... at a very significant price'.
I was actually trying to write a review of this place but for some reasons it does not fulfil the listing criteria and I was therefore invited to write a review in the Forum which is what I intend to do below.
This is a sprawling membership place (maybe that's why it can't be listed?) featuring a country club, a beach club,
various swimming pools, a hotel, and several less than attractive
condominium buildings separated by a salt water lagoon and containing hundreds of plain, beehive style apartments.
This review relates mainly to the hotel, which you can access only if you amember sponsoring you.
This is one place that sums up the characteristics of the vast majority of the Philippines' resorts. In other words, if you want to know what 90% of the resort facilities in the Philippines (and probably 99.9% of those around Manila) look like, Hamilo is a very good example.
It's not that the place is awfully dirty or that toilets don't work or that
staff snarl at you or that food is visibly rotten: in this sense, the resort fares better than others in the country.
The problem is that there is nothing nice about this place either. The complex is as drab and dull as it gets in terms of layout and decor. It is not by chance that it has been built by one of the biggest mall developers of the Philippines: it looks cheap like a mall, and the management tries its best to rip you off as much as they can.
The rooms of the hotel are functional but bare, totally impersonal and tasteless. Our room was facing the rather charmless lagoon,
fronting, on the other side of it, a building similar to ours. Beside our balcony, to the left, there was a building still under construction with noises starting promptly at 7 am on a Sunday and plenty of workers staring amused at us as soon as we dared stepping on the balcony.
When we arrived, we were given a room with a smallish 'king' size bed. Since we were with our three year old son we asked if we could have two twin beds instead. They told us that there would be an extra charge for that. We then asked for an extra bed, but they didn't have any. They offered us instead an extra blanket and they suggested that our son could sleep on it on the floor. After insisting, and since the place was understandably empty, we
were 'upgraded' for free to a room as drab as the first one, and even closer to the construction site, but at least with two queen size beds.
The resort area is huge and to reach the beach you need to use your car or the shuttle provided, which makes the rounds constantly.
The beach is nothing to write home about and so is the sea and the various swimming pools and facilities.
The weather was horrible, which did not help.
Food was a rather pitiful experience. We did not get poisoned at dinner time, but certainly it was not an enjoyable experience either. The menu is very limited and two consecutive meals would mean having to repeat the choice of food. Maybe the management is aware of the fact that that nobody in his right mind would stay here more than 1 night?
Breakfast (included in the price) was pathetic. Basically nothing to eat apart from garlic rice, curly bacon, scrambled egg and some other local unappetizing cooked breakfast. No cereals at all, tasteless pineapple and watermelon as fruit, canned fruit juice, undrinkable coffee.
We asked for a bottle of water and were charged Php 142 for a 500 ml bottle of local purified water.
When we went to the swimming pool area in the morning we were asked to show the membership card of our sponsor in order to be able to get a couple of beach towels. Since our host was not with us in that moment, we were requested to pay Php 50 per towel, even if we were checked in and paying for our overnight stay!
Now brace yourself for the juicy part: how much do you think a hotel like this would cost? Maybe 30 dollars per night? After all it had running hot and cold water, a private bathroom, aircon and swimming pool facilities.
Nope. The price was Php 6000 per night, i.e. about USD 140, which is about USD 20 more than what you pay at the JW Marriott in Khao Lak (Thailand). In addition to that, we were are asked to pay Php 300 per person as an entry fee to the premises. So all in all we had to spend about USD 153 for the
overnight stay and about USD 35 for a mediocre 1 course dinner for two and one pizza for lunch.
I know, most people will think I am joking. But those who have been to the Philippines even only once will certainly recognize this experience as their own.
The lesson learned is: stay away. Not only from this resort, but from most resorts around Manila. They are all hopeless and with a value for money which is grotesque.
Oh, and to top it all up let's not forget the demential traffic going back to Manila through Tagaytay on Sunday afternoon (almost 3 hours to cover about 130 km). Yes, it's really more fun in the Philippines!