Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kapuluan Vista Resort

After that scathing review of Hannah's Beach Resort, I feel the need to maintain the yin-yang balance, at least as far as resorts on Pagudpud are concerned. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case a few hundred meters down the road from Hannah's, lies Kapuluan Vista Resort.

Photo by JB Macatulad

Now THIS is the resort you want to be checked in to. Tasteful and cozy interiors coupled with reasonable prices would be enough to make you forget about the horror that is Hannah's. We were lucky enough to meet Mike, a career surfer who several years ago left Southern California and relocated here with his family. He personally attends to his guests needs and even though we weren't even checked in to one of the rooms in the resort he still took the time to accommodate all our needs and made sure that we were well looked after.

The food is simply fabulous, and I particularly like that each entree was served with a generous helping of organic salad that they grow from their own backyard. Food is prepared from scratch though, so it might take a while for the food to be served specially if you dine in large groups, as we did. But once the food arrives, you'll find it's well worth the wait. The dinakdakan is a must-try, as is Alma's Margarita. If you like to spice things up a bit ask for a little of Mike's Hot Sauce, which they make themselves. The food here was so much better here that we would go through the trouble of walking the distance to this resort. Needless to say, we never ate at Hannah's again during our entire stay.

Photo by JB Macatulad

Since it's a rather small resort you'd have to book way in advance to make sure you have reservations. My sister-in-law said that a friend tried to book for Holy Week in December but as early as then it was already fully booked. But with that comes the assurance that you're getting quality food, service and accommodations that you wouldn't mind spending your hard-earned money on. By the way, did I mention that wifi is free?

If you're looking for a place to stay in Pagudpud, this is certainly the place I'd recommend. Here's a link to their site: http://www.tjhawaii.com/kvr/index.htm

Hannah's Beach Resort and Convention Center

Although this blog has been inactive for about 10 months now, I've decided to reopen it because I just had to post a review of Hannah's Beach Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

When we checked out their website before leaving Manila, we got the impression that we were paying a premium to be in an idyllic, relaxing venue that would be just what everyone needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Alas, nothing could be farther from the truth. In the more than 10 hours that we travelled from Manila (including an overnight stay in Vigan) we hardly encountered any congestion in the roads leading up to Pagudpud. That is, until we were just a few hundred meters away from Hannah's. The narrow dirt road leading up to the resort was lined with cars parked end to end so much so that only one direction could move at any given time. Either somebody lacked the foresight about how this would destroy the beach environment or are just too greedy counting their profits to care about how they're spoiling a potential world-class destination.

Photo by JB Macatulad

Speaking of greed, what we would encounter at Hannah's boggles the mind. They tout their resort as a "convention center" but charge Php75 an hour(!) for wi-fi. They don't allow outside food and drinks but don't even provide their guests with a couple of complimentary bottles of water to quench them upon arrival. The food was terrible and the prices atrocious. To put things in perspective, a cup of extra rice cost Php35 and what they served us wasn't even cooked well! Don't even get me started on the Chicken Afritada which you could probably get from one of the unpretentious carinderias just outside their gates for a tenth of the price. What they don't realize is that charging a premium for food and drinks should at least be justifiable by the quality of both the food and service, which were both sorely lacking. Also, I couldn't remember the last time I paid so much for a room that did not include a complimentary breakfast. Oh, and while you eat you're in for a ghastly karaoke serenade from a horrible singer.

While we're on the subject of karaoke, while we were there they emptied out the enclosed karaoke room and placed the machine in the pool area, converting the former into a dormitory. If you were unfortunate enough to be in a room near there (as many of ours were) you'd be in for quite a rude awakening. Also on rudeness, I read a traveladvisor.com review of one guest who had one of the staff barging in their room without even knocking while they were being intimate. We know that staff would enter our room without our knowledge because the items we got from the so-called mini bar were already in our bill even before we left. Thing is, they don't even make up the beds or clean up when they do so.

Tacky decor with no thought for customer convenience, inutile staff, a refrigerator plugged right beside your bed where your feet would be, guests swimming in the (cloudy) pool in their shorts and t-shirts despite signs requiring proper swimming attire, the list of rants is endless.

Someone once told me that "a satisfied customer will tell five friends; a dissatisfied one will tell fifty." I certainly hope at least as much would be able to read this before they make the mistake of booking what they anticipate would be a wonderful stay. At least one thing's for sure: that at least 26 people (which was how big our group was) will never be going back nor recommend this place to any of our friends. That's at least 52 thumbs down!