Friday, April 09, 2010
Flock to Eagle Point Resort
On the road, there is just parched land and no sign of the sea. A sign of the resort seems to point deeper into a forest with a dirt road choked with dry brambles and weeds. The road would go down rather steeply and zigzag through palms and hedges until the sea shows. Once in Eagle Point Resort, there is much sea to enjoy and views of it to imbibe, and sprawling dry land is a memory at the back of your head. The room opens up to the sea. The restaurant almost perches above it. The paths may not lead you to it but they always afford you an azure backdrop. Eagle Point Resort nestles on a thin strip of land and against a cliff, like most of the resorts in the area, and the natural direction is facing the sea, a blue eternity with occasional dreamy islets.
The Calumpang Peninsula of the town of Mabini juts out of the province of Batangas into the South China Sea, its craggy shores and cliffs defiant sometimes rough waters of the bays of Balayan and Batangas. There is nothing luxurious about the place—steep and daunting cliffs, rocky and jagged shores, wild and hardy vegetation—but the Mabini-Tingloy area suggests adventure and has coral reefs teeming with marine biodiversity that have long attracted divers. Soon, resorts despite almost unmanageable terrain cropped up over the years to cater to them and eventually even to non-diving vacationers, who erroneously call the whole area Anilao, actually one of Mabini’s barangays with the most concentration of resorts of different types and the most accessible in the peninsula. People are lured by a sense of adventure and the proximity of the area to Manila, the Philippines’ capital. Resorts line the northern shore of Calumpang Peninsula starting in Anilao East and Anilao Proper, and then going on southeast to Majuban, San Jose, Selo, Ligaya, Bagalangit and San Teodoro. Aside from dive resorts, there are also small to medium picnic resorts. Many resorts are of the “rugged” type, not really built for a luxury vacation. Many divers are not particular about poshness but are keener on the dive facility. Excursionists from nearby areas, on a budget, look for inexpensive resorts. Right now, there are 34 dive resorts and there are 24 small- to medium-enterprise picnic resorts. Among them are 16 private resorts.
In Bagalangit, Eagle Point Resort sprawls on six hectares of sloping land, the biggest resort in the area. Being at the northeast tip of the peninsula, it also has one of the best views of the seascape. The island municipality of Tingloy and the hat-shaped Sombrero Island lie across the Maricaban Strait.
The resort formerly served as a private vacation spot of Norberto “Doy” Quisumbing and his family in the late 1980s. In 1993, the family decided to expand the area and open it to the public as a resort with Doy’s son, lawyer Ramon Quisumbing, managing.
Now, Eagle Point is one of, if not the best, resort in the area, offering a wide range of amenities and facilities. From serving divers, it is open to diverse clienteles—barkadas, families and companies. Able to host guests of up to 300, the resort wants to promote itself as a good venue for company outings and conferences, and other group activities.
There are accommodations of different types. The newest facility is the Terrace Hotel, a four-story white structure with 30 rooms with verandas facing the sea. It sits next to the Main Core, so-called because it is the heart of the resort containing the reception area, restaurant and bar and the main pool.
On the other side, the southern, eighteen one-bedroom cottages line the slopes, each air-conditioned, equipped with toilet and bath and possessing a balcony with a view of the sea. The cottages actually have large sliding glass doors for the spectacle. One can wake up with sea beckoning.
Among the cottages are the Native Cabanas, ten of them. Without air-conditioning, these simulate native living with thatched grass roofs, woven walls and bamboo slat floors. The resort says that many foreign guests prefer them.
One of the original structures of the resort before it began accepting guests is The Villa, now renovated with two-bedroom suites on the second level, a small function room on the ground level, and a large multi-purpose room used for wedding receptions and other large functions on the third level.
The other suite and rooms are in the Casablanca, a four-storey building beside the restaurant. It was once a spa but was converted into a three-bedroom condominium suite with three bathrooms, living room, satellite television and five hotel-like rooms.
While cuddling inside the room with the view of the sea can be enough to fill one’s length of stay, activities on offer are tempting. Of course, swimming and diving are top on the list. The resort’s Safety Stop Dive Shop (SSDS) can address a diver’s needs. It also has a resident dive master and licensed instructor to assist divers in exploring the numerous dive sites of the Mabini-Tingloy area and teach introductory diving lessons to non-divers. Non-divers wanting to have a glimpse of the reefs can go snorkelling. The reefs are accessible. Just beyond the piers of the resort one can get a view of the corals and other marine life. The resort’s reef is level with a depth of about fifteen feet, then sloping down a shelf to about a hundred feet. Just under the shadow of the Main Core, a site called Canyon Land manifested itself during low tide—two large rocks just beneath the surface with a canyon-like crevice of about eight feet deep and usually filled with fish.
One can go further, to Sombrero Island, for more snorkelling. Reaching the islet by boat takes about fifteen minutes. The east side has a beach for swimming but the west side offers a coral garden to marvel at.
With special arrangement, one can go riding a banana boat, kayak, Jet Ski and speedboat.
Three swimming pools are at the guests’ disposal. The Main Pool, between the restaurant and the hotel, has two levels connected by a thirty-foot water slide. Adults usually hangout at the main deck and three-foot-deep swimming pool while kids can frolic at the two-foot-deep upper-level pool with a waterfall. Nearby, the Nipa Bar dispenses drinks and snacks. At the southern end of the resort, a more secluded and private place, the South-end Pool lies more accessible to guests in the cottages and the cabanas. With a bar and coffee shop, and a good view of Tingloy Island, this pool can accommodate big groups, thus they would not be distracting to other guests who can use the other pools. The last pool is an interesting one—a saltwater pool that simulates the marine environment. The twelve-foot-deep Reef Pool is used as a “launching pad and training tank for novice scuba divers and snorkelers,” but anyone can use it, especially those who wants to get the feel of the sea but are afraid to venture out in the open. Located very near SSDS, this pool even has groupers and baby sharks.
Non-water recreation is also available. There is a tennis court and a game room with billiard and pool tables by the Main Pool. A Videoke machine can be rented out. One can walk around the resort; there is a walk-in aviary housing birds like ducks, fowls, eagles, kites and owls, gifts to the owners. The resort’s name is inspired by the birds.
When hungry, the restaurant, which is built like a Samoan longhouse and has Wi-Fi connection, offers an array of American, European, Filipino and Oriental dishes. Salad choices include panzanella (crisp bread and vegetables with anchovy red wine vinaigrette), mixed greens, Caesar’s and tomato mozzarella. The restaurant also offers pasta (spaghetti, fettucine or penne with Bolognese, creamy chicken, marinara and primavera sauces and lasagne al forno) and pizzas (Margarita, pepperoni, New York, Espaniola, prawn and mango, Hawaiian and vegetarian). Grilled items—steak ala pobre, king prawns, lapu-lapu (grouper) fillet, chicken steak, fillet mignon, pork chop, mixed seafood and Spanish mackerel or tangigue—come in a combo with buttered vegetable and rice or mashed potatoes. The house favorites are wiener snitchzel (breaded pork cutlet with German potato and sweet and sour cabbage), bistecca alla pizzaiola (tenderloin of beef with capsicum-tomato sauce and country-style potatoes), grouper alla Dieppoise (grouper fillet with prawns on Dieppe sauce and mashed potato), Cajun bourbon chicken (chicken barbecue with rice or mashed potato), beef bulgogi (tenderloin on Korean sauce), sautéed Brazil prawns (sautéed tiger prawns on garlic and olive oil) and sizzling squid teppanyaki (squid grilled on flat iron and flavored with traditional Japanese sauce). Filipino favorites on the menu include crispy pata; chicken, squid or pork adobo; pork, prawn, beef or fish sinigang (sour soup); bistek Tagalog; beef bulalo; Bicol Express; chicken inasal; and pancit gisado. Sandwiches, desserts and kids’ meals are also available.
Eagle Point Resort has ways of mixing business with leisure. Out-of-town conferences and seminars can be held here as the resort offers two function rooms. The main function hall, on the third level of the old villa next to the Casablanca and accessible from the Main Core, can accommodate about a hundred persons. A smaller function room at the ground floor of the old villa can hold about forty people. Equipped with comfort rooms and air-conditioning, the function rooms can also hold other events like wedding receptions, parties and other group activities.
One of the highlights of a stay at the Eagle Point Resort is the short trip to Sepoc Beach Center, located at Sepoc Point.
In 1998, the resort acquired a two-hectare piece of land at the northeast tip of Tingloy Island, in the barangay of Maricaban. The property, with a white-sand cove and a recognizable promontory, is set apart from the rest of the island by a range of hills, a secluded enclave. The hazy outline of Mindoro Island can be seen on the horizon. Beautiful in its desolation, the area has large crows, hovering above or resting in the forest. Sepoc Point is reachable by a fifteen- to twenty-minute by boat ride from Eagle Point Resort, across the Maricaban Strait. Here, the resort built a host of facilities like a large hall for functions and dining, a bar, a watchtower, rest rooms and shower areas, a volleyball court, among others. Hammocks and kubols or mini huts were set up for resting.
Sepoc Beach Center can accommodate up to 350 people and is usually used training, teambuilding, seminar or even a wedding. Many people find the place an ideal venue for such activities because of its beauty and isolation. All guests of the resort can have a day tour to the place. They can swim to their hearts’ content, lounge around, have lunch, play volleyball, or simply lie on the hammock and read a book. There are trails that one can tackle either up a hill to have a panoramic view of Sepoc Point or around the area up to the promontory.
Snorkeling is also an ideal activity here as the area has an extensive coral garden, most in front of Cemetery Beach. The garden stretches from the shore to about a quarter of a mile out, abruptly ending in sand. The deepest is only about fifteen to twenty feet during low tide. Several long crevices, carved out by the ever moving tides, make ideal avenues for the snorkelers.
It is discovered that Sepoc Point is also a nesting area for the endangered green turtles. If guests are likely, they can be releasing baby turtles. The resort has been into environment conservation, including caring for and the releasing of the hatchlings.
Before sundown, one has to leave Sepoc Point Center, which has no power and accommodation facilities. One can enjoy the setting of the sun at the resort, particularly at the South-end Pool. At this time, the light guilds your magical stay at the resort, a treasure found after a rough but adventurous way.
Driving to Eagle Point Resort is now faster and more convenient via the Star Tollway, Phase II. The PhP2.75 billion road project was inaugurated recently by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This new toll way extension cuts travel time by as much as thirty minutes and is considered more scenic—corn fields, mango orchards and a deep, forested river gorge. Instead of exiting left at the Lipa City exit, keep going straight on the Star Tollway Extension for twenty more kilometers until the very end, where you enter the Batangas City Diversion Road.
From Manila, go to the South Luzon Expressway to the very end toward Calamba, Laguna, (42 kilometers). Turn right at Exit 50 onto Manila-Batangas National Highway toward Batangas City, and travel 7.5 kilometers. Turn right into Star Tollway and go to the very end toward Batangas City (32.6 kilometers). At end of Star Tollway, go around the rotunda and turn right into Diversion Road toward Batangas International Port and travel four kilometers. Turn right under overpass onto Batangas-Balayan National Highway toward Bauan, and travel six kilometers. After leaving Bauan, passing a Petron gas station and crossing Manghinao Bridge, turn left toward Mabini and travel for nine kilometers. Turn right at the Mabini rotonda toward Anilao and travel 1.7 kilometers. Turn left on coastal road in Anilao toward Bagalangit and travel 8.8 kilometers. Turn right to Eagle Point Resort private road and go to the very end at the EPR parking lot (1.5 kilometers).
Eagle Point Resort is at Barrio Bagalangit, Mabini, Batangas, with telephone number (043) 986-0177, fax number (043) 986-0187, mobile phone numbers +63917-846-3958, +63918-846-3958. Its Makati sales office is at the Ground Floor, Corinthian Plaza, 121 Paseo de Roxas corner Gamboa Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City, with telefax numbers (+63 2) 813-3353 and (+63 2) 813-3560. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. Web sites are www.eaglepoint.com.ph and www.eaglepointresort.com.ph.