Wednesday, December 2, 2015

67th Heaven: A hidden holiday resort in Puerto Princesa

I woke up with the sun shining on my face, the rays piercing through the jalousie windows. In the distance, I heard the waves crashing on the shore. I wondered for a second where I was. I stretched out my arms and remembered I was shacked up in a nipa hut-inspired room in Bgy. Concepcion, along the Northeastern part of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. While most of the tourists would prefer to stay within city limits, I chose to spend the next 3 days in this quiet shelter devoid of cellular signal.


67th Heaven Resort Hotel is a two-star hotel neatly tucked on the outskirts of Puerto Prinsesa -- a good 2 hours away from the city. Named after the 67km marker placed directly in front of the resort, it's a place for those who want to disconnect, reflect, and leave the busy world behind.


Owner and Manager, Lydia Varala, was once a salon owner-slash-waitstaff in Bahrain where she had been working for many years to fund her children’s education back in the Philippines. Later on she met Gunner and soon married, with her gung-ho attitude they set up this quaint resort hotel in Palawan where they enjoy the beachfront view and the company of tourists and backpackers every day. Lydia solely manages the hotel in all aspects, as such you'll expect hands-on service every time.

Here are 6 reasons why you should stay at 67th Heaven:

1. The beach

Think of Palawan and most likely the white sandy beaches of El Nido or Coron would come to mind. 67th Heaven, on the other hand, boasts of unspoilt beachfront real estate with grey sand and blue gurgling waves (up to 2 feet!). It being so far away from other tourist destinations, you can sunbathe in peace while reading a good book or two.


It's so quiet and relaxing here, bordering on boring if you're the type of person who prefers water activities (but why get bored when you have so much to explore?) 


2. Home-cooked meals every day

Breakfast is served every morning at 7am with Lydia hard at work multi-tasking in the kitchen. Today’s breakfast were sausages stir-fried with beans, organic brown eggs, smoked fishes (a Filipino staple), and a warm plate of garlic rice. 


She also baked some bread earlier today, she shares. What a superwoman. Make sure to order her specialty Chicken Curry, it will blow your mind!


One backpacker I met months ago in Baler told me that an average budget for Asian travel is $20/day (inclusive of food and accommodation). Now I won't sugarcoat it, the prices of the meals at 67th Heaven will set you back Php 200-300 for single orders. It is rather steep for me, also take into consideration that you're in the middle of nowhere so you can't transfer in case you find it too much for budget. But what you get in return is very delicious food and amazing conversation with the owners. Which brings us to the next reason...

3. You'll feel like family when you stay or dine here. 

Filipinos take their sweet time eating and I confess, I'm one of those who likes to share lots of stories so it takes me quite a long while to finish. At 67th Heaven, you'll enjoy talking to other guests and Lydia with her husband Gunner will even sit down with you and start a conversation.  

From L-R: Third and Heather from the City Tourism Office of Puerto Princesa City,
Me, Lydia, Edmar of Edmaration.com, Edgar of EazyTraveler.net 

You can say that dinner on our first night ended at around 10pm. There were so many stories to tell and so many things to discuss. What a truly magical couple they make, Lydia and Gunner were both so accommodating.

4. Relax in the native cottages and enjoy the Swedish sauna

I was fortunate to be lodged in the Sweet Room which is the only cottage in the corner of the resort with a fantastic beachfront view. I have my own veranda where I can stare into the distance or watch the waves as I enjoy my breakfast. All cottages have their own AC and shower room with hot and cold water. Cottages are around Php2,000/night. 

 
the Recreation Hall
The sprawling 2,000 sq. km. lot has a Recreation Hall, a traditional Swedish Sauna, hammocks for lounging, an a swimming pool is in the works for next year.

Swedish Sauna
hammocks
5. The beautiful sunrise at 5am

Get up at the crack of dawn, stretch your arms, brave the cold, and head out to watch the sun rise. 


While waiting for the perfect shot, I was grinning because I was the only one from the team who woke up early (haha). Further out I met a local looking for cowrie shells, hermit crabs, and other crustaceans to eat.


One of Lydia's dogs, Trouble, accompanied me as I ran towards the other side of the beach exploring the rocky areas. A true guard dog, he'd bark at other strays who wanted to come and sniff me. 

6. They have 10 dogs!

Anyone who has 10 dogs (like my family) must be good people, right? I am happy to report that all their dogs patrol the area (against skunk badgers and vermin) and yet are so friendly towards guests.  

Gunner walks the dogs every morning
Hey Pepper!
When you visit, make sure to say hello to Pepper (the jealous one) and Split (the cutie pie who was born without knee caps).

Tips:
  • Make sure to bring bug spray as there a lot of sand flies about 
  • Wifi is slow here, so put your phone down and enjoy the scenery 
  • Rent a motorbike for Php 700/day and explore (they do tours, too)
  • Bring books (or ebooks) in case you find yourself getting restless
  • Play with the dogs while laying on the beach, enjoy the little things

Before you leave...


...make sure to eat a hearty breakfast, sign the guestbook, leave your feedback, and take more photos!


67th Heaven also holds a Full Moon beach party every end of the month. Come visit and enjoy ice cold drinks, good food, and a bonfire by the beach!

For more info you can find them on TripAdvisor or contact them at: 

Email: gunnarvarala@67heaven.netlydiavarala@67heaven.net
Mobile number: +63 9165906871 (GLOBE) / +63 9291302988(SMART)
Landline number: +63 48 7231483

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