For three years Gigantes Islands or Islas de Gigantes has been in my family’s bucket list. We cannot go for lack of good accommodations that can satisfy our requirements. Late last year, we learned that a nice resort is opening soon in Carles, Iloilo which is the jump-off point for Gigantes Islands. I immediately checked and was very satisfied with what I found. Construction was still ongoing then.
Gigantes Islands was ticked-off from my family’s bucket list because of Solina Beach and Nature Resort. Being the only luxury resort of its kind in Northern Iloilo and Northwestern Panay, it can be safely tagged as the premier gateway to Gigantes Islands. By November 2017, I have already booked for my family of 62 persons for the Holy Week break.
Solina Beach and Nature Resort is a very family friendly resort. Luxury and comfort blended well. The set-up lets its guests commune with nature and yet enjoy the amenities of a luxury hotel. The lush gardens and mini forest gave the resort a peaceful ambiance.
Check-in was a breeze. We were given a glass of fruit juice as welcome drink and cold face towels to freshen up upon arrival. The staff were very cheerful. Reception is open for 24 hours. We brought our cars via RORO and these can be parked only at the parking area near the Reception. After check-in, we and our luggages were ferried off by golf carts to our rooms.
Solina Beach and Nature Resort offers different types of accommodations to suit one’s needs. They have villas which they call Balay, pods called Higdaan and glamping tents called Kamalig. All are Ilonggo words. Balay means house, higdaan means bed and kamalig means barn or storehouse.
All accommodations have air-conditioning, hot and cold showers, satellite televisions, balconies with dinettes, wifi access, daily housekeeping, towels, vanity and toiletry kits, bottled water which are replenished daily and coffee set. There are faucets outside the rooms for the use of the guests to clean dirty footwear and other stuffs. Room accommodations include free breakfasts.
The Balay or Villas are duplex structures which have around 45 square meters of living space, beach-facing balconies, refrigerated mini-bars, personal safes and electronic locks. The 16 rooms are perfect for couples or families who want premium comfort.
Balay Reyna has 2 queen size beds and can fit 4 adults.
Balay Hari has 1 king size bed and 1 sofa with pull-out bed and can fit 2 – 3 adults.
The Higdaan Duwa or Pods are duplex structures with around 25 square meters of comfort living. They have 2 single beds and can fit 2 adults. The balconies are facing the garden. These 8 rooms are the most affordable accommodations at the resort.
The Kamalig or Tents provide a glamour-camping (glamping) alternative for the guests. It is camping with luxury and utmost comfort. These 25 tents have comfortable living spaces of around 20 to 32 square meters. The balconies are facing the garden. The tents are spread out well in the mini-forest with ample spaces in between to give privacy to the guests. Hammocks are also available for use. These accommodations are ideal for big groups and the outdoorsy types.
My family initially booked for the villas but because of booking problems, the resort offered us the tents instead. This turned out to be a blessing because the set up of the tents was perfect for my family of 62. It was really like camping because we were in a mini-forest with the occasional sounds of the birds as music. We were near each other and can easily go from one tent to another. It was cooler because of the trees. This was a new experience for all of us and we love it.
Kamalig Reyna has 1 queen size bed that can fit 2 adults. There can be an option for an additional sofa with pull-out bed. A nephew’s family with three small children had a comfortable stay in this tent.
Kamalig Duwa has 2 twin beds that can fit 2 adults.
Kamalig Apat has 4 twin beds and can fit 4 adults. My family occupied ten of these tents and we had so much fun. Below is my tent and I am missing it.
Kamalig Grupo has 4 single beds and 1 sofa bed. These can fit 5 adults. My family had three of these tents. Perfect for a family with a nanny and three small children, a family with two nannies and two small children or family of 5 adults.
For day-trippers, there are 8 Cabanas. Each unit can accommodate 12 people. These are located near the beach.
Solina has a full-service restaurant facing the beach called Angga. Angga is an endearment in Ilonggo. It offers classic Ilonggo dishes, international cuisine with unique Carleseno twists and locally sourced seafood dishes. If there are many guests, buffet meals may be available. On regular days meals are either plated or ala carte.
My family had buffet meals throughout our four days stay at the resort. Food was very good. We were always full.
The Dalayonan Beach Bar is in near completion stage. It has a four-story tower with a viewing deck. Dalayonan is Ilonggo for tavern.
The resort has four nicely designed swimming pools. A lapping pool, an adult pool, a kiddie pool and a Jacuzzi. These are facing the beach.
Bicycles are available for the free use of the guests to explore the whole resort. Just grab when you see one. Beach volleyball is available in the wide open space near the beach. Board games are likewise available. There is a basketball court. For watersports there are paraw sailboat, banana boat and kayaks. The resort has a mini aviary. In the pipeline are: lagoon, gym, spa and clinic.
Other facilities include a function room with a capacity of 50 persons. There is a bonfire area which my family enjoyed for two nights. This is available upon request. My family bought fresh scallops at the market and at Antonia Point during our island hopping. We grilled these during the bonfire. The resort provided the griller and a staff to assist us. With beer and wines, we had a mini-party for two nights.
Excursion to Gigantes Islands can be arranged with the resort upon booking. Price depends on the number of persons. The resort arranged for my family’s island hopping tour.
Laundry service is available.
The 60 staff who are 80% Carlesenos (the locals) showed us the true spirit of Ilonggo hospitality. Service was very good. Everyone was very accommodating. Requests to housekeeping were acted upon quickly.
Security is not a problem. There are guards guarding the perimeters. Entry to the resort is also strict. The main gate is always closed.
The resort is disabled-friendly. It is very accessible for wheelchairs.
Considering its luxury accommodations, facilities and top-notch service, the prices for accommodations at Solina Beach and Nature Resort are reasonable. They have promotional rates as of this writing. For weekday stays, price starts at P3,600 per room per night and can go as high as P7,500. The prices include taxes and free breakfast. Weekend rates are higher. On case to case basis, the resort might be able to customize packages.
Solina Beach and Nature Resort is an almost eight hectares property located along the Balasan – Carles Provincial Road in Brgy. Guinticgan, Carles, Iloilo 5019. The Municipality of Carles is in Northern Iloilo where the lives of the people revolve around the sea and its bounties. It is also the home of the Gigantes Islands which has become popular in recent years. Gigantes Islands or Islas de Gigantes is a group of 14 major islands and minor islets.
During our four days stay at the resort, my family was able to interact with the owners of the resort. It is a very huge risk for them to invest in a premium resort in a place that is just starting to build a name in the Philippine tourism map. Recovering their investment is an obvious desire but what is more important to them is to be able to give back to Carles. The owner grew up in Carles, went to Manila to work and eventually established a very successful business there but his heart will always belong to Carles. The resort is the legacy that he wants to leave behind. Being the only resort of its kind in Northern Iloilo, Solina might be a trendsetter since Gigantes Islands is starting to get the attention that it deserves. It might just be the next “it” destination in the Visayas with the problems that Boracay is facing now.
How to Go to Solina Beach and Nature Resort
By air, fly to either Roxas City or Iloilo City Airports.
By land, Roxas City to Carles is about 1 1/2 hour. From Iloilo City it is about 2 ½ to 3 hours. From Kalibo it is 4 hours.
For those coming from Negros and want to bring their own cars, you can take any of the RORO vessels docking in Dumangas or Iloilo City. From Dumangas it is a 2 hours drive to Carles. Just upload Solina Beach and Nature Resort on the Waze app on your phone to direct you.
Private land transfers from Roxas City and Iloilo City can be arranged with the resort upon booking. Applicable charges apply.
For those taking the public transportation to Carles from Iloilo City, go to Tagbak Terminal for the public buses and vans going to Carles. Coming from the airport, take the airport shuttle to SM City then take a taxi to go to the terminal. This can save you money than taking a taxi all the way from the airport which is outside the city. Hiring a taxi or van can be more convenient if you are in a group.
From Roxas Airport, take a tricycle to the bus and van terminal for Carles. For frequent bus trips, you can take the bus for Balasan and from there take a tricycle to Carles.
How to Book for Solina Beach and Nature Resort
Bookings can be made on online booking sites like Agoda and Booking.
Manila Office: (02) 366-1934/ (02) 664-7515/ 0998-532-8198/ 0917-312-7899
On Site: (02) 463-2903/ 0917-110-8344/ 0920-949-0557
My family had a great time for four days at Solina Beach and Nature Resort. There is no reason for you not to.
The pictures used in this blog were taken by me and a nephew. Some especially on the interior of the accommodations were provided by the resort upon request this week.