So you are not a millionaire yet who can afford splurging in an upscale resort and all the more a chopper ride to an exclusive resort in the Philippines. The thought of spending Php 40,000 for a one-night stay is already enough to make you cringe and you believe that in today’s day and age, luxurious getaways seem impractical and feel less authentic.
But hey, we deserve lavish pampering once in a while. After all, experience, they say, is priceless. And guess what, YOLO!
1. Amanpulo. If lying down in a hammock with your favorite book, in the middle of nowhere, is your idea of a perfect R&R, then Amanpulo is the perfect place for you. Amanpulo, which is part of the Aman Group of boutique hotels, is located in Pamalican Island in Cuyo, Palawan. The resort’s 29 Beach Casitas are situated near the beach amidst the lush green trees and each has its own private access to the pristine blue beach.
Set on its own private island in the Sulu Sea, the chartered flight from Manila all the way to Pamalican Island would already make you feel like a VIP. The five-kilometer long island might seem too small compared to other resorts in the Philippines but it already feels big enough for couples, especially if running into other guests is actually next to impossible. In fact, the resort’s staff really makes a deliberate effort to separate guests or parties from each other to have that feel of exclusivity. Each has its own private buggy or club car so guests can explore the island independently if they wish to. As part of the end-to-end experience, everything from welcoming the guests, preparing your bath tub with rose petals, arranging your meal, (choose whether you want a dinner by the beach side, in your patio or inside your room), turndown service at night, up to your departure, are well though of and orchestrated.
If you want the feel of having an island all for yourself even for just a few days, then heading to Amanpulo won’t disappoint. The privacy of their guests is of utmost importance that skinny dipping in the crystal clear water is actually possible.
Rate: A Beach Casita costs $1,100 or roughly Php57, 200/night during off-peak season and $ 1,800 or roughly Php93, 600/night during peak season. Their most expensive room, which is the 4 Bedroom Palawan Villa is a whopping $7,200 or an estimate of Php374, 400.
For more information and updated rates: www.aman.com/resorts/amanpulo
How to get there: Amanpulo can only be accessed via a chartered plane. Coordinate with Amanpulo Management for transportation arrangement.
2. Huma Island Resort and Spa. Huma is nestled in a remote island, 45-minute boat ride away from Busuanga, Palawan. This resort is actually reminiscent of Maldives because of the water villas surrounding the island. Busuanga is known for its rich marine life, coral reef and Japanese shipwrecks so snorkeling and diving nearby Huma Island is a must try activity when you visit this tropical paradise.
All of the 64 Water Villas has its own private sun deck with a hot tub and an outdoor shower to boot. This kind of amenities, with the scenic view of Multuk Bay, while lounging and listening to your favorite music, are just some of the reasons why you probably wouldn’t want to leave your villa anymore. And since the water villas are quite far from the main resort, a 24-hour room service is available in just a touch of a button.
But the best and probably the most interesting place in Huma is their over-water spa treatment pavilion that comes with a glass floor, the first in the Philippines, they say. Just imagine yourself being treated to a soothing Ayurveda massage while watching different species of fishes pass by. What could be more relaxing than that?
Rate: Rate starts at $930 or approximately Php48,000++ up to $2,000 or an estimate of Php104,000
For more information and updated rates: www.humaisland.com
How to get there: From the town of Coron, get on their private boat to Huma Island. Another option is to take the Busuanga Airport or Manila route via their Sea Plane.
3. Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa. If you are a Boracay fan who loves its powdery white sand and straight out of a magazine sunset, but can’t stand the crowd and blaring music especially at night, then trying out this world-class resort in the northern tip of the island should top your list.
Shangri-La is the only resort in Boracay that has its own jetty port and speedboat exclusive to hotel guests, and a golf cart to take their guests around the huge resort.
There are around 219 rooms and 36 villas with balconies that offer a stunning view of the turquoise water. Their to die for infinity pool is a favorite spot among guests where you can have a good view of the famous Boracay sunset, without any obstruction, while sipping a frozen Margarita or Mojito.
Shangri-La’s hotel chain is known for being luxurious so it won’t really come as a surprise that their resort in Boracay is nothing less than extravagant, especially when it comes to food.
Undeniably, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa is a private paradise in the middle of the frenzied Boracay Island.
Rate: Room rate starts at Php 22,000++ up to Php 50,000 ++ per night.
For more information and updated rates: www.shangri-la.com/boracay/boracayresort
How to get there: Fly to Caticlan and the staff of Shangri-La’s Boracay and Resort will be there at the port to welcome you.
4. Pangulasian Island, El Nido Resorts. The El Nido Resorts is composed of four luxury resorts in Palawan namely Apulit, Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian. El Nido Resorts is known for its tropical island setting and water cottages surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs that also serve as a sanctuary for a variety of flora and fauna.
El Nido Resorts gives high value to the environment that they provide guests with polyethylene bag that they can also use to help clean the surroundings if ever they chance upon any trash around the resort, which is actually very unlikely. They also have an Eco Diversity Checklist where guests can have a fun time spotting birds, animals and underwater creatures so they can check them off the list, definitely a great way to be more observant of your surroundings.
Various activities like caving, scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, hobiecat sailing, windsurfing and kayaking are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed with your private Activity Coordinator and Tour Guide.
Each of the four El Nido Resorts has its own charm although the newest one, which is Pangulasian, is considered to be the most luxurious among the four. If Apulit has a Deluxe Water Cottage with a staircase in its private veranda that leads directly to water (very much like Maldives), then Pangulasian’s Pool Villa has its own 22sqm private pool connected to its balcony. Nothing could be more relaxing and secluded than this while basking under the sun, enjoying the fabulous view of Bacuit Bay.
Aside from the rich underwater life, various amenities and breathtaking view that all El Nido Resorts offer, the extra special treatment that their staff extend to their local and foreign guests is definitely one of their assets, in fact, El Nido Resorts was named the “Hospitality Destination of the Year” for 2014 by the Asia CEO Awards for not only promoting tourism in the Philippines but for also showcasing genuine Filipino hospitality.
Rate: Room rate starts at Php35, 000 ++ to Php53,000++ per night.
For more information and updated rates: www.elnidoresorts.com/pangulasian-island
How to get there: Airswift offers daily flights from Manila to Cebu to El Nido, Palawan. From Lio Airport in El Nido, a 25-minute private boat ride will take you to Pangulasian Island.
5. Misibis Bay Resort and Casino. If you think Bicol is only known for Mayon Volcano and its spicy food, wait until you experience Misibis Bay in Cagraray Island.
If other resorts boasts of their spectacular sunset, waking up early to watch the glorious sunrise is one of the activities that you can do in Misibis to jumpstart your day.
Their spacious room and comfy bed with a grand view of the well-manicured garden, pool or beach is undeniably one of the best features of the resort, not to mention the abundance of swimming pools. Misibis Bay Resort is actually surrounded by pools that you can actually go swimming anytime and anywhere you feel like it. Guests can also take advantage of their free non-motorized water activities. If you are up for some adventure, ask their staff about their ATV, Segway, Dune Buggy and Zip Line.
If you want a room that has direct access to the pool, book for a Pool Villa in the ground floor. For ultimate relaxation and a more scenic view, go for the Luxury Beach Front Villa and wake up to the gentle sunrise peeping into your room’s glass door and window.
Rate: Beach front villa room starts at Php16,000++ per night.
For more information and updated rates: www.misibisbay.com
How to get there: Fly to Legazpi, Bicol and the staff of Misibis Bay will be there to pick you up at the airport.