(UPDATED NOV. 2016)
Balesin? Where is that?
Many do not know where it is, but get mesmerized by the photos they see, are amazed by the stories they hear, and well, start drooling about this paradise at the heart of the Polilio Group of Islands in Quezon province.
I cannot describe it better than how the website itself did, and I quote:
“A destination of unmatched natural beauty located off the Eastern coast of Luzon in the Philippines, Balesin is a 500 hectare tropical island paradise with 7.3 kilometers of pristine white sand beaches. Located 21 kilometers southeast of Polillo, Quezon Province and just 60 nautical miles east of Manila, Balesin is a quick 25-minute plane ride from Manila, yet is a world completely unto itself. Alphaland Balesin Island Club is your unique, members-only, private leisure getaway-today and for generations to come.”
It features 7 of the world’s most exquisite beach destinations. It’s like being in 7 countries without leaving Luzon. The seven are: Mykonos of Greece, Bali of Indonesia, Phuket of Thailand, Balesin of Philippines, Costa del Sol of Spain, Toscana of Italy and St. Tropez of France.
The latest addition, The Balesin Royal Villa, has the perfect beach front (only accessible to those who are checked in at the Royal Villa), the best sunset spot, and 10 Royal Suites at the lower level and 4 Maharlika Suites on the upper level, overlooking 2 bubble-jet pools and sunning decks.
Luxury is the resort’s middle name. Like any pampered guest, we are taken around the island via a golf cart that’s made available at our beck and call. Towels are provided for in any village we go, in any pool we swim in. Bottled water is available at request. We are provided with a luxurious set of toiletries.
I’ve personally stayed at Bali, Phuket and Costa del Sol. But my friend Jons, who has been there 5 times, says the best to stay at is Toscana. When I first went there in 2013, it was still being constructed. When I went back just recently, I fell in love with the bricks, gazebos and gardens it had.
I need not say that the thread count of the sheets is enviable. The architecture and interior design, even the cuisines, in each of the villas, are authentic. You would really feel you are there.
The island has an airstrip all to itself, has a jetty port, an aquatic sports center (kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sunset cruising, kite boarding, etc), a wellness and fitness center (basketball and badminton courts, table tennis, gym, yoga center, lawn tennis courts, wall climbing, kids playground), a spa, a clubhouse, stables, a chapel, golf driving range, an organic farm where they get their ingredients from, an Ifugao village, a fishpond, generators and a water treatment facility.
My friends and I would have wanted to be lost in that island. It had everything a traveler would ask for.
Only members of the island club and their guests, can stay in the island check in to the villas, prospective members may tour the island during the day as well. Current membership is at PhP 4.4 million which allows the member 14 nights (or villas) per year for free. Anything in excess to that, is Php 25,000 per night per villa.
They can only accept debit or credit cards for transactions. Don’t bother bringing cash.
Airfare: A chartered plane will take you there and back at PhP 9,000 per passenger. Alphaland, the developer of the Balesin Island Club, has its own hangar along Airport Rd. in Paranaque. Alternatively, flights have also started since October 2016 from Clark to Balesin vv. I’ve seen some business owners and members get picked up from the island via a private chopper too.
Although Balesin chartered planes still use the NAIA runway, guests of Balesin need not go to the public airport because Alphaland has its own hangar.
Villa (Room): PhP 25,000 per night maximum of 4 persons (extra bed for the 5th person at PhP 2,500), free up to 14 nights per year for Diamond Members. Suites have double the price and number of persons at PhP 50,000 a night for 8 occupants.
Food: Ranges at PhP 300 to PhP 1,000 per plate / entree (there’s a link below to check out the food we’ve tried in the island).
Activities: There are a number of activities to keep you busy in Balesin, aside from swimming and cam-whoring. They have a stable so you can horse-back at the island. Guests can also kayak like we did, rent a speedboat, catch your own fish, visit the Aviary and fish pond, play basketball or badminton, get a massage at the Balesin Spa, or visit all of the village-themed restaurants.
Getting around the island is easy. Pick up the intercom and request for a golf cart / e-jeep to pick you up and drop you off anywhere in the island. You can even rent a golf-cart so you don’t have to wait to be picked, rentals range from PhP 3,000-4,000 a day. Mountain bikes can also be rented if you like to burn the calories from all the sumptuous buffets in the island at PhP 300 a day. If budget permits, you can also get one of the Segways to get you around for an hour.
Other water activities include sailing (especially during the sunset), surfing, paddle-boarding, water skiing and wake boarding.
The family can ride the sports yacht, which can be rented at PhP 200,000 for a day including snacks and lunch, docking at Cagbalete and other nearby islands in Quezon. A maximum of 12 passesngers can be accommodated plus the yacht crew and Captain.
Each village has a unique pool (or maybe two). Costa del Sol has 2 – salt-water and fresh-water pool opposite each other, fronting the beach. Mykonos has an indoor and outdoor pool set perfectly against its beach. Toscana, Phuket, Bali and Balesin have their own pools too.
And the food? You may read here for more about the various cuisines from world-class chefs in the island.
Watch out for it! In the mean time, may I indulge you with other highlighted photos of our stay there: