We got to the resort we eventually stayed in purely by default. Since it was a long weekend, most of the other resorts, at least the resorts we’re familiar with, were either fully booked, or only had non-airconditioned rooms. I’m one for roughing it up during the day, but my one request, is that at night, I need my artificially cooled air. I know, for a nature buff, this isn’t a very admirable trait. But anyway, we ended up getting a cottage at Virgin Beach Resort. Once we got there, we got off on the wrong foot the first minute at the check-in. Apparently, the price they quoted was room only. No problem, right? Well, in my opinion, wrong. Turns out, if you book there, you HAVE to eat there. You can opt to eat elsewhere, but you still have to pay for the three meals. So plus the meals, plus tax and other stuff, the actual bill was double the price they quoted. Just for purposes of clarity, I wish they mentioned the fact that meals are compulsory, so they could have quoted the actual price. We ended up not having enough cash, thank goodness I had my credit card. No big deal, really, I just wish they were more thorough with first-time clients inquiring about their rates. That said, the resort was much nicer than we ever expected. And that reservation glitch aside, the staff is run with knife-edge precision. Everyone has those ear-mouth pieces to communicate with and you have staff ushering your every move. They run a tight ship. I was pretty much impressed.
Laiya is a relatively young beach area as far as resorts are concerned, and in general, the resorts are more on the affordable, accessible side, more than the fancy, luxurious resorts of say, Palawan or Bohol. So I was impressed at how well-kept and how much money they put into this resort.
Our cottage was brand new, tasteful, with nice clean sheets with fluffy pillows, and the bathroom fixtures were on the expensive side. And in front of every cottage, there’s a big jar of water with a coconut ladle to rinse your sandy feet with. So you don’t bring in all those grains with you.
Toiletries were complete, 2 towels each, drinking water available; even a water heater for the instant coffee! No wonder their price is on the steep side (at least it’s expensive for budget travelers like us). At least you can see where your money went.
They have different rooms for different needs. They have ingeniously conceived day trip huts which has a cover in case you want some privacy. You can put your stuff there, dress up, and sleep. Just draw the curtains, and voila. Love it.
They also have non-airconditioned rooms which look really fun (if you’re okay with no aircon). Perfect for bahay-bahayan . The door opens directly into the sand, and you can literally see the beach from your bed. It has a very nice playhouse feel.
They also have areas where you can just lounge around. I’m not sure if anyone can just use them, or if you need to pay. Whatever, it looked really nice.
And the beach? Fantastic.
Laiya is not known for powdery sand, in fact, although it’s white, the grains are pretty big. But Virgin has the biggest beach in the whole stretch, and it’s the only private beach there. If you’re not a client of the resort, you can’t swim in their area. So if you want privacy, it’s the place to go to. The place is also incredibly clean. Hardly will you find cigarette butts or plastic wrappers strewn about. The upkeep seems to be 24 hours. Now we get to what for me at least, is the resort’s biggest flaw: the food. It’s so weird, because the presentation is A+, but taste is blah minus.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not yucky, but for some strange reason, it’s just not good. Each meal has at least 3 courses, and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting for a meal that will satisfy me, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Some were too salty, some were tasteless, some had odd flavors and one soup was overpowered with the pungent flavor of leeks (or spring onions, or basta, something onion-y). The presentation is always top-notch. Each plate looks like a cover for a food magazine. But once you taste it, blah. I hope they really look into it, because when I go to a resort, one of the things I look forward to the most, is the FOOD. And what a waste, because they have an incredible resort, expensive furnishings, clean surroundings, a well-maintained beach, well-trained staff, only to falter big time with the food. Possibly the most disappointing food I’ve tasted in a major resort. Of course I’ve tasted much worse in those small dingy resorts in the not-so-good beaches in the country; but for a major resort, I’d say it was an odd sort of food fail. But then maybe it’s just me. Maybe another foodie will taste their meals and find them swell. It’s all very IMHO, actually. But food aside, everything else passes with flying colors. Will I come back? Definitely! The accommodations and the beach alone will be enough to keep me coming back and even recommend it to family and friends.
(Up next: what we did and some of my pics)