An Oasis on Cebu
I save my 5-star ratings for those special resorts that have it all - location, luxury, and service. Kandaya fully deserves the rating in my opinion.
Although the location, in absolute terms, isn't the most attractive, the owners of Kandaya have created a true oasis within their 14 hectare property. A gorgeous modern Asian minimalist design throughout gives the entire resort an open and relaxed feeling. Although my wife and I were there in a low season and it seemed we had the resort almost to ourselves, I feel that the design and layout of all the facilities won't feel crowded even during the busiest times.
We had one of the ocean-view suites, which was quite spacious, beautifully decorated, open, light, and airy. Really a pleasure to spend time in the room or on the large veranda, although with many activities available you probably won't want to. We spent a lot of time in and around the pool and beach areas - the large pool is very nice and although not a true 'infinity' pool it's unique design makes you feel that it's on the edge of the ocean. The well-spaced lounges are comfortable, and the poolside food/drink service was most welcome. The natural beach isn't the greatest but is nice at high tide. Although the winds of the season blow both natural and man-made debris onto the beach, the staff did a nice job of keeping it clean. Low tide however is very low, exposing hundreds of feet of unattractive mud flats. I think for that reason the resort built it's own central 'beach', elevated from the ocean by a wall.
Many activities are included, such as water sports (use of kayaks, SUP's, various paddle boats), a full gym, morning stretch and yoga sessions, etc.. Extra cost options including martial arts training, spa/massage in a beautiful facility, snorkeling/dive trips, and even horseback riding are available. While walking around one day we were fortunate to meet Michelle, who manages resort operations and the equestrian center - one of the few places in the Philippines to offer riding lessons, trail rides, and such. One wonderful program she's implemented is a 'pony day' where children first learn about caring for a pony, then are rewarded with a ride. She also has a small 'zoo' with various birds and small animals. Unique experiences offered by a unique woman!
One thing about Kandaya is that you're pretty captive in terms of food - there are restaurants in the nearby town but I think they'd be a pretty sketchy experience for most people visiting Kandaya. Considered on it's own I wouldn't give the restaurant 5 stars - it's a difficult job to please people from all over the world and their culinary tastes, but I think the restaurant does a pretty good job, offering a variety of dishes from Filipino, American, Italian, German, Thai cuisines and more. Everything we had was well-prepared and tasty. All the fish served in the restaurant is fresh and locally caught; a majority of the vegetables and herbs used are grown in Kandaya's own gardens.
Making (or breaking) a resort experience is always the staff. Everyone we met at Kandaya was most friendly and helpful in any and every way. I especially commend the restaurant and bar staff who were very knowledgeable about the menu, and very comfortable communicating at least in Tagalog and English. I wouldn't be surprised if they can handle other languages as well. Very well trained!
Thank you, Kandaya, for a memorable experience. We will come back some day!
Couples - Sep 28, 2017