Puerto Del Sol – A Review

© philippinesbeach.blogspot.com

My first $200 Beach Front Room with No Bathroom or Toilet, and no Beach View.

It is very hard to get to through the Dagupan / Lingayen traffic bottleneck to Bolinao beach. It takes only 3 hours on the freeway from Manila or Subic to arrive at the start of the congestion, and that was the real easy bit. After hours more battling with trikes, rice pickers and fuel tankers all fighting for the same skinny strip of road that are also shared to dry rice on, we finally begin to see the signs directing us to Puerto Del Sol. We follow the signs and wind up lost. At the last critical turn-off to the left there is No sign, making us a little more frustrated. We turn up at the gate and pronounce ourselves to the guard. He checks, and sees no booking for us… making us even more frustrated! I showed him the paid reservation on my computer and he lets us in.

Upon arrival we were given a small welcome drink and a necklace. While I appreciated this, I just really needed to go to the bathroom and explained that was becoming urgent. I was given a form to sign to check in… after the travel and the need for the comfort room it was just a blur and of course I signed it. (Remember this point for the end of this review) It was getting late, almost 5:00pm we finally checked in.

The beach location is beautiful and the resort is kept very clean and tidy.

We brought our small lapdog who normally sleeps in the car. As the resort has strict no-pet policy the reception offered a cage that sits next to the guard for about ₱500 a night, I think I recall this price accurately. We liked this idea and gratefully accepted, and went to visit our pup and take him out to the beach often during our short stay.

We arrived at our room which is like an elevated Nipa-hut and were the advised there is no Bathroom Or toilet in the room… it is down below, not like down the stairs, a lot more like down a ladder! Right, so when we need the toilet in the night we has to scale the ladder half-asleep.

Below is the Nipa Hut.

We started to settle into the room, quickly noticing we cannot see the ocean from our room… the outdoor thatched roof hangs way too low. See the photo, you can see the water unless you bend right down or sit on the floor!

Trying to remain positive we headed out and enjoyed the sundown in a fabulous beach front deck suspended out over the sand. We ordered a beer from a male waiter. We noticed strangely, that 90% of the staff are boys… but we had one girl serving us. We had to remind her to go get that beer, and she then broke into a loud argument with the boy waiters over it. We ordered two meals.. what we really wanted from the menu was “Not available sorry sir”. What was served was one really nice meal of fresh rolls of veggies.. and one very ordinary Pumpkin soup much like it was from a packet. Although nothing could spoil our time in this beautiful surrounding, we enjoyed our beer.

We started to notice what I call ‘penny pinching management’ – particularly over electricity. When we had arrived at the room, I went straight for the refrigerator looking for a cold beer after our long drive. I normally clean-out the cold drinks not caring about the cost while enjoying the convenience. The beer was all warm and I soon realised when we took the key from the card-slot not only the primary power source went down, but also the refrigerator. I thought that was dumb.. So they save on power, but they sell no beerThings like No kettle/jug in the room for coffee…. you have to go fetch hot water from the water station’. It felt a bit like camping…. Walking to get water, and being on holiday I didn’t mind too much.. Well, until I got to the ‘Hot Water Station’ and found there is no hot water.

The windows in the room are also screwed shut, I guess to stop the cool conditioned air escaping. I’d rather have the option to open the windows and turn off the air, especially when I am paying ₱8,000 a night.

There are No available power points in the room at all, and we really needed to charge our devices. I found that I could see one point under the bed. I just needed to move the bed out from the wall a couple of inches. We discovered that they had strapped the bed to the wall to stop people accessing the power point!

There wasn’t even a box of tissues in the room… I had to scale the ladder even to blow my nose. The towels, pillows and linen on the bed are not resemblant of a $200 room anywhere. Rather scruffy and sub-standard.

Our room charge included breakfast. Becoming concerned about this ‘penny pinching’ I said to my partner Angie “We better get to breakfast early” .. As has been an experienced traveler, I am aware that places like this can pack-up breakfast early to prevent guests access to the buffet.

The next day, not really keen to get up early and preferring a sleep-in when on holiday at the beach (fancy that?), we made sure we got up and got there at 9:30am, thinking they would pack up at 10:00am … this is normally the earliest any hotel would take the breakfast away. The restaurant was deserted. Breakfast had closed at 9:00am!

They did anyhow offer us a choice, including an omelette “but only 2 fillings Sir” and one of those choices was cheese.. huh? Cheese is considered a filling in an omelette? …but without the cheese it is just a scrambled egg! I insisted cheese was not a ‘filling’ and I asked for Cheese, Ham and Mushroom. That I did get… but no-more than one small mushroom, sliced up and about 4 grams of ham. I ordered coffee and the charged me for those too!

We went for a walk on the lovely beach outside the resort they were maintaining the traditional Filipino littering quite well. Walking further down most of the beach is not too trashed yet, however, I did manage to fill a whole plastic bag of trash up to return to the bin.

We then went for a swim in the pool that was nice.. a little cloudy. It was a pity to see the outdoor bar in the center of the pool was no longer used, and the fountains no longer ran.

We decided it was reasonable to check out at 2:00pm, we did check-in very late and it is not unusual to check out at 2:00pm in Asia. We were still very positive, up-beat and happy.. but then we arrived at reception with our bags we were informed of a ₱1600 ($40) Late Check out fee…! we didn’t even get 24 hours in the room! I complained, but the girl on reception replied “You signed the form to accept this on check-in sir”. What a great way to make your guests furious!!

So this experience cost around $250 Australian dollars for a room with No Toilet, No view, No power-points, No tissues, a crummy omelette with no coffee, poor sheets and pillows and you get to climb up a ladder to go to bed.

The room is worth about half that … especially with all the restrictions and extra fees everywhere. The resort and location feel terrific, but I don’t recommend this place for this price, never again.