SITUATED off the eastern coast of Luzon lies Balesin Island Club, a 500-hectare tropical paradise with seven themed villages that makes you feel you have vacationed in Europe and Asia in just one stay.
For two days, we got to experience this luxurious members-only resort as a treat when my first cousin Fred celebrated his 50th birthday there recently with family and close friends.
Just a 25-minute plane ride from Manila, we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff with lovely leis and sweet mango juice upon our arrival. After a short briefing, we were whisked off to the clubhouse where we leisurely enjoyed our Filipino lunch while waiting for our check-in time.
My cousin booked our family at the Balesin Villa because of its accessibility to the clubhouse, beachfront and other facilities. And, it turned out to be a wonderful choice with its indigenous architecture and design. The spacious villa included an outdoor and indoor shower, jacuzzi, deck and other modern amenities guaranteed to make guests extra comfortable.
The afternoon was getting warmer, making the kids restless. No problemo! A visit to Mykonos Village cooled them off as they swam in the refreshing pool which had a shaded part if the sun gets too hot to handle and an open area with a breathtaking view of the white and blue Cycladic cubic architecture ala the famous houses of Mykonos and Santorini in Greece.
After an hour of swimming, we moved to St. Tropez to catch the enchanting sunset while taking in the French Riviera vibe. The colorful rooms with individual balconies facing the expansive pool and the Pacific Ocean were inspired by the iconic Hotel Byblos, a spellbinding backdrop for our family photos.
For dinner, my cousin Fred’s birthday fete was exclusively set up at the Balesin Sala. That night, we also celebrated my cousin Lyn’s natal day. These two people are very dear to me because I stayed with them during my college years in Manila and are almost like my siblings.
The hearty buffet spread consisted of Costa del Sol’s Spanish signature dishes such as Sopa de Ajo, Cochinillo, Paella Valenciana, Croquetas, Lengua Estofada, Bacalao ala Vizcaina, Albondigas en Salsa, and for dessert, Canonigo and Tocino del Cielo. While dining, an acoustic band serenaded us with timeless and contemporary songs.
The following morning, we joined a jeepney tour to take us to all of the island’s themed villages. Aside from Balesin (Philippines), Mykonos (Greece) and St. Tropez (France), we were captivated by Bali (Indonesia), Phuket (Thailand), Costa del Sol (Spain), and Toscana (Italy) where we relished our mouthwatering pizza and pasta for lunch.
No stone was left unturned by Balesin Island Club’s developer, Alphaland Corporation, as it ensured that each village appeared and felt authentic from the architecture, interior design and food served at the specialty restaurants and bars.
During the fascinating tour, we also explored the Balesin Royal Villa, Balesin Spa, Aegle Wellness Center, Rico’s Hideaway, Seafood Shack, among many others.
In the afternoon, another surprise treat awaited our group as we boarded M/Y Obsessions, a 130-foot super yacht, for our sunset cruise. The vessel’s elegant interiors were designed by Ann Van Der Kamp and Diaship, and the materials used were from the house of Gianni Versace, no less!
At the sun deck, we savored the savory canapes while we sat back and marveled at the stunning ocean view. As the sun set, family and friends raised their wine glasses and gave a heartwarming toast to the well-loved birthday boy.
Cheers to you, Ahia Fred, on your 50th birthday! Thank you for your kind and generous heart, and for always putting family first!
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 03, 2017.
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