Best of Bohol Part 3: Hotels to Homestays

Before I left for Bohol, people were puzzled that I was going for more than a day. To the trills of, “Just go to the Chocolate Hills and come back!” and “How many times can you take a Loboc lunch cruise?” Au contraire, I told the naysayers. What began as a short hiatus turned into a multi-day extravaganza! Much like Kaua’i, Mau’i or the Big Island hold their own mystique, Bohol was paradise for my ADD, always-need-to-be-overstimulated self. More than the Yoda-like tarsiers and the Hershey Kiss-shaped Chocolate Hills, which are synonymous with the little island at the heart of the Visayas, there was discovering to do–and every explorer wannabe needs a warm bed at the end of the night to recharge for another day of adventure.

Four walls and a bed; that’s what hotels sell. What keeps guests coming back is two-fold: what to do there and, more importantly, the service. From ethereal resorts to cozy homes away from home, here are 6 reasons to get thee to Bohol . . . and stay a while.

1) Forty winks may be too much as you unwind into luxury at Peacock Garden Resort and SPA. With off-road buggies, a four-handed signature massage, homemade port ice cream (big favorite), a cigar room that would do Hemingway proud, an infinity pool that seems to swim you to Pamilacan, an Oktoberfest straight out of Munich, . . . you get the drift. You might want to wait to sleep ‘til you get home from your much needed vacation. One of their newest acquisitions are a trio of off-road buggies that’ll put you in the soon-to-be-very-muddy driver’s seat for two hours of heart pumping adventure. Once you’ve done that, there is no refusing the decadent four-handed signature massage at their Fontana Aurelia Spa, where two therapists work out every kink in simultaneous perfection. Doubles start at P8000 or $185.

2) In Ancient Anda, fledgling beach resort La Petra combines a pinch of the native Filipino with a taste of German flavor. As one of the only beachfront resorts making use of Anda’s powdery-soft white sand, La Petra is a beach getaway that will truly get you away from the crowds in other parts of the island. On weekends, the owners have local bands trek out from Tagbilaran for dancing late into the night on the resort’s lofty verandah. Doubles start at P3500 or $69 and includes breakfast, snacks, and dinner.

3) Bask in Tranquility at Bohol Bee Farm Resort & Restaurant. Lesser-known Dauis, on the island of Panglao, is home to this eco-friendly hidden gem, which sits on a cliff fronting the sea (and home to the mesmerizing ocean view at the top of this article).  Steep stairs take you to their private sunning deck, inviting you for a dip in the Pacific’s cool blue-green waters. At sunset most of the tour groups that arrive for the famous Flower Salad have gone and the ocean stillness wraps you in tranquility. The whimsical Beehive and Honeycomb suites are warm and inviting, ocean-front Wi-Fi keeps you Skype-ing at The Cliff or The Cave, and breakfast for two comes included. Bonus: if you’re looking for an extra piece of calm, the traditional Filipino hilot (massage) done right at the ocean’s edge will get you there. Doubles start at P2000 or $46.

4) Take on Tagbilaran (then take a nap) at Panda Tea Garden Suites. Home of KIDDIES BAKEHAUS, family-owned Panda Tea Garden Suites is a great value for families and business travelers. Conveniently located near BQ and Island City malls, Panda Tea is where to stay for easy pasalubong shopping and access to the city’s nightlife. Doubles start at P800 or $18. Breakfast not included.

5) Re-energize at Amarela Resort. What started as a beach home for Atty. Nunag became what is now the beguiling Amarela Resort in Panglao–the Waikiki of Bohol. When I asked Atty. Nunag what Amarela meant he easily replied, “It’s ‘yellow’ in Portugese” and went on to explain that the seahorse emblem is after a tiny seahorse known to play in the waters offshore. The sunny yellow of Amarela resort reflects the friendliness of its staff and warmth of its unassumingly elegant amenities. Doubles start at P5,800 or $134.

6) Nod off in the ‘Jardin’ of Eden. Jardin de Balilihan is a homestay, which means to say you become ‘ohana. You eat what the family eats, are invited to go to the market or on activities that they’d do on any given day, and have an adopted family while away from the things familiar; in short, it’s cultural immersion at its best. At Jardin, it feels like home. Doubles start at P1,700 or $39.

*Most accommodations (including the ones listed above, exceptions noted) in Bohol include breakfast, please ask when booking.
**Rates current at time of publication.
Peacock Garden Resort & Spa
Upper Laya, Baclayon, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: +63 38 539 9231
La Petra Beach Resort
Bacong, Anda, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: +63 38 510 1160
Bohol Bee Farm & Restaurant
Dao, Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: +63 38 502 2288
Panda Tea Garden Suites
J.A. Clarin Street, Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: boholpandasuites@yahoo.com
Amarela Resort
Barangay Libaong, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: +63 38 502 9497
Jardin de Balilihan
Del Carmen Weste, Diamante St., Balilihan, Bohol, Philippines
Contact: +09 18 538 5737

Can’t get enough of Bohol? We’ve got the more you’re looking for.

Best of Bohol Part 1: Boholano Delicacies

Best of Bohol Part 2: The Tao of Adventure and The Plunge Video

Best of Bohol Part 4: Tours for the Eco-Conscious Traveler

Katherine Hsia

Known affectionately as "the wandering concierge," Katherine segued a hospitality career in fabulous New York City into a life pursuing her passions of writing, adventure and travel on the spectacular island of O'ahu. She is a freelance writer for publications such as Honolulu Magazine, Hawai'i Parent, Freesurf, and more, while working on her Hawaiian comic and non-fiction book. She enjoys seeing life for its whimsical beauty, great meals with good friends, her love affair with travel, and being overstimulated by new experiences. Want to get in touch with Kat? Add her on facebook or send her a message on her website, http://www.katherinehsia.com, where she's been known to get her blog on.

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