Panglao, you had me at South Palms

 

Dear Ella Marie

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I fell in love.

Not the kind you get every day but just as familiar as you remember your true love.

I fell in love…

…not with a person…not with a place.

I fell in love with a moment. A moment that will be more than just a memory after today.

 

So much for the dramatic preface. But oh how I meant it.

After the almost 8-hour visual treat around some of Bohol’s famous landmarks, we were on our way where the air was saltier.  There was an almost deafening silence inside the car. Maybe we were all becoming weary or maybe it was the afternoon heat. Or perhaps, it was because I was on my way to a place where I once stayed awake from dusk till dawn. And the thought of it was like a dream.

Panglao Island, located at the southwest of Bohol and east of Cebu, carved a name for itself and had fast become one of the country’s beach and water sports haven for local and foreign tourists. When I was just trying to book for accommodations, I was surprised of the many options Agoda had offered and all were pretty inviting.  But the moment I saw its name, I knew it was the one. And boy, was I right!

And just like how it was 10 years ago, Panglao Island had me at first sight…but this time…it happened in South Palms.

 

 

As soon as we got out of our vehicle, complete with cute puso-like garlands made of palm leaves that they put around our necks and the very refreshing complimentary welcome drinks, we were greeted by genuinely warm smiles of the resort staffs ushering us to the reception desk.

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The lobby and reception area exuded a fusion of contemporary minimalist Balinese interior and local elements of nipa, cogon and shell that accentuated the generally white exteriors organically blends in the canvass of sands, skies, greens and the seas.

After getting our keys, we were escorted to our little home for the next 2 days.  The first step onto the sandy cobble-stoned path leading to the garden villas had immediately took me back to the whimsical chapter 1 of “The Longest Weekend”. It was like a déjà vu.

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Preview of the beach from the lobby

We passed by the sea of palm trees and saw the teaser of the beach. The glimpse made me skip a heartbeat. Each step we took saw a story waiting to be told.  It was quite a long walk but all worth it. What with all the greens, blues and browns that abound the view.

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Getting help from just one of the many superbly accommodating South Palms staff

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The walk to our room was an adventure in itself 😉

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Our home for the weekend

The moment we reached our villa, we knew another adventure is starting. The unassuming exterior of pebble-washed walls and Cogon roof is a little contrast to the contemporary Asian feature of the interior. We stayed in one of the Deluxe Garden View Villas, supposedly the smallest of all rooms but is quite just right for us 3. The room was adequately spaced with a very comfortable King-sized bed to boot.  The mood lighting greatly accentuated the simple yet clean and posh look of the room.  The air-conditioning was perfectly set. Amenities like 32-inch LED Cable TV, Free WI-FI Access, Coffee Maker/Tea Service, regularly stocked Mini-Bar, a Safety Deposit Box, Hair Dryer, Hot and Cold Bath System made me forget the moolah I set free for the vacay. Before heading out and see the beach, me and sibs just got silly and rolled around the King bed for a bit.

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South Palms opted for a horizontal development and offered the following different types of villas of your preference.

Deluxe Garden View

Deluxe Pool View

Deluxe Beachfront

Premium Beachfront

Beach Villa

South Palms Villa

Panglao Villa

Check Accommodations http://www.southpalmsresort.com/accommodations

And then we went and conquered the beach.

The Friday afternoon sun was starting to slowly set but it gamely displayed enough sunshine for us. While Prince took photography seriously and roamed the shores, Phoebe immediately claimed ownership of one of the outdoor suspended beds and I found my own lair where I just stared at the receding sea as it met the sky somewhere. It was a native hammock made of twines tied in between just 2 of the thousand coconut trees.

I swear I could stay on that spot for as long as…

…it can hold me…. 😥

 

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And then there was this romantic dinner by the beach set-up. I wish I stayed longer to eavesdrop the couple.  It would have been like watching a movie scene from just yards away.

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My brother likes to shoot birds than wasting shots on us….

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We went back to our villa to take a shower and rest a bit before we went out to dinner.  Oceanica Seafood Restaurant was a beautiful medley of blue, purple and warm white from afar as we walked towards it.  We were still feeling the weight of our lunch so we settled for just a serving of Katsu and Chicken Pork Adobo.  The Katsu was cooked just right with the perfect light crunch on the outside around a tender and juicy meat, though the sauce was a bit too sweet for me.  The classic Chicken-Pork Adobo was a winner. We thought the serving was too much at first but the empty plates suggested it was that good!

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There was a live acoustic duo playing and they sounded so good that the dinner satisfied us not only gastronomically and visually but pinched our hearts with their cool rendition of Wonderful Tonight.

It was a “Wonderful Night” indeed.

The next 2 days was a roller coaster ride of fun, excitement, freedom and tranquility. There is indeed something about the sea or just being near it that liberates you somehow. Whatever it was, I owned it even for just a while…and it was enough.

 

We woke up to an early bright sun so we decided to bask in it before breakfast comes calling.

 

And then we had our breakfast.

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The Breakfast Table View.

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The Coast Pool Bar

The subtle charm the native elements of the structures and simple details that generously abound the resort were complemented by the bold colors of the beach lounges.  They were playfully satisfying our vision as we roamed the beach some more.

Then the sea came calling.

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To our surprise, the resort did not look fully-booked to us as advised by the reception desk when I inquired about vacant rooms for an interested friend. It was as if the beach was all mine that day. There were people of course, but it was not the typical crowded beach you’ll expect and it was still considerably summery. I found out later that resort guests can avail of a free shuttle service to Alona Beach and neighboring resorts if they wanted a more crowded, activity-filled experience or try other restos of their choice.  The 3 of us opted to stay in.  I saw families from a distant and some couples that pass by but other than the sound of the waves, wind and the shutter’s sound nearby, it was the perfectly quiet beach experience I needed.

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Beach Front Villa

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Under the shade after first swim

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SHAKES! (L-R) Peanut Kisses, Rocky Road & Classic Milky Buko

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The Panglao Villa:

http://www.southpalmsresort.com/accommodations/panglao-villa

 

 

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Deluxe Pool View Area

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Room Service Merienda: South Palms Signature Hawaiian Pizza and classic French Fries

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All the swimming (crawling) made us hungry

 

The night was so magical that we refused to end it early…and so the strolling continued.

 

 

 

Last Day.

It was a gloomy Sunday morning and it did not help the fact that we were leaving the place.  We headed to breakfast in silence and had let the weather lead the way.

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It rained hard and we could not agree more with the sky.

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Trying to smile just before saying goodbye

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How to drink Yakult in style

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Wrote them a li’l note

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What I loved about South Palms is the harmony that all the elements exude reminding you at every angle why you took this vacation in the first place.  If you are someone seeking parties and is more into activities and fun adventures, you may find this resort unexciting. But for me, I came to the right place.

My Personal Rating

   Hotel Condition/Cleanliness 4.5/5

    Facilities 4.0/5

    Location 5/5

    Room Comfort/Standard 4.5/5

    Service 5/5

    Value for Money 4/5

    Food/Dining 4/5

Overall: 4.5

Other amenities and activities you should try: Diving & Snorkeling, Bohol Tours, Palm, The Spa, Fitness & Recreational Center and Boating.

I have not been to many resorts but among those I went to, this would now be my favorite. Being the creature of a habit that I am, I know I will find myself in this place again…soon.

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People say that when you’re in love, you become a poet. And in that Friday afternoon, just before twilight’s entrance, the beach just made me one.

 

When I said I fell in love with the moment.

I meant it at every shutter that froze each millisecond.

I meant it in the way I let the sand and heat hurt my skin.

I meant it with the way I let the waters drown me for a moment.

I fell in love as I lay me down on a hammock and just savored the infinite blue…

…and let me remembered a lost memory.

I fell in love with how my favorite paperback smelled against the salty air.

I fell in love watching couples is silhouette as they walked between me and the seas.

I fell in love with those moments…and that was enough.

On June 12, 2016, on a rainy Independence Day…

…I left a fragment of my heart in South Palms.

Love

Me

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