Villa Isabel Resort peacefully rests at a sleepy fishing village in the town of Malalag in Davao del Sur. I was told that there used to be a sign board to advertise the resort's direction from the main road, but this is nowhere found. I stopped a couple of kids bearing candies they were to peddle, but they didn't have an idea what I was talking about. It was surprising because from there, Villa Isabel was just a 50 meter turn. When I saw the gate, I looked around. No one seems to be visiting. I reached down my pocket for a peso, and started knocking the gate with it. The door bell didn't seem to be working.
When someone finally peeked, it was such a relief; I thought I'd have to leave. The compound is an oasis of peace. There's a 2-story bungalow that functions as the main hall. At the center of the complex is a swimming pool, with the statue of a white lady carrying a vase.
The resort, which is a part of Barangay Balasinon, is owned by a Dr. Golinggay. And the resort's famous guests include singer-actress Vina Morales and her younger sister Shaina Magdayao whose faded photos are on prominent display at the check-in counter. Earlier talks circulated that the Morales sisters are relatives of the owner, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
I actually loved roaming this small compound. It had an acute sense of intimacy. The seas were nowhere to be enjoyed as it was low tide, and for a hundred meters or so, all you could see was a puddle of dark sand. You could buy soft drinks at their canteen, but don't expect anything else. The clincher is, you're not allowed to bring in food, though they don't even sell them - thus if you're planning to stay through lunch, you'd end up hungry. It was fun roaming the resort on my own though.
The good news: ridiculously cheap entrance and use of swimming pool.
PhP10 for adults, PhP5 for kids - entrance fee
PhP50 per person for the use of the swimming pool
Once inside, you are free to use the lovely cottages facing the sea. Didn't I say "cheap"? Just a kilometer or two is Eagle's Eye Beach Resort where a cottage with no amenities will cost you PhP250. Of course Eagle's Eye's owners will have you believe that they have everything from a shower hall, short order service, to the requisite toilet, but if you're the day tourist, you would need a bit of sleuthing to find these so-called amenities for they are nowhere in sight! When I needed to pee, I was pointed to the bushes! :)
This is not the case in Villa Isabel which provides more than the basic requisites of a resort. Their facilities are quite impressive - they have spotless shower halls and very clean toilets, not to mention the fact that they have a swimming pool! "Simple rural life" here translates to a mere P10 entrance and P50 pool fee and you can frolic all around a very safe and cloistered resort. Now compare that to Eagel's Eye (just 1 to 2 kilometer south of Villa Isabel) which asks for P150 for a roofless concrete table - and nothing else! You don't need half a brain which option to choose!
If you'd rather have the place to yourself, for parties and the like, contact +63-918-5993590 for reservations, although I do not think you'd need a reservation for a simple visit. Cottages - AC, with cable televisions - are available for overnight stays.
This is the Eye in the Sky.
Cottages for overnighters
The entrance gate
Facade - you'd miss it if you're not attentive.