Philippine Tatler | A World of Your Own

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A World of Your Own

Luxurious, innovative, and ever so exclusive, Balesin Island Club is your own personal paradise, writes Cristina Morales


omewhere in the Pacific Ocean, off the eastern edge of the Philippines, lies the idyllic island of Balesin. Enter a whole new world after only a 25-minute plane ride from Metro Manila; it’s no wonder it calls itself “the nearest place you can get the farthest away.” Before Alphaland’s Bobby Ongpin built it into the resort of his dreams, Balesin was inhabited by fishing communities. These communities were never totally self-sufficient; the islanders depended on regular trips to the mainland or other nearby islands for supplies as well as for a market for their fish and produce. Balesin, however, had one distinct feature that set it apart from other islands: a 1,000-metre grass airstrip—all that is left from its days as a World War II refuelling


trot the globe (clockwise from top) Toscana Village; the Balesin Spa; Toscana Village is home to several dining areas

point and emergency landing strip. Sustainability was the starting point of his Ongpin’s design process. Since this was not an afterthought, over 90 per cent of the island remains in its natural state. As such, members and guests of Balesin Island Club are able to experience the place’s raw beauty with luxuries and amenities that it never had before. During the tourist peak seasons, when every square foot of sand on every other beach is full of human activity, Balesin Island Club guarantees a private and luxurious rendezvous that is almost impossible to come by nowadays. Even with every villa and suite occupied, and the resort’s maximum capacity of 1,200 visitors reached, Balesin Island Club never feels congested, its design allowing everyone to enjoy the island’s tranquility. Not only does this resort offer a welcome p h i l i p p i n e tat l e r . m ay 2 0 1 4

PhoTograPhy: filBerT kuNg

all at sea The Nasa Dua bar in the Bali Village

escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, it promises an endlessly evolving experience, so you will never tire of visiting. Its facilities—including the Main Clubhouse, Sports Centre, and Spa—are constantly adding new activities and indulgences. But perhaps what really sets Balesin apart is how it transports you into a choice of different worlds. Within Balesin Island Club are seven themed villages based on some of the world’s best summer destinations: Bali, Mykonos, St Tropez, Phuket, Costa del Sol, Toscana, and Balesin (embodying the Philippines). Each of these villages is a resort in itself, adopting the culture of its place of origin. To authentically incorporate the essence of these popular destinations in their respective villages, the resort’s team of architects and interior designers was sent to the original places to purchase furniture, finishing materials, and p h i l i p p i n e tat l e r . m ay 2 0 1 4

décor items. Since food mirrors culture, each of the seven villages features a restaurant serving the cuisine of its theme inspiration. To truly travel with the touch of food to the tongue, the resort brought in chefs who are either natives of any of the seven spots or experts in any of the seven cuisines. These chefs trained select Filipino teams to deliver not only authenticity, but a very high standard of execution and repeatability. The resort’s one-of-a-kind experience begins as soon as you step into their private air terminal, which is better than most first-class airport lounges. Accessible at any time, the resort is a safe haven where the world will not be able to follow you if you don’t want it to. Though there are other exceptional island resorts in the Philippines, each having their own merits, none of them are as close to the city as Balesin, and few are as exclusive.