B O N D I N G G A L O R E
When I was a kid, the trend among Philippine households was owning a rest house in an out-of-town location. It was a pricey investment that only the rich could afford. As I grew up, local tourism became attainable for middle-class families like mine. More resorts and hotels opened in desirable towns which made weekend getaways affordable for more Filipinos. Finally, groups of people can enjoy urban escapes more often.
To ensure that you bring your family to a reliable resort or hotel that definitely seals off bonding moments sans the headaches, I've rounded up 20 of them -- alphabetized according to their respective provincial locations -- that I've tested for your convenience:
Discovery Shores (Aklan)
Location: At the beachfront of the less tourist-thronged Boat Station 1 of Boracay's White Beach
Family Factor: Most adults can stand the unexpected delays in boat transfer between a 50-minute plane ride and a few minutes of commute at the island of Boracay to reach a booked resort. However, even adults have shown contempt online about the ridiculous journey to one's target destination. I have personally gone through something similar, but I managed to charge it to experience. As a result, my third visit of the island was handled by the exemplary staff of Discovery Shores from my arrival at the airport to the necessary check-in at the resort and back. My verdict? Simply flawless. I appreciated that my co-travelers' son enjoyed a cupcake-making class at the resort while they had a personal time for themselves. If I was a kid during the whole shebang, I'd be less cranky.
Read more about Discovery Shores
|Discovery Shores Boracay (Aklan)|
Location: At the beachfront of Diniwid Beach, the laid-back shoreline of Boracay (away from the crowded Stations 1, 2, and 3)
Family Factor: The Microtel brand of hospitality is consistent in all of its branches worldwide. Staff members are always courteous and kids are treated as little people. This one in Boracay is no different. As I've noticed during my last visit of the hotel-resort, there were a few number of guests with children in tow which makes this side of the island truly family-friendly.
Read more about Microtel By Wyndham Boracay
|Microtel By Wyndham Boracay (Aklan)|
Location: At a breezy enclave of the Bicol Peninsula in Albay’s town of Guinobatan
Family Factor: The resort looks like it was designed for honeymooners at first glance, but I determined during my overnight stay there that the place is also sensational for guests with kids. Its swimming pool alone is a treat for the young ones.
Read more about Casa Basilisa Resort
|Casa Basilisa Resort (Albay)|
Location: The provincial capital of Baler, roughly 143 miles northeast of Manila via a mountain pass that's accessible by bus and private vehicle
Family Factor: Its location in Aurora may be an adventure spot for surfers, but the resort has swimming pools that are kid-friendly and lukewarm all year-round. The presence of tasty dishes at its reliable restaurant can also keep the little ones from having less hissy fits.
Read more about Costa Pacifica
|Costa Pacifica (Aurora)|
Location: In Bagac, past the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Shrine (a worthy side trip for kids)
Family Factor: Ancestral house purists frown upon the presence of this resort in Bataan because of various issues with heritage upkeep, but I've determined it to be a great amusement facility for children to learn about appreciation for the old Philippines in an interesting way. Who better to take them there than their parents, right? And with all of them there having a day tour of the premises, they can stay for the night at a cozy hotel room that's designed with the same vintage aesthetic. Plus, the place has a charming batis-inspired pool for children to frolic in. Adults who want the hardcore heritage education can visit Taal, Silay City, and Vigan.
Read more about Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar
|Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar (Bataan)|
Location: In Mabini's coastal village of Anilao, 73 miles south of Metro Manila, less than an hour away from the Batangas Port
Family Factor: You'd be surprised outside the resort because the eye-candy layout shown below is nowhere like the establishment's nondescript facade. The magic happens the moment you step inside the property. The resort makes up for design what it lacks in space. If my parents took me there decades ago, I'd be one cheerful kid! What's more, the place has its own F&B facility for memorable meals.
Read more about Anilao Tanlak Beach Resort
|Anilao Tanlak Beach Resort (Batangas)|
Location: At a cliff-side terrain of a town in Batangas called Mataas Na Kahoy
Family Factor: Senior citizens will have a challenging time tackling the multi-tiered premises of this resort, but children and teenagers will definitely find its eclectic aesthetic attractive. It has enough swimming pools for large group of guests and it has features like the Tree House where they can view the whole property. Exciting activities like riding the zip line or getting on the Segway can make young guests busy while their parents get soothing treatments at the resort's in-house spa.
Read more about La Virginia Leisure Park and Amusement Resort
|La Virginia Leisure Park and Amusement Resort (Batangas)|
Location: At a quaint village of lower Scout Barrio (next to Camp John Hay) in Baguio City
Family Factor: The problem with big hotels in Baguio City is that once a family enters, each member goes on Wi-Fi mode. Worse, kids can end up venturing on their own at the lobby and other areas of the hotel unattended. With an apartel stay like at Baguio GM Apartel, the ambiance is cozy and everyone's presence is easy to spot. It's like home away from home. Its fully-furnished loft-type Family Room is highly recommended for being spacious. Dad can stock up on supplies from the market and mom can cook. Plus, it's located at the third floor of the structure, giving guests a private balcony view of the nearby Camp John Hay and the rest of the city.
Read more about Baguio GM Apartel
|Baguio GM Apartel (Benguet)|
Location: The semi-bucolic terrain of San Rafael, less than 2 hours away from Metro Manila
Family Factor: The resort is a fantastic place to instill the appreciation of nature in children because it is tree-filled and located next to Angat River. Family members can go boating, ride the Jet Ski or kayak, and even board the meal-equipped river cruise. For chilling out, it has a swimming pool that looks out into the river for a scenic view of more natural details.
Read more about San Rafael River Adventure
|San Rafael River Adventure (Bulacan)|
Location: At a cove in Roxas City's village of Talon, 15 minutes away from the city plaza
Family Factor: The beachfront of the 200-hectare resort is pleasant to relax in. However, adventurous young ones can always try its 160-meter dual cable zip line ride that offers great views of the resort's stretch.
Read more about Talon Adventure Park
|Talon Adventure Park (Capiz)|
Location: In Calamba, less than two hours away from Metro Manila
Family Factor: This hot spring resort is a great way to introduce kids to Korean culture without leaving the Philippines because the place is owned by a Korean. Dishes and snacks at its restaurant are also Korean-inspired.
Read more about 88 Hot Spring
|88 Hot Spring (Laguna)|
Location: At a highly vegetated space of Calamba, less than two hours away from Metro Manila
Family Factor: Most resorts in Calamba don't have gardens of flowers and trees like this one has. There are several swimming pools to choose from and kids can have a great time running around at the soccer field fronting the property. The good news for guests with cars is that it has enough parking spaces.
Read more about Dona Jovita Garden Resort
|Dona Jovita Garden Resort (Laguna)|
Location: In Pasig City's district of Kapitolyo
Family Factor: With the congestion of people and activities, Metro Manila is only capable of having high-rise hotels that have swimming pools. In Pasig City though, there's Ace Hotel & Suites which allows guests access to its water spa, making the whole establishment somewhat like a resort in the city. It also has a great restaurant called Sky Garden.
Read more about Ace Hotel & Suites
|Ace Hotel & Suites (Metro Manila)|
Location: At the beachfront of the laid-back Sugar Beach of Sipalay City
Family Factor: No eclectic room is the same in this beach resort. Each one is not just unique. The theme per room is also mind-boggling at first sight. For instance, there's a cave-themed room that's not fully terrestrial for having fixtures that still show modern sensibilities. What's common in all of the rooms is the use of recycled materials, making the place a great way to introduce the art of recycling to young people.
Read more about Takatuka Lodge Beach and Dive Resort
|Takatuka Lodge Beach and Dive Resort (Negros Occidental)|
Location: At a secluded shoreline of Puerto Galera
Family Factor: For guests' splendid convenience, the resort offers a travel package that includes a smooth air conditioned van pick-up from Metro Manila all the way to a private port in Batangas and a boat transfer to the beachfront of the resort. The package also includes a free ride of a charming jeepney cable car and free boat tour of the distant Agas Beach. Just take note that the resort frequently receives female European guests who sometimes sunbathe topless. In any case, keep dad blindfolded and the kids busy at the pool!
Read more about Coco Beach
|Coco Beach (Oriental Mindoro)|
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Arayat in the town of Magalang
Family Factor: The resort has the complete charm of a swimming pool, a restaurant, access to spa services and a side trip to an art museum (ancestral house) that's a stroll away from the resort facilities within the property. It's ideal for newly-wed couples, but those with kids in tow can also find the place sensational for bonding moments and communing with nature.
Read more about Abe's Farm
|Abe's Farm (Pampanga)|
Location: In the coastal village of Pangapisan, Lingayen
Family Factor: Apart from having an F&B facility that offers fantastic Filipino dishes, the resort is worth the visit for its swimming pool facilities. Lingayen Beach is just a stroll away for those who want something natural.
Read more about El Puerto Marina Beach Resort & Spa
|El Puerto Marina Beach Resort & Spa (Pangasinan)|
Location: In breezy Tayabas City
Family Factor: The sprawling 22-hectare property boasts of well-rounded facilities for families from a lagoon for boating, lanes for biking, a golf course, a children's playground and an outdoor wall climbing terrain among others. It also has its own restaurant that offers inventive local dishes and more.
Read more about Graceland Estates and Country Club
|Graceland Estates and Country Club (Quezon Province)|
Location: At the highly vegetated village of Aldea in Tanay
Family Factor: The resort's charm goes beyond its obvious banner amenities. A close inspection via a stroll enabled me to see a tennis and basketball court, a mini-zoo and koi pond, an indoor sports hall for billiards, table tennis and darts, plus an events space. It’s ideal for recreational activities that any family member can appreciate. What's more, it has a set of newly-opened hotel rooms that you won't find anywhere else in pastoral Tanay.
Read more about Momarco Resort
|Momarco Resort (Rizal)|
Location: At a beachfront of Botolan, three hours away from Metro Manila
Family Factor: The beach resort has a swimming pool and access to the beach of Zambales which offers stunning sunset views.
Read more about Rama International Beach Resort
|Rama International Beach Resort (Zambales)|