It can be difficult to exceed one's expectations these days. Most high-end resorts provide excellence of service as a standard and it is close to certain that when you pay the money you will be treated very well. However, Abaca takes it to a whole new level.
I began to realise that the hotel was a little different from the norm when I received an email two days before check-in, asking for my flight details so that they could send someone to collect my partner and I. With a few other things on my mind (it was the weekend of my wedding), I didn't get a chance to reply and thought nothing of it until Glen, the Resort Manager, called the following day to enquire when I needed a driver. Clearly this was a man who believed in being thorough! Having explained that I was at another venue Glen arranged for transport to take us from there to Abaca.
The driver arrived promptly and transferred us to the hotel, whereupon we were greeted by one of the senior staff with a cold face cloth to cool our sweaty brows. Unexpected and most welcome! As we were shown to our rooms my wife and I were left with the definite understanding that the hotel would do everything to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. Fresh calamansi juice was provided as we entered our rooms and the supervisor explained that we could order breakfast from our room and it could be served in the restaurant, on our balcony or by the pool.
Our room was designed to create a cool, natural effect with plenty of wood and white colours. The bathroom reflected the same ambience and contained a modern tub together with a wet room type shower. The bed was very comfortable with soft pillows and dream-inducing pillows and sheets.
From our balcony we could see Abaca's infinity pool and it wasn't long before we jumped in. With its ocean backdrop it leaves you feeling like you haven't a care in the world. While we were relaxing a member of staff came over and asked us whether we would like water or coffee. Notably, he addressed me by name, even though we hadn't met before. Another dinger for personal service. Although all of the cabanas were taken at that time, he came back to us as soon as one was free and moved us over. I wouldn't have been surprised if he offered to carry me over to it on his back, while simultaneously fluffing the pillows. When we were happily ensconced in the cabana the resort manager, Glen popped over to turn on the fans and introduce himself. The following day, when my wife and I were swimming in the pool, he offered to take our photo - not something either of us could do in the water when our cameras were smartphones. It was a nice gesture and much appreciated. When we ate in the evening I noticed that Glen helped out the staff several times, taking orders and serving plates. I am always quite impressed when I see a senior manager getting involved at the front-end. To me it shows how much they value this part of the operation.
A couple of nice touches at Abaca were that the waters, coffees and so on during the daytime by the pool were all complimentary. Additionally, the shower by the pool had the same gel, shampoo and conditioners that were used in the guest bedrooms. A nice bonus as it avoided having to carry them with you or shower later. Another interesting feature was related to tipping. It was explained to us that guests should not feel obliged to tip for individual services. The hotel provides an envelope and asks that any tips are left at the end. This is then shared out among all staff, which helps the kitchen and other staff who don't necessarily have direct contact with guests.
When we ate in the restaurant that evening my wife and I both enjoyed the food, particularly the flatbread pizzas with their lovely fresh ingredients and the braised short-ribs where the meat fell off the bone. My wife had a bouillabaisse that was reasonably tasty, if not spectacular. We also enjoyed a complimentary cocktail; mine a very refreshing mojito. Breakfast the following morning was very good and we enjoyed a relaxing meal looking out onto the sea. A great way to start the day!
A few minor quibbles relating to the booking process were that, when booking the room the prices listed exclude VAT so the final price will be higher, although you will know exactly what this is a few steps further on in the booking process. Also, you don't have the option of completing the booking process online. I had to print out the order form, complete it and send it back to the hotel, which was a little laborious. In addition, my credit card was charged in advance.
Abaca is a great venue for couples or friends looking to relax, be taken care of to a very high level and not have to worry about very much at all. I saw some families with children in the hotel and I did wonder whether this was the right venue for them. I imagine children might be a little bored there. For me it was phenomenal though.
The hotel is undeniably expensive by Filipino standards, but serves as a perfect treat on a special occasion and I am keen to return there again in the future.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.