The first time I visited Bohol was twelve years ago, for Coca-Cola’s Ed Venture project. We arrived from Cebu in the morning, zipped through the different municipalities and took a ferry back in the afternoon. All work, no play.
I only had the chance to explore Bohol much later, in 2006, while staging Bohol Beach Break for the radio station, K- Lite 103.5. Bohol Beach Break was a race of sorts, peppered with silly challenges. I had to go through the event route several times and had to coordinate with a lot of locals. By the time I returned to Manila, my Filipino had a very noticeable Boholano accent.
Since then I have been to Bohol five times, twice this year. On all five trips, I stayed at Bohol Beach Club.
The resort, established in 1984 (the first in Panglao!) went through a 9-month overhaul recently and just re-opened last December 2013. While it has considerably scaled down (from 168 rooms, it now has only 88), it has upped the ante in other aspects. Clearly, the owners have opted to go for quality over quantity. The facilities have vastly improved. The food is much better by a mile. Every item from the kitchen is prepared well, down to the good night cookies!
But what’s really fantastic about Bohol Beach Club is their service. I don’t remember it being bad before but it was certainly not at its current level of excellence. I cannot shower their personnel with enough praises, topnotch in every way! I was impressed by how all of the guest’s concerns is everybody’s business. Everyone really went out of their way to attend to us, whether what we were asking for was within their job description or not. I never experienced being passed on to another person for what I needed. If they didn’t know the answer to my question, they went out of their way to find out. I was never turned away or met with a blank stare.
I love how their service is unobtrusive. They are courteous and friendly but they don’t overload you with greetings. I hate having to respond to a hundred good-morning-ma’am-good-afternoon-ma’am greetings, again and again. I want to be able to walk around without having to address everyone I come across. I like how I know that they’re around but they don’t bother me. In fact, everything I needed seemed to appear magically without even having to ask. A beach towel. Cushion for the day bed. Refill of water in the temperature that I like. After my first meal, the waiter already knew what I liked to drink. The personnel are very observant. They really pay attention to the guests preferences and to their work areas. Everything is always, always clean and in proper order. I don’t know how they do it, I feel like a gazillion people are running the place but if you look around, you will hardly see anyone. I’ve watched how the staff interact with the guests (mostly foreigners). They’re comfortable and are able to communicate and interact well without being too familiar. This warm-but-not-irritating formula is difficult to master but the Bohol Beach Club team has it down pat. I think it all boils down to genuine concern. You can tell when somebody is sincere about what they do and when they’re just following a script or routine.
Even before its new improved version, I have always recommended Bohol Beach Club to friends, especially those with children. The private beach ensures safety and security. The last thing you would want to do on a vacation is worry. I’m glad I followed my own advice when I brought my dad to Bohol some three weeks ago.
A stroke in 2009 had left my dad with an orthopedic disability. His right side is weak (not completely paralyzed though, thank God!) so his right hand is almost useless. He is able to walk but quite slow and with a gait similar to someone who’s had too much alcohol. I am in constant fear of him falling so I don’t allow him to wander off on his own. In Bohol, I found myself having to run after him all the time. On the first occasion that I sort of (!) lost him, I asked the first guard I bumped into if he saw my dad. Aba, malay naman niya kung sino ako at kung sino ang tatay ko diba? A few seconds later, he approached me to confirm what my dad was wearing. Turns out he had radioed the different departments and asked if anybody has spotted my dad. They found him at the reception desk, chatting with some ladies. After that, I relaxed. I knew I could count on the staff to help me in my yaya role.
We were assigned to room 105. It’s a special room with bigger doors and grab bars all over the bathroom. If you will be traveling with a person with disability, you can ask for that room. It has also been installed with a bidet, especially for my dad. Hah, spoiled!
For two nights and three days, dad and I just stayed at the resort. I was afraid we would be bored but there was no getting tired of the stunning view.
Eat, swim, sleep, repeat. That was our itinerary.
We looked forward to the late afternoon low tide. The waves are smaller and the sun gentler.
The countryside tour was always part of my previous trips. Bohol Beach Club arranges it for me. They can take care of putting together more adventurous activities too such as snorkeling, diving, swimming with the whale sharks and dolphin watching. I have gone dolphin watching, it was an amazing experience! I have yet to try getting close to the butandings.
Despite the devastating earthquake last October 2013, life goes on. Bohol is still as beautiful, the people are still as hospitable. It’s business as usual so there is no reason not to include the province in your holiday options. Of course, I strongly suggest you stay at Bohol Beach Club.
Bohol Beach Club is located at Bo. Bolod, Island of Panglao, 30 minutes from the Tagbilaran Airport and Pier. For inquiries, you may call (038) 502.9222 / (038) 411.5222 or log on to www.boholbeachclub.com.ph Check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/theboholbeachclub