(This article appears in SunStar Newspaper print/online on Nov. 6)
With 7,000 plus islands, there’s definitely no short supply of island getaways in this country. The school of my kids is rather stingy in giving no-class days for sembreak, so my family and I were in need of a quick fix where we could spend our limited precious days off. Well, thanks to Cebu Pacific’s new direct flight from Laguindingan to Tagbilaran, they make it easier for us Cagay-anons to reach the pristine island of Panglao.
Henann Resort is the go-to place in Panglao, being one of the most popular and biggest luxury resorts on the island. It is only about half-an-hour drive from the airport, making it fairly accessible. The resort’s small, simple entrance along the main highway is a great juxtaposition for the gem that’s hidden within its walls. Henann is actually an enormous complex which sits on a 6.5 hectare property on Bohol’s famous Alona Beach.
I asked one of the staff why it was named this way. Apparently, Henann is derived from a mash-up of the names of its chairman, Dr. Henry Chusuey and his wife, Ann (ergo, Hen-Ann). On top of that, I also discovered from the chatty receptionist that Alona Beach acquired its name from one of the sexy stars of yesteryears, Alona Alegre. She filmed a sizzling scene on the beach sometime in the 70s. So enamored were the locals of her alluring physique that they named the whole stretch of beach after her!
Catching the sunset at Alona Beach
My heart was set on a premier room with full-sliding-doors balcony and direct pool access, but the receptionist who got the booking said they could not accommodate my request because I wanted an extra-bed. I appreciated her honesty so we got the premier room on the 2nd floor, instead; which had bigger interior space, but a smaller balcony. The additional bed was able to fit along with the standard queen bed and single bed.
The marble bathroom was clean and spacious, furnished with an above-average toiletries kit including: bath gel, bubble bath, soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, shower cap, shaving kit, and cotton buds. It had a separate area for the commode, tub, and rain-shower with excellent water pressure. The only thing weird for me was the sink spout. The basin was huge, but the metal faucet they chose was teeny-tiny, with the water hitting the edges of the sink.
When with a troop of kids, one giant pool isn’t enough. It seems Henann knows the kids’ pulse—how finicky they are and how bored they quickly get. They have several massive pools, all with their accompanying pool bars. The best part is the ph balance seems well-maintained because it didn’t make me itchy like other chlorinated pools.
Coconut trees are planted strategically around the area, so if you’re the type who doesn’t want to get too much sun, the trees (and at times even the buildings) give the perfect shade. So, really, there is no excuse not to get wet. My fave pool area is the one near the Sea Breeze restaurant that overlooks the beach. The pool bar has a happy hour, offering buy 1 take 1 on beers/cocktails, so you can definitely indulge and feel the buzz without breaking the bank.
And of course, if you’re not happy with the pool alone, the beach is just a stone’s throw away. Henann’s beachfront has recliners, mini-tables, and umbrellas, where you can relax while sipping drinks. Alona Beach also promises powdery white sand, clear blue waters, and amazing sunsets.
Our accommodation comes with buffet breakfast at either Coral Café or Sea Breeze, and we added the buffet dinner at Sea Breeze. They also have a sit-down restaurant called Christina’s if you happen to fancy a more romantic sit-down dinner with your companion.
Both the breakfast and dinner buffets had an international spread ranging from Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and American options. Since we had the breakfast and dinner buffets daily, I can vouch that they do vary-up the main courses, along with providing staples like rice, noodles, soup, or congee.
For breakfast, my most favorite were the Pinoy adobo, the carved ham, eggs Benedict, and the freshly baked breads like brioche, croissants, Danish, pandesal, etc. The dinner buffet has an even more extensive food menu, with generous amounts of seafood. I’m not talking about standard shrimp and crabs but baked oysters, scallops, mussels, king crabs, uni (sea urchin), and Norwegian salmon.
There were tables upon tables of food! They also had a dessert bar with various pastries, along with a make your own halo-halo or sundae bar. The most impressive dessert for me was the baked marble cheesecake.
I have to note that the staff was always on their tippy-toes to ensure that the patrons got what they needed, may it be a napkin or water. They were always quick to dish out empty plates, ensuring the table is always neat and clean.
The Overall Service
Upon check-in, they welcome guests with several choices of drinks—brewed tea, mango, pink guava, or pulpy orange juice. I feel that sets the tone for the vacation! The staff was very respectful and attentive, with everyone greeting us as we passed by. They were also quick to ask what we need, may it be drinks, food, or a towel (which I have to note they are not stingy with; the pool towels can be brought to the rooms).
In all honesty, my kids didn’t want to leave the resort at all. I had to force my two teenagers to go with us to the Chocolate Hills, Bohol Bee Farm, and the tarsiers’ sanctuary because it was my youngest son’s (5 year old) first time in the island. We ditched the Loboc River Cruise because the kids were too excited to comeback and chill at the resort premises.
As cheesy as it may sound, I left the resort with a heavy heart, kinda like a child not wanting to leave a toy-store. It was nice to be able to spend a serene beach getaway, as well as a vibrant pool party experience, with my family in Panglao. On the bright side, there is also a Henann Resort in Boracay, and possibly a new in Palawan soon, that we can look forward to visiting.