Seda Lio, Philippines
WHO STAYS? Luxe island hoppers looking for an affordable, upmarket stay near Palawan’s exceptional Bacuit Archipelago.
HOW BIG? 153 keys
COST Doubles from about PGK680 a night CHECK IN 3pm CHECK out 12pm
Highlights Looking out to Cadlao Island and its lagoon. Nearby Lio Estate’s cafes and shops beneath the palm trees. Set on a spotless, white-sand beach. NEAR BY A short stroll down a sandy beach leads to a clutch of upmarket cafes and restaurants serving local coffee and seafood, with some shopping for island essentials (bikinis, local pearl earrings and beach fashion) and a travel agency that books flights and island-hopping tours. The ramshackle town of El Nido is 15 minutes by tricycle, and the hotel provides free minibus transfers.
The sleepy island of Palawan is an hour’s flight west of Manila, and travellers are drawn to its northern tip, whose warm waters are dotted by tiny, scenic limestone islands perfect for island hopping on local boats. In comparison to Boracay, the tourism scene is still pleasingly undiscovered. The main service town is El Nido, and new beachfront Seda Lio is 15 minutes’ drive north of the town, beside El Nido airport.
Opening in January, Seda Lio is new in all senses: it’s the largest hotel in the area and bridges the gap between high-price-tag island resorts and the backpacker dives in El Nido. This is not a party hotel – stay in town if that’s your game – but a resort to wind back and relax between island-hopping adventures, with an affordable spa. The private beach is immaculate and free of beach vendors.
Cool, clean and simple, the rooms are in two three-storey wings that overlook tropical gardens, the blue-tiled pool and the beach beyond. The rooms continue the hotel’s all-white palette, with whitewashed walls and glass doors leading out to balconies, or, on the ground floor, little terraces with sofas positioned to overlook the three pools in the centre of the resort. The fit-out includes fridges, a kettle and tea and coffee as well as fresh water in glass jugs (plastic water bottles are now banned in the province). The bathrooms are spacious with tiled floors.
FOOD AND DRI NK
The tariff includes a buffet breakfast. Expect all the western standards – bacon, eggs, fruit and pastries – as well as Filipino dishes such as garlic rice, grilled local fish and plenty of fried chicken and pork. Dinner is a la carte, pricey and served in the same restaurant, or out by the pool. However, most people choose to eat in El Nido or wander five minutes down to the beachfront restaurants and cafes beneath the coconut trees at Lio Beach.
WHAT GUES TS LIKE
This is a great place for a relatively affordable, easy escape to El Nido. Just minutes from the airport. Long beach and beautiful, large pool. – TripAdvisor.