The Puerto del Sol hotel, located in Bolinao, was the last stop on our tour of the Philippine island, North Luzon. Our Bahay Kubo room was said to be the best in the hotel with sea views so we had high hopes as we were staying three nights with all meals included. How wrong can you be?
A Bahay Kubo is a traditional Philippine stilt house made from natural materials. Our room was octagonal with a thatched roof and balcony with sea views. There was a comfortable double bed and the room looked cosy, but the air conditioning was old, rickety and threw an icy blast over one side of the bed. There were some anomalies: a fridge with soft drinks and beer but no glasses; the accoutrements for tea making but no kettle; and conflicting signs saying water was complementary and chargeable. There was no safe or hairdryer.
The biggest issue was the tiny downstairs bathroom reached by going outside and down 10 wooden, open, uneven steps: not great for night-time sorties. There was no extractor fan in the bathroom and as the weather was humid, it was impossibly hot and steamy after a shower.
Although we managed for one night, we played the ‘old and incontinent in the night, dangerous steps’ card and asked to be moved. We therefore gave up our sea view for a Mansion Villa room, although the name was somewhat a misnomer in that it needed renovation. Although the shower over the bath was best described as adequate, at least it was en-suite.
There were two pools, including a glorious infinity pool. Often there was no one else around as the Filipinos are not big sun-bathers, which was just, as well as there were only 8 loungers. Unfortunately, it was noisy as there was building work nearby. Although there was a bar at the pool, it was never open during our stay. The games room was guarded by a large statue of Madonna (the spiritual not musical version) and there were lovely gardens complete with terrapin pool and flowering multi-coloured bouganvilla arches.
The large jacuzzi, was switched on twice a day, and spa treatments were available in a curtained off island in the middle of the irregular shaped pool. Wifi was complimentary, but disappeared shortly after our arrival and remained elusive.
The restaurant was open air and overlooked the beach. Dining arrangements varied depending on the number of guests. Our first buffet dinner was disappointing through lack of choice and quality of the meat, whilst we fared slightly better when it was a la carte. However, we had to choose prior to dinner and so the speed of service meant we’d been served and eaten a three-course meal within 40 minutes. Most of the starters were something frozen and deep fried and unfortunately potato wedges were still cold in the centre and went back.
Breakfast similarly varied between a la carte (where everything appeared together) with choice of American, Filipino or Continental and a buffet where at least you could pace your meal. Cold scrambled egg had to be returned but coffee and cakes were good.
This was not a sun bathing beach: it had lots of rubbish and was very shallow and stony with huge breakers further out. However, on our last morning, the tide was a long way out and we saw lots of fishermen looking for crabs. It was a lovely vista to finish a less than lovely stay.