In El Nido, Palawan, a new tourist destination has emerged, promising not only a quiet retreat, but also sustainability efforts and inclusive growth for the local community
In the last couple of years, El Nido, Palawan has become known as a tourist hotspot, not just in the Philippines, but with the rest of the world as well. As more and more tourists flock what has been dubbed as “The World’s Best Island,” the local tourism officers, along with the local government, has done their part in ensuring that despite the influx of people, the island’s natural wonders are preserved.
Just a couple of years ago, it was reported that some islands were temporarily closed off to allow for the area to rehabilitate. To still be able to accommodate travelers, the local government opened other islands for visitors.
This is what makes Ayala Land’s Lio a perfect fit with El Nido. Dubbed so because of the former name of the barangay it stands on (Barangay Villa Libertad was formerly called Barangay Lio. Lio means “kabila” or “the other side”), Lio is a tourism estate that emphasizes sustainability, natural landscape preservation, and inclusive growth for the local community.
When we visited the estate, it was far from completion, but it showed a lot of promise. As of this writing, it has one running hotel, as well as several commercial establishments and service providers.
Eventually, it will also be home to more hotels, resorts, residential communities, and its own medical facilities. Don’t believe the misconception that sustainable equals primitive—Lio is proof otherwise. The key is balance, and Lio’s world-class amenities and modern facilities blend well with the natural landscape.
In fact, the whole estate has a total area of 325 hectares, but only 55% (or 179 hectares) will be developed. The remaining 45% (or 146 hectares) will be reserved for open spaces and nature reserve sites. To help guests get to and navigate through Lio, it has its own airport terminal (Lio Airport, ENI), jetty, road networks, and walkways. Visitors also have the option to explore the property by bike or electric vehicles which serve as guest shuttles.
The goal of the people behind Lio is to give tourists (and eventually, its own residents) a complete El Nido experience. Accommodation options, dining outlets, a variety of activities, tour services—all one needs for an enjoyable vacation can be found at Lio, and while enjoying these facilities and services, guests are assured that their environmental impact is kept at a minimum. You can see these efforts as your plane descends towards Lio Airport.
Looking from the plane window, you’d think there were barely any structures in the area, as you’ll only see mostly trees and other natural landscapes. It is only when you land that you see the structures. The people behind Lio planned it so that it adjusts to what was already there.
A road bridge that curves to avoid trees was created to avoid the natural mangroves, and even in smack dab the middle of the other roads you will see trees kept there because of their endangered status.
Even the utilities like electricity and telecommunications are kept underground, so no wires and intruding structures needed to be put up. It even has its own farm, which provides ingredients to Lio hotels and resorts, as well as other resorts in El Nido.