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A TripAdvisor Member
osaka
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Reviewed 5 March 2008

El Nido is an ideal weekend get away with the scenery to match anyone's expectation of a tropical getaway. There are plenty of activities from trekking, kayaking, island hopping to diving. It is small enough for it to be exclusive and quiet. Hornbills can be seen flying overhead in the morning and early evenings.The resort service is excellent, the staff the friendliest and most professional that I have seen in a long time. El Nido's ecofriendly mission is very impressive. The simplest touchest (umbrellas all over the place, hand written notes on leaves left during turndown service, assigned seating and snacks at the airport terminal) made the stay more meaningful. Palawan is a site to see but the other asset is its people. During our stay it felt like we had the place almost to ourselves, and that was a bonus! Safety of the guests were a priority and I felt like they knew where we were at all times. I highly recommend staying at a water cottage at Lagen Island. I only wish they had a larger CD selection to borrow since there are Bose systems in the rooms (yup, that's my only "complaint").

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2008

Oh please don't go... it's MY paradise!!!

I have been to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Thailand... and I have to tell you: Palawan is the best there is! El Nido Lagen is great. We had a Water bungalow, and we loved it athough we didn't spend much time there - we were out on activities all the time. Staff are great - the no tipping policy ensures that you really feel they are nice to you because they want to be nice to you... not because they want tips. The daily activities are great - scuba diving, rock climbing, canoeing, picnic on a private island to name but a few. The place also has the clearest best beaches with the clearest water you have ever seen! Food at Lagen was delicious!

Can't fault the place! I cried when leaving!!!!

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Hotels_Of_The_World
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 January 2008

El Nido Resorts was first class service all the way. From the moment we stepped into the small airport in Manila, we knew we were in for something special. Complimentary morning coffee, along with breakfast sandwiches consisting of egg & bacon were served while you wait for your flight. We boarded a small 19 seater twin propeller plane, which I was quite nervous about but it was a beautiful sunny morning so the 1.5 hr ride to the El Nido airport was quite enjoyable.

You are greeted at the airport with traditional Filipino songs, sung by some of the resort staff. While you wait at the airport for your boat transfers to the resorts, you are offered a small snack and some ice tea. Our room was not ready yet at Lagen, so we were asked if we wanted to visit our sister resort at Miniloc and start with some activities right away. We were given a sheet and were asked to check off the activities you wanted to do while staying at El Nido. We were impressed with the organization from the beginning and we didn't mind getting right into it despite our room not being ready. We were taken to Minoloc Island by a banka boat (which is your main way of transportation throughout your stay). As soon as we got there, we started snorkelling right off the pier. The fish were amazing and so many of them. The water was shallow so for someone who is not use to deep water, I was quite comfortable. You could venture out a bit more to deeper water - where you can see amazing schools of fish. Lunch was provided for us here as well & then taken to our resort mid afternoon when our rooms were ready. After checking in, we took another boat ride to see two caves, one which you can only enter by boat and one where you crawl through a small hole. We then were taken to Snake Island, a visible sand bar in the middle of the water you can walk on during low tide. However, it was already submerged when we got there.

Throughout our stay, we had activities planned and the guides made sure things went smoothly. That is what is great about this resort, you never really see your room except when you sleep. You can choose from hiking, snorkelling, diving, bottom fishing, rock climbing throughout your stay or indulge in their spa services if you want to take it easy.

The islands surrounding the area are amazing limestone cliffs, with lagoons to explore and dive sites too. We were even taken to a private beach where you can have your own private picnic!

Rooms were very clean, spacious and included a nice veranda where you can sit outside. No televisions were in our room, but I believe you can pay for an upgrade to a second level forest room and have a television. There wasn't really any time to watch tv though, so I didn't mind too much.

Food was pretty good. Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner provided and all included in the price. It provided something for every palate, both western and Filipino cuisine. Nightly entertainment was also provided, usually dancers showcasing different folk dances of the country. A guitar player and singer usually takes over when the dancing is finished. No tipping is required as it's a resort policy, which is great as you don't have to carry any money around. Everything extra you ask for is just charged to the room. Drinks, diving, shopping, etc. (You can give a tip at the end to the reception, where it is divided up among staff for emergencies)

Staff is very friendly and helpful. I came here with my husband, sister, brother in law and my parents. It was a very memorable experience and we were all able to enjoy the resort's acitivities together. However there was one glitch at the end, my brother in law was a bit disappointed, as his very expensive pair of board shorts went missing. We aren't saying a member of staff took it but we're not saying they didn't either. Not quite sure where they went?!

Overall, we would definitely go back. The water was so clear, the surroundings very clean and untouched. Definitely a gem in the South Pacific.

  • Stayed: January 2008, travelled with family
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5  Thank K_GirlLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 January 2008

We just came back from 3 nights and 4 days in El Nido Lagen Resort, Palawan. First, I must say that you do not come to this "resort" for the luxury hotel rooms, facilities or amenities (note the hotel is a 3-star, afterall). That said, the true value of this resort (and its sister, El Nido Resort, Miniloc Island) is the unforgettable experience they offer through the activities and excursions you'll enjoy while visiting this unbelievable collection of islands.

Here are the highlights of our fabulous El Nido vacation:

TRANSPORTATION:
-The 19 seater twin prop plane ride is painless, and you are taken care of by El Nido resort staff as soon as you check in at Manila and step off the plane in a tiny shack of an airport in El Nido town. Local serenaders, snacks and activity directors await in El Nido to greet and immediately make you comfortable about landing in a very provincial setting. It was during this 15-20 minute stop that we chose our first few days of activities before even getting to Lagen!
-There is a 45 minute "banka" outrigger boat ride from El Nido town to the resort on Lagen Island. This is a very traditional island-style
transportation, and will be your main mode of transportation throughout your stay. Since the outriggers cannot come close to the resort due to corals in the water, you have to transfer onto a smaller
speedboat in the middle of the water for what seems like a 30 second ride to the hotel's dock. This seemed a bit scary at first, but you get used to the system after the first couple of times. Again, this will be "standard" for the trip.

THE GEOGRAPHY:
-The moment take your first step on sand just outside of the El Nido airport to board your first boat, you notice what makes this area a world-class destination. The geography is rugged; limestone "mountains" popping up alone or in random groups amongst miles and miles of various shades of blue water. Some of these rocks are sheer cliffs of limestone, many others are covered by lush forests. Beneath most of them, equally random strips of beaches in shades of alabaster and beige, with sparse coconut trees offering shade. On the islands that the resorts use for excursions, you see the
same simple beach, but with comfy loungers, lounge "huts" designed
native style with soft plush cushions, and in most cases, a "club house" designed native style where food and drinks are served to guests.

CHECK IN:
-At the resort, you are once again greeted by friendly resort staff and escorted to the club house where check in and orientation happens.
During the process, the resort performers seranade arrivers with a song, and resort staff provide you with background on the area's green
initiatives and share tips for helping to preserve the environment of El Nido while staying as guest in the area. I must note that this was our first "green" hotel experience and we were very impressed by how they encouraged all guests to help keep the area clean and encouraged education.

ACCOMMODATATIONS:
-Rooms are not large, but roomy enough for the type of room you need in a place like El Nido--basically, a room to sleep in. Every room has
a terrific lanai perfect for watching the views and sunsets. We had an overwater cottage on the north side (highly recommended), and during this time of year, it was the premier place to watch sunsets. It also provided a breathtaking view of the limestone cliffs and forests into which the resort has been nestled. While not overly luxurious, the cottages are built on solid cement piers and designed in an "island colonial" style. Dark wood floors and shutters, wood furniture and fixtures (even traditional wood hangers!), tile bathrooms with an open shower, and a tiled floor veranda complete with
a comfy daybed are all plenty to keep a demanding California girl like
me happy. :) It is clean, comfortable and utterly charming accommodations that is a perfect match for the surroundings. And did I mention it is completely peaceful and quiet at the resort? One tip--order cocktails at dusk and enjoy the sunset from your lanai!

ACTIVITIES:
-As I mentioned, the El Nido resorts are all about activities. From the moment we arrived, we were booked for daily activities that the resort guides helped us choose. They truly help you and encourage you to experience each of the excursions the resort offers on the 40-some islands in the area. Our activities included island hopping and cave tours on the first day. This included a stop at Snake Island, which had a beautiful strip of sand that becomes completely submerged in water and disappears during high tide! The second and third stops to this tour were two caves in two separate islands that were absolutely breathtaking. You actually crawl through a tiny three-foot hole to get into one of them! The following day, we spent the morning at the MIniloc resort snorkeling and hanging out at the beach. After lunch, we headed to the Small and Big Lagoons, tauted to be the best sites the El Nido islands have to offer. They were both amazing. The small lagoon, which you can only get to by kayak, was an almost spiritual experience. This day was topped off by a fun snorkeling stint outside the small lagoon area. Our third day was spent on Entalula (fine white sand beach), riding Hobiecats, snorkeling and basically sun worshipping. We also had lunch here (food is available on all the islands that the resort offers excursions to). I highly recommend spending a few hours at this island since it is beautiful and quite peaceful. Then in the afternoon, we segued to Pangulasia Island, where the snorkeling was even better. We stayed for "sunset cocktails" here, which is supposedly the best sunset on the islands. Our outrigger boat ride back to the resort was quite scary, however, since a storm came in and the waters because extremely choppy!

OTHER NOTES:
-The service is exceptional at this resort, and the guides that accompany you during your activities and excursions add a ton to your experience, in my opinion. They are highly organized and prepared, even if they appear to be completely casual about the entire process!
We were very lucky to get a great tour guide, Vox, on many of our tours, and we felt comfortable and safe on every boat ride, every water activity, every stop. However, I believe all guides are excellent at the resort! Again, they truly make a difference on your trip.

-Diving is great, and my husband dove 4 dives/tanks during our stay and he will be coming home with awesome photos from his underwater adventure. Note that this is not the part of Palawan with wreck dives, though.

-Note that all meals are included but by virtue of this, it is a bit repetitive. Make sure to look at the menu board for "specials" aside from the actual cooked buffet. They will also prepare special dishes for you if arranged, especially if you have a meal on another island.

-There is a fun outdoor bar by the pool that we went to every night after dinner. It has a huge daybed where you can lounge with your after dinner cocktail. Ping pong and pool tables are also available.

-They don't make great cocktails, unfotunately. I guess good bartending skills are hard to come by in the islands! But if this is their only challenge, they're in very good shape!

-You can get a massage on the resort at their "massage hut" or even have resort spa staff meet you on one of the other islands to get service. Joy!

Overall, El Nido was an amazing, unique and unforgettable experience.
The landscape alone is breathtaking in its rugged beauty, but the resort truly offers visitors an opportunity to sample this world in a way that preserves its fragile ecological state. We highly recommend this destination for anyone who loves nature, adventure, anyone looking for a beautiful escape, or anyone looking to see one of the most unique destinations of the Philippine Islands, or the world, for that matter. We had an amazing time.

I hope to load photos soon!

Stayed: January 2008
16  Thank SFGRL3731
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 December 2007

Three things you should know that arent mentioned in the other reviews: there is no beach, the place is overdeveloped and as a result there are privacy and some noise issues especially when package tours are there. Also, for diving it is best to night dive with dive master Ariel since most of the coral in the Bay has died from global warming and logging since 1997.

Great staff, excellent organization, beautiful spot.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled with friends
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3  Thank honolulumark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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