Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Resort Review: Pearl Farm Resort (Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte)

Date of Stay: May 19 - 23, 2009

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ********
Rooms: *********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: *********
Room Comfort: *********
Food and Beverage: ********
Other Amenities: ********
Value for Money: *********
The Parola at Pearl Farm Resort
The resort's white sand beach
This 11-hectare, Class “AAA” resort, located on a secluded cove at the Island Garden City of Samal’s Kaputian District, was formerly the home, since 1958, of the Aguinaldo Pearl Farm which produced cultured pink, white and gold pearls from white-lipped oysters brought from Jolo.   It ceased operations in 1980 but was developed into a world-class beach resort, opened in 1992.  It started out with 10 hillside cottages and 2 Samal cottages on stilts. 
The Samal Suites
Today, the main resort has expanded into 70 guestrooms (17 standard Hilltop rooms, 21 superior Samal Houses, 6 executive, 2-storey Samal suites and 19 de luxe Mandaya Houses and 7 Malipano Villas) made mainly with bamboo and wood and harmonizing with the clear, blue sea, the white sand and its backdrop of impressive greenery.  Noted architect Francisco “Bobby” MaƱosa designed the cottages and villas as close as possible, in both materials and form, to the different Mindanao tribes they were named for, notably the Bagobo, B'laan, Maguindanao, Tausug, T'boli and Yakan.  For its depiction of regional traits, the resort received the Kalakbay Award for Best Resort for two consecutive years (1994 and 1995) and was one of the venues of the 1994 Miss Universe pageant.  
The master bedroom
Maranao Restaurant
The Samal suites (as well as the cottages) were patterned after the stilt houses of seafaring Samal tribes of the Sulu archipelago. The master bedroom,  on the second floor, are provided with a king-size bed.  At the first floor is a living room.  Both floors have their own private bathroom with the masters' provided with a bathtub.

Both rooms are airconditioned and provided with cable TV, a well-stocked mini-bar, coffee and tea making facilities, safety deposit box and hair dryer. Our veranda,  overlooking the serene blue water, had a private staircase leading down to our very own small yet private beach. A jar of water and a coconut shell dipper are placed near the entrance to our suite so that we may wash away the sand after a day of barefoot walking on the beach. In local custom, this gesture is also symbolic of a cleansing of the spirit.
Infinity pool
The Maranao Restaurant, a cavernous dining pavilion replete with tribal motifs, has a menu with an assortment of international culinary influences, all wonderfully prepared by Filipino chef Edgar Chavez.  The buffet features Spanish paella and calamares,  Madras seafood curry, Italian pasta, Japanese tempura and even Thai tom yum soup plus sweet pomelo, mangoes and other tropical fruits.
Cocktails, plus inspiring views of the sea and nearby De la Paz and  Malipano  Islands, can be enjoyed at the Parola Bar.  Both restaurant and bar offer free Wi-Fi internet access.  The resort also has two swimming pools, one of which was built right on the shore, giving the illusion that the pool water meets the sea, while the other has a jacuzzi.

The Ylang-Ylang Spa, located beside a waterfall and beneath swaying coconut palms, offers several indulgent body and beauty treatments based on natural products.  They include a relaxing Papaya Body Scrub, a revitalizing Honey and Cucumber Facial Cleansing and the refreshing Floral Foot Soak. Massage therapies, embracing the most effective European and Asian techniques and using the stress-busting and soul-soothing power of coconut oil, includes the healthy aromatherapy massage.
Getting around the resort is easy as there are two shuttles, one of them electric-powered. The Mandaya weaving house has a couple of tribal women making colorful tribal dresses, costumes and jewelries.  Pearls, hats, T-shirts and other accessories can be bought at the nearby boutique. There are also 2 function rooms, 2 tennis courts, game room (billiards, chess, mahjong, etc.), children's playground and a mini-aviary. 


The Game Room
Aqua Sports Center
Function Room
Mandaya Weaving Center
An aqua sports center offers windsurfing, fishing, jet skiing, sea kayaking, island hopping, banana boat rides, Hobie cats, wave runners, snorkeling and scuba diving.   
Pearl Farm Resort: Kaputian District, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte. Tel: (082) 221-9970 to 73.  Fax: (082) 221-9979.  E-mail: pearlfarmresort@fuegohotels.com.  Website: www.pearlfarmresort.com.  Davao Citysales office: G/F, Anflocar Corporate Center, Damosa Bldg., Lanang.  Tel: (082) 235-0876 and 234-0601.  Fax: (082) 235-0873.  E-mail: dvosm@pearlfarmresort.comManila sales office: 15/F, 1504 Corporate Center, 139 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.  Tel: (632) 750-1896 and 98.  Fax. (632) 750-1894. E-mail: mlasm@pearlfarmresort.com.

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