The beach at El Nido Pangalusian Island, one of the three Philippine resorts on Conde Nast Traveler's best new hotels list. Photo: Handout
MANILA, Philippines – Three Philippine hotels made the list of the top new hotels in the world compiled by luxury magazine Conde Nast Traveler.
Fairmont and Raffles in Makati, El Nido Pangalusian Island in Palawan, and Dedon Island Resort in Siargao were among the 154 hotels which made the magazine’s "hot list" of hotels that have opened in the past year.
“To compile the list, we visit hundreds of properties, evaluating every hotel—from the massive to the small and sweet—for style, location, service, comfort, value, and chic. And we make all visits unannounced and anonymously: In other words, we experience the property the way you experience the property,” the magazine said on its website.
The magazine described Raffles and Fairmont as “two hotels with shared common areas, housed in a new high-rise in the fast-growing (though still somewhat sketchy) business and shopping district of Makati.”
“These two brands cater to a broad clientele—the 280-room Fairmont to business travelers (with fast, free Wi-Fi and a comfortable workspace) and Raffles to honeymooners and families (with 32 airy suites and butler service). The properties share the Fairmont spa and pool, and seven restaurants and lounges, including an outpost of Singapore's famed Long Bar. Service is outstanding, especially on Fairmont club floors,” it said.
But the magazine was obviously not familiar with Manila’s safety precautions as it noted that the “canine security at the hotel entrance dampens an otherwise warm welcome.”
Meanwhile, the magazine described Pangalusian Island as the “most luxurious of El Nido's Palawan archipelago properties, with 42 villas laid out along a white-sand cove facing the emerald Bacuit Bay on the South China sea.”
“High-ceilinged thatched-roof villas, some with plunge pools and wooden terraces furnished with white-cushioned loungers. Open-air common areas are bedecked with statues and vases carved from local wood and offer eye-popping sunrise and sunset views,” it said of the resort’s look.
“A one-hour charter flight southwest from Manila brings you to a one-runway airport where you're welcomed by a group of singing ladies. Your luxurious hideaway (a quick boat trip from the airport) is a launchpad to the island biosphere gloriously featured in ‘The Bourne Legacy.’ With scuba courses and access to more than 20 dive sites, as well as boat tours of mangroves and secret lagoons, you could spend all your time exploring, but the resort makes it equally tempting to stay put. There is a reef for snorkeling, 25 kayaks for guests' use, and a seemingly endless choice of lounging options,” it added.
But the magazine criticized the resort's food for being “complicated, saying “most of the dishes are oversauced.” It also hoped that the staff spoke better English. “They're incredibly warm and sweet, but there are lost-in-translation moments,” it noted.
The third Philippine resort to make the cut was Dedon Island Resort in Siargao, described as “nine luxury villas on a remote island of white-sand beaches, small fishing villages, and world-class surf breaks.”
The luxury magazine was also wowed by the resort’s look, which is likened to “a photo shoot for an impossibly chic catalog,” noting that the resort’s coffee-table book was shot by fashion photographer Bruce Weber.
“Rattan chairs and swinging daybeds fashioned by master weavers are among the furnishings showcased by this exquisite resort owned by soccer star turned furniture maven Bobby Dekeyser. Open showers in the center of the bathroom are lined with beautiful local tiles and surrounded by white beach pebbles; doors and walls are made from recycled wood turned into lattice; and local-wood headboards are whimsically carved with coconut trees and birds,” it said.
“The moment you climb aboard the hotel's supercomfy jitney, you're in the hands of an impresario with great taste, deep pockets, and a sense of fun. Dekeyser's first hotel resort (more are planned) includes a trampoline surrounded by an installation-worthy lattice sculpture, an outdoor cinema, and a weathered-wood sea pavilion reached by a leisurely swim. Villas are flawless, right down to details such as organic soaps wrapped in banana leaves and embellished with a seashell. Delicious and simple dishes rely on fresh local ingredients, such as grilled mahi-mahi with calamansi fruit. The kind and helpful staff know when to leave you alone,” the magazine said of the Dedon experience.
However, the magazine’s staff hoped “there were more pre-arrival handholding, such as an advance copy of the resort's excellent guidebook.”