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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Php5,000 (about USD96) per room per night
Long Beach, Brgy. San Isidro, San Vicente, Palawan
Tel: +63917 898 6566
Skyjet Airlines flies to San Vicente four times weekly.
Photos: Harvey Tapan