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Solana
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All reviewsquick notemeat eatingspecial plateperfect place to restanilao areadive sitesfresh fruitblue ringed octopussea horseswell maintained and cleansmall resortshard and soft coralssteep stairstake picturesdive vacationexcellent divingresort staff
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Reviewed January 1, 2013

I just spent 2 nights at Solana with a group of 8 divers. We were on our way to Puerto Gallera but heard raving reviews of the muck diving in Anilao so decided to break the trip and spend 2 days there to start of the holiday.

The resort is lovely and quaint with nice rattan furniture, clean rooms, and meals and snacks all inclusive. It is also pet friendly and children friendly with a mini playground, and toys available.

All in it was a very enjoyable stay but I have to agree with previous reviews with regards to its steep pricing. We booked 2 beachfront cottages (recommended for divers as it its situated right next to the dive shop) and 2 hillside cottages. The pricing does not differ much but we later found out that the beachfront cottages come with TV and proper duvet while the hillside cottages not only did not have a balcony front but also did not have TV or duvets but raher mere thin sheets as blankets. The pricing difference was a mere PHP500 a night so I would recommend the beachfront cottage if you do decide to stay here. A Beachfront cottage cost us PHP4100/person per night which works out to be approx USD200/night per room.

Another setback would be the really steep set of stairs you need to climb down to get to the resort upon arrival. A total of 228 steep steps!! good exercise but the bunch of us city slickers suffered aching calves the next day.

Muck diving truly lived up to its name in Anilao and we had 4 lovely dives (also not cheap!!) before moving onto Puerto Gallera.

Overall an enjoyable stay and recommended if you are looking to opt for clean lovely, quiet, accomodation, NOT if you're looking for a bargain.

We also visited another resort called Eagle point for dinner upon recommendation by a local friend and was not disappointed at all!!. This resort although slightly older has a lovely lovely view with great bar and restaurant and fantastic food!! It was so good we returned both nights in a row.....battled the steep flight of stairs at solana to for the land transfer to eagle point too but well worth it. Although we weren't able to view the rooms (it was fully booked), we would def be inclined to try it out the next time we are in Anilao!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank hayhayz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 18, 2012

I just completed a fantastic 7 days of diving at Dive Solana, I was with a group of nearly 20 underwater photographers from Canada, the US and Norway. Everyone mentioned that they had a phenomenal time! Overall, the resort was warm and had a very homey feel, the staff gave wonderful service and the food was exceptional and plentiful (4 meals per day!). The dive facilities had large rinse tanks that easily handled our large housed DSLR systems. The diving was staggered so that the dive area wasn't crowded and the boatmen hired by the resorts (almost all dive boats in Anilao are independent contractors) made it a mission to make sure none of us lifted a finger in carrying anything to the boats.

I had to question the review of "Pair of Dive Nuts"...if you had such a problem with the resort, why stay the 20 days? I'm sure the resort would have been happy to find you somewhere else if you had such issues with them. As for my dealings with Solana, especially with such a long stay, I generally have my quotes from them well in advance of arrival. Certainly you must have been given a quote prior to your 20 day stay? So why the surprise? A $50 per night room in Manila would be in the not as desirable areas of the city, a 5 star hotel such as the Shangrila would easily run over $200 per night for a basic room plus food...and you wouldn't have been able to go diving in Makati. ;-)

There was no in-room wifi but many resorts are like that, that is mainly due to the lack of a land line reaching the resort, but there was 3G based wifi in the main lobby and most of the people in my group had no problems with that. Also, resort management was in talks to have wifi throughout the resort shortly, I know, I was there when they were testing it.

It's a well known fact that due to the geography of Anilao, most resorts are pretty isolated, almost like being on a live aboard boat that doesn't rock and roll in swells =). As a die hard diver and UW Photographer, I relish the fact that no loud music, drunken crowds, prositutes or drug addicts roam outside the resort gates. Solana is unique to the area as it has a large beach frontage, allowing access the the boats as well as having a good amount of beach loungers/beds for the times that one wants to relax instead of dive.

Another review complained of lack of options for the non-flesh eaters... unless you go to a specific vegetarian restaurant or a large hotel's buffet meal, that would be the case in most of the Philippines. We had members in the group who were non-pork eaters and a quick whisper to the ears of the staff ensured that they had adequate selection or even special dishes made for them.

The rooms are comfortable and decorated in a more native fashion, Capiz (seashell) windows and doors, woven headboards for the beds, rattan shelves and tables and VERY comfortable mattresses and pillows. While there was 1 tap for the bathroom sink, shaving with a sharp razor was not a problem. The water was pretty much close to body temperature. The resort provided complimentary toothpaste, shampoo, body wash and hair conditioner. The showers did have an inline water heater and provided plentiful hot water...

There was a "lack" of a camera room...this concept arose due to some resorts not having adequate power generating capabilities to put outlets in each room...this was not the case at Solana. There were adequate electrical outlets for me to charge the following: 2 DLSRs, 2 LiIon Dive Lights, 8 AA strobe batteries, laptop, tablet, mobile phone. As an aside, we had a weather front come in that forced municipal power to be interrupted, Solana is one of the few resorts that has enough generator oomph to power even all the air conditioners in the resort.

I personally prefer assembling my camera housing in the room as the drier air conditioned environment helps prevent fogging. A camera room for me is just a place to maybe store a housing, no more. The rooms had adequate lighting for me to carefully put together the systems in peace and quiet without distraction, something I fear a "Camera Room" would have plenty off, not to mention the hassle of say forgetting a small bauble for the housing's assembly in the room and having to go back to the room to get it. I much rather have everything on hand, and just feel better that my multi-thousand $$ camera system is with me in the room, not that there's any rampant crime in Anilao and Solana does have security.

The 200 odd steps mentioned by one of the reviewers is NOT a major hurdle. We had 3 guests who were in their 70's (1 even had a hip replacement procedure scheduled upon their return home) and they had no problems negotiating the stairs, plus, it's not like the guests had to carry their luggage, the resort makes sure that there are porters on hand to bring the heavy items down.

Not sure why one would seek a pool when you have the whole bay in front of you for swimming and diving, and if doing 3-4 dives per day were not exercise enough, then you'd be a way fitter person than 99% of the population. The resort recognized the unique needs of our group of photographers and every effort was made to accommodate to our requirements. Due to a low pressure front that parked itself just west of the Philippines, some sites were not accessible but that was true for the entire Anilao area.

Now, how about the diving? It was abso-freaking amazing! Critters were plentiful and the muck sites were amazing! Hairy Frogfish, Mototi Octopi, Ambon Scorpion fish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Pink and Yellow Bargibanti Seahorses, nudis galore! I will be going through my images for weeks just sorting and cataloging this latest treasure trove from Anilao.

We've already booked our return trip for 2013. We (I) can't wait to get back! Hmm, maybe I can sneak away later this year for a visit. =).

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with friends
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5  Thank SLS_Photo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 13, 2012

“Solana is OVER PRICED”
SERIOUSLY OVERPRICED, 5* prices but basic accommodation.
£147 (including their tax) per night does NOT include any diving.
April May 2012. Beware, read all the review for an honest appraisal. Our stay for 20 nights was marred When we discovered the actual cost.Remember, the staff do not get paid western wages but resorts like this are charging western prices but not giving western quality in accommodation or food.
In the room there is
NO TV.
NO Clock Radio
NO Fridge/Mini Bar
NO Wi-Fi
NO Tea or Coffee making facilities.
NO Desk for camera etc.
NO chairs.
NO Cupboard or Wardrobe (there is a small shelf arrangement)
NO hot water at the sink in the shower room.
NO smoking in the room, for smokers this is a pain but I can understand and it was not a hardship to pop outside for a ciggie.
Nowhere to strip down the camera etc.
Lacking power outlets, we found one behind the bed.
We feel that £147 a night for simply 2 beds and a shower is a lot of money.
NO CAMERA ROOM
NO Pool
NO Beach
NO Gym
NO facilities that one would expect for the prices charged.
Outside the resort there is nowhere go,
The resort is kept clean and tidy, the staff work very hard from early morning (about 6am) till dark and are very pleasant.
The diving around Anilao is as always excellent, Celso our guide is quiet and relaxed and is there when you need him and in the background when you are busy doing your own thing, he was never intrusive; I would want him again if we went back. (read on)
The food was OK, for breakfast you need to ask for fresh hot eggs as I'm sure they cook them all at 7am when breakfast opens, by 8am they are all cold and we don’t do cold food.
One morning we had Burger and Fries that had been prepared at 7am, again this was cold when we arrived.
Lunch was ok, fruit was available, soup and a selection of fish and meat with white rice (I just don’t like their sticky rice). Evening meal was much the same, their cheese cake was excellent, loved it.
The rooms are very basic with tiled floor, but kept clean, we were in No 1, two beds and a small separate shower and toilet (the smallest shower room we have ever seen). The washbasin only had cold water so shaving was in cold water. The aircon in the room was ok but would be better if it was on another wall. The room is where we have to score down because Solana charge very high prices for what you get. We were paying £147 (including their taxes) per night for this room, in Manila we would be getting luxury for the same price.
In fact we wanted to stay on at Solana (before we found out the real costs) for another 5 days but when we discovered that it would cost us another £750 plus the diving costs we decided to stay in Manila where we found a Hotel Suite for £50 per night, Satellite TV, BIG king size bed, large bathroom, Dining Room, Lounge etc with all the in room facilities, bathrobes, rooftop pool etc, and this was in Makati, so is Solana overpriced ? yes it is.

We were there for the diving, when we arrived at the resort we had to negotiate about 260 steep steps down to the reception (previous resort here was the same), at reception we were handed the customary cold drink and the diving waiver form, first things first eh. No one checked our dive certification or asked how many dives we had done, no one gave us a resort briefing or showed us around, they simply handed us our room keys and left us to ask where that was. When I asked about the diving regime the dive area was pointed out to me, I asked what time the boats left I was told when I was ready. This was good for us but when discussing actual diving costs with other divers and later with the management it became clear as to why.
Put simply, they can’t price up a diving package because of the way they price the diving.
We dived on our own without any other divers (and paid for the privilege) we had no knowledge that we were being charged on that basis. We never asked for a boat for ourselves. It came to light because a young woman in the next room to us found herself diving the same dive site as we were, she had a boat and guide to herself, as we did, we did not know (neither did she) that we were being charged double or treble for diving on our own. They also charge different prices for different dive sites as well as different prices depending on how many divers are on the boat. When we challenged the manageress about this we were told "if you wanted it cheaper you should have asked", that’s kind of like booking into a hotel that’s full up and paying $40 a night and then booking into a hotel that has no guests and paying $500 a night, it’s not our fault they have no guests. I ramble on a little but with the accommodation AND the diving costs this resort is very much over priced. The resort itself is ok but not worth the money.

Room Tip: The Cottages by the sea are best.
  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Pair_of_Dive_Nuts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DiveSolana, General Manager at Solana, responded to this reviewResponded June 17, 2012

Thank you for your review of Dive Solana.
However, just so readers are not misled, we would like to offer additional information.
1. The cost of £ 147 is inclusive of buffet breakfast for 2, buffet lunch for 2, light afternoon snack for 2 and buffet dinner for 2, and not “simply (for) 2 beds and a shower”. Whereas the $ 50 a night in a Hotel located in the boundary of Makati and Pasay City and not central Makati, does not include meals.
These would be the same rates quoted to you when you signified you wanted an extension to your 3-week stay.
2. One can access our rates in our website. Further, quotes are emailed to interested parties for their review and to assist in their decision. When guests decide on dates and room options and signify their interest to book, a booking order with pertinent details including dates covered, room type, and most especially, corresponding rates is emailed for the guest’s final review and approval. Procedure for confirming a guest’s booking is likewise detailed in said booking order. Our published rates in the website, plus the redundancy of sending a quotation, followed by a booking order, ensures that guests are well-advised of both full-board accommodation rates and diving costs PRIOR to confirming their booking and certainly prior to their arrival. These rates are the basis of the required down payment signifying the guests' agreement to the terms and conditions.
3. Amenities are likewise published in our website for the public’s information.
4. Those who have been to Anilao are aware that Anilao does not offer other entertainment centres. However, Dive Solana is happy to arrange for day trip tours to Tagaytay, Laguna, Talisay, or downtown Batangas should our guests request to see additional sites or other activities other than diving or snorkeling.
5. As published in our website, the cost of diving varies depending on the number of divers per boat, the number of dives a day and the distance to the dive site. Much of the cost of the dive package goes to the boat rental. As expected, the more divers to a boat, then the cost of the boat rental is shared by more divers, making it more cost effective. Further, if the dive site is farther away, the cost is higher due to the fuel consumption of the boat.
While you were not our lone guests during your entire 3-week stay (April-May) in Dive Solana, as these are busy summer months, it may not always have been possible to arrange for other divers to join your boat. Some factors, among others, we painstakingly consider are 1. Objectives/ Special interests of the diver(s) 2. Preferred dive schedule of divers 3. Pre-arranged conditions set by the guests if any 4. Level certifications of divers
Underwater photographers have a special interest in macro and nudibranch and the dive sites where these are found may not be the preferred dive site of other fun divers. So understandably, they are not expected to join fun divers. Further, those who are booked in the resort only for the weekend, would very much prefer to go to different dive sites each time they dive, as opposed to underwater photographers who schedule their dives/sites according to their "punch list" of creatures to photograph which may mean repeating a dive site for the day and even the next few days.
Preferred dive schedules plays a big factor in grouping divers to a boat. Others prefer an early dive at 7 am, still others prefer a later schedule of mid-morning or even after lunch. Flexibility in dive schedules allows for better possibility of grouping divers to one boat.
We are happy to inform you that this year, we are improving and upgrading our guest rooms to ensure our guests a more pleasant stay. These improvements will include more amenities. Simultaneously, we will be introducing new features which will be unique to Dive Solana. Our target date of completion of all improvements this year is end of August 2012.
One again, we thank you for your valuable review which serve as additional guidance in developing and prioritizing projects and initiatives aimed at providing our guests value for money and excellent service.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2012

This is a good resort that will cost 2 of you at least 8000 pesos per night, all in. The basic dive package of 3 dives per day will at least double that number to 16,000 per night. In the Philippines this is 5 star pricing. The Solana is not a 5 star resort. Why not?

1. Upon arrival you must descend a steep hill by walking down (and then up) nearly 200 steps that can be dangerous if it rains.
2. the hillside rooms are small and dark with no view. Our aircon was not silent, the bathroom door did not close properly. The premium priced rooms are brighter with ocean view but sacrifice privacy.
3. There are no amenities: no pool, no gym, often poor or no wi-fi, no sandy beach, no TV or radio in the rooms. No frills and no personal services.
4. The food is good but not excellent and is predominantly animal protein (pork, chicken, fish) with limited alternatives for non meat eaters.
5. The property is constrained by geography and neighbors and you are limited to a few hundred meters to walk on the front and about 100 meters back. It is small.

The diving can be excellent and the resort is relaxing. But if you are happy to pay these prices then you should consider one of the many truly excellent 5 star resorts in this beautiful country.

Room Tip: For quiet and privacy choose the hillside rooms and go for number 15. The expensive ocean view rooms will sacrifice privacy with everyone passing in front of your room on the way to the boats and dive shop.
  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank honolulumark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DiveSolana, General Manager at Solana, responded to this reviewResponded June 14, 2012

Thank you for your review on Dive Solana.
Dive Solana does not represent itself as a 5 star hotel, nor does it offer 5 star hotel rates. It is a quaint little resort that enjoys a 161 meter long beach frontage (a luxury in Anilao and San Teodoro area) where one can be quiet, relax and simply enjoy the view of the sea and the nearby islands. Rates at the Hillside room will cost about USD 82.00 with four (4) buffet meals and light afternoon snacks per person. 5 star hotel rates will cost you anywhere from USD 300.00-USD 500.00 per night, with or without breakfast.
Anilao is first and foremost a diving destination, hence the rocky beach. The dive center is operated by a concessionaire whose rates are competitive to nearby resorts. The bulk of the fees go to boatmen and boat hire which they establish, not the resort. The rest go to the dive master and the dive equipment. Diving is an expensive sport but there are also ways by which rates can be minimized: sharing the boat with other divers, bringing your own gear, or diving in nearby sites. Further, guests are free to hire their own preferred boats and dive instructors.
The resorts in Anilao and Mabini are all accessible through the mountainous terrain. Solana’s property begins on the highest point of Mabini and is therefore accessible by its infamous 280 steps: downward to the resort or upward to the parking area. It is a well- known fact and has even become a welcome challenge for some of its guests for the past 18 years. In addition, it has provided the resort and guests more quiet and privacy. However, guests do have the option to access the resort by a 5 minute boat transfer. And so it adds to its quaintness, flavor and character.
Repairs, maintenance and improvements are all high on the list of priorities. We apologise the airconditioning was not functioning properly at the time of your stay. If given the chance to address the concern, we would have replaced the unit immediately to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Further, meal preferences can always be served when one makes a reservation. Our kitchen staff are happy to prepare meals according to our guests’ dietary requirements and preference.
Each year, we endeavor in projects and initiatives to improve our facilities and services. For this year, these initiatives include among others, improving and upgrading our rooms to include more amenities; renovating our kitchen to include procurement of additional appliances; and provide additional training to our resort personnel.
Thank you once again for your valuable feedback which guide us in prioritizing projects and initiatives with the end in view of providing our guests excellent service.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2012

Two glorious weeks at this simple little resort.
The staff are superb - helpful, kind and considerate. The diving was magnificent and our guide, Celso, kind and helpful finding us all the creatures to photograph that we asked for and many more we didn't.
We will certainly be back.

Room Tip: De-lux rooms have the best views.
  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jim A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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