Wooden bridge to the beach in Bolinao
It was more than 5 years ago when I first stepped foot at the beach of Patar in Bolinao, Pangasinan. It was the early days when I was starting out on the outdoors. Not too many people knew about this place before and there were only few established resorts at that time. We only stayed in our tents then but were awed by this beautiful stretch of beach which we had for ourselves. Fast forward to present, I never thought that I get to visit this place again. When, two of my sisters secretly plotted to go home without the rest of the kin knowing, they asked me to find a nice vacation place where the whole family could spend a nice weekend. We are not a very rich family so an exotic locale resort is out of the question so I tried to find a nice place only a moderate driving distance from Manila that’s not too popular but scenic and relaxing enough. Something new and something different, and alas, we found ourselves at Punta Riviera Resort.
Pool, sand and the sea
At first, I was actually booking on another upmarket resort there in Bolinao, but their reservation people didn’t get back to me after several calls. Good thing, Gener, the operations manager of Punta Reviera Resort got back to me quickly with a quotation from the details I gave. And since I booked almost a month ahead, I got a considerable amount of discount from them. They were also able to give the driver I hired his own cabana at the resort.
Our room is on the 2nd floor of this building with a great view of the sea
The travel time from Manila to Bolinao took around 5-6 hours with stops along the way. I noticed that the roads coming from Alaminos, Pangasinan are mostly well paved and cemented now. Last I went there, it was still a bare and dusty road. I guess with some resorts developed and being a part of DOT’s “Rediscover the North” project, they developed the roads to make Bolinao more accessible to tourism.
Nicely landscaped garden with my mom (right) and one of my sister (left)
By noon, we arrived at the resort. When the gates opened, it was as if a hidden garden was revealed to us. Honestly this is one of the most scenic resorts I have seen. The centralized garden is well landscaped, tall coconut trees abound give a tropical feel of the place. Buildings in bright orange Mediterranean theme, strategically arranged to let the incoming sea breeze in and have a spectacular view of the garden, the sea coast and the river. I wasn’t disappointed having chose this resort. And since it was Friday, we had the resort mostly to ourselves and a couple of guests.
The resort’s infinity pool
We got a Familia 8 room on the 2nd floor of a building. The rooms has the basic beds and bathroom. It was also air conditioned and additional stylish ceiling fan. There’s no cable or UHF reception here but there is a DVD player if you want to watch some movies. You may bring you own but the reception also has a large selection of DVDs/VCDs you can rent for free.
statues found around the garden
The room is fairly spacious and comfortable. It just so happen that our room has no lock as it was just removed the day before for repair. But we didn’t have any problems with security and nothing was lost in our room even if we left some things there and had them cleaned. If you’re paranoid, you can leave your important stuff at the reception. Tap water seems to be coming from a deep well as it has a bit of taste. Electricity is ok. There were moments of interruption but it goes back shortly and they have a generator at the area.
Tall coconut trees among the garden
The resort also have a restaurant which serves several Filipino dishes and of course sea foods. We were able to try their cuisines for dinner and all were delicious. We could really taste the freshness of the ingredients. The price for the meals were also very reasonable. They also give complimentary breakfast with their rooms. Breakfast composed of danggit, hotdog, fried egg and fried rice with a choice of coffee or choco or tea. You also have an option to upgrade to more meals but the free one was already good enough.
Dining area with our complimentary breakfast
Punta Riviera Resort is a brian child of couple Dr. Ian Mc-Feat Smith and Aileen Respicio. The former is a Scottish Geotechnical consultant married to Filipina Ilocana Aileen. We were able to meet Dr Ian as he greeted us personally when we arrived. Nice guy and I was able to chit-chat with him several times during our stay there talking about how the resort started and his expansion plans as well.
Morning by the Ilog Malino
Dr Ian told me that originally the place was planned to be their retirement home when they came back from Hong Kong. As it was being developed, Aileen had a more grander plan and soon opened it up as a resort to the public back in 2006. What’s amazing is that they didn’t really hire a professional architect or landscape artist to design the place but had to decide the aesthetics on their own. It somehow gave me an idea that they didn’t really hire a professional since one of their stairs has uneven steps.
kayaking through the scenic Ilog (river) Malino with my big brother ahead
I guess one thing that sets this resort apart from the other resorts in the area is that they are situated in a very scenic spot where the river meets the sea. And I vouch for the scenery. Though we weren’t able to actually see the sea and Ilog (river) Malino actually meet because of the season the scenery is still very good. Dr Ian told me that I should try to Kayak there and I did with my brother and it was a very scenic trail of a river by the sea.
Flags and a hut by the beach
Though the sea coast is very scenic, the sand quality here is not very ideal for swimming. Lots of crushed corals and the waves up ahead are quite strong, more ideal for surfing (and they have a surfboard you can use). But the resort is also a nice starting point in exploring the rest of Bolinao. From there, it’s a good 15 minutes drive to the finer sands of Patar white beach, and to the historic Cape Bolinao lighthouse. In between there are also several in land cave pools you can visit.
Sunset at the beach
All in all it was a fairly enjoyable stay at the resort. The family got to relax and enjoy. If you are looking for something different, something new, where your family or barkada (friends) can enjoy for the summer, make this an option when you are in Pangasinan.
You can contact them directly at:
[email protected] or
Tel +(63) 756961350 / 756961274 or
Mobile Gener – 09185917148
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.