Review: Corto del Mar (Coron, Philippines)

The Philippines isn’t one of the most common honeymoon destinations.  However, its natural beauty and the locals’ reputation for friendliness earned it a spot on our around-the-world honeymoon.

Palawan Islands
The natural beauty of the Palawan region of the Philippines struck us before we had even landed!

Getting There

Though Boracay may be the most well-known tourist area in the Philippines, we decided to visit an area less developed – the Palawan region – to get a true feel for the Philippines.  Through Agoda.com, we booked a room at the Corto del Mar in Coron Town for four nights. For the four nights we paid a total of $555, an amount that wouldn’t cover even two nights at most honeymoon hotel options.

The Corto del Mar hotel staff arranged, free of charge, for a shuttle to pick us up at the Busuanga airport.  The shuttle driver was waiting for us at the airport when our flight arrived.  We piled into the shuttle van with some other folks headed to different hotels in town, and departed.  As we traveled from the airport to the hotel, mostly on dirt roads, we journeyed through a variety of scenes.  Lush vegetated areas gave way eventually to the town of Coron.  The town is very undeveloped relative to American towns; many of the residences are tin-roofed.  The happiness of the residents, especially the children, struck us immediately though.  It was clear that lack of material possessions wasn’t bringing them down emotionally.

Overview

As we neared what seemed to be the end of the town we turned a final corner and saw the facade of the Corto del Mar.  The permanent, sturdy building stood out starkly among the local residences, in a good way.  The hotel’s architecture gave off a bit of a Spanish vibe.

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The front facade of the Corto del Mar makes it clear which hotel you’ve arrived at! The wooden doors and statue hint at the beautiful woodwork that lays beyond the entryway.

There is extensive hand-carved woodwork throughout and an outdoor pool that serves as the centerpiece of the hotel.  The pool was never crowded while we were there.

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This hand-carved sea turtle sculpture is one example of the beautiful woodwork at the Corto del Mar. It’s not often that stairs at a hotel are a sight worth recommending but the stairs at this hotel are also beautiful.
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The outdoor pool serves as the central feature of the hotel with the rooms surrounding it. The pool was clean and never crowded during our stay.

Adjacent to the pool is an open air bar and seating area and adjacent to that is an enclosed seating area for the restaurant.  The food is good and if you’re used to paying 1st world vacation restaurant prices, you’ll be thrilled with the prices here.  One item they excel at creating is their pizza.  We loved it so much that we must have eaten four or five pizzas during our short stay!

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The theme of beautiful woodwork carried through to the restaurant which had handmade chairs and tables and ceiling accents.
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The restaurant offers pleasant views of the pool through large, arched-border windows.

The staff at the hotel in general was excellent and the waiters and waitresses at the restaurant were no exception.  The restaurant staff all worked with great attitudes and presented friendly fronts.

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This young man was our favorite waiter – he was always smiling!  In this photo he’s presenting us with a bottle of Prosecco that my sister had ordered for us remotely as a honeymoon gift.
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The hotel restaurant staff provided a honeymoon gift also – a delicious heart-shaped dessert that Patty and I had no problem finishing.

WiFi was included free of charge.  Though online reviews mentioned it was unusable for some people we didn’t have any significant issues using it in our room or around the pool, which was great because we didn’t buy any cellular service for the trip.

The Rooms

The Corto del Mar has 32 rooms, each of which opens to an open-air hallway.  Our room was a decent size with a king bed and a very nice bathroom.  Though it was by no means up to the luxury standards of a high-end western hotel, compared to the rest of the town of Coron the room was very nice.  We didn’t spend much time in the room at all because the natural beauty of the Philippines was the reason for our visit and we were blessed with excellent weather even though it was the rainy season.

On the downside, the A/C did turn off in our room at night several nights, and the room heated up until we awoke and restarted it. The roosters nearby were loud at times as others have mentioned. There is a gap of about 3/8″ between the bottom of the room doors and the floors, which allow some critters to get into the room. One day we awoke to find a whole bunch of ants over one of our bags that had some food in it. The staff was very understanding, immediately sending housekeeping to rid the room of the ants.

Around the Hotel and Activities

We chose to visit the Philippines to check out the awesome (literally) scenery and we were fortunate to do so.  The Philippines is a collection of 7,000+ islands so it’s an incredible water world.  We spent three full days doing island-hopping tours and loved every minute of them.  We chose to do our island hopping tours with Calamianes Expeditions though the hotel staff suggested a different company.  That company was charging roughly twice what Calamianes Expeditions was charging. The hotel staff still graciously called Calamianes Expeditions to make the bookings and we were generally happy with the tours.

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We transited through town on trikes a bunch of times during our stay at the Corto del Mar, including to get to Calamianes Expeditions, which was a couple-minute ride from the hotel.
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Throughout our island-hopping tours we visited a variety of beautiful, postcard-like beaches. The beach shown here – Malcapuya Beach – may have been the best!
A hammock between trees on Philippine beach.
Some of the beaches were set up for lounging, like this one, with a hammock that Patty called home for a bit.
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This scene was one of my favorites from the trip as it mimics the photograph that first turned me on to the Palawan region – a photo I saw in Outside Magazine a year or so before our honeymoon. It’s a view of the area surrounding Kayangan Lake, which is a freshwater lake behind the point of view of this photo.

Opportunities for unforgettable snorkeling abound in the Palawan region.  We saw thousands upon thousands of beautiful fish, a mesmerizing spotted ray and even a couple small reef sharks (they’re harmless).

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We found Nemo on multiple snorkeling excursions.  Turns out there are quite a few “Nemos” in the waters of the Palawan region.

Summary

The Corto del Mar is a standout relative to the area it is located in.  It’s probably the nicest hotel in Coron Town.  With beautiful woodwork, excellent service, a good restaurant and a nice pool it hits some great high notes.  On the other hand the engineering team should really should modify the A/C system such that if there is a power outage in the middle of the night, the A/C will turn back on automatically when power is restored.  For honeymooners who have decided to visit Coron Town, the Corto del Mar is a great choice.  That said, even though it is much more luxurious than other options in the area, it may still fall short of the expectations of some honeymooners.  Taking it all into account,  The Honeymoon Guy awards the Corto del Mar a Honeymoon Suitability Rating (HSR) of 12 out of 17!

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