The ideal vacation for me is at least 4 days / 3 nights, but life doesn’t always give you the ideal, so sometimes you gotta accept a one-nighter. This works great if you just need a breather, a change of scene, and you have either or both (a) limited budget and (b) work-related constraint (eg limited vacation leave, or have just had one that it’s embarrassing to ask for another too soon). I’m not sure what’s happening to me, but lately I’ve just been “needing” all sorts of “breather.” And so La Union happened, barely a week after being back from Davao.
Kahuna Resort, San Juan, La Union, Philippines
La Union, of course, is famous for surfing. I, on the other hand, am infamous for my lack of balance, coordination or even just a hint of an athletic streak. Sounds like a weekend destined to fail? Not, it turns out, if you set the right expectations. Luckily for me, I’m grounded in reality, hence looked forward to 60% chilling/eating, 30% frolicking by the beach, and 10% surfing (attempt). My choice of hotel made a huge difference, too! It works for surfers and non-surfers alike. Here’s what I liked / loved about it:
Kahuna Beach Resort seems to be at the center of things. It’s just by the highway, but also beachfront. There are restaurants/cafés nearby, and there’s a surfing school right in front of the hotel. Despite this, it still somehow manages to have a secluded feel to it – as if you could just watch the world spin without being sucked into it – or at least not without your consent.
2. Room & Room Amenities
I love the room. The glass walls are perfect to see the goings-on without leaving the room, and when you want some privacy you could just pull the window shades down and enjoy the cozy lighting of the room. And though I am not a fan of TV in hotels (and in general, I guess), I think some people would appreciate that the rooms have big enough flat-screen TVs with good cable connection.
If you need to work, there’s a desk with a chair – and a nearby socket for your laptop or other charging needs while working (sounds commonsensical, but other hotels don’t think of this!). If you come in wet from swimming/surfing, you could rest for a bit in the big waterproof chair beside the bed. Add the smaller chair (the one with the desk) and you could stretch out a bit and take a nap while your roommate takes a shower. At night, play cards or have a bottle of beer or two in your little space in front of the room – a veranda, if you will.
There’s a mini-bar filled with drinks and some chips for your late night cravings. There’s a closet for your clothes (and more importantly – hangers!), as well as a safe. There are room slippers as well.
The bathroom is lovely, although it could make you a teeny weenie bit paranoid (glass wall + not tall enough outer wall – or so you might think). There are toitelries and towels provided of course. Shower has heater, and toilet has bidet (yey!).
The bed, blanket, comforter, and pillows were great, too! Slept really well.
Coming in a bigger group? No problem, the rooms are grouped into two and have a common inner door that would let you in and out of each other’s rooms.
Search the net for the best restaurants in San Juan, La Union and you’ll likely see Kahuna in the list – a well-deserved spot, if I may add. The (free) breakfast was okay, but the a la carte meals were really delish! Try their Beef Kaldereta, Beef Steak, and even their pansit!
4. Infinity Pool
The pool was such a godsend after an hour on the beach – more than half of which was spent trying so hard to stand on the freaking surf board. It was nice to just swim at ease without worrying about where the waves might take you, or how deep the water must be. Plus, the waves aren’t always as friendly (and sometimes there’s jellyfish!), so it’s nice to have a pool where swimming in peace is possible. Also very interesting to surf-watch and wish you were like that six-year old (-looking) girl who was a natural at finding her balance after only a few tries, or have the courage of that overweight woman going at it even after falling over several times.
5. Music + Live Band
The music during the day was what you’d want of a resort – soothing and reggae-ish. Very relaxing. None of those plush resorts that suddenly start playing sappy or otherwise beach-inappropriate songs (yes, I have beach-inappropriate songs in my book).
But the highlight is the live band that plays at night (or perhaps just Fridays and Saturdays)! I’ve stopped expecting resort band singers to be as talented as one would hope them to be – I’ve had one too many experience of singers going off-key, or resorting to falsettos awkwardly, or having diction problems or sfeech depect (I know it’s not their fault, but please don’t blame me for being bothered by it – it just takes away from the listening experience). This one’s different! The last really good band I heard was in Boracay, in front of a bar/restaurant called Boom Boom.
6. Surfing School
Nothing revs you up for surfing quite like seeing a surfing school while having breakfast, just a few steps from your resort. Rate is not bad either, Php400 per hour including both board and guide. A bonus: no haggling required as this is a centralized and fixed rate.
7. Other Facilities
I’m guessing there’s a spa here judging by the resort’s name (hah!) but I’m not a spa person so I didn’t even bother inquiring. What I wanted to do was play some billiards – but as it always goes, you couldn’t take me away from the beach + pool + bed.
What Could Be Improved
Only one thing I’d suggest for improvement: the early check in and late check out policy. Given that the room rates are already quite expensive (Php5,900 per night nett for a room for two), I think it’s not too much to let the customers avail of early check-in or late check out free of charge as long as room is available, rather than charging Php900 per hour for it. Again, I know that this is a policy, but it would be a nice gesture of goodwill which just might create customer loyalty. Also, most other resorts allow early check-in, so I’ve sort of come to expect it.
*This is not a sponsored post.*