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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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Top 10 boating safety tips

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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Photo by Drew Dau from Unsplash.com

This week is National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27, 2022), and BoatTests101.com would like to encourage public awareness of boating safety. One way to start is for people to take a boating safety course and get their boating license, known as the Boater Education Certificate.

Besides getting your license, here are our Top 10 Boating Safety Tips:

  1. Wear a Life Jacket – Even if you are a strong swimmer with quick reflexes, it’s a great idea always to wear your life jacket when on your boat. Choose one that fits properly and is designed for your activity. A PFD that flips you on your back and keeps your head above water is ideal.
  2. Don’t Boat Under the Influence – Any substance that impairs your ability to focus on boating should be avoided, including alcohol, prescription drugs, or other drugs (legal or illegal). Boaters under the influence cause one-third of all boating fatalities.
  3. Carry Proper Safety Equipment – Fire extinguishers, lights, flares, bailers, sound signals, navigation aids, and flags are essential for keeping you safe in an emergency. Check equipment conditions and expiration dates before you head out. If your boat is equipped with an engine cut-off device or switch, you must use it.
  4. Don’t Overload Your Boat – Your vessel’s capacity plate will advise the recommended weight of passengers and gear. Make sure you load it evenly to keep the boat stable and prevent capsizing.
  5. File a Float Plan – Let someone know your boating plans and when you will return. Have a plan to check in if your route changes and when they should call for assistance. Know how to use VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones to call for help. 
  6. Check the Weather – Before and during your trip, keep track of storms that may head into the area. Head toward shore or shelter if the skies start to turn ominous. Take an extra set of clothes in case you get wet. Bring rain gear and sun protection.
  7. Stay Focused – Conditions on the water can change in an instant. Stay alert and pay attention to your actions and the actions of other boaters, anglers, and divers.
  8. Slower is Safer – Follow posted speed signs, and slow down when it’s congested, near wildlife areas, where people are fishing or diving, and when docking.
  9. Know Navigation Rules – The BoatTests101.com course will teach you the “Rules of the Road,” including how to signal or pass other vessels.  Don’t assume the other vessels will follow the rules and be prepared to compensate.
  10. Obey the Laws – BoatTests101.com course will go over boating laws in various circumstances, but head to your state’s website to see the latest rules and regulations. Pay attention and follow any law enforcement instructions.

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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Destinations

Airbnb launches ultimate designer getaway in Phuket’s iconic heritage mansion

The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

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Filipinos planning their first overseas trip in two years after borders reopen on April 1 can now snag themselves the perfect holiday, as Airbnb launches the ultimate designer stay in Phuket’s palatial Governor’s Mansion – the island’s largest icon of Sino-Portuguese baroque architecture.

As the country gears up for its biggest cultural festival, Songkran, one group of four lucky guests will get to soak up the vibrant festivities with an island getaway of a lifetime, only on Airbnb. The majestic Governor’s Mansion will be bookable on airbnb.com/governorsmansion for only Php2,500* for a two night stay from 15-17 April 2022, welcoming overnight guests for the first time in more than 50 years. Bookings open at 9AM PHT on April 5, 2022. Travelers from Thailand or any of the countries that currently allow international travel to and from Thailand can apply — the Philippines included.

Guests will be hosted by popular Phuket-born model-actress Patricia Tanchanok Good who rose to fame in one of Netflix’s most popular Thai dramas last year, Girl From Nowhere 2, and national ambassador for royal Thai cuisine and Blue Elephant founder, master chef Nooror Somany Steppe. Programming for this special stay is supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The 119-year-old Governor’s Mansion welcomed many out-of-town dignitaries and remains one of several neoclassical heritage mansions on Phuket today. The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

On the second floor, renowned Thai designer Saran Yen Panya has created a memorable, visually stunning space that pays homage to Thailand’s rich heritage and buzzing contemporary design scene. The stay features statement pieces by Yothaka – widely revered as Thailand’s master of design – in addition to bespoke handcrafted items by up-and-coming designers Kitt Ta Khon, Masaya, Sumphat Gallery, Thaniya and Mo Jirachaisakul, paired with Phuketian antiques from some of the island’s most distinguished homes and museums.

Guests will be immersed in a quintessentially Phuketian experience, including:

  • A personal welcome at check-in by Thai superstar Patricia ‘Good’ Tanchanok, who will share her favourite hidden gems in Phuket and tips for exploring the island
  • Exclusive access to a two-bedroom suite on the Mansion’s expansive second floor, including a private reception lounge and living room
  • A bespoke, multi-course ‘Songkran’ tasting menu prepared and hosted by master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe
  • A scuba diving and snorkeling adventure around the sparkling reefs and islands that dot the Andaman Sea
  • A gibbon rehabilitation social impact experience in Phuket’s last rainforest

“Thailand is an extraordinary country with unparalleled warmth and hospitality, and some of the most beautiful destinations. As more of us begin to travel further from home and for longer durations, we are working with our Host community to welcome the world back to Thailand safely. We are delighted to add the majestic Governor’s Mansion to our collection of unique stays throughout the Kingdom,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“Songkran is a special moment for all Thais, as we give thanks and celebrate the dawn of a new year. As Thailand reopens, we are incredibly thrilled to partner with Airbnb to warmly welcome the world back to our country. We invite travellers from around the world to experience the “Amazing New Chapters” of Thailand under ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022’, with this iconic stay that shines a light on some of our finest Thai designers; as well as Phuket’s natural wonders, unique heritage and architecture, and delicious local cuisine,” shared Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

For more reasons to book that flight to the Land of Smiles, check out Airbnb’s first-ever Travel Guide to Thailand — spotlighting the hottest and most underrated destinations across the country, delicious gastronomic specialties and the most extraordinary Airbnb Stays for an incredible overseas getaway.

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Free COVID-19 test and travel protection top incentives for international travel

As more overseas destinations ease travel restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit neighboring countries for leisure with COVID-19 protection and incentives on top of their minds.

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As the pandemic situation evolves, Filipinos are keen to start travelling again with free COVID-19 tests (57%), hospital care (51%), and flexibility in changing travel plans (37%) as the key considerations driving travel decisions, according to Visa’s 2021 Global Travel Intentions Study. Earning rewards or enjoying last-minute offers are now secondary benefits behind measures thapt provide protection and reassurance.

As more overseas destinations ease travel restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit neighboring countries for leisure with COVID-19 protection and incentives on top of their minds.

Dan Wolbert, Visa Country Manager for the Philippines and Guam, said: “These findings reflect the changing outlook Filipinos have on traveling as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We have seen a rebound to travel in many parts of the world as borders open, and Filipinos are optimistic about traveling again.  Similar to other markets, Filipino travelers are conscious about following safety protocols and also want to feel that they have a sufficient access to health protection in the event that risks happen to them while they are abroad.”

The study found that Filipinos want travel insurance that protects them from COVID-19 related risks including the cost of medication and treatment (59%), quarantine charges (52%) and hospitalization room charges (41%).

The study also found that 56 percent of Filipino travelers are keen on vacationing in another country as part of a travel bubble set-up. With travel bubbles, there are less chances of contact with individuals who may have come from areas with high infection rates.

The top five international destinations that Filipinos want to visit once it is safe to do so are the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and Thailand. Meanwhile, Hawaii and South Korea are also generating interest, followed by Australia and Dubai.

The post-pandemic travel landscape will also involve an increased preference for cashless payments, with 63 percent of Filipino travelers expecting to go cashless because of the safety and comfort it brings. Among their top preferences include mobile payments (34%), as well as credit (24%), and debit card (31%) payments.

“As we see the number of COVID-19 cases trending downwards in the Philippines and the government’s decision to start opening our borders, we share the optimism of Filipinos that the road to recovery is beginning,” added Wolbert.

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