Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bugana Beach and Dive Resort: A Paradise in Negros Occidental

Negros Island is one of our favorite destinations. Just thinking about enjoying its great food and fresher air makes me want to plan my next visit. I realized though that there aren't a lot of great resort options here as Negros isn't one of the prime tourist spots in the country. But I was glad to have found Bugana Beach and Dive Resort.

Hello, Bugana Beach and Dive Resort.
Bugana is known as one of the best resorts in Negros. With its marvelous view and spacious rooms, it was not surprising for guests to stay here for days or even weeks.
This resort in Sipalay only has 16 rooms and it often gets fully booked during peak season. We were lucky though to get its Villa (PHP4,500 per night) on our first two nights here.
One has to climb two flights of stairs to get to the villa. It may sound a bit tiring but you get to be away from most guests. Villa 2's view deck and dipping pool are also covered by trees giving it guaranteed privacy.
Our spacious room is equipped with a king-size bed, cable television, private dipping pool, veranda with lounge chairs, huge bathroom with a hot and cold shower, remote-controlled ceiling fan and split type air conditioner, mini fridge and bar as well as a water dispenser.
The villa was set for four guests during our stay but the staff did not pull out the extra beds, pillows, blankets, and towels. We were also not charged for it.
Check-in seemed to be flexible as we got to stay in our villa before 2 p.m. 
The pool had a lot of dead leaves that afternoon but it was easy to clean up. Thankfully, there were not a whole lot of insects around the pool
We spotted some sand flies, no see ums, spiders and mosquitoes though around the veranda. There were a few lizards too inside our room. We were prepared though and had mosquito coils, insect repellent, citronella patches, and more.
The view from Villa 2 was great. We had a lovely time watching the clouds change colors as the sun set. 
To celebrate our anniversary, we requested for a romantic set up by the beach. The set up only costs PHP250 which we found really affordable compared to how much other resorts charge.
We went with Duet Salad (PHP265), Tausiam Soup (PHP290), Mixed Seafood in Banana Leaf (PHP525), and Blended Iced Tea (PHP65 per glass).
The grated papaya and pumpkin salad with a vinaigrette-like dressing served with bread was a light and refreshing dish to start our meal. But it would have been better if this was served first instead of Tausiam Soup.
We had to wait for about 10 minutes though before our request for bowls was served. The soup turned cold and the noodles were too soaked in the thick salty broth. At least the chicken wonton was good. We requested for hot water too but it never came despite following it up twice.
The Mixed Seafood was made with squid, shrimp and fish chunks cooked in coconut milk and ginger. It was also served with rice. Again, it was pricey at PHP525 but the serving size was good for two.
The Blended Iced Tea was a tad too sweet but that was okay as we could just add water.
We decided to stargaze that night and the resort's spa area was the perfect spot. We saw Orion and its dogs, Leo, Gemini, and a few more constellations. (Forgive my poor photo of the sky. I tried but my hands were too shaky.)
We just stayed in our villa the following day and had some work done thanks to the resort's reliable internet connection
I went down around 10 a.m. to order Banana Shake (PHP110) and Blended Iced Tea. I was told that the staff can bring it to our villa. But an hour and a half later, no drink was served. 
Since there are no phones or intercom in the rooms, I had to go down again to follow up only to find out that the drinks were long ready but the staff claimed that they were short of people when our drinks were made hence no one can bring it to us. I wished that they just told me to wait for the drinks instead.
We tried Bugana Fries (PHP170) that afternoon and it was pretty good. Homemade fries paired with thousand island dip, it was a nice and filling snack.
We thought of snorkeling that afternoon but after failing to save a fish which turned out to be a poisonous lion fish, we played it safe and just went back to our villa. 
The beach was too rocky too and we were worried that we might encounter a stone fish.
For dinner, we went with Bugana Tower (PHP395) and Bites and Fries (PHP315). Bites and Fries is part of the kids' menu but Marc, the resort manager, allowed us to order for it.
R and I were excited to feast on Bugana Tower as it was said to be served with onion rings. But it was not the onion rings we had in mind. It was literally an onion ring sans the batter.
Made with chicken, fried egg, bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, cucumber and onion, each bite of this burger was packed with various textures and flavors. But at PHP395, we were hoping for something more. It was good but not great.
Bites and Fries though was great! The homemade chicken nuggets were beautifully battered and seasoned well. It went well too with a thousand islands dip. It was also quite pricey at PHP315 but it was something I'd consider getting again.
We woke up extra early the following morning to catch the sunrise and it was worth it!
I even had fun taking snaps of myself as I tried to master the timer.
We were sad to move to a Terrace Room (PHP2,400 per night) the following day as another guest booked the villa in advance. The other two villas were also occupied so we had no choice.
The Terrace Room wasn't bad but you lose some of the perks such as more than half the space, fridge, mini bar, water dispenser, and exclusive internet access. Wi-fi in the Terrace and Superior Rooms was weak to none. We had to stay by the balcony or head down to the restaurant to connect.
Speaking of wi-fi, you need to find the resort manager to get the internet password. The staff won't be able to help you as they do not know it. I assume is a control measure to avoid them from mindlessly browsing the net.
The perk of having a poor internet connection in our room motivated us to actually use the resort's pool and temperature-regulated jacuzzi.
We opted to go with Fettuccine Carbonara (PHP345) and Lord of the Ring (PHP265) for dinner. The plating of both dishes was lovely and it tasted pretty good too.
The carbonara had that nice eggy flavor and the pasta was al dente.
And finally, onion rings we know! Each one was beautifully battered and went well with either ketchup or the tangy ranch sauce which was meant for salad.
As we headed back to our room, we noticed that the bathroom had that repulsive sewer-like stench. It seemed to be coming from either the drain or the toilet. Since we went back to our room late, we decided that it could wait for the next day.
The odor from the bathroom was not the only thing we had to deal with. There were a handful of bugs too in the room which includes mosquitoes, wasps and the detestable sand flies.
Our slumber was cut short by one of the young guests who decided to scream for attention. It would have been nice if the Terrace and Superior Rooms have better soundproofing.
With plans to stay for two more nights, we requested to be moved to another room given that our bathroom was stinky. But I was given an excuse that we can't because they were expecting guests to stay in the other vacant room two days after. 
I didn't get the logic at all because no one will be using the room and I don't think that the guests would specifically request for Terrace Room #3 nor for the reservation agent to commit that room.
I expected that they would prioritize their current guests especially for those who have been staying for days. But such was not the case here. Disappointed, we opted to cut our stay short and head back to Bacolod.
Bugana has so much potential. With its spacious and well-maintained rooms and pool, this is indeed one of the best on the island. Service though could be improved. 
We've learned our lesson the hard way and will make sure to book earlier to get the villa for the whole duration of our stay.

Note: Bugana is a bit difficult to get to via public transportation as it is 5 kilometers away from the national highway where buses pass. Half of the 5 kilometer road is also unpaved making walking not an option. Best to contact Bugana for assistance for transfers or rent a car. 

Bugana Beach and Dive Resort is located at Campomanes Bay, Barangay Maricalum, Sipalay, Negros Occidental.

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