Summer. The most wonderful time of the year, for some. It’s also the time when El Nino throws an extra punch. Low in water, which in turn means less electricity supply and more blackouts. The heat . . . well, could you say more except people are dying from heat stroke? We need an antidote to the heat, and while at it, have fun, too.
So we take a dip. Some dip their spoons in cold halo-halo. Others take a dip in swimming pools and go woohoo in water slides, like in Splash Island. Some choose the beach. For those from Metro Manila, the more accessible beaches are in Subic and Batangas. What works for one may not work for others. Take, for instance, the beach resort in Laiya, Batangas — the Laiya Coco Grove.
The Coco Grove was not our first choice (see separate article on Summer Getaway to Laiya, Batangas). As in life, we oftentimes don’t get what we originally planned (which happens, in travel terms, if you don’t book in advance during peak season). But it may also happen that the happy coincidence turns out to be a welcome surprise. As Kung Fu Panda‘s Master Oogway had said: “There are no accidents.” (Ok, enough rationalizing our failure to book in advance.)
Coco Grove has a 250-guest capacity (which, we were told, could actually balloon to a 900-person limit). This means it’s probably open when smaller resorts are fully booked. This also means that it has lots of space to move around.
With an overnight rate of P5,400+ for a couple, Coco Grove is a bargain. The rate is inclusive of buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, with our kid free of charge. Don’t expect the food to be as mouthwatering as in, say, Golden Sunset. Food in Coco Grove is ordinary.
This beach resort is nestled in a grove of coconuts, complete with bamboo “walkways” at the top of the trees (to enable harvesters to move from one tree to another without climbing the tree every time). In the photo below, you’ll see the coco trees, with the volleyball court in the middle, the dining/function area at the right, and one of the treehouses at the left (with a great view of the beach and the sunset). Beach volleyball would not be as hot (I mean, sun-hot, not swimsuit-hot, if I’m making any sense) with the coco leaves providing some shade.
The room we got is not exactly new, but clean. It’s conveniently located in front of the swimming pool and a stone’s throw from the beach. No water heater or intercoms, in case you ask. No TVs, either. But you don’t go here to watch TV. You go here to sleep, er, commune with nature and enjoy outdoor fun.
But it’s ok to sleep because it’s quiet at the Coco Grove. You could lazily lounge at the porch or serenely sunbathe, free from the crowd. The place is huge so there’s no crowding among guests. No drunk patrons belting “My Way” at the karaoke or videoke. All you’ll hear in the morning are the occasional shrieks from the kids enjoying themselves at the swimming pool. At night, you have the geckos and the night birds as background. For parents and for lovers, that’s a nice place.
The Coco Grove has its downsides, of course, and we’ve already mentioned some. If you intend to go on swimming at the beach, there are better swimming areas (choose the area between Kabayan Resort and Acuatico). The waters fronting Coco Grove’s beach is not as pristine as the others. But did I mention that there’s a big swimming pool? Good enough for us, especially for our kid.
Should you check the website of Coco Grove, remember that it doesn’t do justice to the place. We chanced upon the owner during dinner and suggested that they revamp the website. He said it’s ok — it’s better, he said, to hear people say the place looks much nicer than what’s depicted at the website. Good point.
The Coco Grove is far from perfect. It has its pros and cons. But it saved our Laiya trip from becoming a disaster. And it delivered more than that.