With much luck, I had the opportunity to visit what they say is the only 5-star resort hotel in the North of Luzon — Fort Ilocandia. It isn’t peak season this time of the year so there weren’t a lot of guests around the huge resort. And of all the guests we were with, perhaps 80 percent were foreign — specifically Chinese and Korean. All around the vicinity you’d see Chinese translations of signs and such, so it’s pretty obvious it’s their market.
We flew to Laoag via Cebu Pacific at around 6:30pm.You can opt to road trip or take a bus from Manila, but this will take something like 10 hours, as compared to the 1.5 hours you’ll spend flying. When we got to Fort Ilocandia after a 20-minute van ride from the airport, chandeliers and yellow lights greeted us hello.
Since it was pretty late, we just had room service from Cafe Ilocandia. Expect this to be expensive: P400-P500 per person plus additional 10% service charge for room service.
Interesting but sad fact: Ever since the bus hostage incident that took place in 2010, tourists who were supposed to visit Fort Ilocandia all throughout the year have cancelled their flights. This still affects their business until today.
This is my Fort Ilocandia handstand shot.Outside, everything’s green and blue… and have I mentioned vast?The theme is Spanish-Moroccan, at least according to my favorite blogger Anton Diaz.The amenities are wild — they’ve got golf, a casino, pools, ATV’s, table tennis, basketball, archery and paintball, to mention some. Olympic size, yeah!They even have a mini zoo.Clearly, this isn’t the kind of place you check in to if you’re just looking for a place to sleep in and intend to hit the road afterwards. Aside from the fact that it might be impractical, you will also be missing a lot if you don’t find time to explore around and actually stay there.
As a result of my exploration, here are some more photos:
If you do plan to go out and explore the rest of Laoag, Vigan and Pagudpud, the hotel offers tour packages for P750-P900 per person (minimum of 5). Vigan and Pagudpud are both 1.5 – 2 hours away from Fort Ilocandia but in opposite directions, so you have to allot at least one day for each tour. Alternatively, if you’re a big group, you can just hire a private van from outside the hotel like we did. I actually just googled this then and there and I was given a slot the following day. Contact Risa (owner) at 09399165772 or Gery (driver) at 09208504989.Van rental should cost you only P3,500 for a whole day.
Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel is located at Barangay 37 Calayab Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, 2900 Philippines. For more info, visit their website at www.fortilocandiahotel.com.
Also during this trip: