In one of my recent posts, I already shared my adventures of island hopping in Palawan (Philippines) with you. What I haven’t told you much about yet, is the actual resort I stayed at: Club Paradise Palawan.
Club Paradise has its own little island, Dimakya, in the northern area of Palawan, just north of Busuanga island.
Getting to Club Paradise Palawan
The best way to get to Club Paradise is to take a flight to Busuanga airport (airport code: USU). Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly there multiple times a day from Manila. From there, you need to take a taxi or mini van to the pier, and from there a boat to the island.
The hotel organised my transfer for me, and I’m glad they did. I found out on my return journey (we’ll get to that later…) that organising a transfer yourself can get pretty complicated. So I’d definitely choose this option again.
Waiting at the pier, this speedboat came to pick me up to get through the mangrove forests downriver towards the open sea…
…where I transferred to Club Palawan’s traditional Outrigger boat. You can see Dimakya Island behind me on the right side!
Almost there… Just look at the turquoise waters and the perfect beach!
Arriving at Club Paradise
I was welcomed by the resort’s band and all the staff that was nearby, singing a song. Throughout my entire two weeks in the Philippines, everyone always made a point to feel me and the other attendees of the conference feel welcome. The Filipino hospitality really is as impressive as they say!
I handed over my passport and the reception team dealt with all the check in procedures, while I sat down on the restaurant terrace with a welcome drink and relaxed, enjoying stunning views of turquoise waters and the surrounding islands.
Once everything was arranged, I was whisked off to my room. A staff member grabbed my hand luggage and my big bag was delivered shortly afterwards – I had nothing to carry and could enjoy the views. Once we got to the room that would be my home for the next few days, the terrace was already set up for a “foot spa”. Every guest is welcomed with a complementary foot wash, which includes an exfoliating rub and foot massage.
The set up for my complimentary foot massage on the terrace
The Garden Suite Rooms at Club Paradise
My room was a Garden Suite, surrounded by jungles and set just above the island’s lagoon, home of the island’s dinosaurs (okay, they’re Monitor Lizards. Surely look like dinosaurs to me though). Aside from the little terrace, which came with padded chairs, the Garden Suite had a large room with floor to ceiling windows and a king sized bed. There was also a small desk, a flat screen TV and coffee station with complimentary coffee, tea, water and homemade cookies, which I declared my arrival snack and ate immediately.
The welcome pack I found on my bed: aside from information about the island and a welcome letter from the General Manager, it also contained a handy beach bag and some sun screen lotion.
The coffee station with personalized welcome sign and free cookies!
The sink with amenities. The bathroom was huge!
My king size bed in the “day” outfit. Little but important detail for modern travelers: there plenty of power outlets in the room, including next to the bed, so I could conveniently charge my phone and camera overnight.
The bed in “evening outfit”: A “good night” pillow with the message stitched in.
Another little detail: There were different shapes and sizes of pillows on the bed, so even though I normally take ages to get comfortable in a hotel bed, I found a comfortable setup pretty quickly here!
I should mention here that when I stayed at Club Paradise, they were in the process of renovating. That was fine, the team notified me about the renovations going on in their very first email to me, so I knew what to expect. It was their low season and I actually like seeing hotels that renovate regularly, keeping on top of things and making their resort the best it can be.
The first two days, the restaurant was functioning as normal in a beautiful large wooden building just off the beach, with seating both inside and outside on the terrace, and gorgeous views.
Breakfast was set up as a buffet, with live cooking stations offering various egg dishes as well as pancakes. For dinner, guests could choose between a buffet and ordering à la carte. As I wasn’t very hungry on my first evening (remember the cookies in the room?), I opted for a simple noodle dish from the menu instead of a full buffet, thinking it would be a small portion. The portion I received was more than generous though.
My massive portion of stir fried noodles with shrimp and lots of fresh vegetables
A snapshot from the breakfast buffet. I really liked the colourful black boards explaining the different dishes.
My breakfast before heading off for an island hopping tour. Highlights for me were the little salads served in a glass, which were a bit different each day. And of course the fresh fruit. If you’re ever in the Philippines, you have to try the mangoes! They’re incredibly good.
On the last day, when heading our for lunch, I came to find the restaurant under construction. I was quickly whisked away towards the beach though, where the team had set up a big white tent right on the beach, with an open air buffet just a few meters from the water. What a way to make the most of a renovation time and surprise your guests!
Hello, beach lunch with a view!
The beach buffet with a live cooking station offering grilled prawns
Can’t beat that view! There is nothing more lovely than having lunch with your feet in the sand.
The little salads in a glass I enjoyed at breakfast made an appearance at lunch as well! In heartier, more seafood-y versions.
I like desserts… and the pastry chef at Club Paradise was really good! A lot of times at hotel buffets, I end up being a bit disappointed with desserts, especially cakes, looking better than they taste. Not the case here, the desserts were really tasty, to the point that I went to the General Manager to tell him!
A little close-up of a small section of the dessert buffet. Filipinos love their desserts!
Glow Spa’s treats and treatments
Club Paradise wanted me to experience everything they offered, so aside from the Palawan island hopping tour I did on day 2 of my stay with them, they also invited me for a spa treatment. I was traveling in the rainy season. As you can see in most of my photos, we had plenty of beautiful sunny weather. But in the afternoons, it occasionally rained… sometimes it was pouring it down. I used that time for a relaxing spa session to experience my first Filipino massage, a traditional Hilot massage.
I had my massage in the Glow Spa, a small separate building behind the restaurant in a very quiet area of the island. The rooms had soothing lighting and lots of natural materials. The reception team had reserved an appointment for me when I checked in, and I was shown to my private massage room immediately.
The massage itself was good and very relaxing. It was my first full day in the Philippines after two days of travel with a layover in Dubai and an overnight stop in Manila, and the massage really helped me relax into my mini-holiday before the conference and relieved the muscular tension from sitting in an airplane for so long.
The Glow Spa building, set in a quiet area behind the restaurant. They also set up an outdoor spa right on the beach if the weather permits!
My post-massage treat: A sweet ginger tea with lots of extra ginger and calamansi, a filipino fruit similar to limes. I love ginger tea!
Getting back to Manila…
After the beautiful beach lunch on the last day, it was time to say good bye to Club Paradise and Dimakya Island and head to the airport for my flight back to Manila.
A storm with a forecast of heavy rain was coming in, so even though it was still super sunny on the island, the team prepped our group of about 10 people for a rainy boat ride back. We were all given heavy duty rain coats, and our bags were wrapped up in waterproof bags and boxes. We set off from a sunny beach, but were soon met with dark clouds and heavy rain. There was a rain cover on the boat, but rain was coming in sideways from the front, so we were all very happy to have those rain coats! We made it safely to the pier, where vans were already waiting to take us to the airport. It was goodbye to beautiful Palawan… or was it?
Quite the view: By the end of our beach lunch, Dimakya island was the last sunny spot in the area with clear turquoise water, as it was getting dark everywhere around us!
Heavy duty rain coats for everyone! The Club Paradise team had our backs.
Remember the rain coming in sideways? The team even protected us from that!
…or would I get back to Manila?
The Club Paradise team got us all safely to the airport. But we didn’t know yet if planes were going to fly out as planned with this rain, and on top of that, there was fog setting in quickly over the airport. Did I make it back to Manila? That’s a story for another post… stay tuned!
The verdict: Club Paradise Palawan
From the first email we exchanged, to the last boat trip back to the airport and beyond, Club Paradise was a great example of the famous Filipino hospitality. I was traveling on my own, and their team made me feel incredibly welcome. The resort itself had a beautiful setting in the middle of an island paradise, and I very much wished I could spend more time there. It was also nice to see a hotel making the best of a renovation period in off season, treating guests to complementary island tours and setting up a beautiful pop up restaurant on the beach. Some parts of the resort have become a bit outdated over the years, but they are clearly on it and renovating what needs to be renewed. I’m very much looking forward to returning some day and seeing the new pool, pool bar and the new beach front rooms.
Sneak preview: the new pool
I’ve been in touch with Club Paradise after my stay, and they’ve shared a photo of the new pool area with me! Even though the sea water is almost as clear as the pool, this looks like a great new addition, with fountains and a little whirlpool-type area where you could relax and enjoy island life.
There are also plenty of new looking sun loungers and the renovated Shack Bar right next to the pool will keep guests hydrated and happy throughout the day with their fresh fruit smoothies and cocktails.
Picture courtesy of the Club Paradise team – the brand new pool area!
Note: Club Paradise generously hosted me during my time in Palawan. All opinions are my own and I will only recommend hotels and activities I truly enjoy. This place is truly awesome.