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 â€œsettlementâ€ 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 caseâ€¦ 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 beachâ€¦
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.
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 inâ€¦
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.
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 â€œcarâ€ out of me and it was totally refreshing. We were given a choice of iced tea or a delicious lambanog margarita upon check-in.
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 stoneâ€™s throw awayâ€¦ 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 effortâ€¦ 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 distanceâ€¦ And Kapuluan, stands for archipelagoâ€¦ a great name if you ask me.
Itâ€™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 actionâ€¦ but even if you didnâ€™t surf, you might like it here if simplicity and solitude are your thingâ€¦
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 isnâ€™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.