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Reviewed August 23, 2016 via mobile

I've visited this resort numerous times in my life, but this trip was my first one back to the Philippines in about 10 years. Whilst not a lot else in the country has necessarily changed in the intervening time, there have been quite a few changes at Coral Beach Club. Some are primarily aesthetic (a new paint colour scheme has done wonders) but many others are things that most of us would take for granted in this day & age. The constant updates to the culinary skills of head chef Agnes & her crew mean there's something for everyone to enjoy (I can highly recommend the pizzas made with their in-house pizza bases). The ability to use wi-fi in a place that is relatively remote will be welcomed by our hungrily connective society. And there are many planned improvements to the facilities to come that will only further improve an already great place to visit.
The one thing that hasn't changed is the fantastically welcoming & accommodating service from the fantastic local staff. They're always smiling & friendly, and it seems a testament to the working culture that they have, that so many of the staff workinh during my stay had been there during & before my previous visit. I couldn't speak more highly of them & their dedication.

Date of stay: July 2016
Trip type: Traveled with family
4  Thank Andrew S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2016 via mobile

We had a great time staying in this place. The staff were friendly and accomodating, good food at a reasonable price . Our room was clean and comfortable .A perfect place for a weekend getaway . We will definitely go back.

Date of stay: July 2016
Trip type: Traveled with family
2  Thank style_wanderer76
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2016 via mobile

Spent a special weekend with a special lady and had a wonderful time. Great service. Great room. Nice pool and the ocean is 25 steps from our room. Be prepared to travel. We took the bus from Manila. Quite the adventure. Highly recommend for a nice weekend. Family oriented but romantic too.

Date of stay: June 2016
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
1  Thank scottbP1168TE
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2016

Simple clean rooms with both aircon and overhead electric fan. Small pool area but just right for the number of rooms. Breakfast is good but other meals could use some improvement. Sadly, the wifi is poor. Once again, the staff makes up for the shortcomings insofar as amenities are concerned.

Room tip: Take a morning walk in the forest subdivision near the resort, it's better than the beach.
Date of stay: August 2016
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank gojollygo
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2016

Staying at Coral Beach Club in Matabungkay

In short, Coral Beach Club is such a lovely hotel. It is right on the (dirty) beach, has a nice pool and a good restaurant with fantastic staff and a British owner who’s influence is evidenced in the menu, staff training and care of the property. I would totally recommend this place if you are going to the Batangas area and especially if you are going to Matabungkay Beach. We looked at all the hotels in the small town and we were so glad we picked this one.

The long story is here if you are interested:

THE HOTEL:
The rooms seem to vary quite a lot, we paid a little extra for a nice room and were happy we did, our room was called Wack-Wack (which by the arm flapping made by the adorable front desk girl, I assume is the noise a duck makes in The Philippines). Our room was one of only 2 where the windows open directly onto the ocean though all rooms are only a few steps from the beach. Most rooms surround the pool area but some are at the back of the property on the roadside, I imagine those would have been subject to some neighborhood and vehicle noise so I would recommend asking not to be put back there. The pool certainly can get a bit annoyingly noisy in the mornings when rude parents send their half-dozen children out to scream at each other unsupervised at 5:45am. At night on the busier days, the pool and lounge area also became a social spot and people sit right outside your door, talking and drinking till way after midnight. So be aware that late nights and early mornings might not be super peaceful here on busier days. That’s the roll of the dice though. We were lucky that we stayed 9 nights, so we did have some quiet times when we felt like the only people in the small hotel. The room itself though was lovely, totally clean, very comfy, huge bed, good bathroom and the TV even had extensive satellite channels for down time. Also their laundry service was incredibly cheap and fast.

THE RESTAURANT:
The restaurant’s massive menu has some clear colonial touches thanks to the British owner. Bangers and mash, chicken cordon bleu, full English breakfast, meat pies and even Vegemite toast. There is a huge Filipino section too as well as pizzas, pastas, curries and just so much to choose from. The classic Philippine Chicken adobo was delicious. We were pretty skeptical as our previous trip to The Philippines taught us that good food was really hard to come by, so we were ecstatic to find that pretty much everything we tried on the menu was good. When we came back from a fishing trip with our catch, the kitchen cleaned and fried up our fish for us and served them with a garlic fried rice. Food prices at the hotel range from 200 to 600 Pesos a dish (US$4 to $12). The most expensive things being chili prawns and lamb shanks in the $15 range. We ended up eating almost 3 meals a day there as there is NOTHING else in the town of Matabungkay to eat, other than a few dodgy BBQ places hawking questionable, unrefrigerated fish and meat. We loved that they never gave us a bill, so for 9 days we just ate and drank as we wanted and then paid it all at the end of the trip, good for the hotel too because we sure did get lost in a sea of beers without thinking twice about what we were going to have to pay. But even after 9 days of eating and drinking anything we wanted, the bill was super reasonable.

THE STAFF:
I can’t say enough good stuff about the men and women who work at Coral. Day one we arrived after midnight and were greeted by two men who carried our bags and welcomed up quickly and got us straight to our rooms to rest after a day of traveling, no fuss, no worries about the super late check in, no paperwork or passports, I had sent them an email and they were ready for us to arrive. The housekeeping staff left us alone when we just wanted to be lazy and put new towels and bottles of water outside our door. One time, I had left a pile of wet clothes and swimmers in the sink to wash and hang, and when I came back to the room they had done it for me! Above and beyond. The restaurant staff always greeted everyone kindly and with a smile, they were quick, efficient, friendly and accommodating. Just really nice people. But then again, Filipinos really are the friendliest people in the world. Walking down the street is like being in a 1950s American country town, every person you walk by greets you, people compliment your clothing or your hair in a genuine way, small children ask you your name, people wave or just nod in greeting. After living in China half my life where people just stare at foreigners or make rude comments, being in the Philippines is the most refreshing, lovely experience.

THE LOCATION:
Location wise, it was a 2 to 3 hour drive to Matabungkay by car from Manila airport. We chose this spot rather than the islands because we did not want to waste so much time in transit. All of the flights arrived for us in the evening so we would have had to spend a night in a hotel in Manila on the way in and out. We did this on a previous trip and the travel time felt so wasteful. We had a lovely guy who I found online pick us up at the airport and take us straight to the hotel then take us back to Manila at the end of the trip. He quoted us 4150 Pesos each way (we bumped it to 5 though after he waited more than an hour for our delayed flight). His name is Resty Ramirez and he responds to emails quickly (restyramirez at yahoo dot com). The hotel can also arrange a car for you, they quoted me 5000 Pesos each way. There are also public buses if you are so inclined.

There is nothing around Matabungkay. The closest town is Lian and it is not more than a few blocks and a few churches. It is a 20 minute motorcycle taxi or jeepney ride away. After Lian is a larger town of Nasugbu which has a bit more going on, some supermarkets, restaurants and fast food places. The hotel will also arrange a car for you for a small fee starting at about 250 Pesos. Pro-tip do not use a local money change place. The one in Matabungkay were killing us off at a rate of 5 pesos to 1CNY, when we got to the Western Union branch in Nasugbu, we got a rate of 7 to 1. Watch out. Side note though, other than the terrible exchange rate, we never felt ripped off or cheated in the Philippines.

WHAT TO DO:
Matabungkay is a tiny town, you can walk the length of it. This is not the place you go to if you want bars, nightlife, dining, shopping, and activities. This is purely a tiny, chill, mini-holiday place. Activities are limited to visiting the single 7 Eleven for beers, swimming at the beach, renting a raft to relax on for the day, renting a boat to take you fishing and snorkeling, and there are jetskis to rent as well.

The snorkeling is just okay. It is not Palawan, not Boracay. This is some very worn out coral and very few fish. There is also a ton of plastic and other trash on the ocean floor. But the water is crystal clear and it was nice to get small boats to take us out away from the beach where we could jump off and snorkel alone and do some hand reel fishing. We took a trip to Fortune Island, which is a 1-2 hour boat ride off the coast. There the ocean was more alive, more fish, and brighter coral. Unfortunately the trip (oragnised through Coral Beach Club) was really expensive and we didn’t love it. It was 1500 Pesos per person, min 4 people but we could not find anyone else to go with us. We negotiated 5000 Pesos to go alone. Our boat guys weren’t the friendliest we met on our trip and they anchored the boat quite far off the island’s shore. They just stopped and were like “ok, there you go” so we were forced to jump in and swim maybe 50 meters in a strong current to the beach. There were other boats (the same size) anchored on the beach so we didn’t know why we couldn’t (we suspected it was because the 2 boatmen wanted to do some fishing while we went to the island, they caught themselves about 20 fish while we paid for their time). If you are not a strong swimmer you would have just had to sit on the boat or turn around and spend a couple of hours going back home. It also meant that we could not take our shoes, cameras, water, hats, snacks etc to enjoy the island. There were cool things to see there, like some random Greek/Roman columns and statues up on the hill but walking without shoes got painful and we were getting burned so we could only swim around for a bit then make the exhausting, strenuous swim back to the boat. If you make the trip to the island, tell them you need a boat that will anchor on shore to make your day worth it.

One of the nicest ways to spend the afternoon is to rent a raft from a guy on the beach. They will drag the raft over the shallow seaweed-covered shelf all the way out to the drop off where it suddenly gets deep and there is some old coral and a bit of decent snorkeling action. They anchor you there and you tell them what time you want to be dragged back in. The rafts have an awning, table, chairs, and sun loungers. You can take a cooler (the hotel gave us one) full of drinks, books, food and spend as long as you want out there for 400 pesos an hour. It’s perfect for sunset.

NEGATIVES:

Of the hotel itself, there was little to be fixed. The only thing I wish is that the staff would make an effort to keep people quiet after midnight and before 7am. Maybe just walk around and remind people that guests are sleeping. The courtyard layout of the hotel means that the noises really flow into rooms. Parents should not be allowed to let their kids scream and play in the pool at 6am people drinking after midnight, should be asked to keep it down or take it inside. The other thing that really sucked was a guy, I don't know what he was selling but he rode down the beach on a bicycle every single day at 5:30am and then at 6am honking a really loud horn that sounded like a clown car horn over and over again.... at 5:30am every day, I would wake up annoyed at this loud incessant honking, then if you did manage to get back to sleep, he would be back half an hour later to do it again. It was the worst.

These next problems are not exclusive to Matabungkay but they were really extreme in this small town and it broke our hearts.

1. The trash…. Endless, disgusting rubbish everywhere. In piles on the beach, on the streets, in the trees, in the fields. I just don’t understand what the local government are doing, why is there no trash disposal system? The hotel would rake the sand just outside the hotel each day so it was clean but either side of the hotel the beach was strewn with garbage. I even stepped on a tampon one day!!! Swimming among plastic bags, the ocean was a dumping ground, in one place we were snorkeling we came across dozens of trash bags, full of garbage dumped just offshore. We understand that one hotel can’t fix this problem, but if some kind of community group got together and hired like just 2 people, that’s all it would take, 2 people to walk up and down the beach for a few hours each day picking up trash and that place would be a million times nicer. The associated problem is the burning of trash. I can’t understand why people in the Philippines do not understand how bad this is. The air was foul, every new hundred meters, outside a hotel, a home, a shop, all along the beach would be another smoldering plastic fire. People rake up garbage into small piles and burn it! The whole town stinks of melting plastic, all day, all night. It’s horrendous. WHY????

2. The dogs. This really made me cry. So many dying dogs. Hundreds…thousands of stray dogs in this town, lying all over the roads, in the sun, skinny to the bone, covered in mange and skin diseases, some dead, some almost dead, we saw one with its guts falling out of its stomach, we ran over one in a car that had already been hit. I just don’t know how people can ignore them. They are everywhere, fighting on the beach at night, yelps, barking and howling as the strays fight with the guard dogs of local establishments. Seeing them made my heart ache every day. All I could think was that someone needs to set up some kind of animal shelter there. Start neutering all the dogs they can find, euthanize the dying ones, help the sick ones. Something has to happen, the lack of apathy was really weird, to see people just casually walking past gods with open wounds that look like they haven’t eaten in years, not even noticing them.

That’s it, my long review. I know that the garbage and the dogs are not the fault of the hotel. I do think that the owners of Coral and the other hotels and businesses all need to get together and come up with some solutions. If the government will not fix these problems in this forgotten town, then the private citizens should take this into their own hands and demand some change. It would take very little to turn Matabungkay into a beautiful, peaceful holiday getaway town, but it needs some love. The people there need some education and some community spirit and pride. The town is shambles but it has the charm, it really does. I would not return to Matabungkay, but I am glad I went.

Room tip: Ask for a room by the beach not the road.
Date of stay: July 2016
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank PSt0rm
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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