THE  ALLURE  OF  ANAYANA

PANGLAO, BOHOL, JUNE 8, 2009 (STAR) RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit - Ananyana’s Family Suite is rustic luxury with its fusion of Balinese-Filipino architecture. It all started simply — as most journeys often do. The urban frenzy was becoming constricting and the need to escape to sublime serenity was necessary. Hibernating in a tried-and-tested soulful sanctuary was a must — this time, in the beautiful Ananyana resort, our home away from home in the sunny island of Panglao in Bohol.

Just a comfortable hour-long flight away was all it took for my family, friends and I to find ourselves enchanted by this slice of paradise. From Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol, where our Cebu Pacific plane landed, we were whisked off along well-paved roads to this jewel of a resort in Panglao. From Ananyana’s enclave, guests can traipse to the province’s green-mantled hills, waterfalls, lush forests, caramel colored sandy beaches, meandering rivers and centuries-old churches. Guests can also opt to be ferried to the middle of the sea on a glass-bottom boat and watch dolphins frolicking. Today, Bohol is among the country’s top tourism destinations for it is an ode to the beauty and glory of its heritage and culture as well as a magnet to progressive infrastructure, amenities and very soon a new and posh airport.

The resort per se is a marvelous destination. What makes Ananyana all the more an extraordinary find is the fact that dining here is never second best. Indeed, Ananyana is popularly known as the choice destination for epicurean aficionados.

In this inn-timate resort, the aroma of food wafting from the open kitchen mixes well with the breeze coming from the pristine beachfront of the resort. At the resort’s one and only restaurant, the guests’ palates are teased and tickled with delightfully delicious entrees. The farmer’s breakfast is a hefty and heavenly serving of fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, onions, paprika and secret spices. It’s the favorite of my family as we hie off to this resort very religiously. Take advantage of Ananyana’s Pinoy Summer Specials of specially discounted packages until the end of this month. I assure you, it will be worth the trip.

Besides the luxurious accommodations and amenities, the food at Ananyana makes the resort a fabulous travel destination. Everything on the menu is guaranteed to satiate one’s craving. From the resort’s fresh salads creatively arranged with fabulous dressings to the pasta with gamberi (juicy shrimps) drenched in olive oil, the resort’s kitchen staff proves that dining at Ananyana takes a stellar treatment. The bread pudding served piping hot with liquor and cream and slathered with white and dark chocolates is both a salvation and a sin. The assorted pizzas like margherita and seasoned marinara are divinely made from scratch. No wonder my youngest sister Yvonne and her husband Pael Romualdez and their diving buddies often book this lovely resort for an entire week of luxurious leisure and quality-time retreat.

At the resort, gracious GM Freddie Carmona warmly welcomed us. In this picturesque mise en scène in Panglao island, we were charmed anew by Ananyana. With 10 beautifully appointed rooms and two spacious family suites to share its lavish facilities and three kilometers of private beachfront, Ananyana resort certainly takes boutique hospitality to soaring heights.

The architecture of the resort’s suites are a fusion of Balinese and traditional Filipino styles. Each suite is replete with super-king-size beds with immaculate white linens, natural stonewall mounted showers, split-type air-conditioning and a well-equipped mini bar. The family suite can accommodate as many as eight persons with a living area with two divan beds, mezzanine type bedrooms and capiz-shelled sliding door that leads to the balcony. Take a refreshing shower in the indigenous Filipino-styled bathroom called tapayan with outdoor plants and antique jars filled with flower petals for that personal and loving touch.

In this tropical sanctuary, an ideal haven of exquisite idyllic living, the cream sand extends along the ocean while quaint hammocks under the towering palm trees rock you to the lullaby of the sea. Or you can lie on the sand so soft you feel you are reclined on cotton wool while having ice-cold frozen margaritas and daiquiris. During the day, you gaze at pure aquamarine; in the evening at the gently tinted play of colors as the sun fades into the ocean. If you turn your gaze inland, you see nature in all the green tones of a painter’s easel merging with the friendliness and graciousness of the resort staff. Their smiles seem to radiate from their hearts.

Ananyana is perched along the three-kilometer Doljo beach. The resort is a visual feast designed to caress the mind, body and soul. Nestled in settings that weave nature with tradition, the romance of Ananyana is a splendid treasure on the island of Panglao. In the midst of a picturesque sea view, the resort is perched on a landscaped plethora of greens and blooms, a patina of rainbow colors awash on the landscaped grounds. As you enter the lobby festooned with frescoes, wooden carvings, silk embroidered pillows, bronze artifacts and Balinese stupas, the scent of lavender and mint wafts in the air, arresting your senses. Tribal music and mellow jazz complement the sensual atmosphere as bamboo and wood furniture with comfortable sofas entice you to lie down and be embraced by the warmth and sincerity of the place. Furnished with local endemic wood, rattan and light-colored fabrics, the suite villas are built around sand dunes, lush landscapes, a restaurant and quaint spa nook. Beneath coconut palms and awash in the quiet murmur of the sea, one concomitantly communes with nature. In just a few moments, the tension of past years dissolve into pleasure — the newly acquired energy can later be used for an excursion to the Chocolate Hills, swimming by the gushing waterfalls of the Loboc river or visiting the sanctuary of the world’s smallest primate, the tarsiers.

One can also try the newest island activity, zip-lining, in which the daredevil in you can swing across exhilarating views of the mountain and sea that would even make the Mona Lisa envious. A zip-line consists of a pulley suspended along a cable mounted between two points of an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to ride from the top to the bottom along the inclined cable, usually made of stainless steel, by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley. The 550-meter zip-line is where tourists slide for their life while suspended above a canyon of about 250 to 300 meters over the gurgling Wahig River and its rocky beds. The slide, which takes about 45 seconds to a minute o complete, depending on one’s weight, is gravity controlled and has to be executed twice — another ride on the way back, which is rated an even bigger thrill by extreme adventurers.

The resort’s spa services are also a must. This outdoor sanctuary is home to herbal aromatic spa treatments. In this paradise, where the land meets the sea, can be found great spiritual power as both the earth and the water are renowned for their natural healing qualities. Rather like the properties themselves, the sophisticated treatments combine elements from both Eastern and Western practices, yet with suitable local flavor. The Tuina massage, an ancient Chinese form of massage based on acupressure, reestablishes the natural flow of universal energy while the Ananyana Blend immerses traditional local massage techniques using hand-prepared aromatherapy oils. The spa’s luxurious Tao Foot Revival begins with a lemongrass and patchouli oil fusion foot wash followed by a scrub combining pine, menthol and pumice. Body therapy rituals, herbal and fruit wraps and facials add to the sensory delights but at the core of the spa in Ananyana is not just pampering, but healing.

On our last night in Ananyana, the silvery full moon shining in all its glory created a stunning reflection on the calm waters. A candle-lit dinner of grilled barracuda with mango and avocado, tuna steak with remoullade sauce, tiger prawns sarong marinated with lemongrass and chili paste, stir-fried beef with lemon basil and bamboo shoots, Mahi-Mahi fillet with banana curry sauce and baked brawns with Mandarin sauce and tomato at al fresco dining area was a delightful way to end the day. Ice-cold amaretto sour cocktails energized our senses as we were serenaded by cicadas. It seemed as if we were in heaven or at least we felt very close to it.

It all began simply with the desire to get away. Our wanderlust led us back to Ananyana. In this resort, our home away from home, all we want to do is to stay.

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For more information on the affordable Pinoy Summer specials until June 30, please call Ananyana resort at +63 38 5028101 or log on to www.ananyana.com.

E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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