April 24, 2006
I was actually skeptical when I first visited golden sunset because of the cheesy marketing gimmicks and later on, I found out that the resort does not have an actual beach front. But still we decided to stay for 3 days/ 2 nights during the holy week to rest and re-charge since this is "allegedly" the best resort (so far) in Calatagan. After our stay, I should say that we really had fun specially because the place caters to families with lots of things to do for the kids. Despite the hot weather, there is a gush of winds passing through the resort which makes the summer heat bearable and it is not that humid. Golden Sunset officially opened to the public just this January 2006 and there was a soft opening during the Ms. Earth pageant last October 2004. Ricky Reyes (commonly called Mader in the resort) proudly designed the entire place and I'm glad to see him during the Holy Week in his resort. The resort is very busy and it would be difficult to get a reservations during the summer weekends in this resort. I'll give you a virtual tour anyway of the resort which is similar to an Island Cove setup but in a much cooler ambiance at night plus a great view of Calatagan's famous golden sunset.
Calatagan is about 180kms and 3 hours away from Manila. It's just funny how the brochures would normally deduct 30 mins from the estimated time of arrival in the place and would say that it is only two-and-a-half-hour drive. The best way is to drive south via Tagaytay going to Nasugbu and turn left in the Shell station going to Calatagan. There are signs along the way going to Calatagan. Once you reach this Calatagan archway, it is only less than 30 mins from here and it is right before the Calatagan town proper past the Lago de Oro and other resorts in Calatagan.
I've always believed in resorts or restaurants where the owners are there to entertain and welcome guests. Mader is right in the reception greeting the guests and would gladly pose for a photo or two. This is the lobby of Golden Sunset where there is also a photo gallery. One of these days, I also want to have my own private photo gallery at home.
Just a reminder, the resort only accepts CASH and if you forget to withdraw money, you have to go to Balayan Town 30 minutes away. I've done this and believe me you don't want to go here to get last minute cash because of how far it is and how traffic it would be during busy hours.
One way to control the cash flow inside the resort is with the use of Golden Sunset Passports. You buy them in the lobby for 100, 500, 1000 denominations. I guess the passport system works so that you actually do not need to wait for your change. It is favorable for the resort because you end up maximizing the passport so it is a kind-of-up sell strategy and for us we ended up paying for P2,000 during our stay (which we did not intend to spend...)
The Golden Sunset Golf carts are cool. The resort is huge and most of the rooms are 5-10mins walking distance so these carts brings you from the lobby to the center of the resort. This is very helpful specially when checking in with all your luggage and checking out. Nice overall branding and I like the way the entire resort is well branded and all the communication touch points conforms to an overall concept.
Due to its popularity, Mader decided to setup up Tents for those people who are walk-ins and needed a place to stay overnight. Take note that these tents are air conditioned, carpeted, well lighted and nice folding beds with cushions. So it is a very comfortable place to stay and the only downside is you don't have your own private restroom.
The standard rooms are nice with two single beds. This would costs P2,800 during the regular season and P3,080 during the peak season. It has a TV and ref with hot and cold shower rooms. The only downside is that you can already see maintenance problems in the restroom (leaky tubes, clogged toilet, etc...) and the water is salt sticky water.
This is the view in front of the resort -- Fishpond! That is why there was a lot of fuss about how Ricky's resort is destroying the nearby fishpond areas (not sure how true this is and what's the status).