But where to go? This might help.
I've compiled a list of 12 resorts and out-of-town hotels in the Philippines that I've been to and that I thought people (maybe at least some) might want to check out. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're the best of the best but my time at each of these places--even despite some negatives--has still been good overall, good enough that I want to go back. To yes, all 12 of them.
* * * * * * * * *
1. Club Paradise
Dimakya Island, Busuanga, Palawan
Don't you just want to go and take a plunge?
With such a gorgeously pristine combination of sand and sea like that, do you really still need to know about the resort? But anyway, Club Paradise has this beautiful 19-hectare island all unto itself. Although leaning a bit towards the expensive side, the price tag is justified by nice and spacious rooms (especially the beachfront villas), great food, adequate facilities, lots of wide open spaces to commune with nature, and of course, excellent service.
Club Paradise's house reef should likewise keep you busy snorkeling while divers can rejoice in seeing dugong (sea cows) in their natural environment, in a protected area just within the island's vicinity. Tourist-favorite Coron is not too far away either and island-hopping tours can be arranged, plus the resort is a great jumpoff point to Calauit Island to see some giraffes and zebras.
2. Misibis Bay Resort
Cagraray Island, Bacacay, Albay
One of Misibis Bay Resort's many pools.
Misibis Bay is truly one huge luxury playground. With nice, clean rooms and fantastic villas, lots of wide open spaces and perfectly manicured lawns to roam around, a host of different swimming pools, and a wide range of topnotch facilities and activies offered, this resort definitely has something for everyone. Never mind that both beaches and food aren't so great, as these are easily drowned out by everything else that's good about this place.
Check out nearby Cagraray Eco-Energy Park for some ziplining and sightseeing, go hobie cat sailing, or better yet, embark on a relaxing sunset cruise along Misibis Bay and marvel at the magnificent Mayon Volcano from a distance. That last one, I really did enjoy.
3. Dos Palmas Island Resort & Spa
Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Dos Palmas's picture-perfect water cottages 10 years ago.
But if there's anything that makes me want to come back, it's the food and the service. Buffets here are really buffets--overflowing and with an extensive offering of selections--and my, the exceedingly polite and accommodating staff just can't get any better.
4. The Peacock Garden Luxury Boutique Hotel and Spa
Upper Laya, Baclayon, Bohol
Lots of space, eh? But wait, there's still more at this hotel.
Where's the beach, you say? This boutique hotel is anywhere but near one. It is in fact nestled atop the hills of Baclayon and the nearest beach would probably have to be 2 or 3 kilometers away at the very least. But The Peacock Garden offers guests with a relaxing alternative of peace and quiet marked by old-world opulence. The generous amount of space everywhere, the perfectly landscaped surroundings, and the darkwood furniture in the guest rooms and in the common areas are definitely to be admired.
This hotel likewise more than makes up for its lack of access to a beach by way of a fantastic Olympic-size infinity pool overlooking lush greenery down below and the Bohol Sea and Pamilacan Island in a distance. It also has a world-class spa that was the sole Philippine entry to the 2012 edition of Condé Nast Johansens Luxury Spas. And if you like savory and rich-flavored dishes, the hotel's German-cuisine restaurant will not fail you.
5. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
A section of the luxurious living area of Casa Candaba, one of the pricier casas here.
A different kind of resort where the accommodation options themselves are arguably its main attraction, Las Casas Filipinas is a feast for the eyes, especially of those who are into colonial-era architecture. Seeing all these 18th to early-20th century Philippine houses painstakingly uprooted from their original locations, transported, and then meticulously re-assembled in one sprawling location is simply a sight to behold.
You have at least 2 main dining options here although I was disappointed with the food at their Filipino restaurant. There's really not much to do here but relax, go sightseeing, and of course, take pictures, with which I personally don't have a problem. Well, they do have a pool and a beach for interested guests and I must add that sunsets here are spectacular. And oh, they have a cultural presentation on Saturday nights at the plaza, too.
6. Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa
Sabang, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Yes, this is a beach resort. I just wanted you to see the other side, that's all.
Never mind that my experience at this resort was marred by a couple of inefficiencies and letdowns from some (just some) of its staff because the sheer beauty of this place still has won me over. With lush mountains on one side, a beautifully designed swimming pool complex lined by guest rooms at the center, and the gorgeous Sabang Beach on the other end, Sheridan Beach Resort is a pretty, picture-perfect resort. Besides, they've formally apologized to me in a letter and I'm counting on their word that they've already ironed out the kinks in their operations.
Whether you intend to stay here as a jumpoff point to the Underground River, or simply to enjoy either the beach or the resort's pool, Sheridan proves to be a nice place. Facilities and activities for recreation here can be quite limited, though, but if you're like me who's just content with the views, then you're in the right place.
7. Bermuda Beach Resort
Sugar Beach, Sipalay, Negros Occidental
The resort's restaurant. Guests take off their footwear before stepping on the floor here.
If you fancy the idea of escaping to a land far, far away just to unplug and relax, then Bermuda Beach Resort in Sugar Beach in the far, far away land of Sipalay just might be your thing. It's a 4 to 5-hour trip from either Bacolod or Dumaguete where the nearest airports are. It's a place frequented mostly by Caucasian tourists, though they don't number a lot either.
With just 10 rooms, accommodation options here are mostly the native nipa hut type although a couple of air-conditioned rooms are available as well. This isn't one of your fancy resorts and even beddings are very basic, tacky and mismatched even. But that's where it's charm lies. Other than a restaurant, a bar, a pool table, and a couple of beachside cottages, there are not much facilities here. Well, there's really nothing to do here in the first place but relax. But if you somehow still need to stay connected, there's WiFi available at the bar but for a fee.
8. Pandan Island Resort
Pandan Island, Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental
Rustic island charm.
Now if you want to push that quiet escape of yours even further with a back-to-basics kind of thing, try Pandan Island where there's no electricity, no showers (even fresh water is salty), but where there's ice-cold beer and wine. Rooms and native bungalows are all pretty basic. Food is likewise basic but good. Quite surprisingly, this resort is largely patronized by foreigners from developed countries, mostly in Europe.
The real beauty of Pandan Island, however, lies in its rustic, rather unkempt appeal. Snorkeling even just a few feet from the shoreline will already delight you to no end with the variety of fish and coral around, and with something that will keep you coming back for more--hawksbill sea turtles. The resort is also a great jumpoff for a day trip or diving excursion to the awesome Apo Reef.
9. Kapuluan Vista Resort
Maira-ira, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
The vista at Kapuluan Vista.
If you still haven't heard of Maira-ira, then better skip Pagudpud and head there instead. Kapuluan Vista was one of the first resorts to open there. It's far away enough from all the activity at the main cove (which still isn't much really) yet near enough if you want to join in all the fun anyway. Again, this is more of a quiet type of place where you can just chill.
The resort has basic amenities but with a more polished look. It has landscaped grounds, a small pool, and a restaurant. The food here is fairly good and the servings are huge. And they have pitbulls!
10. The Henry
Paseo Saturnino, Banilad, Cebu City
One of the XX-Large rooms at The Henry.
Summer may be synonymous with beach but if your idea of a vacation is a tour of some city like Cebu and squeeze in some shopping perhaps, then The Henry is the right hotel for you. Sporting an industrial, post-modern design aesthetic where no two rooms are the same, it truly is like no other. Space is never an issue here and even the smallest of their rooms is already quite big. It's one of those hotels where you just can't stop taking photos. There's almost always something of interest in every nook and cranny.
Food may not be the best but decent nonetheless. Anyway, you have a lot of other options as the building sits on a commercial strip frequented by the "wheeled type." Proximity-wise, though, it's quite far from downtown Cebu but it's near the Gaisano Country Mall and Ayala Center Cebu.
11. Acuaverde Beach Resort
Laiya, San Juan, Batangas
The trees light up at night here at Acuaverde.
Laiya to me is probably the best beach there is that's within reasonable driving distance from Metro Manila. I've included Acuaverde in this list because it has something that other resorts in the area probably don't have--an abundance of shade courtesy of some really old trees. This element adds to the charm and relaxing atmosphere of the resort.
It may not have a pool but its pricier sister resort Acuatico next door does. Rooms here are just about right, save for the cramped bathroom perhaps. Food may be limited in variety but overall decent. If you're craving for some activity, maybe some table tennis or a game of darts can keep you busy. Or go kayaking or jet-skiing.
12. Pico de Loro
Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas
A slice of the vast lagoon area at Pico de Loro Cove.
Okay, technically this isn't a resort but there's a hotel right within this vast expanse of a beachside residential community, which is why I've included it here. Never mind that I found the hotel bland and lacking in professionalism but the whole place is just beautiful--mountains on one side, the beach on the opposite end, and then a huge lagoon right smack in the center of it all. There's a long list of facilities from swimming pools, restaurants, bars, a picturesque chapel, function rooms and ballrooms, to a gym, spa, bowling alley, and courts for all sorts of sports like basketball, badminton, squash, etc. The downside, though, is that almost everything comes at a price.
Contrary to popular notion, Pico de Loro is not a place exclusive to members only. Because there's a hotel, everyone can now experience the place, though at a slightly higher price than what members and members's referrals normally enjoy.
* * * * * * * * *
So there, hope you all have a great summer ahead!