Ever since I can remember, we spent New Year’s eve at home surrounded with family. This continued till I got married, but this time, with my husband’s family. I guess this practice is rooted in the belief or the hope that in the coming year, your family will be grounded and the family ties will become stronger. I am not sure really.
But since three years ago, my husband’s family decided to change the custom–instead, we went out of town. The first time we did this was in 2013, when we went to the Guimaras Island on New Year’s eve. Last 2014, we stayed in Bacolod because one member was having a sensitive pregnancy so we stayed grounded. This year, we all went to Sipalay City, southern Negros Occidental for a white, sandy New Year celebration.
We were a big group of 20 adults and 6 kids of different ages. With all our clothes, food, drinks, gifts to exchange, and water coolers, we took off in five vehicles (4 SUVs and a pick up truck), on the morning of December 31, 2015.
Our Trip to Sipalay
We left Bacolod City around 9am, stopped by Mila’s Restaurant in the municipality of Hinigaran to buy more food (specifically their special bibingka and potato cake) and for a toilet break, then proceeded to Kabankalan City where we had lunch at Ting-ting’s Restaurant where we arrived around 12:30pm. We ordered a simple meal of native foods, like sinigang, pork sisig, and fried chicken, ate a harried lunch that was shorter than our wait for our food to arrive, then drove on again until we reached Sipalay City, which was still about 77 kms from Kabankalan.
We checked in at the Nataasan Beach Resort around 2:30pm. We have already reserved our rooms there several weeks ago, as the resort gets crowded during the holidays. The resort was small but scenic and quaint, had a secure parking area, swimming pool and I think that was a jacuzzi but I never had the chance to find out, a bar and restaurant, several neat cottages, outdoor dining area, and a stairway that leads to the beach.
The place is breathtaking.
You can do this trip over night but it can be exhausting because of the length of the land trip. To better enjoy the beaches in Sipalay, better stay there for two nights at least.
Our Stay at Nataasan
We occupied five family-sized bedrooms that had two queen sized beds each and a toilet and bath. Our room, however, A4 to be exact had an air conditioner that did not cool the room to our desired temperature. The kids were warm and I had to fan their sweaty little heads until they fell asleep. The night lamp had a busted bulb and the cabinet doors were squeaking loudly. But that’s okay, those were tolerable things–annoying but tolerable. I don’t want to complain and ruin our vacay with a grumbling attitude. But the next day, we found out that our toilet won’t flush properly.
Still unfazed, I just went to their reception area to get a pail so that I can manually flush the toilet. It wouldn’t even after several attempts. And it was getting really ugly already. I called for assistance and the housekeeping lady cleaned up the toilet and showed to me that it was flushing already, but the water pressure still wasn’t enough so when another person used the toilet, the same thing happened. By 11am, I already demanded that we move into another room because we had another night and we couldn’t have a clogged toilet like that. They agreed to move us but we had to wait until 12:30pm until the previous guests checked out. But until that time, they never cleaned our toilet, which really sucked. But I did not go and complain again because the resort doesn’t have an intercom system and if you want to complain to the front desk you have to walk across the swimming pool area under the midday sun.
We graciously accepted the transfer to the new room but we were never offered assistance so I had to ask for it again. The new room, C8, looked nicer but the there were more busted light bulbs (including one in the bathroom) and the aircon was worse. It was really warm that night that even I was sweating and had to fan the girls and myself to sleep.
We brought snacks, chips, bread, spreads, doughnuts, cakes, and cup noodles, but for our meals, we just ordered from the restaurant. Cooking was okay. We also had our own drinking water by the 5-gallon containers, though smaller bottles of purified water were also available at the restaurant. We brought a whole lechon (roasted pig) from Bacolod and that was what we ate for our New Year’s eve dinner, along with the rest of the dishes that we ordered from the restaurant. They have set meals for big groups.
We lechon leftovers so we requested the staff to cook it paksiw style and they did it well. That was our lunch the following day. But our dinner on the second night, we went to Sipalay Suites in the city (different story for that).
What You Can Do at Nataasan Beach Resort
At Nataasan Beach Resort, they have a small swimming pool, so it is perfect for those who have kids who would want to go swimming where it is safe. You can also sunbathe here on the many reclining sun beds available. You can take your meals outdoors or inside their rustic restaurant and then take a stroll around the garden. You can also enjoy your early happy hour at the restaurant or at the floating bar while swimming.
“Nataasan” literally means a higher or an elevated place, that is why the resort is not on the same level as the beach. They built a nice flight of stairs with more than 100 steps so that you can go down the white sand shore line. There you can also swim or play in the sand or just sun bathe. If you don’t want to go down, you can just stay by the view deck and appreciate the scenery down below.
The resort also offers island-hopping tours that you can coordinate at the front desk. Some members of our party went on the second day, but my family opted to stay so that the kids can continue swimming.
Since we went there during the New Year’s eve, we went outside before midnight and got good views of the fireworks that the neighbors lit. Then we had our media noche meal.
Sigrid Says All in all, our stay at Nataasan Beach Resort was not that bad, if only for the beauty of the place. The gardens were wonderfully maintained and the manicured greens were a wonderful respite from city views. But while the rest of our group enjoyed their rooms, we didn’t. We were first placed in a room that the staff already knew was needing toilet repairs as previous occupants have complained of the toilet (I was told). Then there was the problem with the air conditioning.
I also noticed that some of the ladies on the staff were not very cordial. Or at least to local guests, as they were pretty chummy with Caucasians. I am usually not offended by such, unless of course my concerns are not being dealt with.
Nataasan Beach Resort is a beautiful resort, which is for sale by the way. Read about the details here: Own a Philippine White Sand Beach Resort: Nataasan Beach Resort in Sipalay is For Sale. But for it to compete among the many Sipalay beaches and uphold its standards, it has to maintain its rooms. For a local like me to sweat in a couple of their air conditioned rooms, imagine if a foreigner from a cold land would come and stay there? They would sweat buckets! They should also encourage their staff to be more accommodating and friendly, not only to foreigners but also to local tourists. During our stay there, I only counted about four foreign nationals there and the rest were locals. So I believe that most of their revenue still comes from the locals. The men on the staff seemed very nice though, so commendations to them.
I hope that they will have all their rooms checked and fixed before they accept more guests so that there will be no unpleasant experiences anymore.
Maria Sigrid D. Lo is a multi-awarded Bacolod lifestyle blogger and social media advocate. It is her desire to make the city known to the world through her online presence. She promotes Bacolod restaurants, food tourism, social media etiquette, breastfeeding, and a greener Bacolod City in her blogs and talks. She loves taking photos, mostly of her children and of food. She is a proud member of the Negrense Blogging Society Inc. (NBSI) or the #NegrosBloggers.