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AL FARO Cosmio Hotel Palawan
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Reviewed December 21, 2012

Superb overall experience: lovely staff, incredible view, nice pool and excellent location to dive the Coron wrecks. Wonderful location to take it easy. Transfers arranged and everything worked fine.

Note that the location is isolated, a bit of tough walk uphill from the jetty, cold showers and cash only payment so consider prepayment.

  • Stayed: December 2012
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Thank Rysae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 19, 2012

I stayed 5 days in the new resort hotel Al Faro at Busuanga on Palawan island. The location is exceptional and Al Faro is an icon as it looks like a lighthouse overlooking the bay and many islands. The view from the terrace over the swimmingpool is amazing, espescially during sunset.

This family owned hotel offers large bungalows with an incredible view and very friendly staff.

I went diving every day several times and the bay of Al Faro is a paradise for divers as we went every day to different wrecks rich of corals and fishes (lion fish, scorpion fish, crocodile fish, baracuda, etc.) turttles and a lot of nudibranches. We entered all the wrecks and discovered all parts of them.

I discovered a region with still pure and untouched nature and I also did some islands-hopping to explore the surroundings of Al Faro.

I recommend this new resort hotel Al Faro for nature lovers and divers that would like to discover an untouched area of this world !

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Seb1981Gen_ve
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2012

I came across this place at the end of a 4 week trip in the Philippines. I was looking for some modest luxury for a couple of days, and was so impressed by the place I ended up staying for a week! In short, the food is great, the accommodations are amazing, the natural beauty is unique, and the atmosphere staying there is top quality.

The location is second to none. Perched on the far corner of a beautiful bay, the views out to sea and the surrounding islands could not be better. The restaurant and freshwater pool area are designed around a stunning white lighthouse which looks beautiful set among the jungle at the top of a small hill. The 7 or 8 private cottages all have amazing views to the bay and enjoy good seclusion from each other. Inside, each cottage has a very simple, modern and comfortable design - a very relaxing place to rest! Each cottage also has a viewing deck attached, with cushions etc to relax and enjoy the views. The best thing about the place is its relative isolation...the D'Pearl Bay only has 2 other unobtrusive 'resorts' across the water from Al Faro, and no sign of the loud music and aggressive tourism elsewhere in the Philippines. It is a very peaceful place.

The food was fantastic. A good everyday menu is available, using local vegetables, fish and meat to provide all those European basics we enjoy when abroad (great sandwiches, healthy breakfasts, pasta, omelettes). In addition, there are daily specials depending on the fish caught that day and using an interesting variety of herbs and spices. The chef Netzki is great fun and will accommodate individual choices for food. For drinks, there is a good range of wines, beers, spirits available - sunset drinks are incredible, offering some of the best sunsets I have seen in 4 years of seeing the world.

Daytime activities revolve around scuba diving from a neighbouring resort, and Al Faro has a kayak which can be taken for snorkelling trips in the bay. I managed to spend countless days just relaxing there though - it is the kind of place where 'switching off' is so very easy! The fresh-water pool is very clean and enjoys the best views possible, and the open-plan design of the main restaurant / bar area means there are many different cool areas in which to relax away from the heat. An awesome place to chill...

Whilst the design, restaurant, food, accommodation etc all make Al Faro a fantastic boutique hotel, what really distinguishes it for me is the experience of staying there. Owner-managers Jimmy (Swiss) and Neneta (Filipina) make you feel 100% at home, and the staff are amazingly friendly and welcoming. Jimmy and Neneta are very knowledgeable about the area, the culture, the food and other parts of the Philippines, and can help with onward travel arrangements. I have stayed in a number of world class boutique hotels around the world; Al Faro sits near the top of the tree. It is in a beautiful undeveloped area of outstanding natural beauty, yet offers home comforts and a 'designer chic' ambiance that must be experienced.

Thanks a million to Neneta, Jimmy, Netzki (the chef and a keen Scrabble player!), the beautiful Marishoo and the rest of the team.

P.S. I don't know why Trip Advisor calls Al Faro a 'B&B' by the way. It is a boutique hotel and restaurant, offering accommodation in private bungalows.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled solo
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2  Thank JamesRN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2012

I came to this beautiful place by accident, but it was bull's eye for me.
I love this place and hated the moment that I had to catch a flight back home. The resort is quite small, but well built and nicely decorated. The atmosphere is great, the waitresses are lovely and the hosts make you feel right away at home. The perfect place to enjoy the end of the world. The real pearl is the swimming pool. From here you overlook the ocean and get to see the most beautiful sunsets. Another pearl was working in the kitchen. The ever smiling cook can cook any dish.Everything she made was delicious. All together a perfect spot to enjoy sun, food and maybe even some great wreck diving. - Koen

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled solo
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Thank koen_willemsen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2012

Accommodations and breakfast were included in the package we bought. We learned about al faro purely from google searching. I fell in love with the photos and the surroundings so I gave up on the more popular destination, Puerto Prinsesa and chose al faro. We landed at the Busuanga airport and was greeted by the resort driver. Coming from an urban area full of people and pollution, the one hour drive from the airport to the hotel was very pleasant and refreshing, albeit the bumpy ride.

When we reached the edge of the island, we had to transfer to a speedboat as al faro is located across a separate island. The speedboat ride was around 1 minute. There is a slight climb to the main lobby of the resort.

Now this is were the disappointments began:
( as a caveat of this review, al faro is not officially open; it was during the rainy season when we stayed there; and, the owner wasn't in the resort during our stay)

1. Because of the climb and the long drive, we were very thirsty by the time we reached the resort lobby. They served us some powdered juice. I did not finish it. I also asked for water. They gave us bottled water. We were so thirsty so with no questions asked, we chugged them down quickly.
2. They asked us what we would like to eat for lunch. We asked for a menu but there was none. It bothers me that i do not know what i am being charged for before i consume something. So I started to ask a lot of questions to get an idea about the pricing. This is where i learned that the bottled water we had was 20 pesos each. Lesson number one: ask for non bottled drinking water. The bad thing is asking doesn't guarantee that they'll provide the water to you. They should leave a jug in the commons area so the guests could help themselves with water. We felt deprived of water while in the island.
3. They served pesto to my cousin and cabbage slathered with butter to me and my sis. Either one was not good. The so-called cooks desperately need some training on cooking.
4. When we arrived to our room, we discovered that that bathroom is open (no door between bedroom and bathroom). This might not be a big deal if you are traveling with your significant other and i guess it doesn't bother north americans or europeans, but being a filipino and rooming with a male cousin, we had to figure out a shower schedule. We also agreed to use the public toilet if we'd like to do a number two.
5. Come evening, we were warned that the hotel is run by a generator. Due to the recent typhoon that hit the county, their generator only runs from 6 pm to about 11 pm. In other words, you cant use your blow dryer/shaver/hair straightener in the mornings. They have to get someone from switzerland to repair this but it will not be until october.
5. When we got there, we learned that the resort doesn't have its own wi-fi. You have to "steal" wi-fi from the neighboring resort. There are only a couple of spots with signal and one is occupied by management. Signal is very weak so don't expect to be able to download or send big files.
6. Food is overpriced and simplistic in filipino standards. They have no designated chefs and I can cook better than them.

They don't have any lunch and dinner menus. They told us we can ask them anything and they will cook it for us. In one of the mornings, we told them we would like chop suey for dinner. Later in the afternoon, they told us the ingredients were not available. One of the reasons i travel is to sample the delicacies and foods specific to the place i am visiting. The fact that they leave the decision up to the guest means that the guest can only ask for foods that he/she already had before. For some, this is ideal as they can eat foods they are familiar with but for me and many, it takes away the excitement of trying something new.
7. As the resort is located far from town, the only food provider is through the resort. They are taking advantage of this by charging twice as much. I won't complain about the price if the quality of cooking is on par, but it is not.
- we were charged 880 pesos for three orders of chicken curry. The servings were very small. I guess they are trying to imitate 5 star restaurant servings but there was nothing special about the food.
- food was always served cold
- more than once, food was served with hair
- milk they used for muesli and coffee was not fresh
- they cater for north american and european taste buds so they have no patis, daing, or bagoong.
- north american dishes are "pretentious" as the cooks are not really chefs: it took them a while to figure out what an omelette is!
- Any of the hired hands does the cooking but they have limited expertise on western cuisine, even sometimes, filipino cuisine
- waiting time for food is horrendous especially if there are more than two guests. We had dinner at eight o clock pm twice in a row. We advised them about our dinner three hours before! My poor cousin fell asleep waiting for dinner to be served. I was just so mad by that time, i was tempted to switch to another resort the next day.
- the staff frequently messed up the orders. I wonder if they have some hearing problems. I asked fore more veggies everyday and they gave me the same minuscule serving! I asked if they can reduce the rice and increase the veggies and they did not do that. I asked for water and they provide it just before i am about to finish the meal. We asked for egg and ham and they only served the egg. In the end, i just stopped asking.
- they are careless. We bought some fresh meat from Coron town and entrusted it to them to be kept in the cooler. The next day, we were notified that it was eaten by the dogs. They did not make any effort to replace it.
8. They don't provide new towels everyday. The beddings were in an eternal state of dampness, probably from the humidity or staff laziness. The rooms were very stuffy to the point where breathing was very hard at night. There were a lot of mosquitoes so the staff light some katol in the evenings. Bring some mosquito repellant beforehand. they have no hand towels/ paper towels in the public washrooms. They don't refill the toilet paper and toiletries daily.

In short, the dining experience in this hotel is very poor. I don't mind the pricing if the quality and service can match it. But it did not. I felt like i was being extorted for the price i was paying. I always felt like i can do a better job than these people. Staff is pleasant enough but service is horrible. They need a real manager to supervise them. Maybe, our experience will be better if the owner was here to oversee the staff.

PRICING ( in pesos)
1. 4 nights accommodations for 3 pax including free breakfast, pick up and drop off service to the airport - 12,000 pesos
2. Bangka fee to go to neighbouring islands like Pass and Calumboyan - 1,500 pesos
3. Pass island entrance fee - 200 pesos per head
4. Pass island tent fee - 100 pesos (open tent)
5. Buko in Pass island - 50 pesos per buko
6. Calumboyan island entrance fee - 150 pesos per head (no white beach, just for snorkelling). You can skip this one.
7. Snorkel rental - 200 pesos per set
8. Coron island tour:
- van rental to coron town - 1, 500 pesos
- boat rental for island hopping - 1,500 pesos
- entrance fees to islands - ranges from 150 pesos to 300 pesos
9. if you're staying in al faro, avoid eating in the restaurant if you can due to the reasons cited above. We bought food in the public market in coron to bring back with us to al faro. This will save you some money and the stress from experiencing the inadequacy of the kitchen/ dining room staff.

Recommendation: Very pricey. Expect to spend an additional 15,000 for a four night stay/3 pax on top of the accommodation fees. I felt like i wasted my money. We should have just stayed in Coron town. I was not very happy about my stay in al faro. The only good thing about al faro is kuya pyl (al faro's resort driver/ tour guide/ market errand person/ and basically the only person who does anything in this resort). I feel bad for the owner. Her staff is ruining alfaro which i think has great potential to be a first class resort. Sure, the girls were cheerful, but they lack training, sometimes lazy, inattentive to guests' needs, and disorganized. Another recommendation i have for the owner is to create a lunch/dinner menu as soon as possible. Also, hotel packages which include all meals and tours will help the guests in terms of budgeting.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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9  Thank jayce305
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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