As usual, I'm breaking this review down into various aspects and be as fair as I can be.
The kiddie pool, with a great view of the beach and the sea in the distance.
Misibis Bay Resort is a good one-hour drive from the Legazpi City airport in Bicol. I don't know about commuting there but transfers via coaster or van are already provided. I just found the welcoming committee a tad disorganized, though. We were just ushered to the side and there was no proper communication about what exactly we had to do or where we had to go.
Thankfully it was a lot better once we got inside the van. Before we left, the driver informed us of how long the trip would take and that half of it would entail zigzagging roads, so he asked if anyone needed some medication for motion sickness. He also handed out bottled water and offered cookies if anyone was hungry (I was!). Before, it took about an hour and a half to get to Misibis Bay. There's a river that divides Cagraray Island (where the resort is located) from the mainland, and they used to have a barge to ferry vehicles across. Today there's a bridge already, effectively shaving about a half-hour off from the whole trip.
At some points during the first half-hour of our trip, we were treated to either glimpses or full, unobstructed views of the majestic Mayon Volcano. I never tire of gazing at her, and I snapped my heart away with my camera at every chance I got of photographing the most active volcano in the Philippines -- all while inside a moving vehicle.
Despite the reflection from the van's glass window, I still like the contrast these rusting heavy equipment provide.
Okay, I got a clear shot. Mayon is rather notorious for hiding its peak behind clouds for the most part of the day. The best time to see her in all her full glory is early morning, somewhere between 5 to 7am.
Pass around the cookies, please?
The resort sits on a a fairly huge property. After entering the gate, it was like driving around a subdivision before we actually got to the main resort area. There were young folks clad in native costumes to welcome us while dancing to the tune of Ibalong (a Bicolano epic) blasting from the speakers. And instead of the usual lei, a staff member hung around our necks some fish-shaped origami made out of coconut leaves, and handed each of us a wet towel for freshening up.
The dancers that welcomed us didn't seem too enthusiastic to see us.
There were no welcome drinks, take note. Or I must have missed the memo that the bottled water given to us in the van were the welcome drinks already.
With a resort supposedly as grand as Misibis Bay, I was surprised to see that their lobby was really small. It was a stand-alone structure with huge glass panels that offer a nice view of the resort, but it was so small and crowded, packed with people both checking in and out. I even overheard an old lady complain about something that was taking too long, which instantly raised my alert level.
The lobby may have a high ceiling but it was still small. I mean, just look.
Thankfully checking in wasn't that bad, although front desk personnel all seemed hurried and frazzled. Indeed it didn't take me too long but the supposed warm welcome was somehow sacrificed. I was given a suggested itinerary but it was never explained to me, or at least where such areas as Beach Club, Marina, or Sitio were.
We arrived at around eleven, so we had to kill time first because our villa wouldn't be ready until two. It was understandable because apart from 2pm being the standard check-in time, it was a Sunday, when most of their guests, who probably filled the resort to capacity for the weekend, were leaving. As such, any early check-in request just wasn't possible to grant.
What was rather disappointing with the resort staff, however, was that it was I who kept on following our room up when it was 2pm instead of them informing me that it was ready. One front desk staff even got my number but alas, she never called! We finally got into our villa at past two already.
The resort grounds
Here's the good part: the resort is beautiful. There's plenty of wide, open spaces carpeted with well-manicured grass (in some areas dotted by irregularly-shaped concrete slabs), lots of shade from coconut and other old trees, a network of winding concrete pathways that run around the resort, some picnic tables and hammocks in the shade, and more.
Me, with a section of the main infinity pool in view.
A section of the lagoon pool at night.
Restaurants and bars
Standing adjacent to each other under literally one roof, with each one supposedly offering a different type of gastronomical fare, the resort's two restaurants, Spice Market and Dela Playa, felt just like one, each housing different stations of the same buffet (more details here).
The Spice Market interiors.
The restaurant also suffers from confusion with the type of music they should play. Up-tempo pop, seriously? That hardly creates any proper luxury dining ambience at all.
As for bars, I can't say much because I can't drink anymore. While the one in their indoor activity center looked decent enough, the swim-up bar in the infinity pool was nothing fancy (I liked the one in Sheridan Beach Resort in Palawan a lot better). The beachside bar, on the other hand, felt like an illegitimate child. It was poorly stocked and I pity the waiters who have to walk all the way up to the restaurant's main kitchen and back each time someone orders food.
The beachside bar, with everything in apparent disarray. The bartender and the waiters/waitresses were quite nice, though.
I've also read somewhere that the resort sets up dinners by the beach and at the Marina (where boats dock). Unfortunately it was the monsoon season, so I guess that only happens in the summer at least. Nonetheless, they can set up a special lunch or dinner by the beach upon request (for a fee, I assume).
Definitely one of the letdowns of this place, the food here was underwhelming. Not that it was totally bad, but for a place that prides itself as a luxury resort, I was rather disappointed. Besides, the food prices were quite steep.
There was nothing five-star about the buffet, which they weren't enthusiastic enough about refilling so to speak. So better come early or else everything will look unappetizingly sorry. Even yet, I hadn't had anything noteworthy at all in our three days there. Even their "Bicol Corner" didn't do justice to Bicol's famous cuisine in my opinion, nor did the desserts enthrall. I was just happy there were fruits, especially mangoes, which were really sweet and delicious.
Tilmok, a Bicolano dish of crab, shrimp and coconut meats wrapped in taro leaves and topped with spicy coconut cream.
As for ala carte orders, it was a hit and miss. In one occasion, for instance, the pork sinigang was tough and lacked flavor but the tilmok was fine. We also enjoyed their roast beef pizza with its cheese-stuffed crust.
The roast beef pizza was a hit.
We loved our villa. It was huge and spacious, bright and airy, and just plain great (see more here). The daybed was also nice, which fit into a protruding glass-paneled section of the room, and so was the veranda and its two sun beds. The room was well-lit and the air conditioning functioned perfectly. It was also cute that they had a complimentary native handbag for the ladies.
It was hard to get out of our villa with this.
The room likewise boasted of a full entertainment system complete with surround-sound speakers. There was also an iPod dock bedside. And although the mini bar wasn't stocked much, I loved that we had a coffeemaker inside. There's an electronic safe and an ironing set, too, just in case.
I just loved our room.
The bathroom was also huge, with a deep bathtub, separate shower and toilet areas, two sinks, a digital weighing scale, and Salvatorre Ferragamo toiletries.
I wish our bathrooms at home were as big as this.
Love the effect of that frosted glass window by the tub!
Although I haven't been to any of the other rooms and suites, I think it's still safe to say that the rooms here are all nice. At least in this aspect, the resort's high price tag is justified. And oh, nightly turn-down service comes with complimentary native snacks!
Coming into Misibis, I really didn't expect anything from the beach. True enough, it was littered with pebbles and dead coral, even rocky in some areas. The cream-colored sand, however, was quite porous, which negated any pain the pebbles might cause. In other words, it's not really painful to walk barefoot here.
It can't be denied from this photo that this is no Boracay.
I guess the waves here can get really nasty that the resort had to put up breakwaters to prevent the beach from eroding. There's another stretch of beach by the Marina that I didn't get to experience, though. I just thought it was a good place to sunbathe because there were hardly any people there.
The breakwater by the main beach, which protects the resort's boats from huge waves. In the foreground is a section of the helipad, cracked.
Facilities and recreation
Guests here are given enough options as far as swimming pools go, of which there are three (see more here). There's also no shortage of things to do here with enough water sports equipment available for use. The assigned staff were also very pleasant and assisting, even with guests who only use the non-motorized ones, use of which is free, by the way.
The infinity pool.
There are also a number of things to do on land, and the assigned staff are just as accommodating that paying a visit to the Ecopark (for zip lining, photo ops, etc.) shouldn't be missed. The indoor activity center also offers a variety of recreation options from board games to billiards and even videoke. Fitness buffs can take advantage of the gym while the kids can have a fun time in the playroom.
Sitio, the resort's indoor activity center, as viewed from the kiddie pool.
Special tours can also be arranged here, among them a sunset cruise, ATV and buggy rides, trips to the Mt. Mayon lava wall, and even a chopper tour. The staff are even nice enough to call your room to remind you of your scheduled activity. For a more detailed feature of the resort's facilities and recreation options, go check out my post here.
By the way, there's also a spa but we haven't tried it. My Bibe, however, booked a foot spa and pedicure for room service and didn't have any complaints.
Someone called our room beforehand to remind us of our check-out time so we won't miss our flight, including what we had to do if we wanted our bags picked up. We didn't bother, though, and walked out of our villa with our bags already. Props for service because when a staff member spotted us, he immediately offered help and brought our bags for us! It was a really nice gesture worth mentioning.
Checking out went much faster than check-in, which was good. No discrepancies with charges whatsoever, so again, good!
In my opinion, the sheer size of this resort, the villas and suites, the wealth of recreation options available, and the cost of keeping everything together justifies Misibis Bay's rather high price tag. Heck, even keeping the beach together entails costs (read: breakwaters)!
Despite the minor snafu at check-in, service was still great overall, and the longer I stayed there the more I appreciated it. However, they should really do something about their food and their restaurant. Seriously. Fire your chef, I don't care. Good food is a must. And please, get your ambience right, will you?
Bottom line, Misibis Bay is still a recommended experience. I don't think it's overrated at all but I'm not giving them hallelujahs and high praises either because they still need improvement in some aspects, most importantly their food. But I hope this gets fixed because I still want to go back. Soon, hopefully.
My Bibe and I enjoying our little sunset cruise.
Philippine Airlines/Airphil Express, Cebu Pacific, and Zest Air all operate daily flights from either Manila or Cebu to Legazpi. Airport transfers to the resort should already come with your booking, so no worries.
For more photos and more detailed accounts of different aspects of Misibis Bay, you can check out the following related posts:
Misibis Bay in photos: The resort grounds, its beaches and pools
Misibis Bay in photos: Our villa and other accommodation options
Misibis Bay in photos: Dining
Misibis Bay in photos: Facilities and recreation
An awesome and relaxing Misibis Bay sunset cruise