About Me

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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nothing "Bonita" In Our Isla Bonita Experience

It's the last month of summer for those unaffected by changes in the school calendar here in the Philippines. And as the usual summer activity goes, heading down to the beach is something we would normally do. This is why, upon being invited to go to San Juan, La Union; we packed our bags and just asked "where there?".

Our invite brought us to a charming little place known as Isla Bonita Beach Resort (yes, I burst into song and did my most karaoke version of THAT Madonna hit song).

A 5 minute walk away from the San Juan Public Market, we were met with narrow, one way streets that were well labeled with signage of the resort.

I wasn't able to get a "feel" of the staff as I was not able to have any interaction with them

Parking into the tight entrance and limited parking area/courtyard; Spanish style architecture and a well maintained surrounding welcomed us.

As we were a big group (of 17), we ended up occupying the poolside room for allegedly 8 people and one of the studio rooms for 12. This is where the review gets a bit "unfriendly". For starters, the number of folks that could fit in the room was indicative of how many people could sleep on the mattresses on the floor of THAT room. Our group's assumption on how many people could fit in a room was based on the info found in Agoda.com and  on the resort's website (PLEASE CLICK HERE).

2 beds and a decent bathroom (weak water pressure though) are in this area

The room that we stayed in was pretty clean, although the location of our bed was changed in favor of a mat in the living room area as the cool air from the AC did not reach us in our previous area.

I was also kept awake by loud laughter and conversation from just beyond our room's sliding glass doors, till the wee hours of the morning,

In the other room, they had bathroom issues as the toilet would not flush. This led to our companions going across the courtyard and into the room we were staying at just so they could use the bathroom.

a kitchen counter with a sink and mini fridge

The studio with a messed up toilet had a good view of the beach and the sunset though.

the private pool

Given how many we were, we were assigned a private pool for the day. The pool was not chlorinated, which could be a plus for some (I giveth), however, the pool was not equipped with a filter (then I taketh), which basically allowed our group to swim on stagnant water. The tiles used on the pool weren't meant for such use as it was quite slippery.

the bar and the studio rooms are in this building

As for food and beverages, you're better off bringing your own or at least plotting a path to the nearest food establishment as they have no restaurant on the premises. They do however provide breakfast. Given how our halo-halo (snack) turned out that afternoon, getting take out elsewhere was the option for breakfast. They do have a bar though that also functions as a game room of sorts.

the living room area in our poolside room

All in all, I think the place has potential but is just not well managed. Having been reopened recently under new management, you'd think they'd do better than the last one. The comfort/convenience of it's customers seem to be taking a backseat now. The place looks pretty and has a decent beachfront. That being said, these are the only things this place has going for it, to date.

Our recent trip was made wonderful only because of the people we were with.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours.


  1. thanks for the review of the place.. been searching for weeks.. i've made reservations for the poolside on the 28th.. now i'm starting to wonder if it's even worth it.. a bit worried about the pool.. i wonder how often they change the water there.. eewww :D and i guess we better buy earplugs for the noise then.. very helpful blog post, thanks so much :)

    1. Thanks for checking out The Mediocre Wanderer. It might help to set your mind at ease, to know that the pool was filled when our group got there. It took a loooong while, but at least it was clean. The next day, before we opted to check out a couple of hours earlier, the occupants of the cottage across us took a dip in the "private pool". An hour later, as we were getting ready to leave (around 10 am, still far from the 12 nn checkout), kids from neighboring homes (who kept on peeping since yesterday), started diving into the pool. Guess they're not so strict with who they let in too.

    2. i was kind of expecting you'd say that about the pool situation (being the control freak that I am, I tend to think of so many things that might not go according to plan when going for R&R) ... i originally planned on paying the additional fee of P1.5k for the "private pool" to be private, but changed my mind coz I thought once we go check out the beach, other people might be taking a dip since there are no signs to say it is private/rented for the day (or they might sneak in at night and have a pool party til morning) ... oh well.. I guess I'd have to either change rooms just for privacy/comfort or totally look for another resort.. again, thanks so much =)

    3. I wasn't able to get to back to you on this, but, hope you ha a fab vacation, regardless :D

    4. yeah, we had a great time despite the aircon not really working that well and the pool took the whole day to fill up. luckily we got the clean pool all to ourselves for free. i guess other guests were intimidated by us coz we never left the pool haha... we got the poolside room and you were right, the cold air didn't really reach the beds and I had to endure the heat the whole night coz other family members occupied the living room, but all in all, i would rate this 3/5 or 4/5 for its rates, location (close to market) and friendly owner (at least for me ^_^)

  2. Hello, you keep referring to them as room by the poolside. Can you kidnly be more specific whether its the BIG HOUSE you are talking about which can accomodate up to 12 people or the Courtyard room? Thanks

    1. Neither. According to the resort's website, it's the Large Deluxe Family Room which they also call as the POOLSIDE ROOM (R4), as mentioned in the blog above. See link of the resort here : http://islabonitabeachresort.com/roomsfacilities.html. Hope this clears things up.

  3. This post is too far out of date to be relevant, check the website. The resort has been extensively refurbished since this report which was made just 6 months after the new owners took over and was still a work in progress.

  4. Thanks for your comment. This blog was posted based on the current condition of the resort at the time of our visit. Sadly, we don't base blogs on websites alone, as no reviewer worth his salt would write a whole article on solely that premise. Since you seem to be knowledgable of the place and its changes, maybe you should write an article or review of your own, stating your observations, making it "relevant". Too bad, that based on our not so stellar first and last visit, we have not made plans to come back to the resort. If and when we , I'll be happy to do do another review to reflect such changes.