I HAVE always loved Bohol – ever since I first set foot on its soil several years ago – and I have been quite fortunate to see it from different angles and enjoy it in different ambiances.
The first time I was there as part of a small media group, I stayed in a resort in Panglao that wasn’t too far from Alona Beach, where all the action took place, but didn’t have its own beachfront. The place had its own charms, though, and privacy was uncompromised. During that visit, I got to see the traditional tourist attractions of Bohol, including the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier Conservation Area, the Man-Made Forest and the historic churches of Bohol, and got to experience the Loboc River Cruise and the Firefly Tour along Abatan River.
The second time I was in Bohol was late last year (2013), and I got to stay in an expansive beachfront property that built its accommodations horizontally to give its guests an island living experience. It had an awesome stretch of white-sand beach, a semi-infinity pool, and a mini Man-Made Forest, among other attractions. During our stay, I got to experience dolphin watching, island hopping and picnicking on Pamilacan Island, visit the Bohol Bee Farm, and witness the devastation wrought by the Magnitude 7.2 earthquake on the historic chuches of Bohol. My husband Raff even got to scuba-dive with some of the guys in the group.
Last March (2014), I got to visit Bohol again with another media group, and we stayed at the luxurious The Bellevue Resort Bohol on Panglao Island. It’s a hotel-type resort development. Although, being a hotel, the development is more vertical than horizontal, the resort owners consciously kept the hotel within four floors and incorporated some elements of island living into the development, including an al fresco native pavilion that houses the al fresco restaurant Marea on the ground floor, the Cena oceanview function room for private functions and dinners on the second floor, and the Azurea Spa, Gym and Game Room on the basement level. This time around in Bohol, I got to just stay in the hotel-resort and enjoy it at my own leisurely pace in the company of Raff, of course, charming publicist Suzette Morelos, Manila Bulletin’s Business Agenda editor Gina Abuyuan, Business Mirror’s Dennis Estopace, Travelife’s Gel Bayona, and Wedding Essentials’ Erron Castillo.
I have always wanted to visit The Bellevue Resort Bohol. The Chan brothers behind the Bellevue Group, particularly corporate director for marketing and communications Ryan Chan, had been talking about it even before the resort opened. The Chan family, led by its visionary chairman, Johnny Chan, is behind The Bellevue Hotels and Resorts, which includes The Bellevue Manila and B Hotel, both located in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. The two hotels South of Metro Manila had been running smoothly and successfully for several years when the Chan family decided to build a hotel-resort in Bohol and bring the signature Bellevue brand of five-star hospitality and service to Bohol.
While most resorts on Panglao Island are crowding the northern part of the island, The Bellevue Resort is quietly tucked away in the relatively secluded and serene Doljo Beach at the southwestern tip of Bohol’s prized tourist getaway. It’s a convenient 25- to 30-minute ride from Tagbilaran Airport, and the beautifully masterplanned development is nestled in an expansive 3.5-hectare property. It boasts of luxurious guestrooms with picturesque views of the ocean across the peninsula of Doljo. There are a total of 159 guestrooms, with room choices ranging from the Presidential Suite (all of 222 square meters), Bellevue Suite (1-bedroom suite with Jacuzzi), Premiere Suite (2-bedroom suite) and Junior Suite (1-bedroom suite) to Deluxe Room and Deluxe Room with Ocean View.
The Bellevue Resort has a lovely infinity pool sitting in the center of the development. The pool has an elevated platform for those who want to sunbathe, and an area has been dedicated to a dive pool, where a dive master can orient his group of divers on the essentials of diving before bringing them out to sea.
Right in front of the pool is a good stretch of white-sand beach, where lounge chairs have been set up for guests to use should they want to sunbathe or simply lounge around, relax and enjoy the view of the ocean. The beach is so calm and shallow that you can wade in several inches of water out at sea, several meters away from the shore, and enjoy the view of the vast expanse of the resort and feel safe. Out further at sea, you can enjoy several watersports activities.
At The Bellevue Resort, dining is one of the best pleasures that guests can certainly enjoy. There are two main dining facilities, the Marea, which serves a la carte international favorites in an al fresco environment, and the Lamian, which offers all-day international buffet and a la carte dining. Marea is housed in the al fresco pavilion that looks out to sea, while Lamian is on the ground floor of the East Balai Wing of the resort.
Breakfast, for resort guests, is buffet at Lamian, while Marea offers an a la carte menu with a wide selection of delectable plated dishes prepared by the kitchen staff led by Executive Chef Martin Przewodnik and served in generous portions. Lechon Kawali (crispy fried pork belly served with steamed rice and pickled green papaya) and Barbecued Back Ribs (marinated pork backribs in barbecue sauce, served with steamed rice and pickled vegetables) are crowd favorites, although there are a lot of other Filipino, Western and Chinese inspired dishes that just might also tickle your fancy.
For dinner at Marea, you can also opt to choose your fresh seafood – including lapu-lapu, crabs, squid and shellfish – at the Catch of the Day seafood display right by the entrance to the restaurant and have it weighed and cooked the way you want. Some of the seafood choices are so fresh that they’re still alive, such as the crabs. Bohol, which has lots of mangroves, is known for crabs, and dining on a fresh crab dish is something you should not miss when in Bohol.
Upon prior arrangement and with a pre-ordered menu, The Bellevue Resort Bohol can also create special dining experiences, such as a romantic dinner for two by the beach as well as gala dinners.
While the infinity pool and the beach beckon to guests, The Bellevue Resort boasts of many other attractions that are sure to keep guests happily busy and pleasurably pampered. The whole basement level of the al fresco native pavilion that houses Marea Restaurant on the ground floor has been devoted to this purpose.
The Gym is equipped with treadmills and the latest fitness equipment for the health- and fitness-conscious who must squeeze some physical activity into their vacation.
The adjacent Game Area defines fun and games for both children and adults. Besides the spacious play area for kids, the Game Area has computer stations for computer games, digitized basketball shooting booths commonly found in amusement centers in malls, simulation driving machines, table hockey and table tennis.
As for Azurea Spa, well, it offers different massage options that pamper and rejuvenate tired bodies and soothe the soul.
For a resort hotel that has thought of everything that can make its guests’ stay more enjoyable and satisfying, The Bellevue Resort Bohol beckons with unmistakable fervor.
(The Bellevue Resort Bohol is located at Barangay Doljo, Panglao Island, Bohol 6340; with telephone numbers 771-8181 (Manila) and(633 422-2222 (Visayas).)