MANILA – With less than half an hour's drive from Manila through Cavitex, Island Cove in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite lives up to why it is one of the more accessible "home-away-from-home" places to visit this summer season.
The 12-hectare island was then called Pulo ni Burunggoy, but it reached its popularity when it was re-established as Covelandia Island Resort on June 12, 1976.
Throwback: An ad from its days as Covelandia.
Developed by the Manila Bay Island Resort Corporation, it was highly recognized by the Department of Tourism and cited as one of the top tourist destinations during that time, according to Guen Villanueva, hotel manager of Island Cove.
“Eto talaga yung pinupuntahan. Maraming politicians, actors, kasi ito ying pinakamalapit din back then, [especially from Manila].”
Villanueva said that from the main road, visitors had to take a short ride on a ferry boat to get to the main island.
Back when it first opened, the resort was well-known as an island where there were cottages surrounding its perimeter, pools separately filled with fresh or salt water, and offered activities like fishing and bowling, among others.
Throwback: An old aerial photo of the resort.
It was also a top pick for excursions and school field trips.
The resort that started out with just a pool, a hotel, and a cockpit arena later on became one of the most go-to resorts in Cavite.
It went on hibernation for 12 years but reopened on October 11, 1997 as Island Cove. It offered additional facilities and upgraded its services.
ATTRACTING MORE VISITORS
Today: The Island Cove entrance, now.
In 2003, a 24-hectare man-made island was added to the resort to house the Animal Island, the resort’s own wildlife facility. It houses different animals like monkeys, boars, tigers, crocodiles, deer, and has its own aviary. There is a tram that can tour you around the area, and a petting zoo where kids will be able to interact with animals.
When asked why visitors continue to come back, Villanueva credits it to the resort’s hospitality efforts and amenities.
“It's because of the hospitality and service. We make sure that this is their second home. While you're at Island Cove, basically it's like a home. You can stroll around, go around,” Villanueva said.
She adds, “It's a destination that has something for everyone: a spa, sports facilities, restaurants, and many others. Plus, it's only about 25 minutes away from Manila, making it ideal for staycations and weekend getaways.”
Today: Garden view on a walking tour.
Since the construction of Cavitex and with more people wanting to travel outside Manila, Island Cove experienced an increase in number of visitors.
“There is a rapid increase of visitors coming in Cavite because the Tagaytay area now has more hotel and (amusement facilities)… We continuously improve our facilities and create new ones. We're also very active on social media.”
In line with this is Island Cove’s Oceania Splash Park, which opened just last Saturday, March 29.
Executive assistant manager Uly Oposa said that the portion of the pool area especially designed for kids reopened with a playground and a boating area for children.
“We added a Splash Park which is like a water playground where kids play… Our former kiddie pool [was] turned into a kiddie boating area. [There are] toddler boats — maliliit na boats na pambata.”
He said that they specifically expanded the portion of the pool for kids because they want to build on making the resort a place where all members of the family will enjoy.
Today: The giant slide in the main pool area.
“We want to attract kids because like me, I grew up going to Island Cove….It's really a nice place to make childhood memories. [It’s a place where] the kids play, the parents play.”
Cavite provincial tourism officer Liberty Herrera said that Island Cove has been performing well, both in terms of number of guests and improvements.
Herrera cited Island Cove as one of the top tourist destinations in Cavite at the moment catering to a lot of students on field trips and senior citizens on tours.
“Yes, it's one of the [resorts doing well tourism-wise, especially] with schools. [They are] in demand with senior citizens who include the resort in their itinerary. They are doing very well."
Ever since the Manila–Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) was opened, Herrera said that the shortened travel time going to Cavite encouraged more visitors to come.
Guests and visitors will be able to expect new sights and places to go to this summer. Herrera said that with their efforts on promoting eco-tourism, guests will be able to see more visible improvements in the different districts of Cavite.
Today: The seaside restaurant on stilts popular with walk-in diners.