ONE ISLAND, SEVEN DESTINATIONS: ONE ISLAND, SEVEN DESTINATIONS: ONE ISLAND, SEVEN DESTINATIONS: Dinner in Italy then breakfast in Phuket? You bet. Seven hospitality villages at the Balesin Island Club offer amenities ranging from rooftop whirlpools Mykonos Village garden cabanas Phuket Village.Village. Here,stilt stilt villas atthe theBali Bali Village above theabove tranquil amenities ranging from rooftop whirlpools ininMykonos Village totogarden cabanas ininPhuket Village. Here, villas at above the tranquil amenities ranging from rooftop whirlpools in Mykonos Village to garden cabanas in Phuket Here, stilt villas atVillage the Bali Village the tranquil Lamon Bay. Photo by Matthew Acred. Lamon Bay. Photo by Matthew Acred. Lamon Bay. Photo by Matthew Acred.
BALESIN ISLAND’S PARADISE: THE FAMILY SECRET IS OUT An island paradise off the coast of Quezon Province gets a
makeover—from private family getaway toexclusive exclusive high-end retreat. makeover—from private family getaway to high-end retreat. makeover—from private family getaway to exclusive high-end retreat. LORI BLACKBURN writes. LORI BLACKBURN writes. LORI BLACKBURN writes.
even planted These mahogany trees toRoque create(who windclimbed barriers. a private island shared only a Just select Thesedays, days,Ed’s Ed’s son, Roque (who climbed ancyaancy aprivate private islandshared sharedwith with onlywith select few? Justaa son, ancy island only a aselect few? These days, Ed’s son, Roque (who climbed few? Just a 25-minute plane ride from Manila theisland’s island’sbanyan banyantrees treesasasaakid), kid),returns returnswith withthe thisown own 25-minuteplane planeride ridefrom fromManila Manilatakes takesyou youtotothe theBalesin Balesin the this 25-minute island’s banyan trees as a kid), returns with his own takes you to the Balesin Island Club. Accessing this family, and after years as a rustic retreat, Balesin has Island Club. Accessing this exclusive destination means you must family, and after years as a rustic retreat, Balesin has Island Club. Accessing this exclusive destination means you must exclusive destination means you must either be a
family, and after years as a rustic retreat, Balesin has
Aside from 7.3 kilometers of powdery, white-sand
property developer Alphaland, owned by Ed’s friend
gottenaafirst-class first-classmakeover. makeover.When WhenEd Edpassed passedaway awayaa eitherbebea amember memberororscore scoreananinvite invitefrom fromone, one,but butthe theperks perksare are gotten either member or score an invite from one, but the perks are gotten a first-class makeover. When Ed passed away a few years ago, the Tordesillases sold Balesin to luxury worth it. few years ago, the Tordesillases sold Balesin to luxury worth it. few years ago, the Tordesillases sold Balesin to luxury worth it. propertydeveloper developerAlphaland, Alphaland,owned ownedby byEd’s Ed’sfriend friendand and Asidefrom from7.3 7.3kilometers kilometersofofpowdery, powdery,white-sand white-sand property Aside
fellowBalesin Balesinislander, Roberto“Bobby” “Bobby”Ongpin, Ongpin,who who beaches,seven seven international beach destinations arerepresented represented and fellow Roberto beaches, international beach destinations are fellow Balesinislander, islander, Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin, beaches, seven international beach destinations are shared his vision for the island. Alphaland brought in throughoutthe the island.Think Think villas setamid amidthe therice rice terraces hishis vision for for the island. Alphaland brought in throughout island. set terraces shared vision the island. Alphaland represented throughout thevillas island. Think villas set amid ofofaa whoshared EcoPlan Plan Florida, topnotch ecological designers, to Balinese village,sipping sipping sangriaat ata aSpanish-style Spanish-style caféininat Costa del Eco ofofFlorida, to brought in Eco Plan oftopnotch Florida,ecological topnotchdesigners, ecological the ricevillage, terraces of a Balinese village, sipping sangria a del Balinese sangria café Costa balance luxury and sustainability. Sol,orora aspeedboat speedboat ride Balesin’s own Riviera forcrêpes. balance luxury and sustainability. Spanish-style caféride in Costa del Sol, orFrench aFrench speedboat ride tocrêpes.designers, balanceto luxury and sustainability. Sol, totoBalesin’s own Riviera for Now, Ed’s mahogany trees stillmajestically, stand Now, Ed’s mahogany trees stilltrees stand Balesin’s own French Riviera for crêpes. Balesin was originally owned by the Tordesillas family, Now, Ed’s mahogany still stand Balesin was originally owned by the Tordesillas family,
aside from and aand Club House with four Balesin was originally owned by the Tordesillas majestically, aside fromaa(complete ClubHouse House (complete who hasbeen been coming heresince since Edgardo “Ed” Tordesillasbought boughtand majestically, aside from Club (complete who has coming here Edgardo “Ed” Tordesillas oceanfront swimming pools), there are seven family, who has been coming here since Edgardo withfour fouroceanfront oceanfrontswimming swimmingpools), pools),there thereare are backininthe the1960s. 1960s.Back Backthen, then,the therunway runwaywas wasstill stilla agrassy grassyairstrip airstrip with it itback hospitality villages with complete facilities, chic chic and “Ed” Tordesillas bought it in thebasic 1960s. Back seven hospitality villages with complete facilities, and the accommodation comprised beach huts. Ed dreamed seven hospitality villages with complete facilities, chic and the accommodation comprised basic beach huts. Ed dreamed
intimate lounges,lounges, and restaurants. The The finalfinal three then, the runway was still a grassy airstrip and the andintimate intimatelounges, andrestaurants. restaurants.The three creatinga ahigh-end high-endisland islandretreat retreatthat thatworks workswith with Balesin’s and and final three ofofcreating villages—St. Tropez, Costa de Sol, and Toscana—will accommodation comprised basic beach huts.Balesin’s Ed villages – St. Tropez, Costa del Sol and Toscana – willbe be natural resources. Years ago, he even planted mahogany trees to villages – St.by Tropez, Costa del Solofand Toscana – will natural resources. Years ago, he even planted trees to be completed the first quarter 2013. dreamed of creating a high-end island mahogany retreat that completedby bythe thefirst firstquarter quarterofof2013. 2013. createwind windbarriers. barriers. completed create works with Balesin’s natural resources. Years ago, he
66 I Mabuhay Magazine I December 2012
Except for onsite ecofriendly transportation, cars
FILIPINO SHOWCASE TheBalesin Balesin Village Village The Balesin The Village showcases Filipino Filipino culture culture showcases showcases Filipino culture with its native cottages with its its native native cottages with cottages and furniture, furniture, local local flavors and and local flavors flavors atfurniture, Sala restaurant, restaurant, and at Sala and at Sala restaurant, and tribal artwork by resident resident tribal artwork by tribal artwork by carvers from the theresident Ifugao carvers from Ifugao carvers from the Ifugao Province. Province. Province.
DOPPELGÄNGERS: (BELOW) The Mykonos Village calls to mind the picturesque island of Mykonos, one of the world’s best-known islands. (RIGHT) The Bali Warung captures the flavors of Bali with Indonesian food and decorative pieces sourced from the island.
Except for onsite ecofriendly transportation, cars aren’t allowed on the island, so explore by horseback, mountain bike, or even calesa—a small Spanish-style horse carriage. Electric golf carts zip down jungle paths that weave around trees rather than cutting through them. Here, design flows with nature. To preserve Balesin, only 50 out of 500 hectares will be developed while 80% of coral reefs and rainforests are protected. Organic gardens and aquaculture farms (which raise marine life such as lobsters, mussels, and groupers) provide seasonal produce. So what sets Balesin apart from other island resorts? Roque explains: “Very few island resorts have their own private airport and can match Balesin’s class and standard. Imagine, soon a member shall be able to board a flight in Hong Kong, land in Balesin, and literally walk off the plane to Balesin’s pristine beach.” This, together with natural and developed beauty and spectacular villages, come together for what Roque calls the “Balesin Experience.” “There is nothing like it in the world,” he says. Balesin has something for everyone. Roque’s favorite activities FAMILY FUN: Activities range from archery lessons at the state-of-the-art Sports Center, to wellness in Zen-inspired spa suites, to horseback riding on the beach.
include afternoon sailing on a Hobie Cat followed by sunset cocktails at Bali Village’s “floating” Nusa Dua Bar. Phuket Village, which was called “Tordi (Tordesillas) Point” for
many years, is also a favorite. His wife Maritoni, a former professional ballerina, loves staying at the Balinese water villas which hover above the sea. “This is where special memories are shared,” Maritoni says.
INDULGENCE: With 7.3 kilometers of powdery whitesand beaches, Balesin invites you to play. Scuba diving, snorkeling, wake boarding, and kitesurfing are all available. So are long walks on the beach. Photo by Bubuy Balangue.
“Seeing our kids enjoy the island today as much as they did back when it was not developed only shows that Alphaland is on the right track.” Their son, 14-year-old Emilio, likes eating at the Club House restaurant. He’d be most excited to show his friends the equestrian and paintball centers. His 8-year-old sister Tessa enjoys the swimming pools at the Phuket Village where white-sand beaches stretch into a cerulean sea. Membership limits occupancy to maintain a balance between human development and nature, while guaranteeing a high standard of service and giving members a sense of belonging and home. Quezon Province, where Balesin Island is located, was named after the second president of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon, who was born in Aurora, then a part of the province.
It also gets you 14 complimentary nights a year. Getting there is a breeze since Balesin’s new runway accommodates international flights, private jets, and the island’s own nineseater Cessna Grand Caravan planes. Those arriving on the Cessnas can enjoy attentive service at a luxurious private hangar in Manila with complimentary refreshments. Balesin’s unique experiences leave lasting impressions. As Roque remarks: “One thing I can guarantee is leaving will be difficult and the yearning to return will always be there. I know because that’s how it’s been for me practically all my life. I too have my own unique ‘Balesin Experience’—but that’s for another interview.” Interested? Log on to www.balesin.com.
Illustration by Ruth Rivera
LOCO OVER COCO: Quezon Province is also known for its lambanog, potent liquor made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers.
Reprinted from Mabuhay Magazine (December 2012) with permission from Eastgate Publishing Corp.