Pangulasian Island Resort is everything you would expect of an island paradise – rain or shine.
POSTED BY JENNIE
Our approach to Pangulasian Island Resort in El Nido, Palawan was anything but idyllic. Upon boarding the speed boat that would take us to the island, we were given a life vest, a thick towel and a heavy duty rain coat. The rain was relentless and the choppy waters made the speedboat slam against the waves making us bounce up and down for most part of the 25 minute boat ride.
Despite the dismal weather we were greeted by the smiling staff, also in raincoats who cheerfully sang for us. The vacation we had waited for, for so long to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday, our escape to paradise with no kids wasn’t looking good. But, as we boarded the golf cart that would take us to our villa, I began to take in the surroundings and my mood shifted. The rain gave the resort a certain charm and for us, some much needed solitude.
Our beach front villa had its own deck, a spacious room and a surprisingly spacious bathroom all done in contemporary Philippine architecture. It was perfect. Perfect for cocooning, perfect for a long nap, having been up at 3:30am in order to catch the 6:30am flight out of Manila.
We had 2 more days of off and on rain. Being a weekday, we had the resort practically to ourselves. Lots of walks on the beach, reading, napping, everything a vacation ought to be. Except, we badly wanted to get a nice tan. The weather reports predicted more rain, so that was that.
But, on the 3rd day the sun came out against all weather forecasts! It was a miracle of sorts that surprised even the staff. We put on our swim suits, slathered sun tan lotion and boarded a boat to explore the neighbouring islands. El Nido is really the last frontier. Pristine clear waters, towering limestone cliffs – definitely something to write home about. We took a kayak to the big lagoon, paddling slowly and deliberately allowing nature to surprise and delight us.
Back on Pangulasian, there was chilled champagne waiting for us at our villa. We popped it open and enjoyed the sunset.
On our 4th and last day, the sun was out but we no longer had the resort to ourselves. The weekend crowd had arrived, on the early morning flight like we did. It was again a different side of the resort with more activity and energy. The property is big enough though that there’s still plenty of privacy.
So what makes Pangulasian so special? Well to begin with, it is an eco-luxe resort. Nature meets luxury on this island where monitor lizards roam freely as do different species of monkeys. The service is professional yet warm. Each member of the staff knows his or her job and does it well. Tipping is not encouraged which is always good. The rooms are cleaned twice a day and there is a turn down service at night. Bathroom products are all bio degradable. Complimentary fruits, containers of cashew nuts, peanut cookies and banana chips are replenished daily.
Which brings me to the food. The breakfast selection is extensive, everything from congee, to cereal, fruits, bread, native cakes, fresh juices to items like tapa and tocino cooked a la minute. The a la carte menu for lunch or dinner may be limited but the quality of the dishes we tried were quite good. Most of the ingredients come from their own farms on the mainland.
It was, after all the 4 day retreat we wanted and so needed. Some days in the rain to hibernate and some in the sun to explore the islands. Our hours in the sand though did give us numerous sand flea bites which were promptly attended to by the resorts doctor on call, Dr. Nina whose soothing bedside manner is what endears Filipinos to foreigners.
On our boat ride back to the main island we were with a couple from Barcelona who flew halfway across the world to spend 4 days in Pangulasian. They never even set foot out of NAIA. So their memories of the Philippines will be of towering limestone cliffs and dazzling corals. That’s not a bad thing at all.
If you do visit Pangulasian, and I hope you do, don’t get bitten by sand fleas like we did, the resort provides insect repellant. We just weren’t paying attention!