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“Paradise but not really an authentic Philippines experience”

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El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island
Ranked #3 of 17 Hotels in El Nido
Certificate of Excellence
toronto
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Paradise but not really an authentic Philippines experience”
Reviewed April 14, 2009

My husband and I stayed at Miniloc in a garden cottage for 4 nights from March 25 to 29. Prior to arriving at Miniloc, we stayed for 2 nights in Puerto Princessa. For us, 4 nights was the perfect amount of time to spend at this resort.

Since we were coming from PP, we travelled by van to El Nido town, and then took a trike to the El Nido airport to catch the boat to the resort. I was surprised that as soon as we arrived at the airport gates they knew who we were and were expecting us (even though we didn’t pre-arrange this). As soon as we walked onto the pier to catch the boat to the resort, I knew we had made a good decision to stay there. The Baicuit bay is beautiful.

However, because we had already spent a few days in PP we knew the typical prices for things like beer, soft drinks, food. At El Nido, you will pay significantly more for things (i.e. beers will cost 125 pesos compared to 40 pesos etc.). However, on the plus side, at El Nido the water is safe to drink (unlike PP) - hence the title of my review, where I state it is not really like the rest of the Philippines.

On the boat, there was a guest activity coordinator ready to explain the different activities available for El Nido guests. Throughout our stay the staff were always discussing activities, so we made up a little joke that El Nido was like an activity cult (all in good fun though).

We booked through Rates to go so it did not include meals. However, when we booked it we didn’t realize that it did not include any activities because the booking didn't say this (so we had to pay for each activity separately). It seems like guests who book “room only” are a little bit of an afterthought. The resort is really set up to be an all inclusive place, so it gets awkward trying to pay for things individually (and it makes you feel kind of like a second class citizen).

The accommodations were decent, but looked like they could use some freshening up. The bathroom was kind of dingy, but the shower was nice and hot! Also, the air conditioner was quite loud. Somebody in an earlier review complained about the hard bed – for me this was a pro rather than a con.

Since our rate didn’t include food, we could choose to eat the buffet or order a la carte. One complaint about ordering a la carte was that it took a very long time for the meal to come. Overall, the food was decent, but not amazing. Warning: the buffet seems to cater to the Japanese guests - this was not a problem for us, but it was for other guests we spoke to. We had lunch at Lagen one day, and I found the food to be better there than Miniloc. Also, I got sick the day after I arrived at the resort so it kind of put me off the buffet.

Favourite activities for me were island hopping, rock climbing, and snorkeling. Also, the setting was so beautiful it was fun just to lie on the beach and take it all in. I’m not sure if I will visit Miniloc again, however, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip it is worth the journey.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank jdjdee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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803 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (175)
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Sydney
Level Contributor
36 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
Reviewed March 14, 2009

We stayed in a water cottage number 1 so we had the best room in the resort

Positives:
• When we checked in at the airport in Manila we were over the 10kg per person requirements as we had arrive from the states that morning. We were able to leave a luggage bag in storage during the duration of our stay in Palawan at no cost.
• Beautiful location - Miniloc island is absolutely beautiful and amazing.
• Staff coordination of island activities was flawless. They knew exactly what all guests should be doing every day this is because I learnt staff debrief every morning on what each staying guests have scheduled for the day.
• Lots of water based and sightseeing activities to do.
• Cashless charging during stay, you just charge any additional expenses to the room and pay upon checkout.
• Air conditioning available in rooms.
• Free snorkelling gear available for guests.
• Staff are very nice always smiling and willing to have a conversation with you.
• Island hoping activities organised by El Nido is a lot of fun and guests could stay and have lunch at certain islands.

Negatives:
• Prices quoted on foods, drinks and services does not included service tax or VAT tax therefore can be misleading. I don’t know why they just don’t include total price so it is clear to guests. Some staff don’t even know the tax percentage some said 12% others said 11% basically there is a service tax of 11% and VAT tax of 12%.
• Because all the guests are tourist we were charged premium for things not included with package are just ridiculous. A can of coke cost $200P does not include service or VAT tax. Because there are no other vendors on the island you are forced to fork out the amount.
• Discovered resort has been around for over 25 years it really does needs to be renovated. For the amount the charge guests to stay at Miniloc owners could afford to upgrade the resort especially the rooms.
• Rooms were basic contained a bed, small wardrobe, desk, bar fridge and bathroom and needs an update.
• No television
• Internet was one of the only things offered free for guests but could not get a connection in our room. Even when we moved to restaurant area connection was very slow it would take several minutes to load pages it was not worth the effort.
• Bed was really hard my husband struggled to sleep at night.
• Organised a romantic dinner on a deserted island but became very windy in the afternoon so we decided to cancel the dinner arrangement. When we advise staff of our decision at 3pm we were told we could not cancel as the meals had already been prepared. I asked how meals can be prepared 3 hours in advance? Was it already cooked? I doubt it. My husband was able to just arrange food to be delivered to our room instead.
• Not much to do on the resorts themselves besides go swimming.

Advice for perspective guests:
• If you can afford it or are someone who cares about luxury while holidaying then stay at Lagen cause its the newer of the two El Nido resort and has updated rooms and facilities.
• Stay in a beach front bungalow as their rooms look newer than all the other rooms on the resort.
• We just got the room rate when were booked our accommodation but i advise to just get the package which includes all meals it works out to be cheaper.
• Definitely bring an underwater camera with you cause there are so many things you want to take snaps of under the sea.
• Do as many activities as you possibly can especially the included (free) introductory scuba diving class.

Feedback:
• We felt some what ripped off staying at Miniloc especially for the amount of money we forked out for this resort. We paid roughly $700AUS (could be more now due to poor exchange rate) a night for this resort and it did not feel like a $700 a night room or resort. We will probably never come here again its not worth the money.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank cestella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alabang
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed January 25, 2009

Fellow divers, stay away from these resorts (Lagen and Miniloc). My wife, my son and I, all divers, stayed at Miniloc from Jan 13 to 18, 2009. As we live in the Phils, we were granted the "resident" rate, PhP 9,500/person/day - full board - for a garden bungalow. Based on what we saw on the buffet, we estimate the cost of feeding 3 adults to be around PhP 1,000/person/day. Most of it is indeed based on pasta and vegetables, with a bit of local meat and fish. This leaves PhP 25,000 per day for the room (3 adults). A room at the Horizon Club level at the Shangri-La Makati will set you back PhP 15,000 to 17,500/day. So we had some expectations! We were given a 16 sqm bamboo and nipa hut similar to what you find in the cheapest Filipino-managed dive resorts in Anilao for PhP 2,500/day. The toilet in this shed (#25) did not work properly and the room was rather dirty. Please take the time to check the pics! Food is relatively OK but completely lacks variety and each day will see you scan the same pasta, shabu-shabu and stir-fry stations! Divers, be careful, as your luggage allowance is only 10 kg! Over this weight, they will start charging you. Once you're there, they will charge you PhP 1,000 for one day of equipment rental, which is very expensive compared to the rates of other resorts in the Phils. But you're a captive victim, so no mercy!
At the time of our stay, there was no available internet connection for the guests, contrary to what is advertised. This caused us some serious problems with our business.
The surrounding islands and landscapes are stunning and the island-hopping activities are well organized.
Just be aware that Ten Knots Corp. will do their best to maximize the money they can extract from you.

  • Liked — stunning landscape
  • Disliked — price/quality ratio, dirty rooms
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
27 Thank Belgian_divers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2009

I can't big this resort up enough. It is amazing. The surrounding islands are beautiful and unlike anything you will have seen. The resort itself is perfect with lovely people and gorgeous little cottages. We had a cliff cottage which was one of the cheaper ones but we loved it nestled in the cliff side next to the monkeys!

The staff are lovely and always have a smile of your face and willing to help. We had a amazing honeymoon with them and I didn't want to leave. Fully recommended!

  • Liked — the view
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Melady27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2009

El Nido was our favorite part of our trip to the Philippines (we also went to Banaue and Boracay). We felt like we were in a James Bond movie arriving by boat to our over water bungalows. Because the area is a "protected area", it was a very secluded and because the resort owns a few islands you always had a beach cabana available and there were never too many people. The service at the resort cannot be matched, everyone is so friendly and just made the experience really wonderful and special. We would go back in a heartbeat -- totally worth the money as all meals are included (including a private beach lunch) and all water sports activities (1st time dive, hiking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and more).

  • Liked — Secluded, Activities
  • Disliked — Hardly any internet access
  • Stayed December 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank cat22NewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
california
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2008

Stayed at Miniloc El Nido resort for 3 nights this Nov. 23-26, 2008. It was just the shot in the arm needed after all the depressing news worldwide. El Nido will take your breath away. From the views of the towering cliffs and clear blue waters to the services provided, our El Nido vacation was our best vacation ever in the Philippines.
We also commend El Nido for their conservation efforts and in keeping the resort "green". We thought it added a nice touch for the concerted effort to maintain it's natural beauty. I have seen Boracay get destroyed by overdevelopment and lost its charm. El Nido's eco-friendly existence has kept this place so pristine using solar powered heaters, biodegradeable soap/shampoo in cute containers, biodegradeable plastic bags and natural (leaf) slippers. Definitely transports you to a different, quiet world away from the chaos of everyday life.
The only problem we had was that the super hot water disappeared one day..but it could be that since it's solar powered, it's understandable if there's not much sun that day. I also commend the food. Previous reports stated so-so food quality..but actually with so many food stations (and chefs), you can practically make your own meal. So we enjoyed this as well..the station cooks will even recommend which goes well with what and they go over and beyond to serve.
Our activities guide was also super attentive and worked very hard at providing excellent service. I cannot say enough good words about him (and the staff). He was always available for any activity we decided on..from the early morning (5 AM) sunrise hike and breakfast to helping our 8 year old snorkel and identify marine life way out from the shoreline. It will be a vacation to beat. Next time we go back to the Philippines, we may return to El Nido again.

  • Liked — everything!
  • Disliked — nothing.
  • Stayed November 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank islander03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed October 19, 2008

Don't misinterpret my 4 star ranking.
I've been to many international hotels and resorts but this is my first TripAdvisor review. I've used this site to scout many trips and tend to think people use the 5 star ranking a bit too easily, so my 4 stars should carry a little extra weight.
That being said....

We had a wonderful time at El Nido Miniloc and I will try to boil my comments down to what you need or may be interested to know.
Note that we were vacationing with another couple with whom we shared activities but had separate accommodations.

First the bad:
The accommodations are sparse. We stayed in a Water Villa. There are seven units numbered 1 to 7. If you choose a water villa, the lower the number the better. #1 was at the end in the deepest water and was the most secluded. We were in #7 (far right in our photos) which didn't even have water near it, so technically it was a villa on dry land on stilts.
Room was small and a bit dated. Some of the other rooms on land looked newer.
Dust on the minibar chips can and other snacks on the desk.
Bathroom cramped.
No TV (good or bad, depends on you).
There was a slow wireless internet near the restaurant, but our room was too far to get the signal. But if you need to check email, it's possible.
Not much room for clothes, but you shouldn't need much due to the weight restrictions on the charter flight to the resort.
Not much to actually do on Miniloc itself unless you like ping-pong or making hats out of palm fronds.
The beaches are not pristine sand. They are mostly sandy, but have loads of washed up coral. Not barefoot beaches for the most part. Some islands are better than others. Bring Aquasocks or Tevas.

Now the good:
Want to feel like you are away from it all. This place is for you.
Do you like camping and the outdoors. This place is for you.
Do you prefer adventure and activity to lounging? Miniloc is for you. (Although we did our fair share of lounging.)
You will not run out of things to do at Miniloc (unless it rains the entire time).
The staff is very good.
This place is not the Ritz or some fancy pants spa retreat, it is an honest to goodness pacific island getaway.
You should understand that when you stay at Miniloc, that you are not just staying at the one island. There are many islands with many different activities depending on the location.
You get about on scheduled or chartered outrigger boats that seem to be in great supply at the resort. We chartered a boat for a full day to go to the "Secret Beach" which is a tiny beach you reach by swimming through a small hole in a cliff (but only at the right tide) it was quite amazing. We had scheduled lunch on a private beach, but the rain changed our plans. We were only charged for half a day for the boat. I should note, that a rifle-toting armed guard accompanied us. They say they've never had trouble with pirates, but it gave the whole expedition a bit of an old west flavor.
We had a dinner on a private beach for our last evening. It was completely fantastic.
The snorkeling was very good. Loads of fish and many different places to dive.

Other Notes:
We spent most of our down time at Pangalusian Island Beach. They had a bar and a great sunset. Very nice.
For the record there is no sunset from Miniloc itself. It is in a cove.
We had Thundersorms at one night, I have NEVER heard thunder like we did that evening. The sound bounced around that cove like crazy!
The Kids facilities were better than I thought they'd be. Our kids stayed home with a sitter, but I kept any eye out for what they'd do if we returned. Their kids' playroom looked pretty well stocked. Although the 4 ft. long komodo dragon I saw hanging around the entrance gave me a jump. In general we didn't see many kids there, but I would not be reluctant to bring them as long as they could swim.
The "Business Center" was sort of a joke. It is a cubby with an ancient windows p.c. tucked into the gift shop corner. Don't plan on getting any business done while you are here.
The food was passable. Buffet style. They try to cater to a variety of ethnicities (Japanese, Chinese, European, American) so you may only find a few things you like, but we didn't come for the cuisine.

So much for brevity. I'll let our photos tell the rest of the story.

All in all.... a very good value for money. A unique experience. Better than anticipated (but it's still always a good idea to manage your expectations)

  • Liked — activities, beach, service, location
  • Disliked — the room itself
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Buttermaker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island

Property: El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island
Address: Miniloc Island, El Nido, Palawan Island 5313, Philippines
Location: Philippines > Mimaropa > Palawan Province > Palawan Island > El Nido
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Restaurant Room Service Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in El Nido
#2 Spa Hotel in El Nido
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island 3.5*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Miniloc Island is a rustic and charming hideaway reminiscent of a coastal village. Miniloc Island is located in El Nido, in northwestern Palawan. It takes a 75-minute direct flight from Manila to get to El Nido or a 6-hour travel by land from Puerto Princesa City (Palawan's Capital City).Miniloc Island Resort is tucked within a beautiful cove surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and a vibrant coral reef. It is a gateway to popular activity sites in a breath-taking location known for its high biodiversity. The resort has 50 cottages and rooms built in traditional Filipino design over the water, beside the beach, or surrounded by garden and limestone cliffs. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Nido Resort Miniloc Island Hotel El Nido
Hotel El Nido
Resort El Nido
El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island Palawan Island

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