They sleep on the island during the day and leave to look for food when the sun sets: hundreds of fruit bats that are part of the ecosystem of Club Paradise — the beloved island resort in Coron, Palawan — along with turtles that make the resort’s house reef their home.
You hardly notice the bats, sleeping high up in the trees and in the forest that has remained untouched on the island. The turtles, on the other hand, you can swim with especially in the morning when the weather is clear and the waters are calm.
These two species are part of the ecosystem that Club Paradise is preserving.
Jun Parreno, president of Discovery World Corporation (the owning company of Discovery Resorts), says, “Sometimes you see baby bats sleeping on their mothers’ tummies and then they fly away around 5:30 p.m. and return when the sun rises. We don’t want to disturb the island, we want to make as little impact as possible on nature, on the flora and fauna.”
Jun adds that the Discovery Group has already banned the use of plastics in its hotels and resorts as part of its advocacy. “Our toiletries in every room and villa are in dispensers, our drinking water is in reusable bottles. Club Paradise is also building its own desalinization plant, which will be operational at the end of the year; we have Hydropure, so the bottled water in your room is made by Discovery.”
That Club Paradise has remained a rustic island resort is a huge part of its appeal, as I found out two months ago when it awarded its top producers for the year or partner travel agencies in the Philippines and abroad for Club Paradise (CP) and Discovery Shores Boracay (DSB).
Located on Dimakya island, CP has for many years been bringing high-end tourism to Coron in the northern tip of Palawan. Like Discovery Shores in Boracay, Club Paradise is an upscale resort that caters to European, Asian and a big chunk of the Filipino market.
“Club Paradise is an ‘easy sell,’ even though we are not that cheap,” says Jun. “Some of our top producers have been with us for 12 years. We have tour operators that are based in Europe who bring in guests during their winter season, tourists from France, the UK, Germany and Switzerland. In everything that we do, we make sure the guests leave the property happy so our repeat business is very high.”
I realized just how Club Paradise is beloved by so many friends after I posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Several friends messaged or commented that it was their fave resort in Palawan (which is saying a lot!); one friend had her honeymoon there, and she and her husband recently returned to celebrate their anniversary (they have teenage kids now).
I’ve been to Coron several times and I’m absolutely in love with its limestone cliffs, lakes, lagoons and the teeming marine life, but I have never been to this part of Coron. Club Paradise is in the opposite direction of Coron Bay (half an hour’s boat ride away) when you land in Busuanga airport.
And it is different. Where the more familiar sites are surrounded by bare limestone cliffs, Club Paradise is surrounded by lush cliffs and green mountains.
Its beach has fine, white sand and just a few meters from the shore you can start snorkeling in the house reef, which is teeming with corals on one side and fish and turtles on the other side.
The resort currently has 50 rooms and suites, and is adding 48 more — 12 Nature’s Villas and 36 Hillside Suites — and another Filipino restaurant.
For me, the best rooms are the beachfront cottages (some people prefer mountain views) with their deck overlooking the sea and equipped with a daybed and hammock for relaxation. It’s the best place, too, to have the merienda the staff brings around in the morning and afternoon — local delicacies that come with little notecards explaining what they are and their culinary significance.
Jun points out that as beautiful as Club Paradise and Discovery Shores Boracay are, it is their kind of personal and personalized service that has made the brand what it is today.
“It is the feeling of being home. In our resorts, there is a sense of familiarity, that the staff knows you and remember what you want. In DSB, for instance, we have a lot of family customers that started staying with us when we opened. And now their children are the ones getting married in Discovery. One of our clients, the Herreras, na timing ang kasal nung anak sa Boracay closure, but she never wavered in wanting to get married at DSB. When we told her we couldn’t use the beach for the wedding, she said, ‘I don’t care,’ that ever since she started going to DSB as a child, she had always envisioned her wedding to be held there. And she did get married there.”
Expansion & A New Brand
Jun Parreno reveals that the Discovery Group will soon launch a new brand called Kip & Kin, a brand catering to the younger market. “The Discovery service is still there but not the luxury. K&K is for millennials and backpackers. The rooms are 24 sqm. and under this brand we’re building our first hostel too.”
Located at El Nido’s Vanilla Beach, the hostel will have 87 beds, with four and six beds per room. “We have exclusive rooms for females and males and coed.”
K&K will also open hostels in San Vicente, Palwan; Siargo; and Boracay (at the back of DSB).
“We believe that these are the key destinations in the Philippines,” he says. “We look at El Nido as a European market, of backpackers and barkadas — women who travel in groups of four and guys in twos.”
Discovery Shores Boracay hotel manager Erwin Lopez will open and manage K&K in El Nido, as well as Shoppes at Vanilla Beach (something like D’Mall in Boracay). Jun and Erwin both opened Discovery Shores Boracay 20 years ago and are in their 23rd year of working together (three years at a Manila hotel). DSB assistant director of operations Rome Garcia will soon helm DSB.
“We have great people in Discovery and as we’re expanding, it’s good to see people moving up,” Jun says. “I’m excited to see what they have planned. It’s exciting times for Discovery.”
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For more information and reservations, check out www.clubparadisepalawan.com or call 7719-6971.