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NATALIA ZOBEL AND FRIENDS TAKE A BREATHER AND EXPLORE BEAUTIFUL, BREATHTAKING

BALESIN ISLAND The country’s latest playground for the rich, famous, and glamorous

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Camila Soriano, Natalia Zobel, Ava Zobel Pessina, 99 and Gabbi Floirendo stroll down the Balesin Island Club’s main beach.

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Ionlyislands like the Philippines, one can imagine the endless possibilities

(not to mention the countless white sand beaches) for luxurious tropical resorts. There are literally hundreds of them in our country, and the latest one that’s been attracting the cream of Manila’s high society crop is the much talked about Balesin Island Club. Spearheaded by Bobby Ongpin’s Alphaland Development, Balesin is a members-only resort club that has recently become a prime destination for Philippine blue-bloods. On the weekend of Ongpin’s birthday, for example, HOLA! spotted several of Manila society’s young and restless beautiful people enjoying themselves on the beach and other attractions on the island. Natalia Zobel, second to the youngest daughter of power couple Iñigo and Maricris Zobel, was vacationing on the island with her first cousin Ava Zobel Pessina, Ava’s boyfriend, Kyle Burke, and a fun group of close friends from childhood and school. Among them was another cousin, Andy and Vicky Soriano’s daughter Camila, and other future captains of industry from some of Manila’s most influential business families, like Amado Fores, son of c e l e b r a t e d c h e f , c a t e r e r, a n d restaurateur Margarita Fores; Gabbie Floirendo, daughter of Davao banana magnate Tony Boy Floirendo; Daniel Tuason, son of arms dealer Konkoy and Doodie Tuason; Shiv Hiranand, Marika Manglapus, and others. One might describe the resort as a sort of Manila Polo Club on an island, and in a way it is. Like the Polo Club, Balesin is a membership-based private club, which means that in order to enjoy its amenities, you need to cough up roughly three million pesos for a share. But once you do, you officially become a member and can visit the resort whenever you want. Aside from its fabulous villas and world-class restaurants, one of the charms of the place is pleasantly running into your

One might describe the resort as a sort of Manila Polo Club on an island, and in a way it is.

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The Phuket villa poolside is perfect for evening cocktails (above). The pier at the Bali side of the island, leading to a bar overlooking the water (right). Natalia Zobel enjoying the island life and “hanging” at the Balinese harbor bar with cousins and friends Ava Pessina, Gabbi Floirendo, Shiv Hiranand and Camila Soriano (left).


friends and spontaneously hanging out with them, which is sort of what members do when they go to the Manila Polo Club, hence the comparison. Natalia and her friends never ran out of things to do, as the island is filled with villas, attractions, and activities that swallow up your days and nights— including activities that require you to do absolutely nothing at all, like lounging around lazily on any of the beaches, bars, pools, or villas. As soon as Natalia and the gang arrived via the club’s private plane, they checked into their fabulous oceanfront villas complete with private patios and hot tubs, then proceeded to explore the island, which consists of several “themed” villas designed to authentically represent the various beach holiday destinations of the world—Bali, Phuket, Mykonos, Toscana, Costa Del Sol, St. Tropez, and of course, the Philippines, which is the closest to the main clubhouse and where the group decided to make

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their home-base. While all the villas exhibited their own charm, Natalia and her college buddies seemed to gravitate towards the Balinese Villa, where they enjoyed their first of many delicious lunches, followed by cool drinks on the mystical veranda bar that stretches out into the serene waters of Lamon Bay. The fun-loving gang, who are children of some of the most beautiful, stylish, and privileged couples in the Philippines, enjoyed long, laughter-filled walks on white sand beaches. They paddle-boarded and kayaked by the shore; cruised around the bay on one of the club’s fleet of speedboats; enjoyed fruit-shakes by the swimming pool; played table tennis in the game room; and sipped on cocktails under the moonlight and a swarm of fireflies. Balesin is not just a beautiful island, carefully and tastefully plotted out to take its guests on a magical journey around the world, in tropical and Mediterraneanstyle villas that remain authentic in every detail to the cultures they represent. Balesin is a place to relax, get away, enjoy good food, good water-sports, and perhaps most importantly, good friends. report: jose mari ugarte pHotos: magic liwanag

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Camila Soriano and Gabbi Floirendo looking beautiful in the Balesin breeze (top). Ava Zobel Pessina and Kyle Burke sharing a moment on the beach in front of their villas (right).


As soon as the gang arrived via the club’s private plane, they checked into their fabulous oceanfront villas.

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Hola! Natalia Zobel and friends take a breather and explore beautiful, breathtaking Balesin Island  

Hola! Natalia Zobel and friends take a breather and explore beautiful, breathtaking Balesin Island  

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