My nephew was visiting from Bacolod and we needed to get away from the scorching heat in the city, so we booked an overnight stay at a nearby beach. Batangas is the closest to “nearby” as we can get, and so I scoured TripAdvisor for resorts with the best reviews. Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas came out on top. We made reservations via Agoda for a junior casita with an extra bed.
We were 5 in the party and were in high spirits on our way out of Manila. The map on their website was clear so we didn’t lose our way, but it was a long drive. Travel time was about 3.5 hours via Star Tollway.
The highway was undergoing major repair between the length of SLEX and Star Tollway so we were slow-moving at times, and traffic was expected in the towns leading up to San Juan since it was a Thursday. What took us by surprise was the mandatory “tourism” fee of P20/person when you reach the town. They say the fee collection is for the preservation of the natural beauty of the area for tourism. Shouldn’t the local government be taking care of that already from the taxes? Anyhoo, we didn’t let that spoil our day. Besides, we were greeted by a young vendor of suman with a wide smile and a very cheerful, albeit very loud, voice. That instantly lifted our spirits.
The last leg of the drive going up the hill was steep and the road was rough but it was only about half a kilometer. I spotted La Luz on our left before we entered the Palm Beach gate. Security was tight so that was a good sign. We parked our car along the side of the main path. A golf car drove up to take us to our casita down the hill. So far so good.
The room was okay – there were 2 queen beds and an extra daybed, plus a bathroom with separate shower and toilet areas. The ac was adequate and a ceiling fan was installed as well for further cooling. The room opened up to a veranda overlooking the beach but the view was blocked by the beach cabanas. Because the room was elevated, it provided enough privacy for us. Even with the extra daybed, we had to pay for an extra person (room max was 4) as the fee includes 3 meals plus merienda. There was free wifi around the resort although the signal was poor in our room.
We headed to the common dining area where buffet lunch was served al fresco. There were so many people but seating was just right. The food wasn’t something to rave about but it filled our stomachs. I can’t even remember what we ate now. 🙂
Since it was just really hot out, we stayed in our room until late afternoon. Lazy bums!
This was when we decided the trip was going to be forgettable. Although I did expect the beach to be rocky and aqua shoes were available for free use, the algae everywhere was just not acceptable. We also saw a few clear jellyfish and my sister got stung. Thankfully, the lifeguard had vinegar on hand and applied first aid right away. There were two swimming pools on opposite sides of the resort but they were all full – and it was a Thursday! Needless to say, we only had a few minutes’ swim time. Water sports equipment were available for rent, and there was an area for beach volleyball as well as a rock climbing wall but we simply wanted to relax. We had merienda at 3pm and (very sweet) iced tea was free-flowing. The husband kept himself busy by taking photos and then we retreated again to our rooms until dinner. My sister ordered a bottle of wine and some chips , perhaps to drown her disappointment in alcohol (haha!). By 8pm, we had called it a night.
We were leaving the next day so we just had breakfast and then got ready for our trip back. While we dreaded having to head back to the city, we weren’t sad to leave the place. The place was okay but the beach was just not something we’d be returning for. And what do you know? I suffered from severe stomach ache in the days that followed. Must be all the algae!