of a proper staycation
As soon as he fell asleep, she turned to me and said, ‘I have an hour! Let’s go and have a glass of wine now!’” A friend recounted how another friend of ours dealt with first-time motherhood, sneaking out of her house and month-old son to have a drink and returning just in time.
Motherhood has been kind to me: I’ve been blessed with a nanny who adores my child, a patient husband, a kind boss and fulfilling work—but most of all I’m blessed to be middle class and living in the Philippines, where raising a baby is considered the responsibility of the entire village. I’ve been getting a lot of help, help that eludes many friends who live in other parts of the world where family is scant and motherhood is a lonely, demanding, often thankless job. But regardless of all the help and support given my way, motherhood can still be lonely, demanding and seemingly thankless job—adjectives that can also be used to describe writing, my main work. The need to be alone to get things done is countered by the needs of being in a social environment and the modern world. It’s not easy, but on good days, one manages the delicate push and pull of both. On bad days, I would have a cry in the bathroom. It was after one such episode that I decided that perhaps I needed a break.
I wanted a vacation, but the idea of a planning and traveling far and going somewhere exotic felt stressful. A vacation, which nowadays implies doing things and posting about them on Instagram, was out of the question. Instead, I needed a proper break from doing and thinking about doing anything. I could stay in the house, but you also need that sense of newness, the feeling of being somewhere else that makes mundane acts such as taking a bath, eating in bed and even going to the gym feel exciting and fun: I needed a staycation.
So, on a Wednesday, the most unglamorous of days that we call it hump day, I checked into the Nobu Hotel in City of Dreams. I felt a thrill to hand over my car keys to the valet, to be led upstairs by the bellhop, to have my clothes fixed and my drink made for me. It was a relief to not have to decide on things. Inside the one-bedroom suite, I immediately changed into the robe and surveyed the view afforded by the COD complex: glittering swimming pools, manicured gardens and a cloudless bright blue sky reflected on the gleaming golden glass of the edifices surrounding it, stretching out the blissful image to eternity. In lieu of champagne, a bottle of sake was sent to the room, as was a small yuzu cheesecake. I took a bit of both, sighed, and called my husband to come over with our daughter. Bring the nanny, I told him. I may be ready to accept that I needed a break, but I wanted to be with my family still.
When my daughter arrived, I drew up a bath and filled it with lavender-infused bubbles and we stayed in the tub until our fingers turned pruney. I handed her over to her nanny, and I stayed another 15 minutes sitting alone, with a mask and my second cup of sake. My very privileged set-up is my ultimate luxury—the idea of having a daughter and my life, too; my gratitude to my nanny is endless. The three of us spend the rest of the day around Nobu, admiring the hip, modern Japanese interiors, indulging in an afternoon dip in the pool and running around the carpeted hallways. My husband arrived and, it being his first time in the place, exclaimed at its resort vibe. Space, a rarity in this congested capital, was abundant. We could let our one-year-old toddle as much as she wanted along the little outdoor paths knowing no one would trip over her. The day passed slowly and just before sunset, while she and her nanny enjoyed a glass of halo-halo at Wave, the poolside restaurant, my husband and I dropped by the massive, glittering casino that ties together the three hotels in City of Dreams.
Just before dinner, the whole family strolled along the COD mall, which is easily accessible from the hotel, and visited The Garage, the virtual reality entertainment area and food park, and even Dream Play, where Dreamworks animation came to life. Our daughter was too young for it, but the shooting fountains and kaleidoscope of colors of sounds made her mouth gape in wonder. At night, we indulged in perhaps one of the best things about staycations: room service. Nobu Hotel, is of course, an extension of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s multi-awarded restaurant Nobu in New York City. That night, still clad in our robes, we feasted on the restaurant’s specialities like black cod den miso, toro tartar with caviar and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño. We capped it off with a delicate, creamy yuzu cake and more sake. Many people would’ve added a spa treatment during their stay, but who was I kidding—thanks to my daughter’s 5 AM wakeup time, we were ready to crawl into Nobu’s king-sized bed and sink into its down-filled pillows at 9 PM. It was, a wonderful day and as I slowly slipped into deep sleep, the lack of thinking what to do next, of needing to be somewhere else, was simply amazing. I didn’t need to be alone—I had a lot of that in my daily life as a writer and a commuter in Metro Manila. A staycation with family, I realized, was us sneaking out from our daily life, just for a day, and coming back in time, just before it woke up. I slept knowing I was ready to head back to reality the next day—but after the breakfast buffet of course.