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Pearl Farm Beach Resort: Spelling luxury in Mindanao

Paying a visit to – arguably – the most high-end venue in southern Philippines, Pearl Farm Beach Resort, where bliss can be had for the taking.

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Pearl Farm

Davao CityYou may not be the most fervent believer of traditional healing practices – for instance, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that special points in the body (usually at the extremities) correspond to other (usually more vital) parts of the body, so that (as an example) applying pressure at the space between the thumb and the pointer finger could relieve pail (headache, stomachache, and so on).

But after an activity-filled day (island-hopping, snorkeling, road-tripping and the likes) at the Island Garden City of Samal, no matter your way of believing (or seeing), every pressure given by the deft hands of the masseuse/s on the body delivers… relief. While lying on a cushioned white mat, facing Davao’s sea slowly get swallowed by darkness, such is the pleasure derived at the Pearl Farm Ylang Ylang Spa – Pearl Farm Beach Resort’s health and wellness center.

Not that any less ought to be expected, considering that the place’s offerings are (in a word) pricey. Heck, just about everything in this place is pricey.

But in this way, Davao’s Pearl Farm Beach Resort spells luxury in these parts of southern Philippines…

STAYING THE NIGHT

If your concept of “tropical paradise” is Station 1 of Boracay, NOT Stations 2 and 3, then Pearl Farm Beach Resort should satisfy.

Note that – even if it is being sold as in Davao – the resort is actually not in Davao City proper. Instead, it is located in a small island cum province across the strait, poetically called the Island Garden City of Samal. Going to the resort, therefore, takes from 30 minutes (of ferry ride) from the Sasa Wharf on Davao City’s ferry terminal at the Davao Waterfront Insular Hotel.

By the way, don’t expect to see gardens – there aren’t any; but the name is supposed to encapsulate the beauty that can be found in the island.

The Pearl Farm Beach Resort actually housed a farm for the south sea pearls (thus the name). In the 1990s, however, the owners converted it into the luxury resort that it is now.

It is popular to day guests who head to it to swim at its (somewhat small) swimming pools, or take a stroll around the vegetation in the 11-hectare complex, or take a dip at the white sand beach. This day trip is affordable – only costing approximately P2,500 per person (including a meal a boot).

It is when staying over for the night that the resort’s luxe image is highlighted.

There are actually various room types available, ranging from hilltop rooms to those in houses on stilts. If sleeping lulled by the sounds of singing crickets is what’s desired, the former is a must-consider. But for those who want to be pacified by the sound of the waves gently crushing against the rocks, then the latter is recommended.

Davao2As for the room rates? The Balay (a.k.a. hilltop) rooms cost from P8,550 per person (single occupancy); the same price charged for the beach-side (yet located far from the main receiving area) Samal House and Mandaya House. Prices fall (a little) from P6,700 per person for those considering sharing. The prices of the rooms in the houses on stilts start from approximately P9,700 per person per night (minimum of two persons).

These prices come with welcome drinks; one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner; complimentary use of swimming pool, beach area, mini gym, basketball court, badminton court, tennis court and game room; and roundtrip boat transfers.

AMENITIES GALORE

As befits its luxury tag, Pearl Farm Beach Resort has various offerings that will suit various demands. There’s an Aqua Sports Center, where guests can rent out speed boats and outrigger boats for cruising; jet-skis; banana boat rides; kayaks, hobie cats; and snorkeling gear. It also has certified instructors for wind-surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving (the place has two sunken World War II Japanese vessels awaiting discovery). There are the aforementioned (not too big) outdoor swimming pools. There is a tennis/basketball/badminton court. There is a game room. There is a conference room for up to 70 pax. There is a souvenir shop (called Butik). And there is even the Mandaya Weaving Center, where Mandaya tribeswomen skillfully weave their traditional fabrics (called dagmay) and other ornamentation.

But if you’re just looking at spending the days lazy, sipping drinks while enjoying the breeze and getting lost while looking at the distance may be had at Parola Bar (that offers views of the distant Mt. Apo), Maranao Restaurant (offering Filipino and international cuisines, with seafood specialties), or Malipano Gazebo (in a nearby, yet separate island).

JUST TAKING IT SLOW

And it is actually taking it slowly that is what’s best done in Pearl Farm Beach Resort.

So that the stress-busting treatments at Pearl Farm’s Ylang Ylang Spa are worth considering.

The men’s “stress buster”, priced at P1,000, is a combo of Chinese, Swedish and deep tissue techniques. Hilot, priced at P1,250, gives the traditional Filipino massage a twist with the use of heated banana leaves and your choice of VCO, tanglad oil, or Ylang-ylang essential oil. The “Pearl Farm Royal Massage”, priced at P2,500, is a two-our session that makes use of special oil blends as mood therapy. And then there’s the warm stone massage, priced at P1,500, that makes use of (this should be quite obvious) hot stones as tools for the massaging.

For the not-that-adventurous, you can go “common”, by availing of the Swedish oil massage (P1,000), Shiatsu (P1,000), or the Ventosa (P1,625).

Other treatments include: body scrubs (from P1,250), foot treatment (from P875), facials (from P1,000), and hair treatments (from P1,000).

It was, in fact, while getting my feet massaged by the pool that I got to appreciate this place’s (let’s say enduring) appeal. Getting pampered, while taking in the sights and sounds – of the vast blue sea that seem to connect with the infinity pool; and of the insect sounds from the thick foliage enveloping the resort – is how I imagine being blissful to be. And this, truly, may be one of the best ways to achieve that while in these parts of the Philippines.

Pearl Farm Beach Resort is located at Kaputian, Island Garden City of Samal, Philippines. For more information, contact: (+6382) 2351234, (+6382) 2351235, or (+6382) 2351236.

Its Davao sales office is located at 3/F Abreeza Ayala Mall, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City. For more information, call (+6382) 2850601 or (+6382) 2850876; or email kadizon@anflocor.com.

Its Manila office is located at Ground Floor ANFLOCOR Building, 411 Quirino Avenue corner NAIA Road, Tambo Parañaque City 1700. For more information, call (+632) 8552741 local 207 and 208, or (+632) 8547892; or email: fslebris@anflocor.com, gbdichosa@anflocor.com, or eftuanio@anflocor.com.

A registered nurse, “Ching” – as many fondly call Rachelle Grace – believes that a holistic approach to health and wellness is what everyone should aim for. She is, therefore, always on the lookout for what could help achieve this. And yes, she shares them openly, believing “knowledge about what works won’t be much use if it’s not known by as many as possible”.

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Destinations

Plan an angler’s adventure like a pro

If you’re new to the sport, gearing up for your first fishing season may feel equally exciting and overwhelming.

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Fishing is a treasured pastime for many, but the experience can be as individual as the person reeling them in. A successful angling excursion begins with thoughtful planning and all the right gear.

If you’re new to the sport, gearing up for your first fishing season may feel equally exciting and overwhelming. On the other hand, a seasoned pro can always benefit from periodically taking stock of tackle, gear and other equipment to increase the thrill of a great catch.

License and Registration

With just a few exceptions, fishing requires a license. Thanks to the internet, a fishing license is easy to come by, even if you’re not a resident of the place where you’ll be dropping a line. Pay close attention to the different types of licenses offered so you’re not vulnerable to fines or penalties. It’s a good idea to store your permit in a waterproof container in a cubby on your boat or in your tackle box.

Boat

Unless you’re planning to fish strictly from the shoreline or a bridge, you’ll probably need a boat to reach the best fishing waters. Boat styles vary depending on the species you’re angling for and the body of water you’ll use to drop a line, and dozens of features and options let you customize your experience.

Advance Intel

If you’re traveling to a place where you don’t know the locals, online research and area fishing reports can help you pinpoint the best places to find your favorite catch. For those new to the sport, or if you’re branching out to target new species, be sure to do some research and learn from gaming experts about the best tricks for targeting the fish you prefer.

Tackle and Gear

Some elements of a fishing excursion are obvious, like rods and reels, but also be sure your gear includes a well-stocked first aid kit, sunscreen, sunglasses to reduce glare from the water, snacks and water to keep you safely hydrated. Bring plenty of extra line and tackle so you don’t have to call a day short if you snag a favorite lure. Depending on the manufacturer, fishing-specific boats like the Alumacraft multi-species or crossover boats are designed with built-in lockable rod storage and integrated dual aerated, LED-lit livewells for organizing your gear and keeping your catch safe.

Choose a Boat Style for Your Lifestyle

Not all boats are created equal, so knowing how and where you plan to use your boat will help you determine which boat style you need. Consider these options:

Fish and Sport: These models provide maximum flexibility for families that love being on the water fishing or enjoying a day of relaxation, water sports and fun.

Multispecies: Whether you’re looking to catch the next 50-pound muskie or just relax with friends catching panfish, adaptable multispecies boats are designed for all types of deep- or shallow-water anglers.

Bay: Versatile bay boats offer equally smooth rides and easy handling on your local river or on intercoastal waters.

Bass and Crappie: Designed for shallow-water anglers, these boats feature plenty of storage, powerful engines and flat casting decks.

Hunt and Utility: Tough and easy to transport, these durable multi-purpose boats are built for those who are serious about the outdoors.

Spend more time planning your next fishing adventure at alumacraft.com.

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NewsMakers

56% Expect to travel for leisure in 2021; business travel not expected to return until 2024

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021.

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Photo by Edgar Pereira from Unsplash.com

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released “AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The report examines the high-level economics of the hotel industry’s recovery, the specific impact on and eventual return of business travel, and consumer travel sentiments.

The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, which is down nearly 4 million jobs compared to the same time in 2019. While some 200,000 jobs are expected to be filled this year, overall, the accommodations sector faces an 18.9% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, half of US hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021.

Business travel, which comprises the largest source of hotel revenue, remains nearly nonexistent, but it is expected to begin a slow return in the second half of 2021. Among frequent business travelers who are currently employed, 29% expect to attend their first business conference in the first half of 2021, 36% in the second half of the year and 20% more than a year from now. Business travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. 

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021. The report found that heading into 2021, consumers are optimistic about travel, with 56% of Americans saying they are likely to travel for leisure or vacation in 2021. While 34% of adults are already comfortable staying in a hotel, 48% say their comfort is tied to vaccination in some way.

The top findings from this report include:

  1. Hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees. 
  2. Half of US hotel rooms are projected to remain empty.
  3. Business travel is forecasted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021, and then only begin ticking up slightly. 
  4. 56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure, roughly the same amount as in an average year.  
  5. Nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
  6. When selecting a hotel, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices rank as guests’ number two priority, behind price. 

“COVID-19 has wiped out 10 years of hotel job growth. Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry, we are resilient. Hotels across the country are focused on creating an environment ready for guests when travel begins to return. AHLA is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress on policies that will ultimately help bring back travel, from helping small business hoteliers keep their doors open to ramping up vaccine distribution and testing. Together, we can bring back jobs and reignite a continued investment in the communities we serve,” said Rogers.

The resurgence of COVID-19, the emergence of new strains, and a slow vaccine rollout have added to the challenges the hotel industry faces this year. With travel demand continuing to lag normal levels, national and state projections for 2021 show a slow rebound for the industry and then accelerating in 2022.

The hotel industry experienced the most devastating year on record in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, massive job loss, and hotel closures across the country. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a virtual halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry so far has been nine times that of 9/11.

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Destinations

Discovering the ‘Land of Contrasts’, Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture

Below are a few places travelers can dream of visiting when travel restrictions are lifted.

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Known as the “Land of Contrasts,” Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is home to a variety of outdoor activities for travelers to enjoy. From cycling to surfing and even paragliding, Miyagi’s wide range of landscapes has no shortage of opportunities to try something new.

Below are a few places travelers can dream of visiting when travel restrictions are lifted. 

With a variety of biking trails to choose from, Miyagi is the perfect place to cycle through paths that stop by some of the prefecture’s most famous sights. For coastal views, Oshika Peninsula offers more than 40 miles of rolling hills and coastal panoramas, including a view of Kinkasan Island, a majestic island home to sacred deer that roam about the island freely. In the countryside, Marumori Loop is a popular cycling spot for locals. The low plains offer excellent views of the mountains, charming villages and rice fields. Experienced bikers can cycle through the mountainous wilderness of Mount Zao. These remote passes are grueling but are totally worth it for the beautiful scenery, secluded hot springs and countryside cafes. 

Speaking of Mount Zao, the region is one of Miyagi’s best destinations for outdoor adventures. Skiers and snowboarders can opt to tackle the remote slopes on their own, but a guide is considered essential for anyone not trained in winter mountaineering and acquainted with the terrain of Mount Zao. Luckily, M’s Guide is a winter mountain guide service based at Sumikawa Snow Park and can tailor any outdoor excursion for guests. 

For watersports, three-time paragliding national champion Takeshige Yamaya offers tandem paragliding experiences in Matsushima Bay, perfect for travelers to experience one of the Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan. Sendai and even Mount Zao can also be seen from the sky. In Sendai, Barefoot Surf offers a variety of SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) and surfing excursions for any skill level. 

Travelers looking to spend the night outdoors can stay at the Fukiage Kogen Campground in Northern Miyagi. The grounds are surrounded by scenic views of mountains and quiet forests. The campground even has its own hot spring, walking trails, pub and plenty of cute goats. While travelers can bring their own equipment, guests can be supplied with all the gear they need with advanced reservations.

For more information on Miyagi, visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com.

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