Although I do not dive, my husband, sister and brother in law are avid and advanced divers. Over the past several years, we have visited Philippine dive resorts in Puerto Galera, Palawan, Cebu and Dumaguete. And everywhere we go, they invariably say that overall, Anilao can't be beat for diving. We usually stay in resorts in the USD100-125 range, and that price range doesn't guarantee any notable quality if you compare to international standards. Generally, you will encounter indifferent cuisine not included in you rate, threadbare, sometimes stained and ripped towels, sluggish plumbing, and sweet and cheerful staff who aren't particularly well trained. Other horrors have included 100% polyester sheets and menus with five different types of schnitzel, but little else. The tourism industry is still pretty young in the Philippines, so that's just part of the evolution, as well as some of its charm: you will not be hounded by touts and trinket sellers as can happen in other, more touristed places. They are around, but have always been respectful and smiling.
If you look at Solana with these factors in mind, you will begin to appreciate its efforts. If you take the basics for granted, you won't notice the refinements Solana provides. Your room will be clean, pleasant, and comfortable, with lots of windows and easily ventilated with fresh air. Decor is appropriate, tasteful and provides a sense of place. You will have cotton sheets and towels that are freshly laundered and new, bottles of water by your bedside, and plumbing and AC that is in reliable working order. Your food and purified water in the dining pavillion are part of your rate. Food is simple, Filipino home cooking, varied, tasty and complete with lots of fresh fruit and veg at every meal. Try finding green veg in other places! It's rare! Desserts and the fried bananas at merienda tea time are treats. Make sure to try their home baked bread, which you can arrange to take home with you. The resort itself is clean, well maintained, with plenty of space and seating to eat, lounge and enjoy the view. Its like staying at a friend's very nice beach house:cosy and homey. Crowing roosters are ubiquitous in Philippine provinces, and they are rigged to go off at dawn--in every time zone in the world. Mercifully, and miraculously, no roosters within earshot of Solana! I have to say that wifi is spotty at best in Solana, but that has been my experience throughout the Philippines outside metropolitan areas, so I don't feel that is in their control. Consider it part of your total getaway!
Another plus of Solana: it's easy to get to from Manila. They provide a clean, well maintained vehicle stocked with bottled water and crackers, driven by a responsible and safe driver. Not always a given anywhere in the world--thank you, Romulo.
When I factor all that in and compare the price of flights and transfers, as well as overall travel time to other dive sites, Anilao and Solana are an excellent value for a relaxing getaway whether you dive or not. In fact, we may be back for another visit in early February--my third--husband's fourth.
We've seen families, couples, solo travelers, gay people, foreigners and Filipinos all happy, relaxed, welcomed there. My personal favorite aspect of Solana is that they are pet friendly! The only place I've found in the Philippines. I never thought I would find a place that I found comfortable, where my husband enjoyed the diving and where our little mutt could come with us, having a grand time on the beach!
Solana is a low key, intimate, relaxed and cosy place with a great mellow vibe. Think of it more in terms of a bed and breakfast experience. If you're looking for a glitzy, glam-Asian mega resort, it's not for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dive Solana is found with the backdrop of the mountains, and the coastal peninsula of Anilao, Batangas. Dive Solana provides generous space, salt air and thick flora to relax mind, body and spirit.There is a 200 step stairway from the street level and parking to the resort proper allows for more quiet and privacy. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Solana Hotel Mabini
- Solana Hotel Batangas
- Solana Batangas/Mabini, Philippines