Where we stayed: The Bellevue Bohol Resort

bellevue entrance

If you have read my previous travel posts, I am all about travelling for less. I believe you don’t have to be rich to be able to see places and we’re fine with budget travel: staying at basic accommodations, use public transport, simple meals and fly with budget airlines. However, there are times when a life celebrations call for a little bit of luxury, those out of this world experiences you must enjoy even for once in your lifetime.

This year, 2016 my parents are married for FORTY years and that day too, on my father’s 67th birthday. Now these folks, my parents…they have been raising six kids tirelessly and still continue to dote on their grandchildren. Oh and if I remember, they didn’t go for a honeymoon trip, either! I do think they deserve a much needed break and a taste of luxury so I took them to The Bellevue Bohol Resort in Panglao island!

Mama and Papa has not traveled much within their own country for pleasure, together. They are not used to traveling for pleasure (duh, who has the time and resources when you are raising six kids!) and are anxious with what comes with travel, in July in the Philippines when it’s rainy season, especially if it involves getting on a boat overnight, hopping to another island.

Can you imagine how much I prayed they’d say yes?

LOCATION

The Bellevue Bohol Resort is in Panglao island, located southwest of Bohol and east of Cebu. Just 15km from Tagbilaran, it works just fine as a base for exploring the rest of Bohol. We traveled from our hometown of Cagayan de Oro City aboard Trans Asia ship going to Tagbilaran, the capital city of Bohol. The ship left at 7 pm from Cagayan de Oro and we arrived at 4:30 am in Tagbilaran the following day. Sounds like a long trip? Nah, you can barely feel it since you’ll probably be sleeping through the whole 9+ hours sea journey.

Related post: Travel guide to Bohol island.

The resort is located at the opposite side of the already popular (read: sometimes noisy, chaotic and crowded) Alona Beach strip where night life is reportedly exciting. But this staycation was for my parents who are in their 60’s who never cared for night life even in their 20’s so the location of Bellevue Bohol Resort at a more secluded part of Panglao island meant more quiet time with family and more privacy.

CHECK IN

When we arrived at the resort, we could smell the sea once we stepped out of the van that picked us up from Tagbilaran port earlier. The reception area is not a typical hotel reception, it’s open air from the entrance…

bellevue resort entrance

…and onto the koi pond, beautifully manicured gardens, infinity pool and the beach!
to the beach

hashtag bellevue 2

The reception staff who greeted us when we arrived guided us to the elevator immediately. But wait, we are yet to check in, right? Yes – but you can do the check in process from the room! I love hotel/resort features like this. We just arrived at 4:30 am from an overnight boat journey and the bed wasn’t really comfortable so it’s a big plus to go straight to the room and fall face flat on the bed.

THE ROOM

bellevue facade

First things first, we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite! Now, there are more than 150 rooms in the whole resort but only ONE Presidential Suite. My jaw dropped to the floor. I am so happy for all of us! And it wasn’t only my jaw that I had to pick up from the floor when we entered our newly assigned massive room! My parents too, and the kids and my brother, all of us! (Click on each photo to enlarge)

[envira-gallery id=”53468″]

The Presidential Suite is so well and functionally designed that anyone walking in or staying would think: I want my house to be designed like this! The interiors even have my favorite color of orange and teal (the colors of my blog!).

The Presidential Suite features two bedrooms with their own balconies and living areas. Furthermore, it has its own fully-functional kitchen and granite-topped bar. You can always request for cutlery set, pots and pans, if required. It’s perfect for families or group of friends. It was perfect for us: my parents in the main room with a king sized bed (they are still in shock with their luxurious room, bathroom and balcony) and me, the kids and my brother on the other room.

happy mama and papa

When we’re done with the check in process, it was sunrise and we all had to rush outside. We didn’t want to miss this view!

sunrise 1

THE BEACH

What’s a resort life without checking out the beach? The beach front had powdery soft, white sand which is regularly maintained and cleaned. There are several chair lounges with umbrellas.

bellevue beach 1

bellevue beach 2

The water wasn’t too deep though and you can only swim through the shallow part as there are lots of sea grass at the deeper part. I know some won’t mind.

bellevue beach low tide 1

bellevue beach 3

If you’re not into swimming, there are several water activities available like paddle boarding, kayaking and so much more. You just have to ask the diving center. Panglao island has several smaller island within its vicinity and the resort offers day trips to those island (Virgin island, Balicasag island or Pamilacan island) for dolphin watching! The motorized boats leave as early as 5 am.

THE POOL

We need to talk about this pool. I think I’ll never run out words to describe it. It’s easy so say this has been the best pool I’ve been to so far. The infinity pool style stretches out the view to the sprawling open sea. The depths are 2 feet, 4 feet and 12 feet. The 2 feet is for the kids and it’s very big, look!

bellevue bohol pool

The water is temperature controlled too so it was easy to convince my parents to dip in. I tell you, they are not pool people. But here, they swam till they were sore! My mama loved to just sit by the pool with the kids in the morning. Oh such precious moments.

grandma and p and b

We loved swimming in the late afternoon, when we’re promised the island’s glorious sunsets.

pool sunset

WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT BELLEVUE BOHOL RESORT (and why you should stay here!)

As if it’s not obvious how we loved everything about the resort from what I’ve written above, I’m not done yet. The food was excellent. The buffet breakfast is extensive with traditional Filipino, Asian as well as international food and the selection they have are satisfying. Thumbs up to the taste too!

* Lamian, the restaurant name means “tasty or delicious” in Visayan dialect and for sure they lived up to the name. The restaurant serves guests all day. We had buffet breakfast and lunch and though a bit pricey but it’s not everyday we get to celebrate something special and my parents’ smiles made it worth it. They’re very simple people who’s not into buffets but they loved the food at Lamian. It’s not a “just because” buffet. The quality of food is something else – thanks to locally sourced ingredients and chefs who take the renowned southern taste of food to the next level. My father who rarely eat pork loved the humba, an authentic Bisaya dish of stewed pork with sweet and tangy taste.

breakfast collage

Other amenities in the resort include is the Game Room that is open until 8 pm. There’s a soft play area for kids, air hockey, Foosball, table tennis tables and an arcade basketball shooting machine FREE for all guests. There are also computers, PS3 setups complete with competitive games. They also have some books, DVD’s and even board games you can borrow.

bellevue play room

Ah, the grandeur that is Bellevue Bohol. It was a great time in paradise. I could understand why so many families were there and staying for a stretch of days to a week. It’s a wonderful resort to stay with the kids (more about that in the next post). The only bad thing about it is that you would be sad when you leave.

plant in the beach

Here, it’s not just the sea, sand and sun (and the infinity pool! and the food!), the truly warm hospitality natural to Boholanons (natives of Bohol) really shines through and made our experience much more special. Thank you, Bellevue Bohol Resort team for taking care of us. We will never forget our short but very relaxing and memorable stay at your property. Thank you for the surprise complimentary cake for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary AND another one for my father’s 67th birthday.

bellevue staff

Lastly…

Though I believe that it’s not required to splurge on important life celebrations (even my wedding was ultra simple), my parents deserve this little luxurious break. I am truly grateful for these two people who stood through thick and thin, in good times and mostly during bad times for me and my five other siblings. Where would we be without them?

Happy 40th wedding anniversary, mama and papa. I am happy to see you happy like this. I love you!

mama and papa 40th wedding anniv

To learn more about The Bellevue Bohol Resort and their special offers, check out their main website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We were guests at The Bellevue Bohol Resort, however, there is no obligation to write a favourable review, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

A Travel Guide to Bohol Island, Philippines

bohol featured image

After our trip to Camiguin island last year, my siblings and I vowed, we would explore the other islands of the Philippines, one at a time or at least one island every time we meet up for homecoming, each year. We are six siblings, with FIVE living abroad and having different vacation times as per our work schedules. It’s difficult for all of us to be home at the same time so we make the most of it and whoever is home, go together for out of town trips.

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,100+ islands – we’ll never run out of islands to go! This year, we picked Bohol island.

WHERE IS BOHOL?

Bohol, is a province of the Philippines, in the country’s Central Visayas region, comprising Bohol Island and 70-plus smaller surrounding islands.

HOW TO GET THERE

There are no international flights to going directly to Bohol’s capital city of Tagbilaran. However, there’s Mactan International Airport in Cebu, an island west of Bohol. You can fly to Cebu and take a fast craft to Tagbilaran port (below photo is taken at Tagbilaran port showing a fast craft going to the direction of Cebu, that land mass silhouette you can see in the horizon). There are also flights from Manila to Tagbilaran.

fast craft to cebu

Super Cat and Ocean Jet are two fast crafts servicing between Cebu and Tagbilaran and the ferry ride lasts for only two hours, one way. We used Trans Asia Shipping Lines from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao island to Tagbilaran. The ship left at 7 pm from Cagayan de Oro and arrived at 4 am the next day in Tagbilaran.

ferry from Tagbilaran to Cagayan

We could have opted to take a plane to Cebu and then transfer to a fast craft to Tagbilaran but it was too much of a hassle since the airport is far from where we live. Plus, I kind of missed taking an overnight ferry trip…

Click here for more information regarding ferry services, schedules and ticketing outlets.

inside the ferry

There are two basic classes in Philippines’ inter-island ferries. There’s economy class which is an open air deck (very hot and humid before the ship departs!) and then there’s the “Tourist” class, an air-conditioned section which is cleaner and more comfortable. However, if you’re a bit claustrophobic, you might feel a little uncomfortable, especially when the weather is not too good.

pristine in the ferry

The kids took their very first long distance ferry ride and were amazing. Pristine didn’t say anything bad about it (except that, she didn’t like the creepy crawlies that occasionally appear LOL). Benjamin slept from around 9 pm to the time we arrived at Tagbilaran port at dawn the next day.

Though the weather was good when we left Cagayan de Oro City and our journey was uneventful like the ferry was cruising through butter (that smooth), our trip going back home was the opposite. Monsoon season made its presence felt and wanted to cap our perfect vacation with a little slap of tropical country reality. Four hours after leaving Tagbilaran port, when we were midway between Bohol and Mindanao island, I was awakened with big waves slapping the left side of the ship and the ship would shake. It was cloudy outside.The rocking motion made me feel nauseous lying down.

TIP: If you’re travelling during the rainy season/monsoon, take an anti-nausea drug before your voyage. In the Philippines, the most popular brand is Bonamine (also available for kids in chewable form) and available over the counter.

GETTING AROUND AND TOURING BOHOL

travel village tours

The resort where we will be staying in Panglao, The Bellevue Bohol Resort had arranged someone to pick us from Tagbilaran port which we really appreciated since we arrived before sunrise. Most resorts and hotels in Bohol will have pick up services available so be sure to arrange that before your arrival. Otherwise, there are private pick up services just outside the port – unfortunately I cannot vouch for the safety of these services. If you don’t know anyone from Bohol, friends or family to pick you up at the port, you can contact the Bohol Tourism office through their website or email them at inquire@boholtourismph.com for viable options. I am sure they can recommend a pick up service that’s legit and safe.

If you want to take a tour on Panglao island or the Bohol countryside tour (eco tourism tours also available), there are several travel tours and companies you can find when you do a search online. However, I wanted to book a tour company that’s trusted and with a good reputation – we used Travel Village and Tours, as recommended by the Bohol Tourism office. (More about them in the next post about our Bohol Countryside Tour).

Pristine and Benjamin in pedicab in Bohol

If you are on a budget, you can also go short distances around Bohol aboard these pedicabs – a small carriage that could carry two passengers in the sidecar and one behind the driver. There’s no air conditioning system, you travel al fresco. There are no meters in these vehicles, you negotiate with the driver, explaining your journey and agree on a price.

We used this a couple of times, to the delight of the kids (although Benjamin isn’t showing his joy much in this photo…he is just camera shy!).

WHAT’S IN BOHOL?

In one short sentence: The vastness of nature.

chocolate hills

man made forest

Loboc river

From shades of green, to shades of blue real quick.

coconut palm

beach of Bohol 1

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Bohol is also home to the Philippine Tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primate. The Philippine tarsier, as its name suggests, is endemic to the Philippine archipelago. This nocturnal, shy and solitary animal is considered endangered.

tarsier sanctuary

According to our guide who is a native Boholanon (people born and raised in Bohol), there are absolutely no factories in the entire island of Bohol. The quality of air can attest to that!

Aside from pristine beaches, blue skies, rich flora and fauna, Bohol is also home to some of the country’s oldest churches, falls and underground caves.

WHERE TO STAY IN BOHOL

Bohol has a large number of hotels, resorts, and other facilities for tourists. Most of these are concentrated in Tagbilaran and around Alona Beach, with a few more scattered around the island. Travelers and tourists stay at more affordable hotels in Tagbilaran if they want to focus on the countryside tour of the main island rather than spend time at pricier resorts in Panglao island. (Panglao island tour and spending time at a public beach in Panglao can be easily included in your itinerary even if you stay at a hotel in Tagbilaran City.)

bellevue bohol resort 2

We stayed first at The Bellevue Bohol Resort in Panglao island to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary together with my father’s 67th birthday. The resort is located on the other side of the more popular section of the island’s Alona beach stretch which meant it was more quiet, clean and unspoiled!

There infinity pool facing the open sea is something out of a vacationer’s dream.

bellevue bohol resort infinity pool

I’ll be writing a very detailed review of our unforgettable stay soon!

After spending two glorious days at the resort in Panglao, we moved to Tagbilaran City and stayed at a new-ish boutique hotel called 717 Cesar Place, near the city center. The hotel is basic, with clean rooms and there’s a restaurant that wasn’t too expensive and served well. Access to the city center is easy as it is located in the main road.

Booking your Bohol accommodations through the above affiliate links will cost you nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

*****

resort life

Bohol is just one of the many, many paradise islands in the Philippines. Have you heard of it? Maybe you have heard of Boracay or Palawan and Cebu but Bohol (along with Camiguin which we visited last year) deserves appreciation and recognition, too. If you’re a nature lover, you will absolutely love it and if you live in the desert (hello, Dubai friends!), why don’t you go and inhale some unadulterated air and marvel at the vast green spaces in Bohol?

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

How do you spend the day in paradise?

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

What did you do with the long Eid Al Adha weekend? I’ve been cleaning the house and the files on my PC (and my phone). I actually spend more time in the digital cleanup part, because I tend to look at photos and get stuck there. I’m actually looking at old photos again now.

So, the holidays. I am stuck looking at the photos of our previous holiday, the one just this summer. We go back to the Maldives. To the topic of The Maldives, that is, because we are not going back there. Yet. Not now. Though I wish to!

We spent five glorious days at The Sun Siyam Irufushi Beach and Spa Resort in the Maldives last July and everyday I wished I could freeze time.

So, what does a typical day in paradise look, you may wonder.

First, we wake up from this bed. We stayed in a beach villa that opens up to the private pool and to the beach.

Deluxe Beach Villa With Pool-1

Can you imagine how difficult it is to wake up from this heavenly bed? You’d think I was struggling (like all normal people do when given a bed as awesome as this but me and my stubborn body clock that never sleep beyond 7 in the morning…I get up alone and walk outside to the beach while the husband and the kids are still in la-la-land.

There’s no one there so I have this little piece of paradise all to myself.

Deluxe Beach Villa With Pool-2

There are times when I wake up so much earlier, sit by the beach and feel like I own this sunrise.

Sunrise

When they all wake up around 9 am, we do our quick morning rituals, getting dressed, take a shower. The shower is at the back of the villa and I must admit, I have become addicted to the open air shower. Imagine the feel of cool water while your skin bathes in warm sunshine. How I wish to be able to do this every single day of my life.

(This beach villa is enclosed as to provide utmost privacy so no worries.)

Deluxe Beach Villa With Pool-8

Open air shower all year through. Think about that. Gotta love tropical life!

maldives going to breakfast

We walk to Iru restaurant where breakfast awaits. There are buggies (small vehicle like golf carts) operating around the resort but we always preferred to walk – because the kids don’t do that a lot in Dubai!

Iru Restaurant is not just about great food and wide variety of choices.

iru restaurant

After breakfast, we would take a stroll around the island (because we are still too full to swim!)

stroll after breakfast

Benjamin loved to play in the sand.

playing in the sand

There’s big chess board on the island. I let them break their heads while I lie down in the hammock…

chess

Sometimes, we would go to the docking decks where small ships dock to pick up the trash, every single day. We’ve always wondered how they keep the island resort so clean (almost no flies!) – it’s because they don’t keep trash on the island. The trash is being collected and transported to a designated place (in another island) every day.

morning dock

We watch the boats come and go from this hammock by the beach. If there’s one thing I terribly miss about The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, it’s the cool, crisp, clean sea breeze. It’s the most soothing feeling in the world.

hammock 2

Then we go back to the villa and either swim in the beach or in the pool.

swimming time

The we have lunch at our perfect spot. This is near the water shed, beside Bamboo restaurant. There is WiFi in this location so people tend to flock. However, we were always lucky to have this table to ourselves every day.

lunch

After lunch, we walk around a bit more, or either take the kids to the kid’s club and then go back to the villa to take a nap. When we wake up at around 4 pm, we take a stroll again and take photos and more photos.

take photos around the island

Because time flies doubly faster when you’re having fun (and because that’s how Murphy’s Law works – time flies faster when you pray it would not end). Sunset comes.

sunset

And dinner time.

dinner at sunrise

Playing in the sand until the sun sets. The hours in the day never seem to be enough.

sunset

We could not forget our short but very memorable time in paradise. The kids still remember it and ask to see the set of photos again and again. Still debating whether traveling is worth it with smaller/younger children (in our case, our son Benjamin was 2 years and 9 months when we traveled to the Maldives from Dubai)? Read my post why I think traveling with smaller/younger kids is not a waste.

activities in the island

So that’s how, more or less, how we spent our time in paradise. We also went for a snorkeling trip during our stay. But I was too much of a scaredy cat to even tell an interesting tale to share. Maybe next time!

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Resort has won two categories at the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2014: Indian Ocean’s Leading Family Resort and the Maldives’ Leading Spa Resort. It’s easy to know why they could have won the “leading family resort” category – this resort is not just for honeymooning couples, we know from first hand experience that they’re also great for kids!

* Photos without watermark are provided by Sun Siyam Iru Fushi.