I have been to a few beaches this year in my excitement to reunite with my natural element of sun, sand, and sea after months of being in London. While they all were awesome and filled with great memories with friends, one beach trip in May stood out. I was luckily able to take a much-needed getaway with my best friend Sasha in Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa, one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in the Philippines.
The villas or “balai” as they call them in the local dialect, were designed by the talented Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa. They are romantic structures that are dreamy and distinctively Filipino. Each villa, from the smaller ones to the presidential suite, paid homage to Bohol’s colonial roots and indigenous architecture while having all the modern comforts of a luxury hotel. We enjoyed a hot bubble bath next to an open bamboo shower, high thread count sheets under a traditional “kulambo” or mosquito net canopy, and a private pool enclosed only by towering bamboos. I loved how these contrasting elements marries the charm of old and comfort of new. There are only 16 villas in the resort and they are currently expanding to add a few more, which shows the value Eskaya places on peace and privacy.
Their spa is called “Handuraw”, a local word that is used to evoke sweet and blissful memories. Handuraw Spa offered both single treatments and amazing packages. If you want a quiet and relaxing retreat from the world, you can book packages that run from 6-8 hours, which lets you enjoy the treatment/s of your choice, have a private lunch/dinner at the deck overlooking the beautiful Bohol waters, detoxify in steam and sauna, swim in the treatment room’s private pool, and soak in its outdoor hot tub. They will set up a whole day of activities for you and your company, be it your friends, family, or significant other – all on a mission to thoroughly relax and rejuvenate your tired mind, body, and soul.
I had their signature spa treatment, which included the application of warm leaves on your back before the massage. I seriously knocked out from that magnificent massage. Sasha was out cold for hours. (Seriously. It was so good she slept through dinner.) There was no waking her up. It was that good.
You may avail of Handuraw’s services even if you are not staying in Eskaya. All you need to do is book an appointment through Eskaya’s front office.
Lantawan is Eskaya’s poolside and sea-view restaurant. Their food had an international range, but majority of it was Filipino food. Being on vacation and in Bohol, I threw my diet out of the window and went for a Visayan specialty, the Humba (hoom-ba), a stewed pork in salted black beans. It was every bit worth it. I still crave the dish to this day! Apart from their delicious food and drinks, the view and their service truly aimed to please. They looked after us like royalty, catering to our every request happily.
They also arranged a dinner for us on the beach on the first night, and on one of their viewing docks on the next. Both were lit by beautiful candles and a bonfire, complete with a personal butler and a trio to serenade us. My best friend and I were laughing at how romantic the evening was and how much it was wasted on us. While I must admit that I wished my boyfriend was there to enjoy the romantic atmosphere with me, I am glad to have experienced such an awesome dining experience with one of my closest friends. The restaurant also offers to bring your food to your villa, which comes in handy when you want to just chill by your private pool during lazy afternoons.
Lantawan Restaurant is open for dining to the public, whether staying or walk-in guest. You could also arrange an evening of romance for your boyfriend/girlfriend by calling in advance.
Eskaya is in Bohol, one of the country’s most picturesque destinations. Home to rich sea life and world-class landscapes, the location itself promises memories to last a lifetime, but Eskaya elevated it to a level of exclusivity that really blew me away. We went on a countryside tour that included seeing the famous Chocolate Hills, tarsiers, an ethereal man-made forest, historical churches, and then ended with a private Loboc River Cruise – as in the entire boat was all ours! The next day we went on an island hopping tour with Ariel, our very own butler, who served us refreshments and breakfast throughout the exciting trip that consisted of watching dolphins, snorkeling with turtles, and getting to know local life in nearby islands. I also got to try the Panglao island tour, and had the chance to visit Alona Beach, Hinagdanan Cave, and more old and charming museums and churches. It is a shame that I didn’t have more days to spare, really! It seems like I have yet to see so much more of Bohol. I’d have to say, I was very lucky to have seen all that I did in such amazing VIP treatment!
Eskaya was a real treat, all in all. It’s definitely an embodiment of luxury and exclusivity. Being a luxury resort, their rates are on the expensive side but they definitely commit to making it worth your every penny. It seems to be the resort of choice for many affluent personalities, celebrities, and socialites, whether for a quick escape from the city, a honeymoon, or a destination wedding. Sasha and I were won over by Eskaya. We both had an amazing time. I am definitely hoping to go back, maybe next time, with my husband.