Paradise at a price
With secluded luxury villas overlooking the Mindanao Sea, Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa is luxurious but you'll need deep pockets to stay there
Travelling as part of a media junket to Bohol Island in the Philippines in February, I stayed a couple of nights at the Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa. One of island's most luxurious hotels and at US$500 to $3,200 per night in the high, not peak, season, also the most expensive, Eskaya is touted as a paradise on earth, blessed with gardens and tall trees plus a private beach.
Located on the Panglao Island, considered part of Bohol, Eskaya enjoys seclusion from other hotels, its own private beach and spectacular sea views. Although there for two nights, I didn't get to use many of the resort's services due to other commitments, though other members of the group did enjoy treatments at the Handuraw Spa. I spent most of my time either chilling in my room or at the poolside dining area.
My villa - Balai Type 1 Seaview Villa - was small compared to other villas, many of which boast private pools. I was most impressed by the big bed complete with mosquito net and the interior design, which featured lovely wood panelling and plenty of bamboo. But although the room looked quite big, it wasn't all that spacious and I couldn't help but feel more thought could have been given to the layout, with the tables repositioned for a more airy feel. There was a terrace, but to access it I needed to open the sliding door. That proved easier said than done, as the lock was faulty and the door refused to open. Had I been staying longer, I would have requested that it be fixed but being out all day, I never got round to it. I assume the next guests duly complained.
The resort is very clean, the staff are attentive (you have your own butler) and amenities are high end but I personally don't feel the price is commensurate to the services provided. However, I'm talking about one villa in the entire resort and other media members were very happy with their villas, so perhaps it was just bad luck.
I was perfectly happy with the outdoor shower area, the whirlpool bathtub (decorated with fresh flowers) and the other amenities. During the two nights, I spent a long time in the bath tub de-stressing after a long day on the road and loved listening to nothing but the winds rustling through the thick foliage above and the waves crashing on the shore.
On my second night, we had dinner in the resort at the Lantawan Restaurant, which overlooks the sea. With live music, the dining was superb and memorable and the band continued singing even though the guests left their tables. Children from a nearby community performed a cultural show, making dinner much more colourful and never boring.
I believe the poolside dining area is the best place to chill out after sunset. It's cool and windy, a perfect setting for an informal get-together. After a few drinks, a friend from a travel magazine invited us to check out his Presidential Villa with a big private pool. Unfortunately he didn't have time for swimming. Returning late at night, he checked into the spa for foot massage and retreated to his room to watch movies. I liked his villa and the pool with a magnificent sea view. We had time to check out some resorts nearby on our way to the airport, and it turns out many on the beach cater to group tours. We are lucky to stay at Eskaya, which is blessed with peace and quiet.
At a glance
High Point: Guests enjoy plenty of pampering from the attentive staff in a peaceful and secluded beachside location. Amenities are of high quality and the private pool villas are impressive.
Low Point: Prices are very high even for the quality of the resort. The secluded location means you are effectively "locked" inside the property and will need to eat at its restaurants. Going out requires hiring a private car.
Find it: Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines.
Call it: (+63 38) 502 9516
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