Apulit Island Resort
Character. Apulit Island Resort has all the ingredients for a perfect romantic holiday. Who could resist the Eden-like views from the resort’s cottages, built on stilts above the sea with unhindered views of Taytay Bay, its surrounding islands and remarkable limestone cliffs?
Setting. Apulit is on a private island with wildlife, tropical fishes, and typically tropical landscapes. It has a wide beach, restaurants, and various land and water activities. Guests need not go far from the resort to go diving, snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, or exploring caves and nearby islands.
Location. Apulit Island Resort is about an hour-and-a-half by land and boat transfer from the Cesar Lim Rodriguez Airport in Palawan. It is also accessible by land from El Nido with a two-hour drive to Taytay town and then an hour or so by boat.
Rooms. The resort has 30 water cottages and 20 deluxe water cottages, each on stilts with traditional Filipino architecture.
Food. With Apulit surrounded by sea, seafood is abundant and at its freshest here. The resort can also arrange private lunch picnics in one of the nearby islands, or a romantic sunset dinner on Apulit’s beach.
Couples will love. Take your pick from romantic private dining, a picnic lunch on the private beach, or climbing the 109 steps to the Rock Bar for a majestic view of the cove. For a stunning view of Taytay Bay and the resort, head for the pier and eat at Serena Bar. Therapists from the local villages offer massage and there’s the usual range of water sports including scuba diving and kayaking.
Rates. Start at P15,500 per person per night for a water cottage; P18,000 for a deluxe water cottage.
Essentials. +632/ 894 5644 ; email email@example.com
— Report by Margie Francisco
Popototan Island, Busuanga, Palawan
Character. A few hours from Coron town in northern Palawan is this glorious private beach house on Popototan Island. Make it your own romantic bolthole for a few days of undisturbed bliss.
Setting. Popototan Island is peaceful and pristine, with a shoreline fringed by lush vegetation and small jetties where you can see lionfish and the occasional barracuda. It is located high up on Coral Bay, giving it a majestic view of some of the surrounding islands, all seen along the house’s wrap-around terrace. One of Kalipayan’s beautiful features is the stained glass panels that cast colorful images throughout the house and give it a magical feel.
Location. Kalipayan is in Coral Bay on the island of Popototan, which is one of the islands in the Calamian Group of Islands in northern Palawan. From Manila to Busuanga, it’s a one-hour plane hop followed by a 20-minute van transfer to Coron town, where a banca can be taken to Popototan Island. To the west of Popototan is open ocean; next landfall is Vietnam.
Rooms. Kalipayan has six large bedrooms with four rooms in the main section of the house and two open mezzanine rooms – all in all enough space for up to 20 guests, making it the perfect place for a low-key tropical retreat with your friends or a quiet time with your partner.
Food. Meals are prepared by a cook – who is personally assigned to you – who can order food for the stay and produce personalized three course meals. Don’t miss the seafood: it’s all as fresh as fresh can be. The lobster is particularly good, grilled with just butter and lemon.
Couples will love. Be as active or as lazy as you like. For the adventurous, there’s kayaking around the neighboring islands or trekking around Popototan itself to visit beaches, the local village, and the tower that marks the highest point on the island. If you don’t fancy too much exertion, try a massage followed by drinks and a good book on the vast seaview terrace.
Rates. Start at P15,500 per person for two nights’ full board stay inclusive of round trip boat transfers.
Essentials. +63921/ 672 1865; email firstname.lastname@example.org
— Report by Margie Francisco
Pamalican Island, Palawan
Character. Top-class resort on a remote, private island fringed by fine white sand and palm trees. The ultimate in luxurious but solitudinous tropical getaways and a favorite of celebrities.
Setting. Amanpulo is a glorious slither of an island almost in the middle of nowhere. It’s surrounded by some of the most gin-clear seas you’ll ever see.
Location. The island, one of the Cuyo Islands southwest of Manila, has a private airstrip and can only be reached by scheduled charter flights (about an hour) on a 19-seater plane from Manila.
Rooms. Amanpulo has 40 casitas designed to resemble traditional Philippine wooden houses (bahay kubo). You can choose a hillside casita with sea views, a treetop casita on a hill, or a beach casita with private paths that lead down to the shore. The resort’s two deluxe hillside casitas have spectacular views of the Sulu Sea and neighboring islands with both sunrise and sunset views. They even include a private chef and a butler.
Food. Couples have the option of going to the Beach Club restaurant, which faces the sandy white shores of the island and try its tapas, paella, or fideua (Spanish pasta with white-fleshed fish and crustaceans); or try the Lagoon Club’s Vietnamese dishes.
Couples will love. A five-night Romance at Amanpulo package includes accommodation in a beach casita, welcome champagne, welcome fruit, three meals a day and a serenaded sunset cruise with cocktails and canapés. Also included are a private beach barbecue and a massage for two. The highlight of any romantic trip to Amanpulo is the offer of a special, non-binding “blessing” ceremony of the couple by a celebrant on the beach at sunset.
Rates. Start at P46,970 per room per night.
Essentials. +632/ 976 5200; email email@example.com.
— Report by Margie Francisco
Punta Rosa Boutique Hotel Boracay
Boracay Island, Aklan
Character. The resort, in two pink buildings (hence the name), was designed by Irma Hernandez, a Puerto Rican old-timer in Boracay. All 12 rooms were decorated with the use of natural materials such as cogon, bamboo, molave wood, sawali and other tropical touches such as beads or sea shells made into curtains. The buildings are surrounded by trees and right on the beach.
Setting. The popular tropical island of Boracay, where there’s something for everyone, from shops and bars to great restaurants, nightclubs and water sports.
Location. At the northern end of the island on a quiet section of the beautiful White Beach that made Boracay famous. Five minutes’ walk to the south will take you to the strip of restaurants, bars and shops.
Rooms. Every room is decorated differently, and each has its own veranda with a view of the beach. The best rooms have a living area separate from the bedrooms and huge bathrooms. The “Super, Super Suite Room” has a spacious terrace facing the beach and a bedroom in the loft.
Food. There are two restaurants. Menus include local and international dishes including adobo and grilled seafood. Two of the favorites here are spicy tuna with mozzarella sticks.
Couples will love. The resort’s location is one of the best on the island, far enough from the crowd at White Beach but still just a few minutes’ walk to the island’s center with its restaurants, shops, and nightlife. Best to book any suite room, which affords a great view of the beach.
Rates. Start at P3,800 per night.
Essentials. +6336/ 288 6740, +63921/ 203 1609; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Report by Catherine Calderon
Abaca Boutique Resort
Mactan Island, Cebu
Character. Charming neo-traditional boutique resort in a lush garden with infinity pool and health club. Upon arrival, you get a welcome drink and freshly-made barquillos or wafer rolls. A butler is assigned to each guest and is available 24 hours a day.
Setting. A quiet retreat where you can laze around by the pool, watch DVDs in your room or flex your muscles in the gym. Sit poolside and watch the wonderful sunsets with a drink in your hand.
Location. Overlooking the sea on Mactan Island, about 30 minutes from Mactan Airport by taxi. There’s plenty at Abaca to keep you occupied, but Cebu City is only a short taxi ride away for sightseeing and shopping.
Rooms. Suites are enormous and villas even more enormous. Rooms have iPod docks, flatscreen TVs and, in some cases, a private plunge pool. There are just six deluxe suites and three villas in this exclusive resort so don’t be surprised if you feel as if you and your better half are the only ones there.
Food. The complimentary breakfast can be served in your suite. Start the day with cinnamon brioche, French toast, omelet and a cup or two of good local coffee. The resort’s main restaurant Abaca has an open kitchen where you can see the cooks prepare your meal as soon as you order. Australian chef Wade Watson offers some irresistible California-Mediterranean dishes made with ingredients from the resort’s own garden. There’s organic salad with hummus and crostini, roasted prawn pasta, fresh seafood bouillabaisse and rib eye; but if you want a more intimate meal à deux, order the tapas and share.
Couples will love. King-size beds and iPod docks in the rooms. Try the romantic two-hour Chill-out Cruise or a scuba dive at night. The Abaca Spa offers a special couple’s massage.
Rates. Start at P10,200++ per room per night.
Essentials. +6332/ 459 3461, 236 0311; email email@example.com.
— Report by Mari-an Santos
Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge
Basco, Batanes Island
Character. Fundacion Pacita used to be the home studio of the late Ivatan artist Pacita Abad, hence the name. Pacita’s brother, Budget and Management secretary Butch Abad, continued Pacita’s love affair with the arts and Ivatan culture, renovating the studio to incorporate stone architecture as inspired by Batanes’ stone houses with decorative pieces collected from Pacita’s many travels to Europe and Africa.
Setting. A peaceful place, away from it all, with fine accommodation, furnishings and fixtures, a 360 degree view of mountains and seas including the Pacific and the South China Seas.
Location. Hovering above Basco Town, right on top of a hill in Brgy. Tukon, about 10-15-minute ride from Batanes airport.
Rooms. Tastefully decorated, mixing modern and traditional pieces. Lots of private memorabilia around including sculptures, paintings, books. All rooms, including its detached cottage, have a verandah. Amenities include aircon, hot and cold running water, a mini bar, queen size bed and WiFi access.
Food. Local vegetables, fish and meat dishes are staples and the chef can always accommodate requests for favorite dishes, provided the ingredients are available. A lot of the island’s dry goods are still flown in from Manila. Must try are the tatus or coconut crab cooked in butter and lemon, local flying fish and Ivatan adobo or soy and vinegar stew.
Couples will love. Being in a far far away land with no chance of bumping into anyone you know at all, where the land is enthralling, the seas captivating, and the unique places to propose, endless. Go on heritage tours and see old churches, lighthouse-hop, or take a map of Batanes and find your way around while onboard a bicycle.
Rates. Start at P6,300 per night for a terrace suite. Other suites fetch a bit higher.
Essentials. +63927/ 290 2404; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Report by Monica De Leon
Originally published in InFlight Traveller February to March 2011. Updated July 2015
(Cover photo: Jeffrey Sonora)