After having visited Real, Quezon, Boracay and Bohol during my month-long vacation in the Philippines, I came to a conclusion that I am certain my friends (who came with me) would likewise agree: My three-night stay at “Eskaya” in Panglao, Bohol is by far the best one ever.
Adding the fact that my recent vacation to the Philippines was indeed the most memorable and the one where, I admit, I enjoyed the most. Like any Balikbayan-Bakasyonista, my itinerary surely includes beaches. After all, we have one – if not the most– beautiful beaches in the world. One of my beach destinations is “Eskaya.” I didn’t have a clue where and how famous the resort was until I saw it for myself. An invite stay at the resort was arranged by – and thanks to – my friends Reuben and Janet Nepales, who are friends with Phoebe and Richard Lim Sr., owners of Eskaya. I met them at the Golden Globe Awards 2 years ago.
When I told my friends that I am invited to this heavenly sanctuary, it literally sent them into vacay-mode overdrive! (It was later brought to my attention that Eskaya is the most luxurious resort in the Philippines, not only in Bohol).
So off we went; six of us (Lenit, Payat, Joel, Ero, Oning and I). My friends kept telling me great things about the resort. It just dawned on me that the mere mention of its name would really cause anyone to pack up and go. Apparently, the resort bears such an esteemed reputation.
The entire place is just oozing with romantic ambiance and zen-like sceneries. Everything – from the sceneries, powdery sand beach front, top-notch facilities to the roofed villas, the food, the lush mountains and crystal-clear beach – is perfect.
According to one of the articles written about the resort, “After making an initial P200-million investment in 2007, Richard Lim Sr., who first made a fortune in salt and cement Richard Lim Sr and his wife, Phoebe opened Eskaya’s first phase in 2009 consisting of 15 Filipino-inspired villas with semi-outdoor bathrooms designed by [renowned] architect Bobby Mañosa. Three of the couple’s four sons—Ralph, Richard Jr. and Rex—have since joined the family enterprise.
Eskaya’s Architect, Francisco “Bobby” Manosa designed the famed Amanpulo Resort in Palawan, and is famous for using the nipa hut or bahay kubo as inspiration for his designs.
My eyes feasted over the scenic beach that boasts of powdery sand stretching up to five kilometers. It’s the best resort I’ve ever been to, bar none. We were ushered to our room which I believe is called the “Balai Datu,” or the Presidential suite. It is actually the largest villa. It has 6 spacious rooms and a view of the infinity pool. Most of the villas have their own private pool, outdoor showers and whirlpool tubs, and a stunning view. By the way, the bathroom itself is already a treat! Even the complimentary toiletries are ‘branded’ (and I meant, Bulgari- branded).
They also have the Handuraw Spa situated atop a hill overlooking the vast Bohol Sea, which offers traditional Filipino and Asian spa treatments. During our stay we were welcome to use all of these amenities, including the swim-up bar, mini library and sport facilities such as the golf cart, mountain bike, kayak and other water sports gears.
My favorite of all is the dining experience. All meals are included and guests can choose to dine under the stars by the poolside, or at the beachfront with a romantic bonfire, and the smell of food grills wafting through the air and mixing with the sea breeze, or simply enjoy the warm ambiance of Lantawan Restaurant. The guests are also serenaded with wonderful music as they dine.
We had the pleasure of dining with the owner, Richard Lim Sr. on our first night. He was gracious enough to accommodate my request for a short interview. He said he wants Eskaya to redeem Bohol’s place in being a top tourist destination, after its slight decline in tourism caused by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in 2013. He spoke of plans to expand in order to appeal to their high-end clientele.
As of writing, the plans for expansion includes construction of 9 more villas from the 15 that they have. They plan to have 24 villas and 60 more deluxe rooms. There are also plans to put up resorts in Palawan, Tagaytay and other areas outside of Bohol where tourism is currently on the upswing
Well, I bet they would need the expansion especially this summer. I can go on and on about how beautiful Eskaya is but there’s only one way to find out. And like me, expect to be mesmerized by this sanctuary that is just incomparably magnificent.
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