Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bermuda Beach Resort: The perfect place to stay in Sugar Beach, Sipalay

Oh yeah, just been to the beach with My Bibe; our second so far this year. With Holy Week being the busiest of the summer peak season for travel in the Philippines, we sought some far-flung place to escape the maddening crowd. After little thought, we ended up with Sugar Beach in Sipalay, Negros Occidental, a lovely kilometer stretch of sand that's just perfect for some quiet time.

There are only a handful of places to stay in Sugar Beach, most of which are native bungalows (nipa huts) that afford the traveler an authentic tropical feel. We booked four nights at Bermuda Beach Resort, and we never regretted our choice.

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A view of the beachfront at Bermuda Beach Resort.

The resort was acquired from a German guy in 1998, who, after about two years since building it, gave up because nobody really came to Sugar Beach. Well, nobody probably heard of it, especially at that time when the internet was still largely unheard of in the Philippines. Today, however, owners Francis and Zenaida Buchwalder seem to be doing well.

And they've been managing it well. Here's my review.


Reservation and check-in
Getting a room was a breeze with just a phone call (you can also email). If anything, probably the only inconvenience would have to be finding a nearby Western Union outlet to wire your deposit. Being in a very remote area, the resort, understandably, does not accept credit cards (nor do I think does any resort on Sugar Beach for that matter). So bring enough cash.

As for checking in, there wasn't really one as far as normal check-in procedures go. Everything was just casual and friendly. Francis, the owner, simply welcomed us and showed us our room. Later during dinner, however, he asked us to fill out something that I guess was for the local tourism department.

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Me and Francis.

Francis is your go-to guy if you need anything. He hails from Switzerland, the French-speaking part (his unmistakable French accent is a giveaway). Incidentally, he also knows the French guys who own the resort on Pandan Island, another place I really love.


The resort
Bermuda Beach Resort has about ten rooms in all, mostly native bungalows and with three on the beachfront. Although without air conditioning, the bungalows are actually quite nice, each with its own little porch.

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The beachfront bungalows. With a view of the beach and lots of shade, it's total relaxation amid a very tropical setting.

A later addition was three airconditioned rooms at the back where a garden beckons. Hmn... although the destination is reminiscent of our earlier travels, My Bibe and I decided to keep one foot behind the door and still sought the comforts of an airconditioned room.

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The bungalow, which houses the airconditioned rooms on the left side. The other half of the structure, as I've observed, is where the owners live.

Along the beach, chairs custom-built from bamboo are provided for sun worshippers along with lots of shade from trees and nipa structures alike. Thankfully these are never rented out to day trippers and remain exclusive to resort guests.

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Al fresco dining, anyone? By the beach?


Our room
Sliding glass door, tiled floors, walls painted in golden yellow, native-inspired ceiling, warm lighting -- this was our room.

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Apart from the shelves and tables to place your things on, they also thoughtfully provided a clothes rack that came in handy when drying our sea-soaked beachwear. The bed may look weird because of the two single cushions atop the queen-sized bed frame but it was fine with us. Remember this is no fancy resort, nor does it pretend to be one, so expectations should be reasonable. What's more important to me, though, was that they cleaned the room daily. The absence of any TV in the room didn't matter. There's one at the restaurant if you really wanna watch something.

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The bathroom was a typical one by its looks but it was quite spacious, spanning the width of our room.

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Dining
Located along the beachfront, the restaurant and bar are housed in a stone-framed open-air structure with lots of hardwood. Coupled with ambient lighting, I love the warmth that all that wood brings. No footwear is allowed in the elevated dining area, though. Well, you'd be ashamed yourself because the wooden floor is always kept clean and perfectly polished. It gives me that probinsiya feel actually.

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The dining area; hardwood everywhere.

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The bar.

The food here is certainly good. Twice I ordered chicken curry and did the same with their pizza and banana pancake. The servings are huge, which justifies the average Php 200 per dish. They also bake their own bread here, which is great. And apart from cocktails, you can also enjoy an espresso or cappuccino at the bar.

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At Php 99, the banana pancake is exactly the size of a plate.

The kitchen also comes up with something outside the regular menu once in a while, so ask your waitress. One time they whipped up a mango pie, which was good although I wished the mangoes were sweeter.

Service is mostly quick unless you ordered way behind the other diners. This can be fixed, though, by ordering in advance and advising them of your expected mealtime.


Activities
We weren't really looking for anything to do on Sugar Beach but relax and do nothing. However, if you still haven't mastered the art of doing nothing, there's a pool table for rent at the bar and a table tennis set by the beach. There are also some books at the restaurant if you feel like reading.

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Billiards for Php 200/hour.

For the more outdoorsy, kayaks are available for rent and the resort has already mapped out a course for you. They don't have diving here, though, but the resort next door (Takatuka Lodge) is up for that.


WiFi
WiFi is available at the restaurant area for Php 100 an hour. A bit pricey, yes, but if you're staying longer and you expect to use the internet a lot, go for the Php 600 all-holiday pass, which allows you unlimited use throughout your stay at the resort.


*************
All things being relative, Bermuda Beach Resort is a great place to stay in Sugar Beach. After all, it's not no. 1 on TripAdvisor (as of writing) for nothing.

For more information:
Telephone: +639205292582 / +639195913805
Email: francis.buchwalder@bluewin.ch

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