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Resort Review: Balesin Island

by Angel C. Aquino

The Balesin Island experience is characterized by luxury and tranquility.

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Even before you get there, you’ll feel like a VIP as you check in at CAAP/Alphaland Hangar in Manila and help yourself to free coffee and refreshments. As you board a private chartered plane, you’ll hear the excited chatter of members and their guests, who’ve come from all over the world to experience a unique, luxurious island getaway.

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As the plane prepares to land, look out the window to catch your first glimpse of Balesin, a 500-hectare island located off the eastern coast of Luzon. Though it’s just a 25-minute plane ride from Manila, this tropical paradise is a gateway to another world, where east meets west and where modern structures intersect with nature’s wonders.

Where to Stay

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Balesin has seven villages, meticulously designed to portray some of the world’s most beautiful travel destinations. Balesin Village gives you a taste of luxurious island life, with private villas located right by a white sand beach. Modeled after a nipa hut, each villa showcases traditional Filipino architecture with all the modern conveniences.

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If you fancy a trip around Asia, consider Bali Village. You’ll notice that each villa’s roof looks like a salakot, the traditional Asian farmer’s hat. If you desire a more romantic and secluded location, stay in one of Bali’s water villas, where you get an amazing view of the Balesin sunset. You can also try Phuket Village, whose structures have multiple roof tiers and pointed finials reminiscent of grand Thai temples.

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If you’re up for a European adventure, take your pick from Mykonos, St. Tropez, Costa del Sol, and Toscana. With its classic blue and white structures patterned after those in the Greek island, Mykonos villas will make you feel cool, calm, and relaxed. Meanwhile, the bright colorful exteriors of St. Tropez will make you feel like partying in the French Riviera. At Costa del Sol, you’ll feel as if you’re lounging in a quaint, coastal town in Southern Spain. And finally, Toscana Village will transport you to Tuscany, where lush vineyards and art masterpieces await.

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Big groups such as wedding parties or corporate teams who want their own private area can opt to stay at the Balesin Royal Villa, a majestic abode fit for kings and queens.

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Where to Eat

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Just as each village has a unique theme, the island’s restaurants can also transport you to different culinary worlds. Have a traditional Filipino breakfast by the sea at the Balesin Sala. For lunch, Bali Village’s The Warung features authentic Indonesian dishes, such as laksa and nasi goreng. For a taste of Thai cuisine, head to Phuket Village’s The Salathip, where you can have your fill of tom yum goong and pad Thai. You’ll also find Sakura Japanese Restaurant, Han-Gang Korean Restaurant, and Mark’s Steakhouse at the main clubhouse.

IMAGE: Angel Aquino

For dinner, check out Thanassis Taverna at Mykonos Village, which offers a spread of Greek dishes, such as gyros, moussaka, and grilled lamb ribs. Or perhaps you’d like to try Trattoria Toscana, which features freshly made pizza and pasta. If you’re craving for Spanish cuisine, Costa del Sol’s Casa Grande has the best paella and cochinillo asado, a suckling pig with tender, juicy meat and the crispiest, tastiest skin.

Where to Drink

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Spend happy hour at Nusa Dua Bar, where you can watch the sunset while sipping your cocktails and munching on signature Balinese appetizers. Located right above the water, the bar has a 360-degree view of the ocean.

We also recommend the sangria at Costa del Sol’s Casa Grande. It’s fresh, fruity, and just the right kind of sweet—you’ll have finished the whole pitcher without even knowing it. Best paired with a selection of tasty tapas.

If you don’t want to leave your comfy villa, just grab a beer from the mini-fridge and go out to the porch or the balcony. With a gorgeous view, the sound of crashing waves, and the breeze caressing your skin, what more could you ask for?

What to Do

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All villages have a beachfront but Balesin Village has the best beach by far. Whether you head to the beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you’ll enjoy digging your toes into the smooth, white sand and taking a dip in the sea. Try a water sport or two at the Aquatic Sports Center, where you can rent equipment for kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, or scuba diving.

If you want to break a sweat, head over to the Sports Center where you can play basketball, tennis, badminton, and more. You can also rent a mountain bike and use it to explore the island at your own leisure. Another option is to head to The Stables, where you can ride a horse and gallop along the island trails.

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But if all you want to do is rest and recover from a tiring week, that’s perfectly okay, too. All villages have swimming pools and jacuzzis where you can just lounge around while having a fresh fruit shake. If your body needs some extra TLC, head over to the Balesin Spa for a relaxing massage. You can also visit Aegle Wellness Center, which is the only place in the Philippines that offers thalassotherapy, a medical treatment for weight loss and detoxification using the components of seawater.

Things You Should Know

Balesin Island is exclusive to members and their guests. But if you’re not a member or you don’t know anyone who is, don’t worry. The island is open for weddings, conferences, and events, so maybe you can convince your boss to hold your next company outing there! Runners can join an adventure trail run that’s usually held in November.

Visit their official website for more details.

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About Angel C.
Angel C. Aquino is a freelance writer, editor, and fiction author based in Manila. She believes she can make her tiny corner of the world just a little bit brighter by writing stories filled with positivity, hope, and love. Check out her tips on writing, traveling, and healthy living at angelcaquino.com.

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