Wednesday, September 11, 2019

When in Palawan: Apulit Island Resort

Palawan has always been a favorite destination of mine. Basking in the beauty of its wonderful limestone formations and pristine beaches is my idea of vacation. And our stay in Pangulasian Island Resort last February made it an easy decision for us to check out other El Nido Resorts' properties. Our first stop, Apulit Island Resort. 

Hello, Apulit Island Resort
Apulit is located at the opposite side of other El Nido Resorts properties and is about two and a half hours away from Lio Airport. We had to take an hour and half van ride to Taytay Pier and take a 50 minute boat ride to the resort. 
Knowing that it would be a long trip, we took the earliest AirSwift flight to Lio El Nido. However, being an hour earlier doesn't really matter as we had to wait for guests from other flights. 
We had a short stop at Sala de Apulit in Taytay where we had light breakfast before boarding the boat to the resort.
Just like in Pangulasian, we were warmly welcomed by the Apulit staff and got welcome drinks and cold towels
Before checking in, we were briefed by Vanessa of Marine Activities of the different complimentary activities we could join. She also noted some sea creatures we might encounter while on the island.
All Apulit guests get to enjoy full board meals. Since we arrived around noon, we got to enjoy its lunch buffet. 
Food selection was limited and a bit underwhelming. I kept wondering why El Nido Resorts tend to scrimp on food quality. 
But it was made pleasant by Chef Geriec who was so warm and friendly to every guest. He even recommended some activities we should check out.
Speaking of activities, the water was a bit choppy on our first day and all island activities were cancelled. We didn't really mind as we lacked sleep and just wanted to take a nap after lunch. 
Our water cottage (PHP17,200/night) had a lovely view and I liked that the staff added a sweet touch on the bed. 
The room is equipped with a comfortable bed, cable television, balcony, mini fridge, coffee and tea, safety box and spacious bathroom. Certain toiletries are not provided but will be given upon request.
After a closer look though, we noticed that our room wasn't as clean as we thought. There were smudge marks on the sliding door and windows, dead bugs on the balcony sliding door railing, hair on the shower enclosure and a dead mosquito squashed on the wall. R also had the bad luck to have wiped his face with a "fresh" towel which had that unpleasant not dried well smell.
We shrugged it off and decided to lounge by the beach instead while we wait for an update if the sunset cruise will push through. 
R approached one of the staff for towels only to be told to go to the pool area for it. When R mentioned that there were none when we passed by, the staff said that he get one at the front desk. It was shocking that the quality of service we got from Pangulasian was so far from Apulit's. R just dismissed the idea of getting a towel since we were just planning to kayak.
With the water still a bit choppy, we were surprised that no one was manning the water activity area. After getting a go signal to kayak from one of the staff who was setting up a private dinner nearby, we were left on our own to grab our own life vests and prepare our kayak. No one was still around when we got back so we had to push the kayak back ourselves. 
At least we got back with towels on our lounge chairs.
As we were relaxing by the beach, we got constant whiffs of paint smell. Turns out one of the staff decided to paint one of the huts by the pool, which was terrible given that was about the only thing we can do on the island with the activities cancelled.
We've had it and decided to raise our concern to Front Desk. Eds, the manager in charge was quick to address our concerns. She moved us to another water cottage and even had us go on a private sunset cruise. To make up for the trouble, she also offered a complimentary half hour massage for us. We were also offered a  private dinner on our last night as token for being returning El Nido Resorts guests. 
The sunset cruise definitely saved the day of mishaps. I loved that we had the boat all to ourselves. Jay-R, our boatman, was very friendly too and we got to appreciate the limestone formations even more.
Spot the dog, the saint and the lion. 
Our cleaner cottage was at the end of the island. 
It was a bit scary at night but we were closest to the rappel site and viewing deck. R kept saying, "Can you imagine the sinaunang tao?"
Dinner spread was so much better than lunch. I loved the creamed cauliflower best!
We availed of our complimentary massage after dinner and got Apulit's Signature Massage (PHP1,600). All spa treatments come with a warm foot wash. 
I found it a bit odd though that the room was still rather well-lit during the massage. The background music too had fast tempo which made it less relaxing. But the massage itself was wonderful.
I love El Nido Resorts' turn down service. They always leave a short story for us to read before going to sleep.
We woke up early to join the sunrise cruise at 5:30 a.m. but the sun was too shy to show up. Nonetheless, it was a nice way to start the day.
Breakfast was pretty good. I had my fill with my local favorites tocino, pancit bihon and puto. 
The omelette too was made just the way I like it. With gooey cheese!
And we're happy to say that the reviews are true! You can spot black tip sharks from the water cottages! 
We spotted a few while on our way to the marine activity area.
We joined the house reef guided snorkeling tour which was breathtaking! The corals near the resort are so beautiful. This is the perk of going to the less traveled areas. You get to see untainted beauty of nature. 
Too bad we didn't see sea turtles but we were told that these majestic creatures nest in Apulit and nearby islands. 
Eds further made our stay even more memorable when she offered us a private boat to Isla Blanca. And our tour guide happen to be Ryan who left a lasting impression when he assisted us in Pangulasian and Lagen. 
We got to enjoy Isla Blanca all to ourselves for two hours!
The corals in Isla Blanca are also amazing. We got to see a lot of fish and enjoyed every moment of our snorkeling adventure despite the slightly crazy waves. We didn't even notice that our backs were getting burnt! 
With a bit of energy left, R and I decided to go rappelling with Benjie whom we met during the Nature Walk. 
The rappelling activity requires a bit of rock climbing which really intimidated me. 
But R kept assuring me that I could do it and Benjie helped me in areas I thought I could not climb. 
We got to the peak during sunset which was so picturesque. 
I slipped on my way down and hit the limestone. I got some cuts but were quickly treated by Nurse Laurice. And I have to commend Apulit for having an impressively well-stocked clinic.
Our private dinner was an excellent way to cap our Apulit trip. The set up by the beach was simple yet romantic as the place was adorned by candles.
It was a scrumptious 5-course meal made of shrimp tempura, salad, soup, surf and turf and mango panna cotta.
We were also well assisted by Anton who made sure we were well hydrated.
And just when we were about to sleep, we were again surprised by Eds with a bottle of red wine. 
We barely got to enjoy our last day as we had to leave early for our transfer to Miniloc Island Resort (which is also under El Nido Resorts). We had to leave by 8:30 a.m. to get to Miniloc at noon. 
With just a few minutes to spare for breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised that the staff packed sandwiches for us. I found it very thoughtful.
Our trip back to Taytay was a bit faster as we took a speed boat instead of an outrigger boat. And we were the only passengers in the van to Lio. 
Though our stay in Apulit didn't start on a good note, Eds and everyone else did a great job in making our visit a memorable one. We'd definitely go back to try the other activities.
Note: There are only two cottage types in Apulit Island Resort-- water cottage and loft cottage. We found the former's layout much better than the family loft. The family loft can fit maximum of four guests but there is only one bath on the ground floor. The layout is not ideal for elderly guests if they prefer to sleep on the king size bed located on the second floor. Though these loft cottages have direct access to the sea, the crazy waves make it unsafe especially for kids. 
You may book directly through El Nido Resorts or via Agoda which often offers competitive rates. To book, click here.

Disclosure: We paid for our stay in Apulit Island Resort. All opinions and photos are mine. 

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