Manila Bulletin - - Lifestyle -

Salmon Sini­gang, Thai Pomelo Salad, Chop­suey, and Prawns in Le­mon Chile Sam­bal were any in­di­ca­tion of what this trip was go­ing to be like, I’d say that we were in­deed in very good hands.

We were told that around the is­land, it was guar­an­teed we would en­counter mon­i­tor lizards, herons, and fruit bats. If any of us were divers, there would have been sight­ings of tur­tles, stingrays, and oc­to­pus, and if we were lucky, a dugong would be seen.

Af­ter the fill­ing lunch, we each moved to our Sun­set Villa. On the walk to mine, I could al­ready hear some loud screech­ing noises. I looked up to see fruit bats—prob­a­bly a hun­dred of them—hang­ing from the trees. With the ex­cep­tion of the bat cries and the light waves of the wa­ter, as well as mem­bers of the staff who would warmly greet me “Good af­ter­noon,” it was so quiet. It was like I had the is­land to my­self.

My villa was a one-storey, one­room cot­tage with a ve­ran­dah and a ham­mock tied to the pil­lars. On the wooden floors were the ex­tra king size bed, walk-in closet, and a huge bath­room. Laid out on my bed were a big wo­ven bag, a tote bag, a tum­bler, Mag­wai Reef-Safe sun­screen, Off! lo­tion, and our itin­er­ary for the week­end. Some­thing new to ex­pe­ri­ence in Club Par­adise was the TV and Wi-Fi. No com­plaints. It’s a good op­tion if one just wants to stay in bed and sleep in.

As with ev­ery Dis­cov­ery prop­erty in the Philip­pines, the wel­come foot scrub at my ve­ran­dah was the sig­nal that a pam­per­ing week­end was in store for me. Never a Dull Day

The is­land re­sort has in­deed be­come live­lier since The Dis­cov­ery Leisure Com­pany took over in 2013. While you may en­joy the karaoke, the bil­liard ta­ble, the ren­o­vated pool, and a tree­house for the kids, you don’t go to Club Par­adise only for its in­door ac­tiv­i­ties. You are sur­rounded by na­ture and it is only fit­ting to ex­plore what the out­doors has in store for you.

Di­makya is­land is a stun­ning 700me­ter pris­tine white sand beach. Ev­ery morn­ing, I would sit on the couch of my ve­ran­dah and look at the turquoise wa- ters lap the soft shores in front of me. Sun beds are also scat­tered all over the beach so you can sit out in the sun and get a bit of tan (just make sure you slather up on sun­screen so you don’t get burned).

Div­ing is def­i­nitely one of, if not, the most pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity on the is­land. I re­mem­ber a friend of mine telling me, “If you want to see the Philip­pines, put on a mask.” Div­ing may be great but since I didn’t know how to dive, I chose to ex­pe­ri­ence snor­kel­ing. What’s great is that I don’t even have to leave the is­land on a boat. I sim­ply walked straight off the beach into the wa­ter and be met with in­cred­i­ble un­der­wa­ter gar­dens of corals and crit­ters. The is­land re­sort is sur­rounded by a ma­rine sanc­tu­ary that houses a va­ri­ety of fish and other sea an­i­mals.

An­other high­light of this trip was the is­land hop­ping tour. Palawan has been rec­og­nized by in­ter­na­tional pub­li­ca­tions as one of the best is­lands in the world and is­lands like Mal­pa­galen and Di­a­toy just prove it.

We went to Di­a­toy and spent the day on the is­land just sun­bathing, eat­ing lunch Boo­dle Fight style, and en­joyed some ac­tiv­i­ties like rid­ing the ba­nana boat, kayak­ing, and snor­kel­ing, of course. But Mal­pa­galen, for me, was an ab­so­lute haven. The ma­jes­tic sand­bar that’s just 10 min­utes away from Club Par­adise is sur­rounded by the most spec­tac­u­lar blue wa­ters and has a cove within its lime­stone cliff. It’s an ex­cel­lent choice for swim­ming and is­land pic­nics, and yes, even an in­ti­mate event like a wed­ding.

On Di­makya Is­land, around the re­sort, I would spend my morn­ings at Glow Spa’s yoga area, just sur­rounded by trees and ac­com­pa­nied by the sounds of the wa­ters and the wind. If you pre­fer a more rig­or­ous work­out, the is­land re­sort has the Fit­ness Fa­cil­ity equipped with car­dio and strength train­ing equip­ment. Need a mas­sage? Choose from a wide se­lec­tion of treat­ments like An­tiStress Mas­sage to re­lieve ten­sion and aching mus­cles, Cucumber Mint Wrap to re­hy­drate dry and sun­burnt skin, and Cit­rus Sugar Body Scrub to soften, ex­fo­li­ate, and freshen up the skin.

Meals are in­cluded in the re­sort’s pack­ages. Break­fast is usu­ally buf­fet style with pro­vi­sion for a la carte meals. If you don’t feel like go­ing to the restau­rant, you can or­der Sun­rise Cof­fee and have a pot of cof­fee, four pieces of pan de sal, fruit, and yo­gurt de­liv­ered to your room. You can also ask what they’re serv­ing for break­fast and have them de­liver the food to your room or villa, if you just want to stay in. Veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans need not worry—they also have op­tions for you (of course, given the proper no­tice). A Must Visit

The re­sort may have had a change in man­age­ment but my ex­pe­ri­ence proves that it was all for the bet­ter.

The re­sort, along with its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings, the bats, the tur­tles, the dugongs—it shows you Mother Na­ture at its most won­der­ful. Every­one at the re­sort is friendly and ac­com­mo­dat­ing, and will make sure your com­fort comes first. Some peo­ple stay in the re­sort for weeks and it is only nat­u­ral that the staff be­come more than just staff—they be­come your friends.

Club Par­adise is also keen on help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment in any way it can. The re­sort’s wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tem pre­vents con­tam­i­nated wa­ter from pol­lut­ing the sea. A beach clean-up is also sched­uled once a month and every­one is in­vited to join. They have elim­i­nated the use of plas­tic—they use metal straws for your bev­er­age, pa­per cups for your drinks, and re­fill­able pumps for sham­poo and con­di­tioner in­stead of bot­tles.

Go­ing to Club Par­adise was get­ting back to na­ture and, at some level, to my­self, cel­e­brat­ing the sim­ple things in life. I have trav­eled to so many places around the coun­try. Yet it is here in Coron, at Club Par­adise, that I had a sense of per­fec­tion. Yes, in­deed, this is par­adise.

Club Par­adise is lo­cated at Di­makya Is­land, Coron, North­ern Palawan. For in­quiries and reser­va­tions, go to club­par­adis­epa­, call (+63917) 827-9852 or (02) 719-6971 to 73, email reser­va­tions@cp.dis­cov­ery. For up­dates, like Club Par­adise Palawan on Face­book, fol­low @_ClubPar­adise on Twit­ter and @ club­par­adis­epa­lawan on In­sta­gram

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