Why Balesin?

04/04/2017 | By: Ruben Almendras, The Freeman

I am a beach person and in my travels in the past 47 years I have been to 18 of the world’s popular beaches including Ipanema, Langkawi, and the Gold Coast. I have also been to most of the Philippines’ famous beaches, mostly in Luzon and Visayas but only two in Mindanao for obvious reasons. So, last week I did not hesitate to accept an invitation to go to Balesin Island Club for a work-related few days.

Balesin Island Club is a multi-themed beach resort located off the coast of Quezon Province fronting Atimonan and Polillo. It is a 500-hectare island which can be accessed by propeller plane or helicopter from Manila or Clark airports, or a four- to five-hour ferry ride from Quezon ports. The whole island has been acquired by Alphaland Corporation, a property development company, to be one of its signature projects. It has 7.3 kilometers of white sand beaches which almost encompass the whole island, and quite a sizable forest in the middle of the island.

Before the development of the resort some five years ago, the residents of the island lived on agriculture and fishing. Now the residents are mostly working for the resort and on agricultural projects sponsored by the resort and whose products have a ready market. As there are not enough qualified residents for work in the hospitality facilities, additional employees are recruited from the mainland for stretches of weeks or months.

The resort has seven themed villages as follows: Bali-Indonesia, Phuket-Thailand, Mykonos-Greece, St. Tropez-France, Costa del Sol-Spain, Toscana-Italy, and Balesin-Philippines. The architecture, accommodations, and restaurants in each of the village follows the theme. Multi-level pools abound in every place and each has beach areas, although some are better than the others. The best beach areas with the finest, whitest, and the widest sand areas are the Balesin and Bali beaches, in that order. There is a central area for indoor and outdoor sports, including an archery range, a nature trail, and stable for horses, but there is no golf course. All aquatic facilities are available including a 110-foot yacht which you can rent for P200,000 a day. And of course, the spa facilities which boast of outdoor and indoor options. It is a 5-star resort and the amenities, facilities, and prices reflect the star quality. I had a French breakfast of crepes and croissants, an Italian lunch of pats and pizza, and a Spanish dinner with lengua and arroz valenciana to get a real feel of the place.

Balesin Island Club, a private club that can be entered only at the invitation and accompaniment of a member, made the news some time ago as it was the site of the wedding of a senator and his actress wife. Some high-profile celebrities have held parties on the island which must have cost a fortune. As a finance man, I estimate that a 3-day stay for a hundred guests would cost about P3,000,000 which would include the chartered planes and all the meals during the stay since no cash is allowed in the resort.

It is a beautiful place because it makes you experience different places/beaches in one location. In Cebu Province, it would be like going to Moalboal, Mactan, Bantayan, Malapascua, Oslob, Catmon, and Daanbantayan to appreciate the different beaches. The beaches in Cebu would be better but the ambiance would be different, but then it would not cost as much. But if you can afford it, the real places in the world of these resorts are just a plane ride away. Just make sure you have the passport, the visas, and the platinum credit cards.

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