I’ve been to Subic many times, but still haven’t visited the Grande Island Resort (and I still get lost in Subic roads. Maybe there’s a downside in always looking at all the traffic signs, especially the “stop” signs. if you haven’t heard, traffic laws are strictly enforced in Subic).
Before we go any further, let me get something out of the way. There are many negative reviews about this resort, but we could boil everything to this: it’s a nice location but it needs tons of renovation. Indeed, many of the equipment and structures are, how do I say this in a polite way, not shiny and new, unlike, say, Camayan Beach which had recently undergone renovation. Food and water (trust me, you’ll need to drink plenty of water here, and probably the participants of Survivor Philippines could relate) are not cheap, which should not be a factor if only the place is heavily renovated.
Ok, now let’s go look at the glass half-full.
Grande Island Resort is, well, an island. The aerial view (see photograph above) better shows the configuration of the island. And just in case you’re asking, no, I didn’t take that photograph, although you could probably do it through parasailing, which is one of the available leisure activities. Other activities include airsoft, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), billiards, fishing (there were serious fishermen, in full gear that I didn’t know existed) and sleeping. Let’s get back to that later.
A 20-minute boat ride takes you from the wharf (near the SBMA office, or the old Legenda Hotel and Casino) to the island. Pay the boat fare (I wonder why they did not include this in our package), sign the ship manifest, then ahoy, mate! Remember to time your travel because there’s only one boat scheduled to leave everyday, at 2 p.m. (you could, of course, charter the other boat).
It’s a nice leisurely ride. You could simply slump on your comfortable chair or step out the deck to get a good view of the water and the surroundings, get a tan perhaps, feel the wind rushing through your face, and get tempted to copy Leo and Kate a-la Titanic.
Cheesy, I know. But it’s perfectly ok to be cheesy in this island. It’s a place for family or corporate trips, yes, but it’s also a place for lovers who seek a peaceful hideaway. It’s secluded. The cottages are grouped and sufficiently spaced apart. You could bum around at the veranda and order room service. The room is clean, with high ceiling, plenty of space, crisp bedsheets, and most important of all (for me), a spacious, clean and nice bathroom.
I was tempted to stay indoors (especially that there’s a free wi-fi connection), although I seriously considered it; I brought my laptop. We didn’t go here, however, for that. We had our families in tow and the entire gang of 20. The great outdoor awaits. There’s a whole (small) island to explore.
The kids splashed their hearts out at the swimming pool, right across the lagoon with ducks honking as if to protest the invasion of their space. Others heed out to the beach, trying out the banana-boat ride even if four out of five of them didn’t know how to swim. The banana boat, as expected, capsized.
In the end, it’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures. The equipment and facilities, so long as they serve their basic functions, were just a backdrop to the camaraderie. In the 4-hour airsoft battles, for instance, we had our knees scraped, bodies red with pellet hits (the genius who suggested that we don’t wear armors, to feel the pain, should be shot at close range), legs riddled with mosquito bites and grass cuts, shirts soaked in sweat. We ran, ducked, crawled, jumped and rolled like our lives depended on it. We laughed while counting the red painful spots on our bodies.
It was fun.