It was one of these weeks where you just need to get away and we were looking for a beach hotel near Manila for the weekend. We found the Buceo Anilao Beach & Dive Resort online at a good price and were all set for our weekend trip. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise and one of the best value hotels I’ve stayed on Getaways from Manila!
Service: The Buceo Anilao is built into the coastal cliff and not reachable from the road, so our first contact was the friendly boat crew that would shuttle us in an outrigger boat to the resort. The staff checked us in while we were sitting in their restaurant, enjoying our welcome drinks, and were on our way within minutes. We got the tour of the resort on the way to our room, as well as information about diving and meal times. During our dinner, the manager of the hotel stopped by our table, welcomed us and had a chat about their hotel, the dive operations and anything else we might want to know. This level of engagement and friendliness continued throughout our stay, from all the staff we engaged with. When we asked to fix our room safe (I managed to lock it, but not open it again…ohps), they responded quickly and had it done in no time. Housekeeping was quick and thorough. The restaurant staff was very proactive and checked in before meal times to make sure we would not have to wait for our meals too long. Service overall was very good, better than at any of the other Getaway from Manila hotels I’ve been to, despite being the least expensive one!
Room: The Buceo is a small hotel with only 12 rooms, all located in separate cottages built into the cliff. We had booked a Seaview Deluxe room (1 of 10) and it was at the very top of the resort, up a long climb of stairs. We were rewarded with stunning views from the large balcony over the ocean – a perfect place to enjoy the sunset! The room was also very large, with two queen size beds (a little smaller than US size) and one single in the window area, enough room for a family of 5! There was also a closet and the desk, as well as the room safe and a tea/coffee kettle, but no TV or phone – so get ready to leave the world behind!
The furnishings were pretty basic, but all looked nice and new. Seashell lamps provide a warm light and large windows look out over the ocean. The bathroom is equally large and very nicely designed. It’s held in dark grey tiles and the floor corners are filled with natural, smooth stones. Overhead is a transparent ceiling allowing for lots of natural light! There is a large rainfall shower and dual vanities. The bathroom is larger and nicer than some upscale hotels I have stayed at, certainly a plus. Soap and shampoo are provided in dispensers and the towels are of good quality.
While the rooms are pretty basic in their furnishings, they more than make up for it in size and with the views! And the little touches, like orchids in the bathroom or the nice lighting are something you won’t find in other hotels in this price range.
Amenities/Restaurant: This eye for details shows in the rest of the property: There are two pools, one to refresh and one for diving, with plenty of loungers around it to relax. It has “mood” lighting at night and the area around it is beautifully landscaped with lots of flowers.
The main attraction is the Padi scuba dive center, run by the manager of the property, offering daily dive trips to the over 20 local dive sites, as well as certifications and equipment rentals.
There are also a bar and restaurant facing the ocean. Because the resort is pretty isolated, you’ll likely have all your meals here. The breakfast (included in the room price) is served buffet style, offering coffee, tea and juice; fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal; bread and jam as well as a cook-to-order egg station and some hot dishes. The overall selection and quality of items is pretty basic, in line with the price category, and not nearly as good as the other (more expensive) hotels we’ve stayed at.
The dinner offers a choice of set menu or a la carte. I prefer that approach over the in Anilao more common dinner buffets – you have more choices and your food is freshly prepared! There is a good choice of local and international dishes, from salads and sandwiches to a number of beef, chicken or fish dishes. Other guests really enjoyed the food, but we did not think that it compared well with other local restaurants and hotels – food is generally great wherever you go in the Philippines, so we found it lacking, especially at the comparatively high prices the Buceo charges.
Conclusion: Overall, the Buceo Anilao is the best value hotel we’ve found in the area – you get large rooms with stunning views and friendly service at a great price! While the food isn’t great for the Philippines, it’s serviceable. We certainly will be back and will – hopefully – try out their dive operation the next time!