Getting to our penultimate destination in the Philippines was a nautical adventure. After transferring by road to the town of Taytay, we took a small boat out to a fast speed boat for the 35-minute journey. As this was the day after a tropical storm had passed over, it was akin to being on a roller coaster with huge waves and thuds: fortunately, I held up well. Our destination was Apulit Island and the “El Nido Resort”:http://www.elnidoresorts.com/apulit-island/ where on arrival, we had to repeat the swap onto a smaller boat.
At the jetty we were welcomed by Heidi the manager and her team. Cold flannels and welcome drinks were pressed on us, a garland was placed around our neck whilst the staff sang and played instruments in greeting and we tried to look interested. This was quickly followed by a briefing about the complimentary activities, meal times etc which went in one and out the other, bearing in mind the crossing we’d just got off. There was also the paperwork to be completed and three pages of writing to be read and signed (their waivers). I felt exhausted!
Our water cottage, number 31 and one of 40, was delightful: a good size and very light and airy with lots of floor to ceiling windows on three sides and superb views. The wooden floor was practical and the whole décor was elegant cream. There was hanging space and shelves, a safe, complimentary wifi, refillable water bottle, empty fridge, TV which we never used, chair and cabinet, TV, but no desk. The bed was two singles pushed together and we both thought it felt slightly thin although the mattress appeared thick. The air con was very silent and the whole room appeared to have been recently refurbished. There was a nice deck over the water where we could watch the fish from a two-seater wicker sofa with impractical cream cushions. There were no robes, but slippers woven locally by villagers. The room had also had woven bedside tables, laundry basket, chair, tissue holder, waste paper bins etc. There was a turn down service with a message written on a leaf and an information sheet that gave details on their approach to nature and wellbeing.
The bathroom was a good size with lots of lighting, a walk-in shower and lots of space for toiletries. Soap and shampoo were supplied in refillable containers and it was one of the few places where towels were not refreshed when we’d hung them up. The down side was no power points in the bathroom and no mirrors in the main room, making it impossible to use the hairdryer in front of a mirror. Having pointed this out, I was given a 30-foot extension lead to use, but as the hair dryer had the plastic wall mounted stand still attached to it, it dangled and clattered when I dried my hair.
Having recovered our sea legs, we explored the beach and found lots of empty sun beds but no towels. It took 15 minutes for some to be found and a helpful couple suggested keeping them once we’d got some as they appeared in short supply. Whilst the private beach was lovely and clean, the sea was rocky, and we had to walk a long way out to get into a swimmable depth. The following day, we found a reasonable route at the end of the shore which was less stony, but we always needed rubber shoes. The water was beautifully clear and warm, and you could see the fish around you, including black tipped reef sharks (which are quite small).
We tried the reasonably sized pool but found it hard to get in and out off: there was a ledge which you could step onto but no steps. Once in, it was a question of getting out. Fortunately, Roy showed me the “bottom trick” – hoist my bottom onto the ledge, get on all fours and then step out – not very elegant or safe.
The bar had happy hour cocktails 5pm to 7pm – 2 for 1 and as we were on a full board package with all meals served buffet style. The food was very good with plenty of choice and it was well laid out and presented well.
Having mentioned the hairdryer and towel issues to Heidi the manager, she arranged for us to have a private beach dinner. The five-course set meal was excellent: smoked salmon, potato soup, chef’s salad, surf and turf with rice, and a chocolate and mango dessert. Unfortunately, when I’d sat down my chair sank deeply into the sand, so my chin was virtually on the table which started a fit of giggling, but not wanting to cause a fuss, I carried on regardless.
From the free activities, which included snorkelling, rock climbing, hiking, rappelling etc. we chose the least demanding, a sundowner cruise. There was 15 of us, but unfortunately a group of 9 took over and put us off other excursions and we did what we’d planned on doing, and simply chilled.
Note – as well as our water cottage, there are a row of around 10 semi-detached loft cottages, but these are a good 10 to 15-minute walk from the main restaurant/bar etc.
There is no doubt that this place looks spectacular and a four star resort, but some of the glitches reduce it to three stars.