Tuesday, July 9, 2019

When in Baler: Costa Pacifica

I was never a beach person. In fact, I was the typical Asian who avoids the sun as much as I could. And no, it's not because I fear getting dark. I was quite sensitive when I was younger and a short exposure to the sun leaves me with a bloody nose. Thank goodness though that I'm out of that phase as frolicking by the beach is fun! And when R's mom wanted to go to the beach, we decided to drive to Baler and stay in Costa Pacifica as we chase the last days of summer. 

Hello, Costa Pacifica
Costa Pacifica is regarded as one of the premier resorts in the surfing destination Baler. Located right in front of Sabang Beach, this resort is surrounded by several small resorts and inns. 
We left Manila at 5 a.m. in order to reach Costa Pacifica by lunch time and we were tired and itching to sleep when we got there. Unfortunately, the rooms were still being cleaned so we opted to have lunch instead at the resort's Beach House. 
While browsing the menu, we were handed lychee shake (welcome drink) and cold towels. Both were refreshing and helped us cool down. But some of the face towels have that weird unpleasant smell. (They gave us a new batch but some still had that weird it-didn't-dry-well smell.)
Ordering food was a bit of a challenge too as most of the dishes we wanted to try were not available. We felt that they didn't do enough grocery shopping as it was a lean month for them. 
We ended up having Crispy Pako Spring Rolls (PHP195), Pumpkin Soup (PHP220), House Sisig (PHP385), Beef Belly Adobo (PHP375), Kilawin (PHP275), Ginataang Gulay (PHP295), Fish n Chips (PHP340) and Burnt Brazo (PHP220).
The dishes, though not superb, were actually good. It was my first time to try crispy pako spring rolls and it was a lovely starter. It was light and had that addictive crunch.
The pumpkin soup served on a bread bowl was quite heavy and bang for the buck.
Beef Belly Adobo was one of my favorites as its tender and succulent beef chunks were pure joy to munch on. This is best enjoyed with rice as it tends to be very rich.
Kilawin was fresh and I liked how it was plated. 
And the Burnt Brazo is a must order dessert! I absolutely loved the slightly torched sides giving it a sweeter taste and faint crunch. 
We headed to our rooms after lunch for a quick nap. R's parents occupied the Junior Suite on the ground floor while we got the Junior Premier on the second floor. Note that there's no lift in this property so best to book a suite if you're with senior or PWD companions. 
The rooms were spacious. Both have a balcony and an option for two double bed or king size bed with day bed. 
We were also spoiled by the complimentary mini bar which gets refilled every day! 
Things seem fine until you take a closer look on the sheets and curtains. 
There were stains all over. (Here's one on the curtain.) We're not very sensitive guests but we definitely expected more from Costa Pacifica. 
The washroom too, upon settling in, had this stench from the toilet bowl and the shower area smelled like urine. I guess they were in a rush to clean the place as we checked in early. But this is still not an excuse.
If you're the type who likes to work on vacations, note that the wi-fi in the garden wing is weak. It's actually not that fast too even at the lobby or the restaurant. Best to leave your laptop at home and enjoy this short break from the chaos of Manila.
After a quick nap, we decided to avail of our complimentary one hour surfing lesson from Charlie Does. These surf instructors made it look so easy but it was actually challenging to stay on the board. Needless to say, I got wiped out a lot. Don't get me wrong though. It was fun despite the scrapes and light bruises. It was probably the most physical activity I had that month.
I was looking forward to the turn down service after dinner but I guess they forgot? (Twice too as we were there for two nights.)
We decided to lounge by the pool on our first morning there and we appreciated how one of the staff kept giving us water every time our glasses were half empty. It was also great that the pool was practically empty when we went for a dip. 
Breakfast spread was quite limited. Due to the low guest count, Costa Pacifica provides a plated menu option and a short selection of bread, egg, cereal, congee and fruits to complement it. The mini buffet was not offered on our second breakfast there due to even lower headcount. But we could request for the items offered in the buffet. I'm just not sure if the new guests were informed that they could get dishes aside from the ones from the printed menu. (Friendly tip: Go for Filipino breakfast as its Western plates are not good.)
Check out was a breeze and we were on our way back home after settling our bill from the restaurant.
Note that there is no driver's quarters in Costa Pacifica but there are several inns just a few meters away for him to stay. An additional person in room charge is PHP1,500 and that also includes extra mattress in room and breakfast. 

Overall, our stay was pleasant despite the few misses. There weren't a lot of guests too which we liked. But what would make us come back here is because it's pet friendly! Just make sure to bring your pet's papers for a smooth check in. 

Costa Pacifica is located at 80 Buton St, Baler, Aurora.

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