We had a stay planned for Apulit Island resort in Nov 2013. Unfortunately, Typhoon Haiyen came through and Apulit remained closed. While our locations had to change, which was not a big deal, the way El Nido Resorts responded was horrific!
CUSTOMER SERVICE PROBLEMS:
We booked months in advance, with the sole intent of staying in a water cottage, which is why we had initially selected Aupulit Island (Which is all water cottages). We were not notified of any problems in advance of the trip, despite being facebook "friends" and them having complete contact info for my partner and I. When we arrived at the Manila NAIA charted flight terminal, the airline told us that our destination had changed! That was quite a surprise. We asked if they were sure, since we had received no notice. They contacted El Nido Resorts booking office (in Manila) who asked to speak to us. My partner spoke at length with the booking agent (Melanie de la Fuente) on the telephone and asked specifically about our reservation being transferred to a water cottage. Changing to Lagen Island, or any of the other resorts was not a big concern to us. She told us that it was not available for 1 of the nights we were staying. At that point, we told her that we would like to cancel the entire trip, since the whole purpose of going was for the water cottage experience. She told us that it was not necessary and she would make sure we were in a water cottage. We were completely prepared to return to the home of family that day. But she insisted that we get on the flight to el nido. After the flight, jeep trip, and boat ride to Lagen island, we were finally ready to check in and get settled. But, the desk staff at lagen island said there were no water cottages available for our stay! Not ANY night! This was quite upsetting and the manager was not on the island. They contacted the same booking office person we had spoken to (Melanie de la Fuente), who now was saying that she did not have a water cottage. They wanted us to stay in a "forest suite" instead. She also told the Lagen staff that she never told us we could stay in a water cottage, essentially telling them that we were lying. We were outraged at this, as you can imagine. Our peaceful vacation was not starting that way. We again told them, to return us to Manila, as we knew there was another flight home that day. We did not want to be in any other accommodation and did not want to be treated like this. Eventually, they sent us to lunch and found a water cottage to put us in, by moving someone who had not arrived yet into a forest suite. This process was almost 3 hours in length. It was clear that they did not want to lose our money by letting us return to Manila. The one nice thing they did was give us a "private dinner" on our last night. This was essentially the food from the buffet served to us on plates in a remote area of the island. I am glad we did not pay for this service. We have traveled extensively around the world and stayed in many types of accommodations and have NEVER had such a bad customer service experience. We finally met the location manager as we were leaving the island, who offered an apology, but at that point, it was irrelevant.
The water cottage was good in size, but was quite dated. There is obvious wear of most of the features. It is also lagoon style, which does not allow for the views of open sea. The bed was 2 single size beds for my partner and I. I am not sure if they just did not realize that we were a gay couple or if they just did not want to recognize that.
LAGEN ISLAND STAFF/SERVICE
This was a good point for El Nido Resorts. The staff was mostly helpful, but the person helping plan the day should have a little more knowledge of the available options.
All meals are included, regardless of where you eat them. The food on al resort islands and the "beach resorts" was about the same Most was underseasoned. Drinks are not included, so you will have a bill for that at the end. Some bartenders are much better than others. We did have a bottle of wine with dinner on the last night, which seemed to have been stored well enough to not ruin the wine.
We had a couples massage while there, including a body, foot, head/neck massage as well as a facial. It was very nice and relaxing. Afterwards they gave us a fruit platter and juice tea to take to our room, which was a very nice touch.
The El Nido region is very nice. I wish there was another way to stay without using El Nido resorts, but still have a luxury experience. I would love to stay in a Shangri La type property here. El Nido resorts can take you to great places and you get to see cool things, but they do not offer the greatest advice in all places. I wanted to snorkel from a beach resort and hey directed me to an area with a TON of seaweed! I became tangled and if I was not a strong swimmer, could have had a major problem. My partner could not have snorkeled in this area and I would never recommend it for kids or timid swimmers. I have heard the diving is good, but I did not dive on this trip.
Mostly safe, but depending on water conditions, people with poor balance or mobility issues would have issues, especially at El Nido port. Island Transvoyager was safe and quite helpful at the airport. No problems with them at all.
I think everyone should visit El Nido at some point in their life. It is a truly amazing place. I liked it better than Phuket. I would, however, book knowing the limitations of staying with El Nido Resorts. They really do have you trapped into going on their day trips and to their other islands. At this point, I know of no other luxury level accommodation in the region. It is overpriced for the service, amenities, and quality offered. My partner, who is Filipino, will not go back again after experiencing this customer service. It is too bad, but there are tons of amazing beaches and resorts in Asia and Oceana...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lagen Island is a haven of tranquility nestled between a lush forest and a calm shallow lagoon. Its calssic and modern design exudes an air of subdued elegance. Cottages, rooms and suites are well appointed over the water, beside the beach, or surrounded by verdant forest. Lagen Island is part of the El Nido Resorts group and is located in El Nido, northwestern part of Palawan. It takes a 75-minute direct flight from Manila or a 6 hour land trip from Puerto Princesa City (Palawan's Capital City). ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El Nido Resorts Lagen Island Hotel El Nido
- Lagen Island Hotel
- Lagen Island El Nido
- El Nido Resorts Lagen Island Palawan Island