April 22, 2010
Bellarocca, which means beautiful rock, is the latest, much-talked about destination in the country. I would like to share our experience with you to sort through the hype. We did have an awesome experience in Bellarocca but with a few disappointments -- particularly with the food.
The Santorini-themed geometric architecture (with its super white walls against a backdrop of deep blue sea and clear blue sky) is psychologically refreshing when you see it. To have the best experience, reserve the garden or cliffside villas where you can have a private scenic view that you can enjoy in your own infinity pool.
People visit this rock island off the coast of Marinduque to re-energize and have a relaxing, incognito escape. I was expecting to have decent food for its 5 star-hotel priced menu, but the food was not good for me. Also, with its Greek theme, we were expecting some Mediterranean options at least, but it was only limited to continental and Filipino dishes. I felt robbed every time I ate because we were "captive customers" of their food for 2-3 days. I don't mind paying for overpriced good food but paying for overpriced ho-hum food is a bit insane.
Quality of food aside, the overall Bellarocca experience rocks because of the unique ambiance and the French GM who interacts with every single guest. To think, the resort is allegedly second to Amanpulo in terms of revenue even with its not-so-good food and not-so-great beach. I'm amazed actually by how they were able to market the place. (I salute the PR agency that promoted this island rock, turning it into one of the hottest places to go this 2010.)
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Bellarocca?
No doubt, the best place to stay on the island would be the two bedroom cliffside villa! What some people do is have two families rent the 2-bedroom villas. The cliffside villas are located on the sides of the island with an unobstructed view of the sea, directly facing the sunset.
There are four (4) 2-bedroom cliffside villas, namely, Athena, Zeus, Neptune (Facade above) and Hermes. I would recommend the Athena villa where it is a bit private because it is not along the golf cart route.
There are two (2) 1-bedroom cliffside villas, namely, Brizo and Aphrodite. The Aphrodite is the most hidden and directly faces the sunset. It only has one villa beside it, which is Athena.
Going up the ramp from the Marina, the cliffside villas that you will pass by would be Hermes, Aphrodite, Neptune, Zeus, Athena and finally Brizo.
The two bedroom villas have a queen-size bed in the master bedroom, which has doors opening to the infinity pool. It also has a second floor with two single beds. The master comfort room has a bathtub and see-through showers.
The living room is equipped with a state-of-the-art-looking DVD system with surround sound, but it only plays DVDs from a specific region. All the rooms in Bellarocca have Skype phones that are very hard to use (and sometimes, the IP connection is down).
The villas have a kitchen that is used by the butchers when they prepare the meals for you in the villas. It's not meant for you to bring food and cook inside the villas.
If you cannot get any of the 6 cliffside villas, the next best thing would be the 4 garden villas. The difference is that the garden villas are located in the interior of the island and you would have a view of the cliffside villas.
There is a 2-bedroom villa called Xanadu, and three (3) 1-bedroom villas called Valhalla (with a movie theater), Eden and Nirvana. The room rates of the cliffside villas and garden villas are the same. It is on a first-come, first-served basis, so it would be best to reserve the cliffside villas ahead of time.
The best part of staying in a villa is you have your own private infinity pool facing the sunset! It is so nice -- I vow to return and stay in these villas with my family. Aidan and Joshua would surely enjoy it!
We stayed in a Hotel Deluxe room with a great view of Mt. Malindig. I like the room with its see-through bathroom because it is more spacious when you look at it. Also, you can see your kids sleeping on the bed while you relax in the bathtub and watch TV. :)
Sometimes, if the Junior Suites are free, the staff can upgrade your Deluxe accommodation to a Junior Suite. It is a bit bigger, but no more see-through bathroom. Also, the Junior suites are located on the edge of the hotel. Our view of Mt. Malindig was not good anymore, especially the room on the ground floor.
The room rates basically cover a maximum of 2 children (12 years and below) in the room with at least 2 adults. A 3rd child in the room will be charged the Extra Person Rate already. We requested a crib for Raphael, which they gladly accommodated.
The extra bed is worth it. Besides a very comfortable bed, a bathrobe, towel, slippers and toiletries of your choice are included.
There were also Hotel One (1) Bedroom Suites (6 available rooms - $660/night - valid until December 2010), which we did not have a chance to see.
The Terraza rooms have a terrace like the ones in Fundacion Pacita. They face Mt. Malindig directly. These rooms were not open yet when we visited Bellarocca.
When the Casas open, it would most probably destroy the "exclusive feel" of the place and you will have people crowding the infinity pool and the lap pool. At the moment, with just the Villas and Hotel open, you won't see most of the people yet, giving you the feeling that you are alone on the island.
It is better to go now in 2010 before this opens.
How to get to Bellarocca?
The 19-seater planes of Seair and Zestair fly from Manila to Marinduque for 30-45 minutes. We recommend flying via Seair. It would cost you about P5,000 roundtrip per person.
The planes are non-pressurized and the Seair planes are more reliable. These are the types of planes that are a bit bumpy and are smaller than the 32-seater planes that fly to Batanes. The stewardess literally bids you farewell and hops off the plane after her pre-departure safety demonstration.
From the airport of Marinduque, you will travel 45 minutes going to the right side of the airport to the town of Lipata, Municipality of Buenavista, where Bellarocca Island is located. Boac, the capital of Marinduque, is on the left side of the airport and you won't pass by the town.
It is actually a slightly sad ride because you can see only a few trees and you can feel a bit of the destruction of the marine life.
Barangay - Tungib - Lipata, Municipality of Buenavista
Province of Marinduque, Philippines
Office Address: Suite 2804, 28th Floor, Ayala Life-FGU Center
6811 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1229 Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 817 7290; +63 2 328 8831
Fax: +63 2 817 5879; +63 2 892 4102
Our Bellarocca Hotel was part of the prize package of the Sofitel Siete Pecados Contest -- here's the winning entry: Planning Your Awesome Sofitel Escape. We paid for our Seair Flights, all the Meals and all other expenses. We don't really know the owners or the PR agency marketing Bellarocca. We just met the French GM during our visit :)
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. Always make sure to check out their Bellarocca Travel Packages.