Glamp in style at Nacpan Beach Glamping, El Nido

Glamp in style at Nacpan Beach Glamping, El Nido

Top tier camping facility Nacpan Beach Glamping opened its doors in one of El Nido’s quieter areas, Nacpan, about an hour’s ride from the main town—a thumbs up to those wanting to camp but with creature comforts at bay.

Isn’t it grand?

In a one-hectare land now sits nine luxe tents surrounded by palm trees and shrubbery, mere steps away from what The Telegraph has described as one of the “29 dreamiest beaches on Earth.” Nine more tents are set to open in October.

Here’s how it looks from the outside.

The tents made from canvas with heavy-duty cotton built to withstand the El Nido weather, come with a zipped mesh and PVC windows, and view of either the beach or the mountains. The interiors are set in earthen tones furnished with queen bed set on top of a native-style sisal rug, has thoughtful touches like a Japanese pendant light, and airconditioning, which you don’t really need if you’re breathing pristine sea breeze.

This is how it looks inside.

Food at Nacpan Beach Glamping is part of the stay you pay for and you get it from the Nacpan Sunmai Restaurant located right beside the campsite. It features an international menu with local favorites like sisig and grilled tanigue mixed with Japanese katsu, Italian pizza, and smoothie bowls. Other exciting stay inclusions guests get to experience are a one-hour sunset sail, and origami classes using coconut leaves.

Visit between December and May and you may get the chance to see turtle hatchlings being released.

The basics
Php7,500 per night for two; however, a tent can fit up to four
Nacpanbeachglamping.com
Tel: +63956 234 0162

Get there. SkyJet Airlines (skyjetairlines.com) has regular flights from San Vicente, Palawan where a van can take you to El Nido. Get off at Discover El Nido office on Amboy Street in El Nido town and hop on the Nacpan Shuttle Service.

Club Agutaya

Club Agutaya

That resort with a green heart located on the longest beach in the country.

San Vicente, about an hour’s flight from Manila onboard SkyJet Airlines, is that new destination we are all excited about and the reason is simple: it’s where you can experience Palawan in its glorious pristine state, devoid of crowds, commercial structures, noise pollution and all the nuisances you’d want out of your holiday.

You’ve got a portion of Long Beach to yourself at Club Agutaya.

But there’s an even better way to enjoy the sleepy Palawan town best—it’s through a stay at Club Agutaya, a sprawling resort themed local, with heavenly beds, a grand hallway that immediately defines that the place is everything and anything but cheap, and its most alluring feature—a seat on Long Beach’s throne. Long Beach is San Vicente’s over 14km-long shoreline spanning three barangays, and possibly more—the longest in the country.

Club Agutaya is the only one of its kind in town. It’s the only top-end property with five-star comforts, and does exceptionally well in keeping up with their green and sustainable thrust. 

Your welcoming committee.

Check-in in here is a walk in the park. With it, you are given lemongrass drink, homemade insect repellant, and WiFi access that puts to shame your data connectivity. 

The grand lobby

In and around are things eco and local—plants, local weavings, watermelon-infused water so you can hydrate without hurting the environment. The hall-like reception made use of tree trunks in lieu of cement clad posts. Love the sense of airiness too, with the outside melding with the inside. 

Solihiya Bar is where you go for a night cap

The main structure where the hotel rooms are connects to Solihiya Bar, which has a drink menu centered around a tropical vibe. There are your usual standard liquors and beer, but you come here for the concoctions whipped by the vice president for operations Dixie Marinas made using local ingredients. Best in the bunch is the Palawan Mule, Solihiyas’ take on the classic Moscow mule using ginger syrup, calamansi, lemongrass, vodka and soda. It’s light, sweet, very aromatic. The San Vicente Gin Tonic, a fruity twist to the classic gin and tonic, is another favorite. 

The beach is perfect for moments like this.

Further out on to a pathway is a gazebo, then the pool, and then breathtaking Long Beach—a sandy shoreline with islets in the distance, no crowds except for the hotel guests, and no neighboring resorts to share it with. Its length’s so immense it looks like it won’t end. There are huts and beach beds but my most memorable time here was when I lounged at the hammock under the Talisay tree, watching a golden sunset. 

Cafe Lilly’s patio. Arguably the best spot to eat at—other than the beach.

Cafe Lilly deserves a toast. It’s Club Agutaya’s beautiful native-designed restaurant with wooden furniture, glass top tables, folding chairs, and paintings of flowers hung on the wall, run by Ms. Chona, the resort’s owner and resident chef. I can’t help but feel the strong feminine touch reflected in the restaurant. 

Dig into this sumptuous seafood boodle fight.

Equally beautiful is the menu, a mix of local and international favorites. The dishes are whipped using local produce and ingredients grown at the resort’s own garden.

Fresh catch of the day.

We rave about the San Vicente Chicken, chicken barbecue made from local herbs and spices; and the beef wagyu curry—melt-in-your-mouth beef in a mildly spicy savory sauce. But you’re in seafood country so it’s rightful you get the Fresh catch of the day, a choice between lapu lapu (grouper), red snapper, or tanigue, which you can have steamed, pan-grilled, or cooked sinigang style. Mind that their sinigang is among the best you’d ever taste. For something different, a romantic dinner for two by the beach, or a boodle-fight style meal if you’re a group, can be arranged.

Wow factors

There’s also a massive pool with a bar.

The resort’s hard-to-beat eco features and ways, the hammock by Long Beach, the glorious Cafe Lilly, my villa. Another memorable feat is Kubo Spa located close to the beach where you can get a good combination massage and forget about how the world exists for a while.

The nest

The massive King Villa

I stayed in the King villa, which looks out to the garden and into the sea and it’s as romantic as it can be. Lots of local touches, as expected. Its star attraction is its four-poster bed with mosquito netting dramatically draped on it. Lighting is warm; there’s a mini sala, a coffee and tea making facility, and a huge bathroom with everything you need in it. I remember enjoying a shower after a long day out in the sea, and using all-natural toiletries including a piece of loofa and coconut soap in a coconut husk.

The basics
From Php5,000 (about USD96) per room per night
Long Beach, Brgy. San Isidro, San Vicente, Palawan
Tel: +63917 898 6566
Clubagutaya.net

Skyjet Airlines flies to San Vicente four times weekly.

Photos: Harvey Tapan

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Colorful walls, delicious food, and free premium Filipino coffee—all in one convenient Poblacion hotel.

U Hotels on the tailend of Burgos Street in Poblacion is quiet on the outside, but it will take your breath away once you step inside. It’s all of 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists. The lobby alone is a work of art, with “Hello” splayed on the beam in different languages. Greens and browns set the mood.

The Lobby Lounge of U Hotels Makati. Refreshing, minimalist, and with little creative and eco touches. Photo from U Hotels Makati.
If this isn’t a boutique art hotel, we don’t know what is. Photo from U Hotels Makati.

Most people might not consider it a boutique hotel, but its 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists beg to differ. The location is almost central to where you’d want to stay in Poblacion, with everything is not more than a 10-minute walk away.

Sleep

There’s one word to describe my room: simple but given life by murals. It checks the basics—a great bed, a place for your stuff, TV, coffee making facility, an arm chair, and a mini-fridge.

But there’s more to it qualifying as artsy than the murals, say, the wooden headboard with short messages on it.

With the room having the basics covered, it really lets you enjoy the little things. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Eat

They serve comfort food at The Lobby Lounge that’s familiar to Filipinos, like their smash hit beef pares (the beef is good enough for two to three people based on “classic” pares servings) and what they like to call Just Noodles, inspired by a Taiwanese dry noodle dish that you’d find on the streets of Taipei.

They call it Just Noodles, but it’s definitely not just noodles. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Just Noodles is a dry noodle dish that may seem like a hodgepodge of what you’ll find in a kitchen but is surprisingly good: medium thick egg noodles with minced beef, peanuts, and what we’re calling a Filipino-style sunny side-up egg (crispy sides that are on the edge of getting burnt).

That’s a big bowl of beef pares, arguably the most requested thing on the menu. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Drinks at The Lobby Lounge include sodas, lemon-infused water, tea (viand changes every day), and their trademark premium roast Filipino coffee barako, the local Liberica, served free to every hotel guest.

Do

Visit the oldest church in Makati, the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; go on a food or pub crawl;  swing by Circuit Makati and while the time away in the skatepark or football pitch; or trek to the Ayala Triangle Gardens for a quick run. If you feel the itch to draw or paint, take an art class offered daily at the hotel at 4pm.

Show your room card to some of their partner establishments in Poblacion and get a discount.

Verdict: 8/10

The basics
Rooms start at Php6,000 (USD30) per night without breakfast
5091 P Burgos Street, Makati City
Uhotels.ph
Facebook.com/uhotelsmakati
Tel: +632 820 1000 to 02

Words: Andrew Del Rosario

Solo beach trip at Misibis Bay

Solo beach trip at Misibis Bay

Albay doesn’t necessarily scream “beach vacation,” even though it is next to the ocean. Can Misibis Bay change this?

Let’s get one thing straight: the province of Albay isn’t known for the beach. It’s got a gulf named after it, but unless you venture out to its neighbors Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte, it’ll be tough to say “I went to Albay and enjoyed the beach.”

Yes, the conditions weren’t perfect, but it’s still a sight to behold especially from the balcony…
… or from your room.

That is the case, of course, unless you go for an hour-long ride outside the city and go to this resort called Misibis Bay or go to any one of its off-the-beaten beaches. I braved the rain and the possibility of not being able to go home from a lack of available buses to Manila in hopes of experiencing a beach vacation… in a place known for a volcano with a perfect cone.

Sun and sand

Misibis Bay’s secluded location doesn’t really hide the fact that it’s a big resort since they offer a shuttle to whiz you around the property. It has over 100 rooms, with views of either their garden or the Pacific, and 37 villas spread over a five-hectare island that can only be reached by their private shuttle.

I call this “back beach” because it’s not their main beach area

The beach isn’t as sprawling as you’d expect, but it’s definitely up there in my list of “places I’d rather be” as far as beaches are concerned. It’s not (and probably might never be) crowded because of the number of guests they get, which lets me do the things I enjoy doing at the beach: take photos, relax under a beach umbrella, and throw a flip or two.

Comfy rooms, good views

I say good views because it depends on where your room is, but views from their Standard Pacific View rooms aren’t something you can scoff at. These rooms give you a sunset that’s close to what you’d get at a resort in Boracay or Coron—all from its own balcony, no less.

My Misibis Bay room was bigger than our living and dining room at home combined

The room itself is quite spacious. The room I got had enough space for two to four guests, what with two double beds and all. It had two bedside desks and a coffee table in front of the door towards a small balcony, which gave it a sense of having more room than it should.

Two double beds good enough for as many as four people

It felt as big as a one-bedroom condo unit thanks to how the bathroom was done: you had a big bathtub right in front of a mirror that’s longer than my height.

Good food, not enough options

I’m not the biggest fan of Bicolano flavors due to me not having eaten Bicol cuisine as much but I did expect a good spread. Their menu has Bicolano specialties, but with most of them being unavailable and their focus being on the buffet, the a la carte menu was sort of left to the wayside. Truth be told, I was left wanting more.

Also, who can’t say no to views like this? Photo from Misibis Bay

That’s not to say the food wasn’t good; the buffet spread that night was satisfying, but it wasn’t enough to rave about, though that might have been because of the number of guests they had that night (there was a wedding the following day).

I’ve heard good things about Spice Market’s (the name of their resto) Misibis Beef Steak Tagalog, made with Angus beef that’s been marinated in lemoncito. One personally liked that they’ve got their own bar offering homemade cocktails.

Final words

Misibis Bay might just convince you to visit Albay for a beach vacation. The price may be steep but they can guarantee exclusivity. Spacious rooms and IG-worthy views add to its value, but the lack of food options lets the resort down unless you go for private dining.

It definitely made me see Albay as a beach destination, the kind where one prefers quiet ones.

The Basics
From Php12,927 (USD250) per night for two, room onl
Misibisbay.com
+63917 599 1606/+63921 487 3869

Get there
Book for your shuttle to Misibis Bay (Php1,370 per adult) once you book your room. Ride a bus bound for Legazpi, Albay from either Cubao, Pasay, or Alabang in Manila. Head for Hotel St. Ellis from the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal by tricycle (Php40 per ride) where you’ll then be picked up by their shuttle.

Words and photos by Andronico Del Rosario

No More Articles