Anyone living or working in Manila knows just how stressful the city gets. When the opportunity to escape presents itself, even for a day or two, people often won’t think twice about packing their bags. Problem is, sometimes leaving Manila means dealing with certain factors that pose their own headaches—like distance or, lo and behold, traffic.
With distant destinations becoming more and more popular, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the perfect escape isn’t always far from home. Take the Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park, for example. Now on it’s 20th year, the DOT-accredited four-star resort boasts of updated facilities as well as excellent service for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
We spoke with journalist, politician, and Managing Director Gilbert Remulla to give us a rundown of what to see and do on the Island. Who better than him to give personal recommendations? Fun fact: this happens to be his family’s business.
1. Eat, drink, and fish to your heart’s content. Snacks at iCafe and the Western cuisine at Sangley Point are musts for first-timers. But another great option is the Fishing Village, where you eat in bamboo huts overlooking Manila Bay. What makes it especially interesting is that diners can fish in the ponds that surround the area and have their catch cooked to their liking. Non-anglers may always opt for their set menu items (which are just as tasty and surprisingly go beyond seafood). “I would recommend the Sinigang sa Miso na Tanigue,” admits Gilbert. “If you want pork, our Pork Belly BBQ is my personal favorite. And you can’t go wrong with a Crispy Pata!”
2. Be one with nature. One of the Island’s newest attractions is called the Island Aviary, a 3,200-square meter animal zone that houses birds, fish, rabbits, ostriches, and pythons. Says Gilbert, “When I want to clear my mind, I go to the Aviary and just feed the koi. Really! It's what older people do—one of those things that you appreciate very much (Laughs).”
3. Pamper yourself. Nothing soothes quite like a spa treatment. And the Island Spa is an accessible, affordable haven within the park where one can avail of a much-needed, luxurious spa date. Choose from their selection of massage therapies (hilot is their signature), body scrubs, and facials, among others for a rejuvenating experience. Who knows, you might just see Gilbert getting one too. He’s a frequent customer.
4. Get active. One of the things Gilbert is proud of is that unlike other hotels and leisure parks, Island Cove has a bit of everything. “You can have an overnight experience and not have to leave the place,” he explains. Moreover, the Island has maintained its longstanding position as a legit family-friendly destination, which makes it very convenient for parents, children, and even pets. Besides the eating, the spa, and the aviary, there’s a state-of-the-art gym and go-karts for guests to pedal around the premises in. Water babies will also love the Oceania Swim & Splash Park. Picture a 3,000 square meter, two-layered lagoon-shaped swimming pool that comes with—get this—four giant slides.
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Photographs from Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park and the author