Words and images by Regina G. Posadas
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Mother’s Day weekend this year was unforgettably different for me. I spent it away from home and family, but close to nature and surrounded by breathtaking views and the always exhilarating combination of sun, sea, wind, and greenery. Where I stayed, a few steps were all it took to reach the beautiful white sand beach and soak my feet in the welcoming waves with varying shades of blue.
But while I had my own elevated porch with loungers, and a furnished place with two beds, an air conditioner, a fan, a mini bar, a chest of drawers with a safe, tea and coffee-making facilities, towels, toiletries, a hairdryer, strong Wi-Fi, and more, I wasn’t in a hotel, a cabin, or a villa. Instead of a door, a long vertical zipper was the way in and out of my temporary lodging, and the first thing I pulled up to get a glimpse of my personal piece of paradise.
I was in a tent, believe it or not, and camping in style and comfort at Bluewater Sumilon Resort in Oslob, Cebu. Referred to as “glamping” (for glamorous camping), this standard accommodation is a new way to stay and savor the outdoors, while minimizing space, costs, energy use, and waste. Toilets and baths for “glampers,” for example, are housed in a single building—a nearby bamboo-adorned structure behind the tents with sizeable stalls that offer privacy and hot and cold “rain” showers. Lying on my comfy bed amid soft sheets and colorful pillows, and staring at the pointy ceiling with its gently sloping sides and pull-string overhead light with a hat-like wicker design, I felt safe and soothed in my tiny “house” (the tent is considerably cooler at night) while I wondered how soon I could bring my family here to experience everything again.
Choose your own adventure
Besides the superbly situated tents-with-trappings, what makes glamping at Bluewater Sumilon infinitely special and satisfying are the chockfull of activities that await guests and the freedom to pick their pastimes. Learn handy bushcrafting skills (like fire making and knife care) or trek around the island to see the historic baluarte (watchtower) and lighthouse, plus the ever-popular shifting white sandbar. Young and old alike will relish roaming Sumilon as there are trails for beginner, moderate, and advanced hikers along with helpful guides. Likewise, swimming in the resort’s gorgeous pools, relaxing in the jacuzzi, snorkelling, and biking are appealing options. If you dig short but thrilling and pulse-pounding rides through the woods, then the rough and rocky trail that I biked on with two of my colleagues is a must-try.
At the lagoon, kayaking, fish feeding, and pedal boating are available if you don’t like to venture far from the camp site. By taking part in the Larong Pinoy session, you can relive your childhood, have fun with your kids, and teach them old-school games like piko, sungka, agawan base, and tumbang preso. If the tide and weather conditions are favorable, you can watch baby sharks or take a romantic sunset cruise. Of course, you can always just laze and loaf in a hammock, stretch out, and get a tan on one of the sun beds and wooden payags, or walk and watch the waves along the shore.
Did someone say massage by the beach? That’s on the activities menu, too, and can be booked easily via the resort’s Amuma Spa, but it will naturally require an added fee.
Meals made your way
Full board meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) are included in the resort’s glamping package, and can be customized to your taste, to enhance your outdoorsy vacation or to complement a particular occasion. Convenient, isn’t it?
Lunch and dinner could be a picnic basket or a barbecue platter, good for two to three guests, with Western or Filipino set meals. A camping couple with a child who favors American food, for instance, will most likely select the cheeseburger, corn on the cob, grilled assorted sausages, fruits in season, and chocolate chip cookies set meal and not the fixed one with local dishes like adobo rice binalot, inasal na tuna panga, salted egg ensalada, fruits in season, and torta Cebuana.
Guests get to choose where to dine too—on the simple wooden long seats and tables or on the raised dining area with stylish furniture and table settings that’s only a few feet away from the tents—and the efficient resort staff will set the whole thing up. As the sun peeked through the trees and a breeze made the leaves dance, I had a lovely early morning solitary breakfast by the glamping site while my colleagues were still asleep. My Filipino set meal of tapa, sausages, fried rice, and egg in a pan was prepared cheerfully and in no time by Doms, while Adam brought the cups and cutlery, promptly prettified the breakfast area, and made sure I had hot chocolate and cold water to go with my food.
The biggest surprise of my overnight, first ever glamping stay in Sumilon was that it rained at dawn! Thank goodness my tent was well-built and waterproof, so my belongings and I remained cool, dry, and safe inside. No worries there at all.
“If you want to experience something unique, come here,” said EJ Barretto, Bluewater Sumilon Resort’s amiable resident manager. “We offer the best of what is Filipino and I think we really deliver on that promise.”
Glamping in Sumilon costs P12,000 on weekdays (Sunday to Thursday) and P14,000 on weekends (Friday to Saturday), and covers overnight airconditioned tent accommodation for two with in-tent mini bar, towels, and other essentials, full board meals, roundtrip boat transfers, island activities, and a bushcrafting lesson. Three persons max in one tent. Offer is valid until Sept. 30, 2018 and resumes on March 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2019. ww.bluewatersumilon.com.ph