Friday, September 14, 2007

Bohol Journey, Captivating Amarela Resort

Amarela in the early morning lightAT midlife you often find yourself traveling to find answers to the many questions that lie within. Often, the best part about this journey are the unexpected finds – both from within yourself, as a 40something embarking on the second half of life, and the treasures you find as you traipse the country.

Bohol, the province dubbed as “God’s little paradise” caught me off-guard as I spent a couple of days there last week, wrapped in its mystery and charm as I discovered many gems throughout the province. Foremost among those treasured finds, is a hidden enclave by the sea - the Amarela Resort on Panglao Island in Bohol.

The yellow, Mediterranean styled, 24-room boutique resort is a sight to behold. From the moment you step in, you become wrapped in serenity, enfolded in Amarela’s warmth and charm. The staff is very friendly and accommodating, you feel like you are an esteemed guest at someone’s elegant, seaside residence where you feel very much relaxed and at home right away. A rich sense of Bohol’s culture and history fill the halls and rooms of this resort. As you walk through the resort, you cannot help but be filled with admiration for the province’s wealth of culture and history. The view from the dining area is simply breathtaking, guests are awed with unrivalled vistas of the Visayan sea. On a clear day, one can see all the way to Camiguin and the neighboring fabled, Pamilacan Island.

The resort has so many intricate details, each one with a story to tell which makes Amarela all the more charming and special. The master of the house, so to speak, is Atty. Doy Nunag, who in his “former” life was a corporate lawyer with one of the largest and most esteemed international law firms. Nunag hails from Antiquera and is very much proud of his province’s culture and history. Throughout our stay there he regaled us with stories about the many pieces that adorn the walls and halls of Amarela. Nunag is both gentle and genteel and Amarela manifests the qualities of its owner. The paintings that hang on its walls are from various people close to the Nunag family. The massive doors that welcome you to Amarela came from a centuries old house in Bohol, as are the intricate wooden lattices that surround the resort. Practically all of the wooden furniture – chairs, tables, beds - at Amarela are either antiques or fashioned by Nunag’s townmates from Antiquera, a town known for its excellent weavers and woodsmen.

Personally, the best part about being in Amarela was the respite and serenity it provided from what can sometimes be a frazzled and hurried life. The whole area is filled with such peace and tranquility that your mind and spirit are really forced to take a respite from the concerns of the world. Very conducive to writing and reading, Amarela fulfilled all my requirements for a perfect get-away – the sun, the sea, lots of green, tranquil surroundings and the creature comforts of modern life.

The resort has a library of the Nunag family’s personal collection of books and DVD’s. Consider that in the family there are two lawyers, one sportsman, one creative soul and a health practicioner, you can begin to imagine the array of books and the impressive DVD collection housed in the resort. Because I was feeling momentarily blue, I chose to view “It’s A Wonderful Life” in the privacy of my room, and like it always does, the movie did not fail to cheer my heart.

Amarela’s 26 guestrooms are tranquil, beachside retreats that are superbly furnished, well-equipped, and comfortable. After a day of taking in Bohol’s wonderful sights, you will look forward to coming home to Amarela. On my first day there, all I did was sleep, eat and take in the beautiful sea view. One morning, I was up at the crack of dawn to catch the glorious sunrise on the resort’s balcony, watching the gentle morning light bathe the resort in splendor.

The beach with its white sands is captivating and soothing this time of the year. I enjoyed just soaking in the sun, savoring the gentle breeze and listening to the waves caress the shore. Amarela also has a good-sized pool where you can swim to your heart’s content or simply lie under the sun and lose yourself in a good book. My book of choice for this particular Bohol adventure was the hilarious and insightful “The Late Bloomer’s Revolution”.

I came to Bohol on a whim, having heard a great deal about the beauty that the province had to offer and yet, not expecting anything. I chose to keep myself open to all the possibilities that lay ahead and just allowed myself to be surpised and awed by its gifts. The time at Amarela, just letting myself be “in the flow” so to speak, brought many joys and discoveries untold. As I prepared to leave the island that had captivated my heart, I was reminded of what Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote – “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.” I would go back in a heartbeat and I look forward to returning to Amarela once more.

For more information on Amarela – please visit the Amarela resort website


Tessa Cruz said...

What a beautiful place! It goes on my list of places to visit the next time I came home.

CathyB said...

Hi Tessa! Thanks for stopping by :) Yes, do go! It is really such a beautiful and serene place :) I look forward to visiting again soon!