Balesin Diaries: Heaven in the middle of the sea
Last Sunday, I believe, was the coldest day of January ever, at least here in the Philippines. I didn't have to check the temperature to know that it was really cold. Imagine, I was wearing a knit sweater underneath a leather jacket then, but I could still feel the cold touching my skin!
But that doesn't stop me from dreaming about summer. I saw my Balesin photos as I was organizing my iPhoto pictures last night and I found myself smiling from ear to ear- I recalled how BEAUTIFUL the place was and I felt that despite the cold weather, summer, my most favorite time of the year, is almost at hand.
Last year, I was privileged to visit the private island of Balesin for the Antistax event. It's a 500- hectare white sand beach paradise owned by Alphaland Corporation, one of the leading land developers in the country. It's located across Pollilio, Quezon Province and when you're there, you're literally like in the middle of nowhere because all you could see are endless stretches of water. Balesin is truly the perfect place to be in if you're looking for some serious escape from the busy city life. It used to be a vacation spot for Japanese Soldiers during their occupation then it became a public beach spot until it was privatized.
To get to Balesin, you'd have to ride a private boutique plane to the island. It's only 25 minutes away from Manila, but would take you hours if you prefer to get there by boat, although I don't know if Alphaland offers that mode of transportation for Balesin guests.
Alphaland hangar in Manila, along St. Andrews Ave., Airport Road
Before everything else, you have to purchase the membership to access the island and last thing I know is it costs a whopping P2,000,000.00. (Take note, this rate is only for the membership and does not include food and lodging) Another option to visit Balesin is to look for a member who can refer you to the management.
Upon arrival, the guests will be briefed for a while by the resort managers regarding the amenities, brief history about the place, certain island restrictions, and where to go and who to contact in case you're in an emergency.
Let's tour Balesin after the jump! :)
It was raining when I arrived in Balesin-bummer for someone who was looking forward to getting a tan like me, but great news for the place because Balesin recycles rainwater by turning it into tap water!
90% of Balesin remains untouched, according to the management and that means even the island's natural inhabitants are still living within the area. There are bats, snakes, big lizards, spiders, and certain insects roaming freely in here and unsupervised strolling on the forest trails during night time is strictly prohibited. It's very dark during night time here because they only use solar- powered lamps to illuminate the trails in order to minimize the use of electricity. To get to the villas, you'd have to take the battery- powered carts that are always at your beg and call-now that is a #LikeADonya vacation for you!
Balesin has seven grandiose villas inspired by the best destinations around the globe. There's Mykonos of Greece, Bali of Indonesia, Phuket of Thailand, Costa Del Sol of Spain, Tuscana of Italy (which was under construction when I was there), St. Tropez of France, and of course, Balesin of the Philippines. We stayed in the Balesin Villas because it has the best view, and Bali Indonesia as well.
I believe all the rooms have uniform sizes and amenities, but the themes are different and the pricing as well- your lodging is more expensive if your villa is located at the beachfront.
We have a jacuzzi right at the porch. :)
A view of our room. One room can accommodate at least 5-6 people, but the bed is good for 3 people only. :)
The posh bathroom, which is the most luxurious resort bathroom I've ever seen. :)
Ancient Filipino households used to have the shower rooms made from Bamboo right outside the house, and this was recreated in the Balesin Villas, except that it has a more modern and private feel.
The Balesin Villa also has this beautiful infinity pool.
Next up is the Bali, Indonesia villa.
This place has the nicest pool, IMO. It's made entirely from stone and isn't as slippery as regular, tiled pools, and looks supremely luxe too!
The Bali Villas look pretty simple, but wait 'til you get to the beachfront and see the Nusa Dua bar. It's a fantastic structure and a wonderful place to have cocktails with friends and bask in the glory of the majestic sunset. (FYI, this place has the best view of the sunset) When I got there, I was like: "Wait, I'm in the Philippines, not in Bali, right?" Haha!
How about traveling to Mykonos, Greece? I can hear y'all screaming "Yasss!" :D
Ah, Mykonos. A dream destination for everyone including I, and that dream was somehow fulfilled here in Balesin.
Gosh, so this is what Greece looks like, and this is how it feels like being in Greece! :D
Even the rooms were patterned after the standard minimalistic, box- shaped Greek houses. :D
This is Thanassis Taverna, the villa's official restaurant (which serves legit Greek food by the way) and it's right at the beachfront. Tell me, how can it get perfect than this?
From Greece, let's travel all the way to Spain!
Hola! Welcome to the Costa Del Sol Villas. Costa Del Sol is said to be one of the best summer destinations in Andalucia.
Casa Grande serves as the common house for Costa Del Sol guests.
Here's the lounge area and it resembles the Sala of ancient Filipino-Spanish houses.
In the comedor, you'll find this cool, massive wine holder that accentuates the entrance.
Costa Del Sol has two long, rectangular pools where you can do your daily laps.
Costa Del Sol has two- story rooms which makes it a good place for 10 guests or more. I also heard that the Ayalas prefer staying here because after all, they're Spanish!
Too bad, I wasn't able to tour Phuket and St. Tropez due to time constraints-I was there for a workcation so I couldn't roam around so much.
What to do when you're in Balesin? It's a very quiet place so hardcore partying is pretty much non-existent in here, but you can take a trip around the villas to take photos, selfies, and to try out their sumptuous food: Go to Balesin for Pinoy fare, St. Tropez for mouthwatering French Crepes, Costa Del Sol for hearty Spanish food, Mykonos for your Greek cravings, Bali for cocktails (and a bit of merry-making), and Phuket for good ol' Thai food. When they have guests, the restaurants in all the villas are open. But if they will only have two or three guests, they ask the guests beforehand which restaurants they'd like to try so as to save electricity. You can visit the other villas to take photos even if they're closed though.
Activities also include Aquatic sports such as snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving, fishing, wakeboarding and the likes, physical activities such as basketball, tennis, airsoft target shooting range, badminton, rock climbing, and trekking, leisure activities namely horseback riding, Calesa trips, and island trail rides. There's a gym and chapel there too. Even if there's no clubbing here, they have a lot of activities to keep you entertained and satisfied during your stay, but of course, you'd have to pay to experience them.
Here are some things to consider when visiting Balesin: They only honor credit cards for restaurant purchases and I also don't think you can leave the island as you please, unless you really, really have to. (e.g. grave emergencies that need doctor's assistance) There's no wi-fi in the rooms (only in the respective lobbies of the villas) and there's little to no signal for Globe users, but for Smart, there is.
My time in Balesin was nothing short of wonderful because the place is so clean, and it's the only beach where I found loads of time to just keep quiet, be thankful, and reconnect with myself and the universe. The location was also perfect because even if it scared me during the first day (because as I said, it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere), I really felt that I had an authentic escape from the demands of the city life. Commercialized beaches have become all too noisy for me and truth be told, they feel like Manila already. In Balesin, you can be yourself (even if you aren't swimsuit- ready) and no one would care, and you can definitely find time to renew yourself. It's best for anyone, whether you're with your family, friends, or your partner as long as you're willing to let go of technology and modernity and just go back to simplicity and nature for a while. I'd love to go back, but for now, I'll find a way to come up with with 2 million pesos haha!
Hope you liked my diary about Balesin! :)
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