This post first appeared on my column Down South on Interaksyon.com. I included more photos here to give justice to the beauty of this place.
PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES—An egret ambled around my deck, peering through the glass wall of my own sanctuary. It must be looking for food. Someone said these egrets must be the new generation; the older ones reserved a safe distance from humans. The way it angled and craned its neck subsisted its curiosity.
I was inside my spacious and creative room, looking at it on the sun-lit deck. This animal’s presence suggested that the surrounding remained peaceful and navigable. It would come back once or twice a day during my three-day stay in this creative space named Astoria Palawan.
Cocooned by around two hundred dwarf mango trees laid out in a 7-hectare property, the villas complemented the greeneries around. Their asymmetrical roof, their wooden wall, and their glass façade charmed guests like me. Quite easily actually.
The walls on both sides are made from refurbished Ipil woods. Having the feel of adobe walls, they do not break the serenity and calmness of the place. The same piled wooden rectangular blocks served as the wall and headboard inside the rooms. The headboard lights fascinated me to no end; it is incorporated in the wooden wall. To turn them on and off, I must move a wooden block. Whoever is behind such design is awesome!
My room, which could accommodate 4, combines the punkness of industrial wall and floor, the quaintness of minimalist shelves, and the comfort of a happy bed.
After settling down in my room, I looked for the toilet. I even entertained the possibility of a quaint outdoor toilet, without knowing that the beautiful floral wallpaper is the door leading to the very spacious and industrial-inspired bathroom. Yes, I got lost even in my room.
What makes Astoria Palawan the ultimate staycation? Let me count the ways.
Most of the guests I have met traveled with their loved ones. Laughter and giggles, the kind you only shared with your family and close friends, suffused in communal spaces.
To make the guests’ stay extra special, Astoria Palawan recently opened its own waterpark, a good five-minute walk from the villas.
Palawan Waterpark by Astoria, a 4000 square property and the first of its kind on the island, teems with water thrills and liveliness. Feel the adventure of its Surf’s Up Pool, which can produce 6 different types of waves—from moderate to intense. Or if you are up for a river ride, grab a floater and let your body go with the flow in St. Paul River Ride, which can take you around the whole water park. To satisfy the most adventurous in you, Velocity Aqua and Vortex Slides allow you to scream your heart out. For the kids, Batak Mistress, Marine Sanctuary, and Tumbling Buckets Kidzone can be the perfect backdraft for their happiness.
To know more about Palawan Waterpark by Astoria, please visit its page.
An hour away from the city center, Astoria Palawan makes sure they all have the perfect entertainment for their guests. This place, in the midst of Brgy. San Rafael, is practically in the middle of various shades of green and blue, so it must have all the entertainment to keep boredom away. Personally, as a poet, I admire and adore this place for its quietude. That is all I need. But for others who might need different types of fun, Astoria Palawan has its own spacious karaoke room, a separate entertainment room that has books, board games, and widescreen TV. Guests can also bike their way around the whole property. And for some quick saline adventures, guests can also kayak their way around Honda Bay or try the popular stand-up paddle. For relaxing morning or afternoon dip, the beautiful infinity pool that turns into a spectacle of lights at night is very welcoming.
It is easy to find a spot and claim it as yours. Spread in a 7-hectare mango orchard, Astoria Palawan has that nook where you feel comfortable with your inner self. On our way back to the villas from the waterpark, I found a lady wearing a brim hat sitting by the riprap and making her own stone stacking. She left after the sun rested behind the distant sea. I sat not far from where she was and photographed her zen spot.
If there is one thing I dearly love about this place is its inherent appeal to nature lovers. I can sit in front of my villa, stare at the greeneries around me for hours and wait for the egret to visit me once again.
Aside from the waterpark, Astoria Palawan came up with an extraordinary space for kids. A kid at heart, the children’s playground is a marvel even for an adult like me.
Sturdily built on an old mango tree is a boat-shaped tree house. It is equipped with a slide and obstacle course suitable for kids. It is located by the resort’s entrance, next to the well-manicured mini golf course. In some nights, the resort screens bestselling movies such as Up, and Ice Age by the infinity pool.
It does not take a person well-versed on architecture to appreciate the efforts put in this place. Everything is well-planned. Situated in a 7-hectare mango orchard, they have to make sure the dwarf mangoes remain thriving. Aside from aesthetical purposes, I wonder if the asymmetrical roofing has other intentions. My pet theory is that its shape can withstand strong winds. But I might be wrong. The glass façade of the villas, aside from providing guests an awesome view, allows the natural light to get in the room. My favorite is the marriage of the industrial wall and the adobe-inspired wooden blocks. As a gardener, I love the lemongrass fencing the villas; their intense smell is a great way to drive off mosquitos. Aside from great food at the Reserve, the highlight of the resort’s restaurant is its boat-shaped lights. And I love the shelves you can find everywhere: from the room to the Canopy—the reception area of Astoria Palawan.
What makes my stay extra special is the staff I have shared a good laugh or two. From Rico, the driver who picked me up from the airport and who entertained with different trivias about Puerto Princesa to the managers like Raffy and Eric, to the head engineer who happens to be a fellow Cebuano, to the random staff who made my stay not only comfortable but also warm, my immense gratitude to all of you.
Everything is lovely. Everything is love. And that’s for me is what makes Astoria Palawan a must-experience place.
QUICK TIPS AND INFO
1. Since Astoria Palawan is an hour away from the city center, please bring all your personal needs, from late-night snacks to sunscreen needs, before heading to the resort.
2. If you are sensitive to mosquito bites, please bring your own anti-repellant ointment.
3. Rooms include complimentary breakfast for two (served at the Reserve, the resort’s restaurant) and are equipped with complimentary tea and coffee facility, LCD television, DVD player, cable TV, complimentary Internet access, kitchenette (microwave and personal fridge), and hairdryer.
4. Ideal check-in time is at 2PM and check-out time is 12NN.
5. Squeeze a day trek to the nearby Binduyan Falls, a community-based tourist attraction.
6. Follow Astoria Palawan on Facebook and check out their awesome website for more promos and information.
Address: Km 62 North National Highway, Brgy San Rafael, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/astoriapalawan/
Manila Sales and Reservation: Astoria Plaza 15 J. Escriva Street, Ortigas Business Center, Pasig City
T: (+632) 687.1111 loc 8302 / 8014 / 8031
F: (+632) 632.9420