Balesin: Tropical paradise in Quezon

04/30/2013 | By: Doreen Yu, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Getting away from it all can hardly get better than this.

Balesin island off the coast of Quezon province is the new hot spot of Philippine tourism, quietly drawing local and international visitors to a resort development like no other.

The members-only Balesin Island Resort’s attractions are both natural and man-made. The 500-hectare island is the epitome of a tropical paradise: 7.3 kilometers of beach, with sand varying from white powder to golden granules, fronting the calm waters of Lamon Bay as well as the pounding surf of the mighty Pacific Ocean; 190 hectares of virgin forest, with a 130-year-old banyan tree and an even older and bigger balete hidden deep in the forest, home to colorful birds and tribes of fireflies.

The island is also the setting for five distinct villages, inspired by the most luxurious beach destinations in the world. Think Bali in Indonesia, Mykonos in Greece, St. Tropez in the South of France, Phuket in Thailand, and our very own Balesin. Two other villages – Toscana (Italy) and Costa del Sol (Spain) – will be completed within the year.

The architecture and decor of the villas in each village hold true to their origins: the blue and white structures of Mykonos, masks and wayangs (puppets) of Bali, the temple roofs of Phuket, vibrant candy colors of St. Tropez, and the warmth of a Filipino home in Balesin. Each air-conditioned room/villa features the most luxurious amenities. Themed restaurants in each village serve food that will make dieting a crime.

Transport on the island is by electric cart, part of the commitment of developer Alphaland (a joint venture of Roberto Ongpin and the London-based funds management firm Ashmore Group) to sustainability and respect for nature. Rainwater is harvested by trenches on both sides of the 1.5-kilometer runway (over 100 million liters are harvested a year). There is a desalination facility, reverse osmosis and sewerage treatment plants, and water recycling (up to 80 percent, used for watering the lush vegetation) facility.

Balesin is intended to be a high-end property, with 6,000 membership shares to be sold locally (with a cap of 1,000 shares) and internationally. Price of membership has more than tripled, from P1 million to the first 100 members in 2011 to the current rate of P3.2 million. Members get 14 free nights at the resort. Access to the island is by Alphaland’s private planes (they have four at the moment, plus a helicopter). Pricey, but everything on Balesin is topnotch, from 600-thread count cotton sheets to in-villa jacuzzis.

As Alphaland chairman Ongpin stresses, “We do not intend to be, and will never be, all things to all people. But what we do will be unique, and will definitely be done well.”

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