When we were kids, my sisters and I used to go to this beach resort in Iba, Zambales almost every year with our parents. Why Zambales? It’s not where our family’s originally from. We just went there one year, fell in love with it and kept coming back.
The resort itself was far from perfect, to be honest; it was the familiarity and memories we took comfort in and encouraged us to go all those times. But as time went, the resort slowly deteriorated, and at that point we decided it was time to look for a new place. After sorting through different travel sites, we found La Vista Hotel & Beach Resort, which looked pretty good (and affordable, a big plus for us), and booked an overnight trip.
La Vista Hotel is located in a town called Bangantalinga. It’s a bit off the highway; you have to enter this small road to find it so keep your eyes peeled for signs, or make your life easy with Waze (not endorsing, just a fan of this nifty app). Outside, it’s a low-rise, modern-looking white building with a gate and security guard. Parking’s limited, so I’m not sure how they fare in that department if they’re completely booked.
We booked two standard rooms: a family suite and a couple’s suite. The family room has a bunk bed (the bottom’s bigger than the top) and a single bed. The’re also a small cable TV as well as one of those heritage-looking cabinets for your stuff. Overall, the rooms pretty small, which is why it’s a good thing there were only five of us in there (three adults, two kids). The couple’s room has a queen-sized bed, a TV, and another old cabinet with a matching table-and-chairs set. Air conditioning worked really well in both rooms, something worth mentioning because the heat outside probably would’ve made us kill each other if the A/C sucked.
A couple of nuances though: the door in the family room gets stuck sometimes, it probably expanded after being affixed but they just let it be, so you kind of have to force it whenever you open or close it. I’m also concerned about the security of the room. Nothing happened to us, don’t get me wrong, but the door jamb is broken at the part where the latch is supposed to go in, so all you have for protection is the slide-on lock they attached to the door.
Since the resort is rather small, the stretch of beach it can claim as its “private” property is pretty narrow, and this ain’t Boracay so don’t expect white sand. The water’s clear, though, so you have that. And good news to those coming with small kids: the water doesn’t suddenly just dip after wading a couple of feet; it slooooowly gets deeper the farther you go. At one point I thought I’d walked 5 minutes from the shore and the water was still up to my waist (and I’m not freakishly tall, for the curious).
If you’re squeamish when it comes to marine life, you’ll be glad to know there’s not a lot of it here, save for a few jellyfish. But there are “freelance” boaters who will offer to take you to a far part of the sea for a bit of snorkeling. (For this, we boarded the “Sea Master” commanded by the friendly Mang Jun and his companion) They can lend you goggles and life jackets, but don’t forget your aqua shoes. There’s also a volleyball net if you want to get all athletic, but other than that and getting baked on the beach (not that way, though whatever floats your boat), there’s not much to do in the way of activities.
We originally planned to grill our own food, but ultimately decided to bum on the beach until the cows came home. We decided to just order off their menu, which is largely Filipino, reasonably priced, and pretty damn good. Just make sure you put your requests in at least an hour before you want to eat. They’ve got an air conditioned dining area, plus alfresco seating (with a karaoke machine). Kudos also to the servers, who were very friendly and accommodating.
So is it good enough for a repeated visit? Not really, personally. If you’re used to five-star treatment, it’s far from being the Shangri-La. But if it’s a short and budgeted getaway you’re looking for, the affordable rates, generally good rooms, and nice service make it worth a stay.
Overall rating: ★★★☆☆
La Vista Hotel & Beach Resort
Bangantalinga, Iba, Zambales
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