Just the balcony view from our room atop a two-storey villa, was enough to make anyone gape in both disbelief and enchantment. Looking at it was like being sucked into one of those postcard moments, with that distant sea waves lapping gently at the sand and the blue sky doming all over the resort encasing that perfect scene. For the city-jaded and travel-hungry person in most of us, waking to that kind sight caters to our aesthetic enrichment. Indeed, Puerto del Sol is a living panorama.

Situated in the quiet barangay of Ilog Malino in Bolinao, the 10,000 square-meter property of Puerto del Sol really lives out its being the “Port of the Sun”. Bolinao in all its grandeur instantly caught the eyes of the developers and became the chosen site of the would-be paradise resort. Nestled at the westernmost tip of Pangasinan, the resort was adequately named by its owner, the Divino-Amor Group of Companies (also the operator of Pink and Blue Soda clothing line), in celebration of the marvelous sunsets seen from its beaches. And with a location as beautiful and as rich as its history, it is no surprise how picturesque Puerto del Sol turned out, and not to mention idyllic with its seclusion from the usual urban life. After a six-hour ride from Manila that sweltering May 11, arriving at that signal-bereft and cricket-infested place stirred a sense of fleeting, like going back fifty years ago in time. It was altogether nostalgic and comforting.

Though not as quite glorified as the place’s innate beauty, and as what they have publicized in their website, glossy brochures and promotional CD, still some of the facilities of the resort proved to be worth noting as well, particularly the accommodations. The Mansion Villa, where we stayed, is a hotel-type unit of adjacent 12 rooms – each cozy and comfortable enough for at most four people. The minimalist furnishing styles in each room is complimented by the constant theme of fish decors, right from the wooden dresser, to the bed sheets and even to the carved “headboards” on the walls. And of course, there is the glass sliding door that leads to the balcony and its blessed view of the whole resort. However, the villa was not as exciting as the Casita or the Bahay Kubo experience. Just a short walk from the villa, past the pools, landscaped garden and the beautiful curtained nipa-hut gazebos, are three Mediterranean-inspired stone Casitas. Each two-bedroom bungalow include an outdoor dining area and a first-hand porch view of the sea. Being so near the shoreline, no one could possibly miss the immediate greeting of the sand at your feet and the saltwater taste in the air as soon as you step out of its doors. Alongside it are the Bahay Kubo suites. The studio-type units, high on the traditional kubo stilts, truly give off a very native Filipino atmosphere. The Kubos are furnished similarly, only that it has bamboo scaffolds for the walls and floors. And as an added bonus, there are rattan folding chairs and a complimentary hammock outside the porch where you can just laze around for the day.

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Other amenities found in Puerto del Sol include the huge swimming pool that adjoins the whimsical kiddy-pool with its spurting fish fountains on the gutters. Music was also booming throughout the place for that additional summer ambiance. There is also an available basketball court near the plaza and a small playground for the little tikes. If basking away is more to your appeal then there is the soothing jacuzzi just nearby, or you could go walk along the seashore barefoot combing for shells and waiting for the sunset. There are also the floating kubo and raft anchored at bay, ready for the adventurous guiles of its passengers. Just off the shore is a potential coral bed, with the brackish water composed of the fresh Ilog Malino waters meeting with the salty South China Sea. This explains the extensive shallow waters that are home to the small crustaceans and fingerlings, and also, those rare golden-white sands.

The service, however could use a bit of improvement. Housekeeping is done on customer call. The food quality is not very remarkable. But one thing to be admired is the welcoming and pleasing personality of their staff in general; at least that sort of makes up for the bad service. And considering that Puerto del Sol has already outstripped the other resorts in Bolinao, despite the fact that its not as commercialized like Boracay or Palawan, tourists – both foreign and local – have taken a liking to the place.

Even with its beauty, our four-day stay there wasn’t enough to fully take in the place. There were still spots at the periphery of the resort that needed to be explored like the much talked-about mystic caves, the falls, or the rock-formation breakwater. But it was just perfect for that much-needed escape from the fast-paced lifestyle of the metropolis. Although Puerto del Sol did not really leave that feeling of attachment, still the experience was amazing, especially since it was shared with dear friends and colleagues. That splendid postcard scene along with the various memories is all there is to ponder about. It is certainly for keeps.

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