By KRIZETTE CHU
There’s a new breed of super discriminating travelers unimpressed by opulence, exclusivity, and lavishness—after all, in recent years, these come-ons have been less extraordinary and more de rigueur, as hotels and resorts try to outdo each other in ever more extravagant fashion.
Simply put, it’s becoming increasingly hard to impress true-blue jetsetters who’ve come to take life’s little luxuries for granted. “Personalized monogrammed bathrobes? But of course.”
Times, they’ve changed. Worldweary luxury travelers now want one thing above them all: Sustainability. The chance to see the world while not destroying it. The chance to experience the best these places have to offer, while preserving it for the next generation.
A whopping 78 percent of these discerning tourists now demand that their hotels respect the environment through sustainable practices.
Not that El Nido’s Pangalusian, the country’s premiere eco luxury resort, is just getting in on the action. After all, the ‘Island of the Sun’—given its moniker for having both views of the sunset and the sunrise from both ends of the island—has set the benchmark for what is eco-luxurious since it first opened seven years ago.
One of the first things guests are told is not to be alarmed when they come across monkeys or water monitor lizards. The entire resort is a study in how a structure should meld into its environment without disturbing its natural beauty—balconies that offer uninterrupted views of the bay, hillside villas that jut majestically from the cliff, and lush vegetation as natural boundaries in between ultra-private accommodations—eight Canopy Villas perched on stilts above the forest, 24 Beach Villas, and six Pool Villas close to the water.
So how do you serve up the best of nature, with the best of hospitality? It’s not easy, but it’s doable, executed with extreme care and caution.
The island resort’s challenge is to constantly enhance the Pangalusian guest experience, according to Joey Bernardino, marketing director of Ten Knots Development Corporation, owner and developer of El Nido Resorts.
Before they closed for last year for renovations, Pangalusian has already been a model for sustainability, bagging awards such as its consistent inclusion in the Top 50 Resorts in the World by Conde Nast Traveller, and Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Best Branded Accommodation, in the process.
Even seven years ago, when “sustainability” was not yet the buzzword it is now, Pangalusian has already made use of sustainable construction methodologies. The wall panels are manufactured from mineral components, water, and 30 percent rice hull.
The recent renovation just upped the ante in sustainability.
“We kept the hardware, and changed the software,” says Joey, sharing that while they stripped the resort of everything else, they kept the structure as it was.
Old and new guests to the island resort will see the changes including renovations of the cogon roof of the villas, furniture upgrades, improvements in the AV equipment with larger TV screens and Bluetooth speakers, Amianan restaurant’s new look, and the new beach bar lounge area. Guests used to lounge by the beach area with tables and chairs, now they have cozy day beds on a new deck—the best spot for viewing both the sunrise and sunset, with the most expansive view of the limestone cliffs and the fine ivory sands of the resort.
But more than cosmetic refurbishments, beyond guest experience, Pangalusian went all out in changes that guests are not likely to notice.
For the reopening, the resort focused on improving what it already has within its Be GREEN tenets. To save on water, the resort now utilizes dual flush toilets for common areas. There are new equipment to improve the efficiency of their recycling programs, and the generator sets are new, all of which are more energy efficient.
All aircon units are now inverter, and lights are LED. The sewage treatment facility plant has been upgraded.
Another win for wildlife and Mother Nature: The resort is looking to ban from its boutiques sunscreens with ingredients that affect corals and marine life. Already, guests get reef-friendly sunscreens in their rooms as part of the welcome package. On top of all these is El Nido Resort group’s composting practices, where biodegradable wastes are used as fertilizers.
Guests dining in the outlets may not know that the ingredients and produce are local, straight from the farm run by and is exclusive to El Nido Resorts.
Pangalusian has maintained its raw, natural, untouched beauty that one morning, on a walk along the shore, I saw a lobster sunning itself on the shore, while a huge monitor lizard waddled across me, looking for shade under one of the daybeds.
Monogrammed bath robes are fine and dandy, but startling sights like these are quite the kind of luxury very few places in the world can offer.