For the past couple of years, we’ve had a checklist of our dream destinations, many of which are in the Philippines, many of which are in Palawan. We’ve happily ticked them off one by pleasurable one, starting off with Dos Palmas and Club Paradise in 2006, Club Noah Isabelle in 2007, and then now, El Nido Miniloc in 2008. There are 2 El Nido resorts, the original one in Miniloc Island, and the newer one in Lagen Island. We stayed in the older Miniloc resort and when we were on the boat, we were holding our breaths because El Nido has gained mythic status in our amateur travel plans. When we turned into the cove, we were not disappointed.
The view on the left:
The view on the right:
When we arrived, it was very typical of the high-end Palawan resorts: there was a welcome song routine from the staff, a very impressive briefing on eco-tourism, then straight to a sumptuous lunch. I was just impressed at how the El Nido staff were extra, EXTRA vigilant on stressing the impotrance of respecting the ecosystem as tourists enjoy our fragile nature spots. They even had a wildlife checklist and supplied buri bags for carrying our stuff around. The only minor nitpick is that there’s a major construction ongoing, as they are building a better boathouse for the resort.
After the lunch we were excited to get to our room. The nicer rooms on stilts in the oceans were fully booked, and so were the beachfront cottages, and so were the cliffside cottages, so we had to settle for the smaller garden cottages. This is how our room looked like from the outside:
And this is how it looked form the inside:
It was quite small, but definitely comfy. It had a very rustic feel, as opposed to the more luxurious rooms in the newer Lagen resort. The main difference between the 2 resorts, is that Miniloc has a little seaside village feel, while the swankier Lagen has a more expensive resort vibe. It just depends on what type you’re in the mood for.
Plus, Lagen is a little bit pricier than Miniloc. If money’s no object, then it’s a negligible difference. But for penny-pinching budget travelers like us, it’s a sum that has to go under a lot of consideration. Miniloc has a more laidback feel, and you have a feeling that you’re sooo far away from the nearest civilized society.
Plus, the service is top notch. You’ll be pampered from as early on as the lounge in the Soriano Hangar back in Manila, to every minute you’re there. They also plan your activities for you, and you’re free to change it to adapt to your specific tastes.
So you can opt for a jampacked, activity-filled adrenaline rush, or you can always opt to just lounge around the beach, kayak or snorkel around the cove, and chill. Your pick.
On out 3rd day, we were also brought to Lagen Island, where the other resort is, and it was a very smart move on the resort’s part, because it’s an effective way to lure you back by showing you what the other resort has to offer. Lagen is about 20 minutes away by boat from Miniloc. Very early on, as we turned into the cove, I could see the difference in feel, because evidently Lagen is a more luxurious resort from the look of the cottages alone.
We had breakfast there, and we were to stay about 3 hours on the island before we return to Miniloc. The view was breathtaking. If Miniloc was rustic, Lagen felt like a high class hotel in Manila. I couldn’t believe that we were still in Palawan.
Hehehe, to a degree, the place looked so classy, that we felt like the country mouse who visited his richer cousin, the city mouse. We felt a bit out of place, and a bit out-”classed”, much like country bumpkins in a country club. If Miniloc was built with nipa and sawali and cogon, Lagen seemed very much a concrete paradise. And the pool!
This is definitely the ace up Lagen’s sleeve. The pool was in the center of everything, and while in it, you’re surrounded by the towering limestone cliffs on one side, and the ocean in the other. Absolutely stunning. Up until now it’s still unforgettably etched in my mind’s eye.
Just when we thought El Nido was done in our list, suddenly we felt the need to return, next time in the snootier arms of Lagen Island.
(Next up: I’ll tell you WHAT we did in El Nido)