True to what I've gathered from several reviews, this five-star resort along Sabang Beach in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan needs to send back its staff to training. Not everything is bad, however, with my experience at Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa the weekend before Valentine's. So let's do this in segments.
Reservation and booking
It wasn't really difficult to call their Manila office but it took them a couple of days to respond to my email and confirm my booking. The day before I also re-confirmed my booking (just to be sure) but right up to writing this post I got absolutely no reply.
I was already forewarned on this. The resort follows a schedule for trips, with the first one at 10am, the second at 2pm, and the last one at 6:30pm (subject to change depending on the last flight arrival). So even if you arrive early in the morning, don't expect to be whisked away to the resort pronto. In all fairness, however, resort staff will shuttle you to their Puerto Princesa office where you can while away time more comfortably.
This setup is understandable due to the considerable distance involved. The trip is about an hour and a half, which can be a little expensive for them. However, the resort should also provide an option for guests who are not willing to wait but are willing to pay a premium. Otherwise, just time your flights accordingly.
Check-in and tours confirmation
While at their Puerto Princesa office, we asked for our schedule for the Underground River tour, only to be told we weren't on the list. We asked because we overheard someone arguing with the staff about a canceled tour for which they were already confirmed.
The lady, while on the phone with someone, asked for my name. She did this thrice in between intervals of 5-10 minutes. Clearly I didn't have her full attention. The van arrived and she still wasn't able to fix the problem, so I told her that everything should be okay by the time we arrive at the resort.
A stylized column stands proud at the hotel lobby's center. The front desk, in view, is rather small for such a resort.
Upon check-in, we were still not on any list. The lady processing my check-in pointed us to the person in charge of tours. She couldn't guarantee our slots because the local government limits the number of permits given daily. This was unacceptable because I had a confirmation. She said she'll try but I insisted she guarantee it. Whoever's fault it was was, collectively, still the resort's mistake and they should do whatever it takes to make it right.
A view from the lobby's center.
I went back to the front desk and stood there patiently while staff were entertaining other guests. When no one seemed to mind me, I raised my voice and asked for my key. The supervisor (I assumed she was) asked her staff, then returned to me saying my check-in wasn't completed yet because I left. I argued that her staff asked us to talk to the person in charge of tours but the staff countered that she said my wife may talk with the tours in-charge, not both of us.
Already pissed, my voice shot up (Believe me, I've been very patient the whole time.). How the hell would I know I wasn't done yet with check-in if nobody told me so? She could have just called my attention right when I was leaving the counter. Why would she just let me go when apparently we weren't done yet? Unbelievable!
The supervisor, who obviously was more well-versed in customer relations, assisted me right away (I think her name was Jessica?). She was kind and very efficient. Not long after, we were already on our way to our room.
The resort in general
Aesthetically, Sheridan is a fantastic resort, offering great views to its guests. The resort, I must say, is very photogenic, looking good at almost every angle. Heck, I even had a hard time picking photos for this post! After several "elimination rounds," I still have a lot.
The lobby opens up to this fantastic landscape view of the rest of the resort. And this is only half of the pool; the other half is obscured by the pool bar in the middle.
Take it all in. This is the view from the other end of the resort; the other half of the pool, if you may.
Sheridan's humongous pool is undoubtedly the resort's centerpiece, flanked on each side by two-storey buildings housing the hotel rooms and bookended by a very spacious gazebo overlooking the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea, as they like to call it now - Ugh!). It may technically be just one pool but its design effectively designates sections for a lap pool, another where you can just wade, and a couple of jacuzzis. With its sheer size, I never saw the pool crowded throughout our stay.
Like I said, beautiful at any angle. This pool is never boring.
The jacuzzis at rest. To me they look like a pool version of crop circles.
The pool bar is right smack in the middle of the, well, pool. Dry access is provided on each side with bridges.
The St. Paul Peak offers a spectacular backdrop while sipping cocktails at the bar. Just looking at it relaxes me.
The elevated gazebo is perfect for taking in the views, either of the mountains on one end or the beach on the other. Koi fish are also provided a rectangular pool that frames the entire gazebo.
This was the beach I fell in love with ten years ago. The sand may not be as white (it's cream-colored) but it's just as powdery fine as Boracay's. Here the resort also sets up sun beds, bean bags, umbrellas, and tables for guests. Unfortunately the waves were really huge when we were here. Coupled with the strong undertow, they made swimming quite dangerous.
The buildings housing the rooms aren't just plain two-storey structures. In between the line of rooms facing the pool and the ones facing the mountains is a cute little courtyard. Nice touch.
We got a poolside deluxe room. It was nice and spacious with a queen-sized bed and an extra mattress for a third guest, just as we requested. Unlike some hotel rooms, this one was very well-lit.
The minibar along with the coffee and tea-making facility. A complimentary bottled water for each guest is replenished daily.
The room has a personal fridge tucked inside the cabinet under the flatscreen TV. Since ours was a corner room, we had two windows instead of two mirrors.
Although electricity in Sabang is not 24/7, rooms here at Sheridan enjoy uninterrupted power supply (and therefore air conditioning), thanks to huge generator. I think this partly explains Sheridan's room rates. WiFi is also available inside the room and throughout the resort but it's oh so slow. As with electricity, there is still no IP backbone to connect Sabang with high-speed internet. I heard V-sat is still used here. But not for long.
The sliding glass door teases with a nice view of the pool.
The sliding glass door opens up to your own private veranda, replete with sun bed and side table. Rooms on the second floor also have verandas but with chairs in lieu of sun beds.
Does the thought of swimsuits and other wet clothes creating an eyesore to many a posh resort sound familiar? Oh yes. Here at Sheridan, though, they've provided guests with a better and more organized way of drying their wet stuff.
The bathroom also offers a generous amount of space. And consistent with the bedroom, this private refuge is also well-lit. If my memory serves me right, there are five different light switches and one for the exhaust fan. Toiletries and grooming kits are standard fare except that this being a higher-end resort, combs and sewing kits are included. There's also a hair dryer on deck. The shower, however, is not a rain shower head.
I'm pretty sure Chuvaness would still not approve of this bathroom.
I've read quite a number of reviewers complaining about the restaurant. Surprisingly, we were fine with it. Yes, the price can be a little expensive but we basically spent similar amounts over at Green Verde and Daluyon. The drinks, though, are quite pricey (beer for about a hundred?).
The restaurant's indoor section. I have some issues with the size of their tables, though. They're, like, good for plated dishes only. Ordering several items for sharing poses problems in terms of where to place them on the table.
Contrary to some reviews I've read, service was quite fast here. It took longer at Daluyon, to be frank. However, I do agree that they have some problems with replenishing their buffet tables for breakfast, and that some of their staff could really use some training. Overall, food was okay; nothing to rave about but nothing to complain about either.
The outdoor section with the bar in view.
I didn't try it but My Bibe did. She said the spa area was fairly good but the massage was laughably bad. With her masseuse, she said she didn't feel any real technique employed, strokes were erratic, and there was hardly any pressure at all. To top it off, the therapist didn't even tell her when the massage was over; she just left. While My Bibe was changing her clothes, the therapist came back and told her the massage was over. Did she forget?
The spa exterior.
My Bibe originally planned to have another massage the following evening but she no longer bothered after that. It was so not worth Php900 (the first massage, however, was free as part of the package we availed). The therapist should seriously be sent back to training.
Underground river tour
After all the hullabaloo from Day 1, they did manage to get us on the tour. Interestingly, we were the only ones from Sheridan that morning. We waited for an hour, however, because they had to deal with the long queue in getting us permits. Jethro, our tour guide, was very assisting and nice. (See related post here.)
There's a coffee shop tucked next to the hotel lobby.
I suppose this is a function hall or ballroom.
For the body-conscious, there's a small open-air gym beside the pool where the jacuzzis are. By the looks of it, I say it's a fairly decent gym with a bench press, lots of weights, treadmills and other exercise machines.
Check-out went without a hitch although we did so before noon. I don't know how it is if several guests check out simultaneously. Anyway, Jessica was her usual efficient self and we were more than happy to be scheduled for the airport shuttle's 2pm trip. I originally thought the last trip was 12:30pm.
The gorgeous view from the coffee shop.
In spite of all the rough patches, I'd still come back. My Bibe and I just love it there, and we're both willing to give Sheridan's people a chance to redeem themselves. However, the resort's management should seriously retrain their staff -- from those in Reservations, to their Puerto Princesa office staff, front desk personnel, spa therapists, and even some of their waiters -- so they can truly render world-class service worthy of the resort's triple-A distinction. Sheridan may be physically beautiful but ultimately, it's the service that defines a guest's experience.
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express, and Zest Air all operate daily flights from Manila to the capital, Puerto Princesa City.
Flights are also available from Cebu, with Cebu Pacific offering daily flights and Airphil Express 4X a week.
Airphil Express also flies from Busuanga (Coron) 2X a week while SkyPasada serves the Caticlan (Boracay)-Puerto Princesa route 2X a week.
Flight schedules may change, so check with the airline beforehand.
The convenient way
Sheridan offers airport transfers with at least three scheduled trips daily: 10am, 2pm, and 6:30pm. It's much more convenient this way. But if you hate waiting and money is of no concern (or if you're traveling in a big group), you can arrange for your own transportation at the airport. A one-way trip in a private van can cost around Php 3,000 or more.
The hard way
If, however, you're on a budget (which is highly unlikely as you're staying at Sheridan), from the airport, take a tricycle to the public bus terminal in San Jose. It's best to be there early and catch either the 7am jeepney or the 9am bus. Nevertheless, trips are available until 3pm. Please take note that because several stops are expected, travel time may take longer than two hours, around three perhaps.
For more information, go to www.sheridanbeachresort.com.
The Management sent a letter of apology, by the way. You can read their response here.