Isla Naburot on the west coast of Guimaras is sheer paradise. It is a little wooded islet, with a semi-circular, golden beach that leads to a coral lagoon. The main attraction of Isla Naburot, apart from its setting, is the uniqueness of its architectural style.
Anne Saldana, the daughter of the owners, is there to welcome you upon your arrival. She lives on the island and supervises the operations of the resort. Warm and discreetly attentive to the needs of the guests, she is also an excellent cook, as you will experience when you try the restaurant.
The houses, dispersed among frangipani trees, hibiscus, bougainvillea and cycads were constructed in the 1970s. Initially conceived as family vacation house, the architecture was mostly the brainchild f Anne’s mother, Mrs. Alice Saldana. A doctor by profession and an antique collector, she has a wealth of imagination — and taste. The best use was made of natural, unusual, organic materials: pebbles and shells, roots and knotted tree trunks, driftwood retrieved from the beach, fragments of the blue and white Chinese porcelain. She also recovered odd pieces from old houses: wooden doors, floors, and shutters. What may seem eccentric is in fact a charming, alluring ensemble. The houses are furnished with beautiful antique furniture: planter’s armchairs, cupboards and benches. The floors are made of either beautifully polished wood or 1920s tiles. In the bathrooms, towels and sarongs are laid out for you in giant clam shells. Mirrors bordered with the exception of a mosquito net swaying in the breeze, there is nothing to separate you from the starry sky and sound of the waves.
You have a choice between the stone houses, distinctly different but equally superb, and the wooden cottages on a promontory over the dining area. The cottages, smaller and less impressive compared to the houses, are very welcoming and quite independent. Cottage 1, with a bathroom overlooking the lagoon is extraordinary. A little house is right on the beach, but is too close to the kitchen and the dining area.
If you need more spacious lodgings, you can stay at the family house facing the main beach. The ground floor houses the resort’s library and a piano. The main rooms on the second floor have balconies that look out to the sea. A few meters away, tucked into a cove, is another house with its own private beach. It has billiard table on the ground floor and rooms upstairs overlooking the beach. The inconvenience is that it cannot be concealed from the exterior by either windows, shutters or curtains.
On the other side of the island, five minutes on foot, are two houses perched on a cliff that enjoy a fabulous view. The “house on the cliff” is particularly dramatic on its rocky spur, resembling sentry on guard. It can only be occupied on special request, as the owners prefer to leave it open to guests keen on watching the sunset or relaxing in one of the hammocks. The other house is accessible from the family house by a mossy stone staircase. It is very pleasant with a terrace on the ground floor with a view of the sea. The restaurant/dining area is an open wood structure right on the beach. The sand itself serves as flooring. Everything is cooked in large earthenware pots over woodfire. Mealtimes are veritable feasts — a moment of the day to savor.
How to get there
By air, land and sea, 65-minute daily flights on PAL, Air Philippines or Cebu Pacific from Manila to Iloilo, 15-30 minutes by car from Iloilo airport to the pier, 1 hour by banca from the pier to the resort.
More photos here