01 Oct2007

kap1

After driving or riding in a car for nearly 1,000 kilometers, we were anxious to get to our hotel for a second evening of rest, this time in one of the Northernmost reaches of Luzon. Not only were we in Pagudpud, we were another 15+ kilometers beyond Saud Beach, which is the more popular beach for tourist accomodations. We had done an uncharacteristic thing by picking a hotel solely on the basis of some internet photos, and we had never heard of the place before nor did we know anyone who had stayed there. If this was a disaster, it would be my disaster. And after the turnoff from the main road, I started to get a bit apprehensive after the road turned into a rutted dirt track that became rather desolate feeling in the waning light of late afternoon. We passed a small “settlement” with perhaps 30-40 bahay kubos then passed more deserted stretches of road. I pointed out a few nipa huts to The Kid to lower expectations just in case… Frankly, this felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, and changing our minds now would mean a 40-50 minute drive back to Saud beach…

kap2

But when we drove up to The Kapuluan Vista Resort, within seconds we knew we had made the right choice. A small resort across the street from the sea, this charming hotel was a sight for sore eyes. With simple lines executed in concrete painted white, topped with thatched roofs, they had a pool, a wonderful garden, a simple restaurant and bar area and welcoming staff. We were shown to our room, the best in the resort, as requested, that had a loft and could easily sleep 4 people. At PHP4,500 for the night, with airconditioning, a very nice bathroom, satellite television and breakfasts included, this was truly more luxurious than we had expected.

kap5

The beds were simply draped in white linens (a bit scratchy) over a thick foam mattress (Uratex type). The pillows were reasonably comfortable. The bathrooms were the best we saw on our entire Ilocos trip though one complaint was relatively low water pressure and limited hot water (but at least they HAD hot water!). They had a charming basket of flowers on the bed when we checked in…

kap6

The whole aesthetic was oriental, almost sparse Japanese in feel, and the lines clearly had a Western influence, which we would discover later, was a completely accurate description of the owners and managers of the place. They had nice touches like rolled towels, a bench near the door and outside on the verandah, etc.

kap4

Back outside at the bar by the pool, we were told we were the ONLY guests that weekday evening in a hotel that can probably had a maximum of 10 rooms including a few dorm like accommodations ( I guess they could accommodate 25-30 people max). I took a quick dip in the swimming pool to get the “car” out of me and it was totally refreshing. We were given a choice of iced tea or a delicious lambanog margarita upon check-in.

kap3

We spoke with the managers Mike and Alma, and after 20 minutes with them, I realized what made me instantly like the place. This place had a soul (or two souls to be exact). Two Filipino-Americans with a love for surfing, Mike and Alma decided to move back home to the Philippines and invested their money to build this small resort in the middle of nowhere, but with superb surfing waves just a stone’s throw away… they regaled us with stories of re-entry culture shock after growing up in California, about trials and triumphs with setting up a business locally, staffing, etc. But they were so earnest, so genuine, so pioneering, that you just had to give it to them for effort… if not the actual physical resort itself which was built over the course of a year in the middle of a bucolic field, in the shadow of hills in the distance… And Kapuluan, stands for archipelago… a great name if you ask me.

kap7

It’s the kind of place you could literally escape to, though a nearby cell site does help keep Mike, Alma and guests in the loop, sometimes. The cell site does go out occasionally and that leaves the resort in the dark, telecommunications wise. If I were 21 and into surfing, I would happily disappear to this place for a month at a time. Apparently, we are now at the peak of the surfing season, with storms bringing superb wave action… but even if you didn’t surf, you might like it here if simplicity and solitude are your thing…

kap8

For the price we paid, just over PHP1,000 ($22) per person per night with welcome drink, nice room, breakfast, I thought this was a wonderful find and would strongly recommend it to adventurous souls in search of something new. This isn’t even a three-star hotel, but it was a really nice alternative to some of the other hotels we found on the Ilocos vacation. If you are interested, google Kapuluan Vista Resort and email them at the address there. Alternatively, contact Mike or Alma at +639209522528. Be patient, their phones do go on the blitz once in a while. The resort can arrange pick-ups for groups from the Laoag airport.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Maria Clara says:

    Without reading where you were – looking at the pictures, I would think you were in Maui. The lush vegetation and hilly ravine are sight to behold. It is indeed paradise. Wishing the breed of Mike and Alma thrive well. Mike and Alma have excellent taste in architecture with lots of passion to outdoor sports.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 1:19 am

     
  2. brenda says:

    wow…. this is really a good place to visit. The pool looks inviting and I like the bathroom.. Is that the lambanog margarita? Looks heavenly…I’ll keep this place in my list.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 1:39 am

     
  3. pilar says:

    What a great find MarketMan! Will definitely check it out when the call to be adventurous up north heeds. Kinda reminds me of the T House and/or The Boutique in Tagaytay.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 3:55 am

     
  4. noemi says:

    very nice. its something to be proud of. to my fellow ilokanos, congrats for a nice place like this.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 4:48 am

     
  5. eej says:

    I envy Mike & Alma’s courage and free spirit to follow their dream. Pounding surf, miles of sand and a beachhouse, what more can you ask?

    Oct 2, 2007 | 4:55 am

     
  6. elaine says:

    For a ‘genuine’ getaway from the chaos of Manila, this place seems to fit the bill: Simple, in the middle of nowhere(my kind of thing), CLEAN RESTROOMS/accomodations. One could really relax, and just enjoy the breeze while sipping ‘lambanog margarita’….

    Oct 2, 2007 | 6:35 am

     
  7. frank says:

    nice tip MM, and thanks! actually i’ve been surfing (net) for superb resorts at reasonable price (not the “reasonable” type the likes of boracay or puerto galera) and THIS fits the bill for our vacation next year February.

    i spoke to owner Alma this morning, and like you said she is very welcoming and engaging that i almost booked a suite.
    and yeah, she nearly gave me a tour of the place on the phone; and she says THANKS a heap to you.

    btw, she gave me their site: http://www.kapuluanvistaresort.com

    many thanks again MarketMan.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 6:47 am

     
  8. Em Dy says:

    I heard that Sitio Remedios is also a good choice for those travelling to Ilocos. Never been there though. It’s o

    Oct 2, 2007 | 7:24 am

     
  9. Em Dy says:

    Sorry for that typo…

    It’s owned by Dr. Joven Cuanang, a neurologist. The place is a heritage village resort.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 7:26 am

     
  10. dhayL says:

    What a breathtaking view of the mountains, superb waves, i love the architectural character of the resort it’s very charming and very reasonable price too, sounds like a perfect combination!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 7:50 am

     
  11. corrine says:

    Thanks for the tip. Ilocos in my mind! Lucky couple to be able to pursue their passion.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 8:02 am

     
  12. amateur misanthrope says:

    Hello, Marketman. Re: your poll on cooking/chef shows. Since I don’t have cable tv, I only get to watch the local cooking shows. Your poll only covers foreign shows. I wonder why? Too bad, because there’s this local chef program called Ka-toque, it airs every saturday on QTV, 11-12 midday. I would vote for that show many times over.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 8:04 am

     
  13. dhayL says:

    RE: your poll, i did vote, but i honestly watch several cooking shows, so is there a way to do multiple votes in one shot? If not, that’s okay, i also like martha stewart, michael smith (cheff @ home), nigelia bites, giada di laurentis, sugar (ana olson), kristine cushing..just to name a few cookinig shows that i watch.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 8:59 am

     
  14. CecileJ says:

    Re: poll. I didn’t vote cos I watch them all for varied reasons. Except Rachael Ray – cos her food doesn’t seem too tasty for me and parang masyadong rushed ung prep n seasonings.

    Kapuluan Vista Resort looks (and reads) like a lovely place to relax and enjoy the sea. What about the food?

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:32 am

     
  15. kristine says:

    Great find MM! Would love to visit this place next summer!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:38 am

     
  16. Maddie says:

    Thank you for sharing this MM! We will definitely go visit this place. Have been wanting to go to that side of the country but have always wonderede if there is something comfortable enough to include a pre-schooler!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:40 am

     
  17. Marketman says:

    Maddie, this is comfortable enough for a pre-schooler, but take care, the pool is unfenced. The owners also have a young child, perhaps 2 or 3 years of age, so they will definitely understand. amateur misanthrope, actually, I put two local choices, Gene Gonzalez of Cafe Ysabel fame, and the three ladies of the local cooking/entertaining show, Sandique, Fenix and Segismundo… sorry, I haven’t seen the other tv show you referred to. Em Dy, I will have a review of Sitio Remedios in the days ahead. frank if you do go, remember, this is FAR from civilization, as it were. At least for us it was…but worth it.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 9:56 am

     
  18. Blaise says:

    The lambanog margarita looks divine..

    Oct 2, 2007 | 10:12 am

     
  19. Lei says:

    Thanks MM for the heads-up on this one. Went as far as Saud Beach and seeing for myself the accommodations there, frankly, just looking at your pictures, you have made the right choice!

    Now, we know where a good stay can be found on this very distant place. =)

    Oct 2, 2007 | 10:19 am

     
  20. Anna Banana says:

    Stayed at the saud resort some years back. It was nice and quiet but i can imagine it would be alot more chaotic during peak season just because they are the more popular choice. I don’t think they have a pool though. The picture of the pool in Kapuluan looks really refreshing.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 10:32 am

     
  21. anonymous paul says:

    heyyyy, didn’t think you’d go that far up north. this place is actually designed by an architect/surfer friend of mine, buji libarnes

    Oct 2, 2007 | 11:27 am

     
  22. Marketman says:

    anonymous paul, it was nicely done on a tight budget, I am sure…

    Oct 2, 2007 | 11:43 am

     
  23. Mila says:

    Looks like a perfect getaway. Last time I was in Pagudpud we camped by the beach; would be nice to have access to hot (even lukewarm) water the next time we go up north.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 12:08 pm

     
  24. cc says:

    MM…a great description of a good find. You & your family have a great life … always on the move, discovering, relaxing, touring, eating, loving life and living it well.
    Continue to keep us informed on finds like these.

    Oct 2, 2007 | 12:44 pm

     
  25. Didi says:

    Looks really nice…
    But it’s such a long looooong drive to Pagudpod!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 3:18 pm

     
  26. filet minion says:

    amazing! the long and arduous journet seems worth it and now i’m dying to make a surf trip all the way to kapuluan instead of just settling for the more convenient la union.

    btw mm, would you happen to know how to make lambanog margarita? do you just substitute the 2 shots of tequila for lambanog or did you notice them adding anything else? i’m curoius cos my friend’s gonna have a pre-wedding cocktail thingee but she’s on a tight budget wanting to scrap the whole margarita fare (but don’t you think margaritas along with martinis are cocktail staples?!?) with lambanog margarita as a cheaper substitute maybe that would make her reconsider. thanks!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 4:27 pm

     
  27. Marketman says:

    filet minion, call up Mike on the cellphone number I wrote into the post, ask him if he will share his recipe for a lambanog margarita, say you saw the Marketmanila post and maybe, just maybe, he will give you a hint… but yes, I suspect the replacement of lambanog for tequila is the key…you could always test it out with your friends before the wedding… of course, where to find GOOD lambanog in the city… isn’t it best in the probinsya?? P.S. now is the time to hit Pagudpud. Alma was originally from La Union or thereabouts so she is familiar with the surf in both destinations! Didi, yes, next time we will FLY to Laoag instead of drive! :) cc, actually while it may seem that we are constantly on the move, these posts are a result of a trip last June! Mila, I think you would like this hotel a lot!

    Oct 2, 2007 | 4:32 pm

     
  28. Katrina says:

    Wow, I can’t believe that resort is in Ilocos, and in the middle of nowhere, at that! I love the design of the pool and the little touches like the ladders against the posts. Despite the modern lines and Japanese aesthetic, it still looks “native” and appropriate to its surroundings.

    How was the food?

    Oct 2, 2007 | 7:09 pm

     
  29. Jules says:

    They just featured this place on Sports Unlimited on ABS-CBN las t Saturday. I didn’t realize it was in the middle of nowhere. It does look pretty nice. :j

    Oct 3, 2007 | 11:52 am

     
  30. wil-b cariaga says:

    WOW. . . i need to revisit these areas. . .

    Oct 4, 2007 | 2:23 am

     
  31. ica says:

    Nice… I saw their site and from the pics you posted, it reminded me of Tagaytay’s T-House (agree to Pilar). Im planning to go to Pagudpud this Nov and I guess im going to stay at Kapuluan Vista.. And btw, I read that this resort is close to the Blue Lagoon (what they called Boracay of the North)..

    Oct 16, 2007 | 12:34 pm

     
  32. JR says:

    Hey! Talking about gorgeous place to be early in the morning when you see the sun rising, the feeling is heaven. I was there in 2006 and it is only now that I realize that I need to go back and re-experience “heaven”. I stayed there for a night with my two sons and am telling you, that was the longest night of my life. During dinner, I had a long social conversation with Mike and Alma telling them about their feature on the Philippine Airlines magazine. Excellent guys! Congratulations… again. See you soon….

    Oct 20, 2007 | 12:03 pm

     
  33. ritchie says:

    Kapuluan Vista is one place you should visit up North aside from Sitio Remedios. Alma and Mike are not natives of Ilocos Norte but they have opened doors for other people to appreciate the province.

    Oct 24, 2007 | 10:30 am

     
  34. rhiz says:

    Me an dmy husband visited the place last October 19 as a continuation for our honey-moon tour. The place was really charming and refreshing for city-tired eyes.

    You’ll get the feeling of comfort despite the location. The staff were nice and Lambanog Margarita surprisingly taste good!

    Keep it up guys!!we’ll surely come back..:)

    Oct 25, 2007 | 2:15 am

     
  35. cris says:

    I wish you could also post pics of the beach.

    Dec 18, 2007 | 2:29 am

     
  36. maria and may2 says:

    i miss your t-bone steak kuya marlon(chief cook)!!i hope we could go back there soon, maybe this holyweek.haha!!

    Feb 19, 2008 | 2:39 pm

     
  37. jay nanagas says:

    Good day! my wife and i have been going to Pagudpud every year since the mid-90’s. we’ve always stayed at the Saud beach area. we’ve visited the blue lagoon once but only for a day trip (by banca from Saud beach). blue lagoon is beautiful but there wasn’t any facility except for nipa day cottages then.

    so we were surprised to read the article about the Kapuluan Vista Resort. could you please furnish us more information on the place – site map, your rates, facilities. does kapuluan also have a nice beach area as they have in Saud? we are going to pagudpud again this year sometime in May or June and are interested in trying out kapuluan.

    thank you.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:47 pm

     
  38. Marketman says:

    jay, please contact the resort directly at the number in the main write up above. Marketmanila is a food site predominantly with occasional hotel entries… I am not connected with Kapuluan…but we had a wonderful stay there.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:54 pm

     
  39. leo g. says:

    i’ve been there 5 times and i really highly recommend this resort

    Apr 8, 2008 | 4:34 pm

     
  40. feby says:

    we’ll check this out hmm,,maybe during our honeymoon..hehe
    (excited)

    Apr 23, 2008 | 6:17 pm

     
  41. pOngs says:

    nice place ..

    May 13, 2008 | 11:08 pm

     
  42. Gonz of Ilocos says:

    as a traveler, and also a proud ilocano.. i suggest this resort for you to stay relax and everything..

    @ Jay.. yes Blue Lagoon is better than Saud (Beach near Pagudpud Municipal)

    here’s the list might cost you

    1 room single bedroom 2000

    1 room good for 2 persons 2500

    pools and other stuffs are free

    except the surf board =)

    just my rough estimation, since i went there

    Enjoy Your Stay

    May 21, 2008 | 9:13 pm

     
  43. sarah says:

    I totally recommend this place to everyone, Mike is actually my cousin and I remember when this resort was only a dream that has now become a reality. Alma and Mike are two of the most amazing people and they love this resort so much, they were even married there :-). They will treat you very well and have the cutest lil girl ever, My darling little niece!!

    May 26, 2008 | 3:41 pm

     
  44. kathrene says:

    ei, may i ask? mag kano ang per day na mag stay sa resort ni0? and anu magaganda views diyan?

    Jun 18, 2008 | 11:02 pm

     
  45. Marketman says:

    kathrene, I wrote about the hotel, but I am not the hotel, so please contact them directly for details on rates, etc.

    Jun 19, 2008 | 9:06 am

     
  46. arvinix says:

    i just stayed at this resort for 3 days. it is the perfect getaway for people who wants to be ‘disconnected’ to the outside world–your very own hideaway (just as advertised). i even had the opportunity to talk with both mike and alma; great and lovely couple. lastly, marketman was right, their lambanog margarita is something you should definitely try. order it as your complimentary drink when you check-in.

    i’ll definitely go back to this place!

    Jun 22, 2008 | 12:15 am

     
  47. Raymond Poe says:

    Hello, there:

    Very impressive & breathtaking views!!! Very
    serene & total rejuvenation. Pls. email
    you daily rates (per night) For the
    months of January & February ’09.

    Thank you,

    Raymond
    San Diego, CA

    Jun 24, 2008 | 1:58 am

     
  48. Rico Calma says:

    I had an opportunity to visit Kapuluan a few days ago and met the owner, Mike, who was very accommodating and briefly chatted with us about his place. Architecturally, it was one of the best (if not the best) resorts in the area. The design was very simple and tastefully done. The service and attention to detail are also highly commendable. We didn’t get the chance to stay in the resort but our brief visit left a good impression on what one can expect when staying there. Kudos to Mike and his wife for adding some good taste to an otherwise bland and sometimes tacky look to the Blue Lagoon beach. I hope others follow suit. Enough with the “icing” houses already!

    I featured the resort in my site. Please check it out.
    http://ricocalma.multiply.com/photos/album/31/Northern_Exposure

    Jun 30, 2008 | 7:30 pm

     
  49. dexter says:

    hi mike and alma hope to see you there on december after the rimat ti amianan 08, ill miss you guys………. love yah dex la union

    Jul 23, 2008 | 12:40 am

     
  50. Macon And Owen says:

    Madalas ko pa ring binabalik-balikan sa isip ko ang lugar na ‘to…

    IT WAS DAMN WORTH THE 14 HOURS DRIVE!!!!

    For those who have not been there and are interested to see the actual pics…you may e-mail me @ mccanlas@ph.daksh.com

    We’ll be back…

    Macon and Owen

    Jul 27, 2008 | 12:28 pm

     
  51. Melissa See says:

    Kapuluan is simply breathtaking, food is excellent and to top it all, staff are really great and friendly not to mention the owner mike and cute little puppy drew. Spent three days and two nights from 16-18 of December which is way short for a holiday in Kapuluan. Wish to go back soon.

    Dec 19, 2008 | 8:33 pm

     
  52. Erica says:

    Hi,reading the reviews makes me all the more excited to go to the resort. I am planning to go to Kapuluan tomorrow, 27th until the 30th. Would appreciate a little coaching going there. It will also be my first time to go to Ilocos with my officemate. Any assistance will be appreciated. Thanks.

    Dec 26, 2008 | 3:16 pm

     
  53. jowee_09 says:

    ..seen ur resort in myx,,love it

    Feb 25, 2009 | 1:32 pm

     
  54. Fast says:

    Hi, I am going to make a booking to this resort; however, I want to make sure that everything is valid because they are already asking a reservation fee which is half of the accommodation cost. If you guys can confirm that everything is done this way naman…that would be great! thank you!

    Mar 20, 2009 | 3:32 pm

     
  55. Cecilia says:

    I don’t swim, and nor do I surf despite the fact that I grew up in Cebu, spent most afternoons at some beach, and now live right by the beach here on the west coast. But a heartwarming couple, peace and quiet and lambanog margaritas? I think I will fly all that way, drive all the way for times when I just want to get away from civilization. I can just imagine days and days of reading, vegitating, meditating by myself at this place. Eating, too… Perhaps my husband or a quiet girlfriend wouldn’t hurt. Thank you again for a wonderful tip!

    Apr 5, 2009 | 2:54 pm

     
  56. Rachelle Bada says:

    I need urgentyl your rooom rates. for may 1-3 availability. Thanks to please send me the rates

    Thank you very much!

    Apr 14, 2009 | 3:46 pm

     
  57. iya L. says:

    my family & i are goin there on the 25th til 28…after reading about the review, NOW i’m more excited!!:D

    just wanna ask..how’s the food there? can you give me a price range, just a rough estimate? coz we’re 12 people, and i know you can’t bring in food to the resort daw…eh sa dami namin, baka sa food palang ubos na budget namin… =/

    your reply would be very appreciated. :) ty in advance!

    oh, to rachelle bada…they’re fully booked may 1-3. i inquired na eh, that was supposed to be the original date for our trip…

    Apr 17, 2009 | 12:18 am

     
  58. Cherry says:

    Hi!

    I’m planning to go to Pagudpud with my friends sometime in May-June. Same with iya L., i want to ask if the food there is good, and what’s the price range? :) And also how far is it from blue lagoon (kayang lakarin)?

    Thanks! :)

    Apr 26, 2009 | 5:24 pm

     
  59. Marketman says:

    Cherry, yes you can walk to Kapuluan from Blue Lagoon. Cherry and Iya, frankly, I don’t remember the price range of the meals but I thought they were good value for the size of the dishes, taste and ambience of the dining area/garden…

    Apr 26, 2009 | 9:22 pm

     
  60. Cherry says:

    Thanks for your help! :)

    Apr 28, 2009 | 3:42 pm

     
  61. Mariben says:

    Looks great! I’m excited to stay there when we go on our Ilocos trip.

    May 14, 2009 | 6:16 pm

     
  62. ykm says:

    Hi,

    We stayed at Kapuluan a few weeks ago and we loved it. The food was good, the margaritas were delish and we didn’t mind the 7-10 minute walk to Blue Lagoon because we were to learn how to surf … and relax.

    It’s unfortunate that the establishments along Saud Beach confuse night-life with karaoke cacophony.

    Jun 7, 2009 | 11:02 am

     
  63. Norma Estolas says:

    Planning to vacation in Ilocos in early August 2009. Hope to visit this amazing resort and catch up with Alma and family.

    Jun 12, 2009 | 1:23 am

     
  64. judy says:

    all these infos are big help considering we’re planning to go there when my hubby comes home january next year. thanks for sharing…btw, is it advisable to rent a car from laoag to pagudpod so we can drive around? any other tips would be most welcomed.

    Jun 18, 2009 | 12:40 am

     
  65. mar says:

    Hi, my husband and I are planning a trip to Ilocos in August. The resort looks very nice. I’m wondering if this the best place to stay in the area, or does Ilocos have a nicer resort than this? Thank you. :)

    Jul 4, 2009 | 9:10 pm

     
  66. nenette graf says:

    Hi Mike,
    How are you and the family?? Hope all are ok that side of the island Philippines:-)
    I have been contacting you in your celphone to no avail. I would like to request for a contracted rate of your resort for the season beginning November 1 so that I can include it in the packages I am preparng for our coming trip there on November:-)
    Please send it to me asap. Thank you and with every good wish.
    Best regards,
    Dear Martine, Hope you received all the photos i sent and the email with advise on the airlines. Should you need my help, please never hesitate to ask me, I am very happy to be of help.
    For airlines, cehck always the airlines online booking, they have always opening.
    Cheers!
    Best regards,

    Nenette Aguirre-Graf

    Managing Director

    Greenyard Funboard and Neilpryde Test Center

    Hangin Kiteboarding Center (Cabrinha)(IKO)

    The Boracay Beach Resort

    Tel: +63 362883208

    Fax: +63 362885565

    Skype: NGA

    Sep 3, 2009 | 11:38 am

     
  67. Doc Jun says:

    To Mike and to the courteous staff of Kapuluan Vista Resort. Thank you so much for that hospitality. Keep up the good work! We did enjoy our stay even with the bad weather. See you soon! : )

    Sep 25, 2009 | 2:15 pm

     
 

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