Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Balmed by Bali-Bali Beach Resort

Balmed. That’s what Bali-Bali did to me one balmy weekend. Like my favorite beer, the swanky hideaway in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS), or simply Samal to most locals, soothed my heart, mind and soul, getting me intoxicated by its sheer beauty, superb amenities and sought-after exclusivity during a prelude-to-summer escapade with two of my bosom buddies, Jobots and Manoy.

Samal may be besieged by tourists on weekends and holidays, but it has some sweet secluded spots for those wanting to escape the throngs. Bali-Bali, just a few minutes away by boat from Davao City, is one of them. The semi-private resort is an exclusive refuge tucked into a picturesque hilly landscape overlooking the blue waters of Davao Gulf.

Bali-Bali, as it is aptly called, derived its name from the Pangasinense word for “beautiful”. Geez, I can’t seem to find the right words to describe the exotic appeal of the resort. It’s a slice of paradise that offers first-time visitors and frequent guests a different kind of summery sweet escape from urban tedium that’s so worth any adventure junkie’s time, money and effort.

Found along the southwestern part of the island, the resort is the perfect hideaway for those seeking to break free from the din and drudgery of city life without going to some faraway destination. Bali-Bali entices weekend warriors with the rare chance to either hang out by the infinity pool, hibernate inside their shacks or have fun in the sun. 

Bali-Bali's beachfront

Samal as seen aboard the barge

Babak Ferry Terminal

Getting there is a breeze, be it by land or sea. Upon arrangement, the resort provides boat transfers to guests coming from Davao Boat Club Marina in Lanang. But we didn’t avail of this since I decided to bring along my car. Instead, we took the 15-minute cruise aboard the barge that shuttles commuters and vehicles to and from the island. The sea was calm that day so we reached the island in no time.

Arriving at Babak Ferry Terminal, my friend Manoy then sat behind the wheel and drove us to the resort. En route to Bali-Bali, we passed by several resorts bearing such exotic names as Bluejaz, Paradise Island, Costa Marina, Bluewaters, La Familia, Mayumi, Punta del Sol, to name some. On weekends, the crowds overrun these hideaways, shattering your illusions of finding serenity there. 
Davao City as seen from an elevated part of Samal

What caught our fancy during the short drive to Bali-Bali was the picture-perfect panorama that usually greets motorists who pass by the island’s southwestern side. The seascape was spectacular, to say the least; a visual treat that thrilled us as my car snaked its way through the well-paved circumferential road that slithers up and down a cliff overlooking the deep blue sea. 
Stretched out below us are the deep blue waters that separates Samal and its islands from the rest of the region’s mainland. From a distance, the coastal fringes of Mindanao’s premier city loomed. Davao looked resplendent with all the trappings of a highly urbanized metropolis–malls, hotels, condos, residences, factories and manufacturing plants.

Bali-Bali's main attraction

Surrounded by lush greenery, the one-hectare beachfront property in the village of Catagman offers its guests with various types of accommodations found in its chic villas and suites designed with Japanese, Thai, Balinese, Oriental, Mediterranean and Filipiniana-inspired motifs. Aside from these, Bali-Bali also boasts of a two-storey hotel that’s quite cozy and capacious to give visitors the ultimate holiday experience.

A picturesque vista of the sea in Bali-Bali

Staffed with warm, courteous and friendly attendants, the resort makes visitors feel so welcomed. From the front desk down to housekeeping, everyone goes out of his way to be nice and accommodating—with a gracious smile at that! I can’t recall an instance when our requests and inquiries weren’t promptly attended by the staff. To say that they were at our beck and call would be an understatement.

The exclusive resort sizzles at night


Bali-Bali also delights its guests with a wide array of delectable cuisine concocted by its in-house chef. Meals are served at the sprawling pavilion where diners can relax and relish the view of the resort’s main attraction—an infinity pool that stretches out to a picturesque vista of the sea, perfectly framed by conifers, trees and ornamentals for a tropical ambiance. At night, luminaires light up the pool, giving it a fascinating mise en scène that would enchant swimmers and strollers alike. 
After the exhilarating ride, we reached Bali-Bali early in the afternoon. The staff served  us our welcome drinks and then ushered us into a comfortable Thai-inspired two-bedroom villa, one the four in the resort, all of which face the infinity pool, undoubtedly the most distinct feature of the resort that sets it apart from the rest of the havens in Samal. 

The one we had is relatively small but we have everything we need right around it—aircon, cable TV, private bath with hot & cold shower (replete with the bare essentials, that is, soap, shampoo, towels, rugs and bathroom tissue, the works), two double beds (plus one extra) with comfy blankets, two fluffy pillows, among others. 

The price? Well, I must say it’s quite pricey by our standards but then again, you have to pay more if you want to enjoy the placidity and privacy of it all. Ergo, it’s so worth it, especially for me who’s been craving for a vacay in a place far from the madding crowd and for my friends who wanted to be close to the beach, which is just a few meters away from where we stayed.

That weekend in Bali-Bali was all about flirting with indolence. We did nothing but bask in the beauty of the resort: sprawl ourselves in the jacuzzi, the pool and the sea; saunter here, there and everywhere; speak our minds about life and its unfathomable mysteries; and swill all the brew we could.

Short as it was, the weekend wandering to the resort rejuvenated me. Days have passed since that whirlwind escapade but until now I haven’t gotten over my hangover of Bali-Bali. The delirium tremens of the booze we gulped have long been flushed out of my system but the fun we had in the sun, sea and sand still lingers in my head, probably remaining in my memory bank for a long, long time. :

For more about Bali-Bali, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtuwzVM5dns. :-D