Pangulasian Island offers luxury with an eco edge
Laid-back resort island a shimmering jewel in Palawan province, writes Amy Russell
"Pangulasian" comes from the Tagalog word for "sweat", I am reliably informed. Although Sweat Island might not sound too enticing as a holiday destination, it's easy to understand once you realise the name pertains to the island's exposure to the sun.
Pangulasian Island, which opened late last year, is one of several luxury island getaways and beach clubs in Bacuit Bay that belong to El Nido Resorts. The eco-luxury resort has 42 villas set against clear waters and powdery sands. Its open, clean design melds with the greenery, local artworks and the kudyapi, a Filipino instrument which decorates the resort. From the design and decor to the food and the staff, 90 per cent of whom are local, El Nido Resorts has a strong community commitment.
Friendly staff predict your every need and activity co-ordinators help tailor itineraries. From snorkelling with reef sharks in the early morning, to windsurfing, diving, kayaking and Hobie Cat sailing, there's something for every water enthusiast - including a large beachside infinity pool. There are also the 45 islands of El Nido, with their lagoons and caves, to explore. If you're a landlubber, you can take an easy, guided hike to the island's viewing deck, looking out for lizards, birds and monkeys along the way.
Of course, you can always just stay put in your villa - there are worse places to be than these spacious beachside or hillside pads. The bathrooms are enormous, if bathing is your thing opt for one with a bathtub, or better still choose a villa with a plunge pool. Floor-to-ceiling windows and large balconies, along with beautifully finished floors and furnishings, create a light, chic feeling. Attention to detail makes Pangulasian Island's villas stand out - the sliding front doors lock automatically and a foot-cleaning station at the entrance helps defend against unwanted sand.
The villas are perfect for couples, but if you're looking for a holiday with friends, you can rent the Kalaw Villa complex, four villas around a private pool, as a package that comes with a private kitchen and butler.
There's plenty to do indoors. I found time to practise yoga, visit the library and the spa. While the spa is small (it only accommodates two at a time), the treatments are stellar.
The resort can arrange private dinners and picnics to suit any taste. The restaurant offers a fine selection of fresh seafood. At breakfast, you choose any combination of fruits for your juice, but don't grumble if you can't get orange juice - only local, seasonal fruits are on offer. About 80 per cent of the food is locally sourced, some from the resorts' own farm.
El Nido Resorts is also active in conservation - from biodegradable toiletries to environmental education for the local community. Pangulasian Island guests can connect with the environment to understand and truly appreciate it. While a short stay is enough for you to experience what's on offer, you'll never want to leave.
El Nido Resorts, Palawan elnidoresorts.com
Rates start from 25,000 pesos (HK$4,350) per night plus taxes for a double canopy villa. Includes breakfast and non-motorised water sports.
Fly via Island Transvoyager from Manila in about 55 minutes. Return fare costs about 12,000 pesos.