No beachfront, no problem. Lagun Hotel, situated just at the edge of El Nido town, has something unique in its place—a limestone cliff for a backdrop, the photowall to end all photowalls. The roof deck of the four-story hotel, which soft-opened last March, is the place to take in this magnificent view, whether you’re soaking in the infinity pool and trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive talusi or Palawan hornbill, or sipping a pina colada and watching the boats sail off into the distance.
The rest of the hotel is also a delight to explore. Designer Cecil Ravelas, who had been decorating for large, pre-formatted hotels, found that owners Richmond and Bambi Bicol had given her carte blanche to really personalize each area. Drawing from her thesis at Milan’s Instituto Marangoni, Ravelas looked to El Nido, the place, and its meaning “the nest,” for the elements of the story Lagun was to tell. The woven textures, the lampshades from SC Vizcarra, and the curvilinear reception desk all echo the concept of the nest, rendered in contemporary forms and using Filipino materials and craftmanship.
In the hallways, colorful banigs woven by the women of a southern Palawan tribe are used as wall coverings, each panel an individual interpretation of a clan’s signature pattern. The vibrant accents of color used throughout the hotel, from the throw pillows to the bathroom tiles, reflect scenes found in Palawan’s natural environment, and are used to evoke pleasurable memories in the guests, who will have spent a glorious day island hopping, swimming in lagoons, or hiking the karsts. The aesthetic is organic yet modern, and proudly local while appealing to global tastes.
Lagun also offers curated tours of El Nido, highlighting the best of what the island has to offer. While most travelers will be taking the standard Tour A, B, C, or D, the hotel can arrange a bangka that will take you to the magical Cadlao lagoon before the crowds rush in, followed by a delicious lunch on a private island, with fresh coconut juice straight from the treetops. In the evenings, you are invited to sunset cocktails at beach-fronting boutique resorts that Lagun collaborates with, like Panorama and Frangipani, both of which also have particular design sensibilities that speak to the “new El Nido.”
If you’re too knackered for a night out, dinner at Lagun’s own Habi Restaurant and Bar will hit the spot. Their sisig puts on a show, with the chef coming out of the kitchen to mix the calamansi-marinated pork belly on a sizzling plate, topped with an egg and a secret sauce. Also highly rated is the sinuglaw, a dish of grilled pork sharing the spotlight with tuna ceviche. A filling end to a fulfilling day—and in El Nido, you get to do it all over again.
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