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Bellarocca: A Beautiful Rock

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Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa is a Class AAA Resort situated in a picturesque island off the coast of Marinduque. Formerly known as Elephant Island, the place was developed and transformed into a luxurious sanctuary for the wealthy.

First glimpse of the island from Lipata Port
The whole resort structure is made up of white, pristine, modern buildings atop seaside cliffs. Several accommodations were built entirely with privacy and isolation in mind, such as the terrazas, the casas and the most expensive of the lot, the villas. Each accommodation, including the cheapest (at USD 680) boasts its own balcony with a splendid view, climate control, a king-sized bed, a 32-inch Sony Bravia LCD TV, private refrigerator and a spacious, sexy, see-through, bathroom with a hot tub.

The Main Lobby
It calls itself the Santorini of the Philippines, and while I've never been to Greece, I sincerely doubt the comparison.

This is blog post is essentially a review of our 3D/2N stay at Bellarocca, literally, a "Beautiful Rock".

The Reservation

Reservation was a breeze. We were lucky enough to grab a fast-selling voucher from Deal Dozen, so all we had to do was email our voucher and our preferred dates to Bellarocca. They responded promptly, and answered all our questions. Days before our trip, they called me to confirm where and when we would be picked up and wished us a happy trip.

Our room. Notice the glass-walled bathroom.
Getting to Bellarocca

There is only one airline that flies once a day to Marinduque: Zest Air. I'm not particularly fond of this airline as they are known to be always delayed. And their schedule shaves a half day off your vacation time because they arrive in Marinduque at around 12:30 pm.

We went via land. I reserved tickets from JAC Liner at Kamias for Php 880 including the terminal fee. This is for a one way trip to Buenavista. The bus will board a ferry (locally known as roro) and make its way across the sea to Marinduque. There is only one trip per day and it leaves at 5:30 pm. We arrived in Buenavista at 5 am.

A tricycle took us to Lipata Port for Php 200. The drive took roughly 20 minutes. From there, a speedboat from Bellarocca picked us up for a 5-minute ride to the island.

Sunrise by the marina
The Welcome

Apparently, if you arrive very early in the morning, you are not served any welcome drinks or given flower necklaces, as I've read in other blogs. Perhaps we were not welcome for waking them up so early in the morning? The staff also did not offer to carry our luggage for us to our rooms. They only did when I handed my bag to one of them but my companions still carried theirs.

The Rooms

We stayed at Sparta IV. This was one of 21 units of Hotel Deluxe Rooms. Despite being the cheapest of all the accommodations, the room was spacious and tastefully furnished. In addition to the amenities I already mentioned, the room also provided a Skype-enabled phone, LAN cables for internet connection, a safe to store your valuables, lots of bath towels and hand towels, bath robes, and a complete line of toiletries like toothbrushes, glasses for gargling, a hairdryer, hair conditioner and a shower gel.

The sheets and pillows were very comfortable. Our balcony had a view of Mt. Malindig, an inactive volcano which was the source of the hot springs in Buenavista.

I was very happy with our room, which was good considering that we spent most of our time here. Lol.

Golf cart service to get you around
The Facilities

On our second day, we took advantage of their complimentary tour of the island. So we rode a golf cart while our guide pointed out the sites. The resort had a meditation room, a helipad, a marina, an aqua sports facility, a souvenir shop, a spa room, a karaoke room, a gym, an entertainment room and two pools: one inside the hotel and the other was an "infinity pool" overlooking the beach.

Relax
I especially liked the location of the spa. It was situated on a high cliff with a Jacuzzi out in front. All around were trees and plants and the atmosphere was very calming. Too bad that I felt the spa itself was overpriced at Php 1,900 for 60 mins. If it was half of that price, I would've tried it.

Private charters can be arranged at the front desk. That is what the helipad is for. According to our kayak guide, the owner flies in via a private helicopter.

Work Out
The Activities

Well, aside from snorkelling and swimming, there's not much to do. We rented some DVDs from the entertainment room, played foosball, and kayaked around the island.

Playing monopoly in our room entertained us for a bit but most of the time, we just watched Discovery Channel, Nat Geo and Animal Planet.


The two infinity pools
The internet connection at the entertainment room was painfully slow but there was free wifi at the hotel lobby.

We did some exploring and climbed the 299-step view deck but the peak was kinda disappointing. It was overgrown with foilage. At one point, it might have been a lovely picnic area but when we got there, it just looked neglected. The view of the sea was partially obstructed by more trees.

We sang at their karaoke room until 10:30 pm in the evening, and at first, we had the room all to ourselves. But gradually, other guests came in and we let them have their turn. Lol.

The Food

Food was okay but nothing spectacular. I felt it was overpriced for the quality of the dishes prepared. The crispy pata cost Php 1,800 but tasted like paper and the lack luster sauce didn't compliment it. The beef with broccoli was good, though. The sinigang tasted the same as all sinigangs do.

Pork tocino for breakfast
On our first day, we took our complimentary set breakfast in our rooms and ordered pork tocino, a Filipino favorite. Portions were good and large but the tocino was just so-so.

On our second day, we had the buffet breakfast and this was better. There was fried rice, tapa, tocino, arrozcaldo, scrambled eggs, bread and butter, fruits and watery lemonade.

The bar at the karaoke room
I was disappointed with the dinner buffet. For Php 850, I expected more choices. But there were only 4 or 5 main entrees, no soup, two choices of desserts, a few fruits and only water. Of the main entrees, only the mixed seafood tasted good. The lechon kawali tasted the same as the crispy pata. Bland. There was only plain rice.

The Service

Despite the non-welcome we received on the first day, service was still overall excellent. The staff were all smiles and were helpful. They were eager to assist us and promptly brought us towels when we went swimming, even when we didn't ask for them. They were also very friendly.

I made friends with the man who accompanied me when I went kayaking and learned that he was from Palawan and was previously employed at Miniloc Resort in El Nido. We talked about stuff about El Nido, while he also pointed at various far off islands and told me trivia about them.

Most structures look like this
The Farewell

Our package included roundtrip airport transfers so we joined the people leaving for the airport at 10:30 am. When we asked the front desk how much we needed to add to be transferred to Cawit Port, they told us it would cost a whopping Php 1,750. In the same breath, they told us that we could instead take a tricycle for Php 30 per head. It made me wonder why they couldn't extend their service for a mere 15-minute drive to the port.

We left Bellarocca promptly at 10:30 am and took the 5-minute boat ride back to Lipata port. From there, a van took us to the airport. Total duration was an hour.

Aqua Sports Activities
Massage Services

We took the aforementioned tricycle to Cawit Port but when we arrived, we were told that the ferry was cancelled and that the next schedule would be at 7 pm. That was definitely bad news.

Fortunately, we had another option. There was another ferry at Balanacan Port which would leave for Lucena at 2:30 pm. So we rode a tricycle to Boac for Php 50 per head, then a jeep to Balanacan Port for another Php 50 per head.

We arrived at Balanacan Port at 1:30 pm and bought pasalubong here, too. The ferry tickets cost Php 260. There were people who sold bus tickets in advance at the port. So we bought bus tickets going to Ortigas for Php 176. I'm not sure if this is actually cheaper that what fares from Lucena to Ortigas actually cost.

By 5pm, we had arrived in Lucena and boarded the JAM bus. We arrived home some five hours later.

The Verdict


The Virgin Mary shrine at Balancan Port
Would I recommend Bellarocca to other people? Sure, if they get a promo deal. Otherwise, I could think of many other adventure-filled ways to spend almost Php 30k a night.

The place is still great for privacy and relaxation and I guess people looking for those will greatly enjoy it.

The natural beauty of the place pales in comparison with other popular destinations in the Philippines. Corals are dead and sites of interest are not on the island itself, but on the surrounding baranggays, like the hot springs and caves.

I think 3D/2N is enough to enjoy the island. Stay longer and you may get bored.


2 comments:

blissfulguro said...

hi there! i heard that bellarocca guests would transfer to poctoy beach in torrijos after their stay at the resort :)

Ysera said...

Hi blissfuguro, I don't know about that. We weren't transferred to Poctoy Beach. In fact, that's the first I've heard of it.

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