This 2018 Amanpulo Review is from our spring inspection stay on Pamalican Island, Palawan, the private island in the Philippines home to Amanpulo. We previously stayed in a Beach Casita, but this time tried a Deluxe Hillside Casita, and also saw a 2BR Palawan Villa. Read on to find out why Amanpulo is, to date, our favorite Aman Resort!
TravelSort Clients enjoy these Virtuoso benefits:
Amanpulo Virtuoso Benefits
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
- A complimentary a la carte lunch for up to two people per room, once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuitiess
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
See our Amanpulo YouTube Video Review:
Amanpulo Location and Check-In
After you take the Island Aviation flight to Amanpulo, you're welcomed on Amanpulo's private air strip by the Amanpulo Team, and your guest assistant will give you a fragrant jasmine garland and cool towel to refresh. Next, your guest assistant takes you in a buggy to your casita or villa to complete the check-in.
Amanpulo Deluxe Hillside Casita
There are 5 Deluxe Hillside Casitas, numbering 36-40, that are reached by continuing on the road uphill, past the Club House.
There are some stairs up to the casita, but it was just as well we could build in a little more exercise, given how well we dined while at Amanpulo–more on that below.
The Deluxe Hillside Casitas are elevated and provide lovely panoramic ocean views from their private decks:
We savored the refreshing welcome drink of kalamansi juice outside, enjoying the view:
Inside, the Deluxe Hillside Casitas are 731 square feet, the same size and with the same layout as the Beach Casitas. There's an open plan bedroom and living area, which includes two day beds. We were able to have one of these made up as a bed for our son, and each evening turndown service lowered the shades and left a homemade sweet and goodnight message on our bed.
There's a Nespresso maker, with complimentary Nespresso capsules, tea, sweetener and milk provided. There are also complimentary cookies, although other mini bar snacks and drinks are chargeable. Fresh fruit was provided both as a welcome amenity, and daily.
The spacious bathroom is closed off from the bedroom with sliding wooden doors, and includes not only double vanities and sinks, but also two closet areas with drawers, so plenty of space to hang clothes and unpack. There are sun hats and beach bags to use as well.
There's a deep soaking bath (perhaps the one criticism is that it was a bit tricky figuring out how to open and close the bathtub drain). The glass enclosed rain shower is large and also includes a handy laundry line to dry bathing suits, which we made use of daily. On the opposite side of the bathroom is a glass enclosed toilet chamber.
In addition to your own buggy that you can use to go around the island, bicycles are also provided, including for kids:
Whenever we parked our buggy, whether at the Club House, Beach Club or Dive Center, an Amanpulo staff member always turned the buggy so it was ready to go, no need to even back up and turn around:
Amanpulo Palawan Villa
Amanpulo has a 1BR Palawan Villa that belongs to the owner of the island, the Soriano family, and it's in high demand, so be sure to book well in advance to secure it. There are also 2BR and 4BR Palawan Villas, and my video above depicts the living and dining areas, as well as private deck and swimming pool, of a 2BR Palawan Villa. The bedrooms and bathrooms are very similar to the casitas.
Breakfast is served at Amanpulo's Club House, where the main swimming pool is also located. It's a lovely al fresco setting, although there is also indoor seating for inclement weather.
Breakfast is included as a Virtuoso benefit, and while a la carte, is a treat. Here's a menu excerpt; see additional menus in the video.
We especially liked starting with a Mango Lassi or Berry Smoothie.
My husband's and son's favorite among the sweet breakfast offerings were the Waffles:
They also enjoyed egg dishes such as the Omelet and Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon, which were prettily garnished:
My own favorite was the Filipino Breakfast Bowl with either marinated grilled beef or sweet cured pork:
Breakfast was hearty enough that one day we just had the fruit in our villa and enjoyed the complimentary Afternoon Tea to tide us over until dinner. The Afternoon Tea featured a refreshing kalamansi drink and scrumptious banana fritters, along with coconut rice and fresh fruit.
Another day we enjoyed lunch with spectacular beach and ocean views at the Beach Club. Here's a menu excerpt, more in the video.
The Lagoon Club, which served Thai food on our last visit, has been reimagined as Nama Japanese Restaurant; Nama means “fresh” in Japanese, fitting for the sushi and other Japanese seafood favorites served.
Our favorite dishes here were the Amanpulo Roll with uni (sea urchin) and toro (fatty tuna), the crispy pork sushi roll, and also Okonomiyaki, a savory seafood pancake that is classic Japanese comfort food.
Our last evening we enjoyed a private Beach BBQ at sunset. There are several menus to choose from, but we selected one that included fresh sea bass ceviche, fish with green chili and coconut grilled in banana leaf, grilled mushrooms, asparagus and potatoes, tiger prawns in sea urchin garlic butter, and to finish, a passion fruit ginger cheesecake with chocolate cream. Not only was the dinner incredible, the setting was beautiful, on a serene stretch of beach with a view of the sunset. Later, a guitar player serenaded us, while a cozy bonfire sent sparks into the night sky.
Amanpulo Pool, Activities and Things to Do
The beauty of Amanpulo is that you can be as active or relaxed as you choose, on land or in the water. In the water, don't miss snorkeling and/or scuba diving. There are daily snorkeling trips at 10am and 2pm (meet by the Beach Club; masks, snorkels and fins can be borrowed on a complimentary basis) and you'll likely see turtles.
There's a full PADI dive center as well, and I enjoyed my one tank dive. Water clarity was excellent and I saw some lovely corals, anemone, clownfish, and other tropical fish, as well as turtles. See my Amanpulo YouTube video earlier in this post.
Couples and families can also enjoy sunset cruises or fishing trips with one of Amanpulo's several boat charters, or savor cocktails or lunch on the Kawayan, a floating raft.
Ocean sports such as paddle boarding and kayaking are also available, and of course there's also the main swimming pool by the Club House.
On land, get a great workout playing tennis; tennis lessons and hitting partners also available.
Don't miss the Amanpulo Spa, where the Amanpulo massage was one of the best I've ever experienced. All the details were thought out, from the cool towel and welcome drink to the treatment room with ocean view, as well as changing room and bathroom. When the therapist had me turn over on my back, the mask she placed over my eyes was cooling and the most comfortable I've had.
Afterwards, tea and mango and coconut sweets were offered in the Spa Reception.
While we got enough exercise playing tennis and swimming, there's also a full gym and complimentary daily fitness classes, including yoga and pilates.
Amanpulo also has a complimentary kids' club, and while our son has largely outgrown kids' clubs, he was happy to join in with pizza making one day–and the result was delicious.
We don't often return to resorts, as I'm always trying to review new places for TravelSort Clients, but Amanpulo is a rare exception. The beach remains the best I've ever experienced, in all the places I've visited in my home state of Hawaii, as well as the Caribbean, Maldives, and Asia. I love seeing the turtles, tropical fishes and corals, although keep in mind you'll likely need to go diving to see the healthier corals.
I really liked the vantage point of our Deluxe Hillside Casita, with its privacy yet beautiful ocean views. While you do need to take a buggy or your bike to the Beach Club, it's such a short ride that it was more than worth it to have the view. Keep in mind there are only a few Deluxe Hillside Casitas, so it's worth booking early to secure one. And for larger families or extended families, Palawan Villas are the way to go, as you can be right by the beach, with a private pool and butler and private cook services.
Food is not always a strong point at Aman Resorts, but we really enjoyed our dining at Amanpulo, particularly the Filipino breakfast bowl, smoothies and waffles at breakfast, the Italian food at the Beach Club, the Amanpulo and sushi at Nama, and the amazing prawns with sea urchin garlic butter at our beach bbq.
The great and friendly service is Amanpulo's greatest asset, together with its gorgeous beach and setting. We were just playing tennis as a family, but when my husband and I got tired before our son did, one of Amanpulo's tennis pros offered to volley with our son, which our son loved. And when my husband had taken a kayak out and had trouble turning it back towards shore due to the very strong wind that kept whipping it around, Amanpulo Beach Club's eagle eyed staff were there to help.
While those already in Asia are lucky enough to be close to Amanpulo, it's well worth the trek from the U.S. to experience what I and many Aman Junkies consider the current best Aman Resort.
If you've been to Amanpulo recently, what was your experience?
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