This best-kept secret is about to become the most desired vacation spot in the country. Take a sneak peek at Balesin Island Club
Written by Monique Buensalido
Photographed by Mark Jacob
Located about 21 kilometers southeast of Polillo Island, Quezon, Balesin is a 500-hectare island known for its virgin white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush greenery. Local legends reveal that its name is a combination of the words balete(fig trees that proliferate in the island) and asin(salt). When the late Trade Undersecretary Ed Tordesillas discovered and bought the island in the 60s, he developed it into a small private resort where lot owners brought family and friends over via private planes.Some owners opened up their lots for rent, and guests drove to Quezon and took the boat to the island. Those who frequented Balesin have fond memories of gallivanting around the island and taking in its unspoiled beauty, and businessman Roberto Ongpin was one of those who had fallen in love with it—so much so that in 2010, he bought the island and, under the management of Alpha land Corp.,developed it into an exclusive luxury world-class resort.
Beyond the island’s natural offerings,Balesin Island Club promises a unique resort experience to its members and their guests. The resort is divided into seven themed villages, inspired by some of the world’s best destinations(and Mr. Ongpin’s favorite vacation spots)—Balesin, Bali, Mykonos, Phuket,St. Tropez, Costa Smeralda, and Costadel Sol. Each village will have 40 villasor suites (all thoughtfully and tastefully designed to fit the theme), a beachfront,and a specialty restaurant. Members can choose to stay in any villa when they use the 14 nights they’re entitled to each year,but they’re free to explore the whole island whenever they visit.
Balesin, the first village to be completed, is inspired by the beauty of the Philippine islands. A deep, dark wood bed frame, ikatwall hangings, a beautifully-woven nipa ceiling—there were thoughtful Filipino accents everywhere in the villa, but everything looked modern, stylish, and absolutely luxurious. The room had a king-sized bed with a 10-inch thick, downfeather mattress, 600-thread count cotton sheets,a coffee machine with coffee and tea pods,a fully-stocked bathroom with indoor and out door showers, an iPod docking station,and a flat screen TV with cable. The villa has its own expansive patio with a large day bed and a small Jacuzzi. The beautiful beach is too close to resist. Before long, I was walking barefoot on the fine sand of Balesin. It’s unbelievably immaculate—no throng of rowdy beach-goers, no vendors of island hopping packages or banana boat rides, no rows of sari-sari stores. Just pure shores, majestic blue waters, and a seemingly endless sky. Balesin’s white shore is 7.3 kilometer long, even longer than Boracay’s 4 kilometer-long White Beach, and aside from a few trees and loungers, there was nothing to see but sand.
After touring the developmentsaround the island, we headed back to theClubhouse for lunch. While the resortdoesn’t have a Japanese village, it doeshave a quaint Japanese restaurant namedSakura where resident chef Edu-Sanpersonally prepares unbelievably tastymeals. We started with fresh sashimi—big, fat, juicy slices of the morning’scatch—and dragon maki. He thenushered us to the teppanyakitable, wherehe made a funny and flamboyant showout of preparing fried rice, sea bass (infoil), scallops, and angus beef. After ascoop of green tea ice cream for dessert,I practically had to be rolled out of theroom. Wilhelm assured me that all therestaurants in Balesin will have chefs astalented as Chef Edu-San and will createdelicious menus for their respectivecuisines. You know that saying thatFilipinos eat six times a day? Well, we canliterally have six different cuisines in asingle day!
At the end of the day, the desertedbeach fronting the Balesin Villagebeckoned me, still the most enchantingpart of the island. This was where I spentthe rest of the vacation, sprawled languidlyon a lounger and reading contentedly.My eyes kept drifting back to the seaand the beach around me, taking in theincredible view. It was like I had stumbledupon a secret island paradise, and everytime I looked around I felt the thrill andexhilaration, as well as grateful happiness,of knowing about it.
Imagine how much more incredible theexperience will be when all the villagesare finished! More than being the perfectisland hideaway, Balesin Island Club willalso allow people to travel to differentcountries in a single day, on a single island.Bali will be a tropical hideaway withnatural elements tastefully weaved in; anumber of villas will be built over water,and landscapes around the village willbe shaped like the rice paddies of Ubud.Phuket has a unique position of havingthe Pacific Ocean on one side and LamonBay on the other, and is touted to be themost private of all the villages. It will evenhave its own private cove, where guestscan surf and boogie board. Mykonoswill be a vision of blue and white, withvillas separated by narrow alleys andwinding passages, just like villages inGreece. The two final villages have suitesin a hotel-type structure for memberswho don’t want to walk far distances. St.Tropez recreates the sunny and beautifulatmosphere found in the South of Francewhile Costa Smeralda is inspired by thehotel Cala di Volpe in the coastal village ofSardinia in Italy. The resort is scheduled tocomplete construction by the end of thisyear, and by that time, it will be hard tokeep this island a secret any longer.
For more information on Balesin Island
Club, visit or email <sales@ alphaland.com.ph>