Glistening aquamarine waters. That is perhaps the best way to describe the splendid show the vast body of water surrounding Sunlight Eco Tourism Island Resort (SETIR) will welcome you with (with perfect weather of course). You know how people say nature is showing off when the sky is painted with breathtaking sunsets? Imagine that same level of awe but this time, made by the sea.
If that is not enough to excite you, maybe staying in a villa with glass floors will. SETIR’s Honeymoon Villas are equipped with such that walking in your room is already a treat.
The resort doesn’t just cater to newlyweds though. The rest of the resort is just as agreeable. There are a variety of accommodations to choose from whether you are a couple or a big group. There are 99 rooms to be exact which are broken down into studio, one-bedroom, duplex, or cluster villas.
What separates it from other resorts perhaps is its amazing 360 view of the waters and foliage of Northern Palawan. A feat achieved by the design of this island as all its rooms are built on water. Wherever you decide to stay, an ocean view awaits.
It may be hard to imagine that just eight years ago, the father and daughter team of Ricardo and Ryna Brito were exploring this bare part of Naglayan Island.
“When I was eight years old, I told my dad that one day I want to own a resort,” shares Ryna. That innocent statement from her, however, was something that her dad took seriously.
“I guess he looked into it. Then one day, I was maybe around 11 or 12 years old and we went to Coron. We noticed that there were no Filipino tourists. It was mostly Caucasians. [There were also] no vans, no nothing. We hired a tricycle and asked the driver to bring us around the town.”
That fateful field trip was to be the start of the conceptualization of Sunlight Eco Tourism Island Resort.
From bare to a place visitors can call their second home. This is the goal of Ryna and her team and is clearly shown with their signature welcome to the resort. All the heads–from F&B, to housekeeping to security to the head chef–are present and will joyfully usher you into their part of paradise.
This is what makes Ryna beams as she and her family may be in the hospitality and tourism business but as she shares, “SETIR has heart.”
It doesn’t hurt as well that this vast paradise spanning 18 hectares has its share of the rich biodiversity that Palawan is known for. Well-traveled Ryna herself can attest to this.
“I’ve been to the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve lived in Australia, and there is nothing like it here. I’m not exaggerating.” SETIR is one of the best “seats in the house” so to speak as you can enjoy the island from above or below just by walking around the island or through the different water activities like jet-skiing, banana boat ride, hydrobob, and snorkeling which comes highly recommended by Ryna as she herself has done this around the entire island.
The resort also boasts of its island hopping adventure. Although already a standard in the beach business, SETIR and Palawan’s version may be unrivaled because as Ryna reveals, “every year there is something new to explore.”
Kayangan Lake, though, remains to be a favorite.”It’s one of the most touristy [places] but what I like most about it is when you get to the water. It’s actually [a body of water inside a] volcano crater. It’s above sea level already. You’re required to wear a life vest because it’s not pure ocean water anymore. It’s a mix of ocean and fresh ocean water. It’s really cool.”
The sunsets of course are mandatory as well. From island hopping which usually ends around two p.m., you will have enough time to rest before glancing out of your room or choosing a cozy spot at the resort to soak it all in. Ryna says that she’s only been truly impressed with sunsets twice in her life–one in Sydney and one at SETIR. That is saying a lot coming from one who’s lived by the beach most of her life.
Roster of Restaurants
The restaurants at SETIR share a similar story to how the resort has grown and is continuing to grow. From two, the resort now has nine including a specialty coffee bar, a poolside al fresco aptly called Poolside Patio, Basil & Mint Steakhouse, Island Garden, Sun Cafe, and the Mangrove Bar & Grill. The latter is a must-visit as it is across the resort on its own little island named after the owner (Ricardo’s Island) plus the view and experience makes the walk well worth it.
If you are craving for other delicacies, the rest of the dining places have it covered. Hikari Teppanyaki for Japanese, Xiang Hotpot & KBBQ for Korean, and The Cellar for nightcaps.
Kissed by the sun
The best thing to do on the island is to make imprints of your vacation. The cool seemingly unending breeze, the calming feel when the water hits you, the glorious sunset, the lullabies of waves, the signature SETIR hospitality and smiles of the staff, the breathtaking views from your room. All these will keep you recharged long after you’ve gone back to the chaos of the city.
The best vacations ironically should always make you feel at home and SETIR has made sure it lives up to this standard and its name.
Ryna closes, “We decided on [the name] Sunlight Eco Tourism Island Resort because we think the warmth of the sun symbolizes how our guests feel when they come to any of our properties. Specifically though, with SETIR because of how beautiful the surroundings are. We wanted to [also] make an extra effort to preserve the natural resources so we try our best not to use plastic, we have designated smoking areas, and we remind our guests not to step on corals.”
There are 56 villas on the island. Villa 1 was originally a makeshift room with no air-conditioning when the resort was being built and where Ryna used to stay.
The resort only opened to the public in February 2019. Ryna and her father are the duo responsible for all operations. Aside from SETIR, they also have a chain of department stores called Unitop in Puerto Princesa, and two other hotels called Sunlight Guest Hotel, Inc. with branches in Puerto Princesa and Coron.
Ryna shares that the design of the resort was conceptualized by her dad with their architects. They are currently renovating and the interiors, however, will be supervised by her.
The infinity pool allows you to gaze into the horizon while taking a leisurely dip.