After six years spent hopping around fabulous destinations around the world, I came home to the Philippines. What a welcome awaited me at Amanpulo.
Amanpulo provides Castaway elegance on secluded, reef-fringed Pamalican Island, with snow-white beaches, crystal-clear seas, exquisite diving and limitless activities. After a long day at the beach, relax in the spa before retiring to your spacious casita balcony. The impossible desire of getting away from it all is somehow fulfilled by the 'peaceful island’.
As soon as you check into the exclusive lounge at Manila airport, you know Amanpulo is going to be exceptional. As you wait to board a little plane destined for paradise, fresh fruit and warming food are offered. 45 minutes after takeoff, after flying over innumerable, seemingly abandoned islands, you arrive at Amanpulo's private airport.
When you arrive, a golf buggy, which you have personal use of throughout your stay, whisks you off to your villa. Despite being one of the Aman group's first resorts, the villas have a timeless atmosphere with subtle Asian influences that don't appear out of place. Dark wood floors and moderate decor characterise the spacious bedroom and bathroom. All rooms have timber frames and pitched roofs with rustic island design, inspired by traditional “bahay kubo” homes.
This barefoot-luxe island resort has supposedly hosted everyone from Bill Gates to Madonna. According to the Daily Mail, Madonna stayed at the hotel for a month and departed with a $6.2 million bill.
Amanpulo, which means "peaceful island" in Sanskrit and Filipino, is a tropical haven for people looking for a luxurious private hideaway in the Philippines. Aman Resorts, one of the world's most exclusive luxury hotel brands, operates it. There are also other facilities to help you make the most of your visit. Aman Spa, a fitness center, a 30-meter swimming pool, four tennis courts and an outdoor Jungle Run obstacle course are all present. There's also a kids' club, a library, a store and a clubhouse.
Those seeking aquatic adventure may visit the Seasports Hut, which offers a range of activities such as sunset cruises, Manamoc Island tours, sandbar outings and fishing adventures. Non-motorized water sports, such as snorkeling and diving, are also available. The 30-metre, aqua-tiled swimming pool in front of the Clubhouse is surrounded by vivid bougainvillea trellises.
Relax on your umbrella-shaded sunbed or one of the three open-air salas with plush mattresses. I myself went on the Sunset Cruise, where you're perched on the upper deck of a boat gliding silently across the tranquil seas that encircle Amanpulo. It's rather stunning to see the sky shift from cherry blossom pink to deep red while eating a Mediterranean feast of cured meats and cheeses and sipping a refreshing drink. As part of my experience, I was fortunate enough to see turtles, locally known as pawikan, as they gracefully danced through the water.
I liken my trip home to the islands I grew up in to how the mighty pawikan lives its life: despite the time and tide, it will always come home to a deserted beach, and when the time is right (and only then), it will emerge from the sand, heading determinedly towards the dancing lights.