Explore seven uniquely themed villages (all inspired from real life picturesque places all over the world) tucked away in a luxurious private island less than 30 minutes away from Manila
WRITTEN BY KLARA ISKRA AÑONUEVO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ZAC MORAN OF STUDIO 100
With the Philippines being an archipelago, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches. What is difficult to find is a private sanctuary within reach from the metro where one doesn’t have to fight for his own territory in the sand. Fortunately for us beach-loving city dwellers, when Balesin Island Club opened its beaches to members and their guests, that changed.
Unlike most other secluded beach getaways, a trip to Balesin Island Club won’t cost you much time. In fact, it only takes a 25-minute flight from Manila (the resort shuttles members and guests using two Cessna Grand Caravans and the two British Aerospace Jetstream aircrafts) to get here. Members (and their lucky family and friends!) get 14 nights a year, and they can choose to stay in any of the seven themed villages—Balesin, Bali, Costa Del Sol, Mykonos, Phuket, St. Tropez, and Toscana. These seven villages are the stars of the island, each representing a different coastal hotspot from all over the world. Not only were these seven villages constructed to look like their real life counterparts, but each one also serves cuisine inspired by the places as well.
Balesin Village is actually the most popular amongst members and guests—it has the best beach in the island (plus it’s also the closest to the Clubhouse, the Balesin Spa, and the Aquatic Sports Center). The white sand beach is quiet during the daytime and guests can while the hours away lounging about the long strip of sand or swimming in the peaceful waters. Situated at the beach is Relic Bar, the oldest structure on the island, where guests can order cocktails while watching a panoramic sunset. Being the only Filipino-themed village in the island, the villas feature indigenous architecture, punctuated by local design elements and handicrafts.
Inspired by the small island province in Indonesia, Bali village is brimming with Indonesian artifacts and decorations. This inspiration extends to Bali Warung, the village restaurant, and Nusa Dua Bar. The former serves traditional Indonesian food like laksa and nasi goreng, while the latter serves cocktails. The bar is also set on stilts above the water, giving guests a great view of the sea both at day and night time. Guests who have booked the water villas are especially lucky, as like the Nusa Dua Bar, they too are set on stilts in the water.
A stay in Toscana Village will spoil guests for dining options as it has seven outlets: Antico Posto, Anghiari, La Nena, Molinello, Sezzano, La Meridiana, and La Ghianda. Of course, the cuisine is Italian and it will be hard to resist as the smell of brick-oven pizzas wafts throughout the mansion-like Toscana village. The Tuscan influences are not limited to the food though. The arched doorways, tiled finishes, and terracotta décor are enough to make you feel like you’ve been transported to Italy.
At the southern side of the island is Phuket village, inspired by the southern Thai province. While the beach here is just as white as in Balesin village, the big waves attract surfers and other water sports junkies more. The Thai inspiration is easily made clear by the triangular roof tiers of each of the villas and Phuket Salathip, the village restaurant. To make the experience more authentic, the restaurant is peppered with Thai artifacts, including Buddha statues. In front of Phuket Salathip is the centerpiece of the village—the black-tiled 25-meter swimming pool that offers a stunning view of the sea.
St. Tropez is one of the most photographed villages in the island because of its distinctly colorful design and youthful feel. The original town is located on the French Riviera and in its heyday was known as a topless beach. Instead of villas, the Balesin version (don’t worry, clothing is required here) takes inspiration from the\ Mediterranean-styled Hotel Byblos, with each room having high ceilings (some even have mirrors) and a balcony looking out into the Pacific Ocean. Guests can satisfy their French cravings at the Crêperie, or pretend to be Hollywood stars on a private getaway in The Nirvana Lounge.
COSTA DEL SOL
The Spanish region Costa Del Sol, which literally means coast of the sun, continues to draw tourists from all over the world with its quiet sophistication, and the same goes for the resort’s village. There are six casas in total—Estepona, Fuengirola, Malaga, Marbella, Ronda, and Torremolinos. All of the suites and rooms in the casas have a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. While most of the village was built with colonial Spanish architecture in mind, Costa del Sol has a little secret—The Al Hambra Lounge. The Moroccan-inspired bar is so warm and inviting that guests just might forget that they’re still at a luxury beach resort and stay inside all day.
There’s just something distinctly Greek about white washed walls and blue accents, and that’s what Balesin’s Mykonos village seek to evoke. The beach villas, spread out in six buildings (Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Dionysios, Hermes, and Poseidon) are ideal for large groups and families, who can spend their days lounging in the majestic infinity pool while taking in gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. The Thanassis Taverna is also one of the favorite dining spots among the members. The tavern serves Greek food like souvlaki and moussaka, but the must-try is the grilled lamb ribs.
Balesin Island Club is located at Polillo, Quezon. For membership inquiries, phone (+63 2) 846 6205 or visit