Finally, I had the chance to write down my thoughts on our experience in this recently hyped resort up north the country. Just this summer, we had an opportunity to book an overnight stay at this place called The Santorini of the North. Vitalis, which is located in Santiago, Ilocos Sur, was gaining quite a lot of attention early this year and we figured to give it a shot. Who doesn’t like to have a taste of Santorini anyway so, if you are on a tight budget and do not have the luxury to experience the real thing, this is one of the best bet. I say one of the best because there is also the Bellaroca who shares similar idea, inspiration and theme as the Vitalis. In fact Bellaroca came first but that one is down south.
At any rate, so we headed into the place which is by the way just a 30 minute drive from our home in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur (yep we have a house in Ilocos Sur where we stay for family vacations during summer). All aboard and everyone was excited as we cruise the highway with the setting sun until we reached the reception area for our check-in. This is not what we had imagined. Aside from the seemingly obvious color theme aligned with Santorini which is blue and white, there is nothing much like the actual thing. We were then told that our booking was for Vitalis Resort and Spa. Little did we know (and I know we should have done better research) that Vitalis is divided into 2 parts. Vitalis Resort & Spa and the Vitalis Villas. The Greece that we were looking for and hoping to have a taste of is actually the Vitalis Villas which is at the other end of the shoreline – some 1.5km from where we were. A bit frustrated, we still pushed through. We wouldn’t be able to refund the fees anyway and who does not want something different this time around especially if you are tired of seeing the same shoreline back home.
Nonetheless, let me share to you some information and experiences that may help you should you decide to book a stay in either of this 2 Vitalis resorts.
The lobby at Vitalis Resort & Spa
Vitalis Resort & Spa is your typical family resort accommodation with a public pool, a restaurant and a bar and a billiard table where you can play for free. It also has outdoor tables for that cold bottle of beer as you watch the sun set but that’s just about it. Accommodation starts at 4k Php inclusive of breakfast.
Model Unit for Demonstration
Vitalis Villas as seen from Vitalis Resort and Spa
Vitalis Villas on the other hand is more of an elite variant and this is where the Santorini feel everyone is hyped about can be found. If you are booked in Vitalis R&S, you are allowed to have a day tour of the Vitalis Villas via the resort’s shuttle service. Sadly though when we went there, around 30% of the place is still under construction and we are only allowed to roam around at certain areas (not all areas can be accessed unless you are a registered guest). Day tour guests can also visit model units with an accompanying resort staff. The resort has rooms (for couple and families as well) with private pools overlooking the South China Sea. It also has a zipline that will take you back to the Vitalis R&S. Accommodation starts at 11k++ with full board meals and inclusive of non-motorized activities. You can also avail of the Vigan City tour from there. We have yet to actually experience the Villas at some point but for now, let us stay tuned for further development.
Overall, Vitalis R&S needs quite a bit of boost. The staff consistently greets every guest but restaurant waiters need more public relations training. They seem too uncomfortable to talk to the guests. Good thing that I am an Ilocano and the moment I started conversing in the said dialect, they became at ease. Room facilities should also be improved. A lot of the toilet fixtures need to be replaced due to rust. Some sinks are also clogged. The idea is there but it should be sustainable so things get to be consistent.
For more information, visit www.vitalisresort.com and Vitalis Villas on Facebook.