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“The Do's and Don'ts of Villa Leonora”

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Villa Leonora Beach Resort
Ranked #93 of 189 Puerto Princesa B&B and Inns
Livonia, Michigan
Level 6 Contributor
93 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“The Do's and Don'ts of Villa Leonora”
Reviewed 28 March 2013

We just finished up our four night stay at the Villa Leonora - and we had a blast. As I looked at different places in Palawan, I was struck by how divided the reviews (both here on TripAdvisor and elsewhere) seemed to be on this property. Now that I've stayed there, I think I understand what's driving that to some degree, and as much as to report our stay, I'd like to address some of the complaints that have been lodged by some other reviewers.

DO:

Stay at the Villa Leonora if you want an out-of-the-way place to stay while you're in Palawan.

Stay in the air conditioned rooms, not the fan rooms.

Expect that the property is a good ways (an hour plus) out of Puerto Princesa - so if it's nightlife you are looking for, do find somewhere else.

Tell the staff what you want. Room cleaned? Breakfast at a certain time? Day trips to make? Just let the folks know, and they will be all over it.

Understand that the road is not far away, and there's no way to avoid hearing it. At this point on the island you have the road and you have the ocean, and there's not much that separates the two. We were so exhausted after every day, you could have run a semi truck by our beds and we wouldn't have heard it. But it's there. The resort in general is so quiet - but the road prevents it from being silent - so just be prepared.

Know that there aren't TVs in the rooms and there isn't WIFI either. But there is WIFI in the restaurant area.

Appreciate that Arthur is an authentic character. A happy-go-lucky guy who is fun to hang out with, but a human being like all of the rest of us. That means there will be times he might rub a person the wrong way. But his is a good guy - and the world needs good guys.


DON'T

Expect a resort like the Sheridan. It's not that. It's just a little hotel right on the ocean.

Expect it to be in the heart of Puerto Princesa, because its not.

Be surprised that it takes longer and costs more to get there because of its location.

Stay in a fan room unless you are budget constrained. They are bamboo instead of concrete and that's going to mean more bugs and more noise.


At the end of the day, it's a lovely place. The physical plant is well-maintained, the staff are very friendly, and anything you want to do, they can arrange for you. Could you find other ways to do your Island Hopping, etc? I'm sure you could. Could you find ways that cost a few hundred pesos less? Probably? But for me, my vacations are not exercises in "How many pennies can I return home with?" They are a chance to relax, unwind, and get away from the regimen of daily life. And for THOSE things, the Villa Leonora, Arthur, and his staff were just right.

One last thing - if you want to go on the Underground River Tour (we did - and had a great time) PLEASE let the Villa Leonora folks know 2-4 weeks ahead of time. Nothing is surer to disappoint then to arrive there and think that you can start working on getting your passes then. They are limited and these folks need as much lead time as you can possibly provide them.

Room Tip: Air con rooms only....
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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6 Thank MichiganTed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
villaleonoraresort, Owner at Villa Leonora Beach Resort, responded to this review, 30 March 2013
Hi Ted, hope the rest of your stay in the Philippines worked out well.

Thanks for the honest informative review. Yes we are a little more expensive than going island hopping from Puerto Princesa, but you wont be sitting in a boat with 20 or 30 other tourists, so you get a bit more of the personal touch.

Cannot stress enough how important it is to book the U/G River as far in advance as possible as there are times when it is fully booked up to 3 weeks in advance, especially during holiday periods.

Regards to you and your wife. From The Staff, Arthur and Leonora
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Helsinki, Finland
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 February 2013

We stayed at Villa Leonora four nights and had a very relaxed and enjoyable time! The grounds are beautiful and it's right next to the beach. The rooms are clean and nice and the atmosphere is really chill and relaxed. If you want to stay out of Puerto Princesa and relax for a few days or just break up the trip going up north, then Villa Leonora is the place. Be aware though that there are no minimarts or shops in the area, but then again, you can get everything you need at the resort restaurant. There is a water cooler in the restaurant/reception area where you can fill up your water bottle for free.The staff is super friendly and Arthur, the owner is the best! Such a fun guy who really helped us with everything we needed from arranging accomodation to transport. We took a jeepney to Port Barton and Arthur made sure we had a seat on it (as there is only one/day and is already full once it gets to San Rafael..) but not just any seats! We got the best ones; right up front, next to the driver! Thank you Arthur for all your help!! Cheers and stay cool!! :)

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Maailmalla8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lund
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 February 2013

I am very happy with my stay at Villa Leonora, the resort has a nice garden and the bungalows, or the house with aircon, is just a couple of steps from the beach. The staff is very helpful and the couple that owns the place very welcoming, I got to come with them to a family celebration. Good food and a great experience! Also, internet is unusally fast in the restaurant compared to in Puerto Princesa, which was perfect since I had to do a lot of work during my stay.

Stayed February 2013, travelled solo
Helpful?
2 Thank Karin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oslo, Norway
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 January 2013

This resort is really nice. Best location in the area (San Rafael). If you want to stay some place closer to the underground river and away from Puerto city i would recommend you to stay here. Its quite and the beach close to the resort is ok, with a nice sand bar about 200 m further in the ocean. I recommend to you to see the waterfall nearby. Really nice and unspoiled.
The owner of Villa Leonora is a guy from Newcastle (but lived in Palawan the last 22 years) called Arthur. He is also one of attractions here. In a good way. A warm and funny guy. He will make you feel welcomed. He also likes San Mig.. :-)
There is only one negative comment about this Resort. The restaurant. The coffee. Im not sure if the english owner is more used to tea, but they should provide a better coffee.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Thomas B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
villaleonoraresort, Owner at Villa Leonora Beach Resort, responded to this review, 17 January 2013
Thank you for a nice review Thomas. I will definitely do something about the coffee.
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Darlington, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 May 2012

Due to problems with my flights, i ended up arriving 12 hours later than my friends, but i still had a driver come to pick me up which was a good welcome.

Not really wanting too much of a hassle holiday, we chose to go through the hotel for our day trips to Honda Bay and the Underground River - perhaps if we had chosen to do it privately, we would have had a slightly cheaper deal, however we all got in the minibus and were transported no problems - the vans were a bit rough and ready, but this is the Philippines, and I didn't expect any fancy cars ferrying us about. The views to and from the locations were amazing, as well as the scenery once we arrived at Honda Bay. We had to wait quite a while for the boat which was a bit of a pain, but let us stock up on sun cream and try some local goodies from the nearby stalls. Once on the boat, we were taken to a reef to see the fish - nice, but very busy. Then took a trip to Starfish island which was very picturesque. We then went to another island for lunch, where we had a fantastic dinner of grilled fish, pork, rice and vegetables - excellent food. Accompanied by a banana fruitshake or fresh coconut, it was perfect! We then had a few hours to sunbathe and swim in the crystal clear waters before heading back.

Sabang for the river was also great fun - we did the Zipline (extra to the river package, but we couldn't resist) as well which had fantastic views, but involved a bit of a sweaty walk through the jungle to the platform. After that, a lunch similar to the day before with drinks was all included and tasted excellent. The boats to the river had to be pre-booked so we had a timeslot - this was all pre-arranged by Arthur at the hotel. We had no problems, and the river (and monkeys) were great!

The sunsets and lightning storms across the water from the hotel were phenomenal. The scenery of Palawan truly is spectacular.

Unfortunately, the restaurant seemed to take forever to cook the food, however after the first night, we just booked it well in advance and enjoyed some drinks whilst we waited! The rooms were fairly basic, but with good air conditioning. As we were only there for a few days, we weren't bothered about having any cleaning done, however the bathroom issue of not being able to dispose of the toilet paper in the bowl and putting in a basket should have been disposed of daily and wasn't - in a hot country, not a good idea.

I was a bit disappointed with the distance away too, as it seemed to take forever to get there - i think you could get somewhere better for similar money nearer to Honda Bay which would be better. The food quality was very good, but selection was limited. The rooms were very basic but (fairly) clean. I think we ended up paying more for the trips, but we enjoyed the day so were happy.

The beach was a bit rough and pebbly, but once in the sea, it was lovely and sandy underfoot, and very clean. Most of the time the beach was underwater, but not a problem as there were sun loungers you could lie on.

The best bit...a massage! Get them to arrange a time with you - the girl was absolutely fantastic, and for an hour PHP800 - although 'expensive' compared to some asian prices, it was heaven.

All in all, we had a fantastic time, but that was due to us being a large group of friends and ignoring the annoying parts of the trip...would i go back to Palawan? Most definitely yes, but Villa Leonora...probably not.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank Kate M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
villaleonoraresort, Owner at Villa Leonora Beach Resort, responded to this review, 11 May 2012
It is nice to receive a constructive opinion such as this review. The food in the restaurant is prepared and cooked from scratch, it is not a Macdonalds. We do advise guests to try and order in advance.
The issue of the wastebaskets in the bathrooms how now been resolved. Also the issue of waiting for a boat for island hopping, as we now go direct from the resort by boat.
The guests plane had been delayed several hours , yet the driver was waiting. When a person who has waited for so long for their flight is tired, then any journey seems to take forever.
Thank you for your constructive comments and also the good things you pointed out
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London, England, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2012

This is in no way a "resort", it is more like a sub-1 star hotel and we wanted to leave after the first day but unfortunately we had already paid in advance through Agoda so it felt like we were in a prison. The owner no longer charges to use the "beach" or pool table but:

1. The owner rips off all of his guests:
-  The hotel's airport transfer fees are PHP2000 one way/PHP3,500 return. He claimed that the cabs outside the airport would charge PHP2,500/3,500 one way and whilst we did not investigate this, see later comments regarding the Honda Bay island hopping excursion. The bus and multi-cab/tricycle only costs PHP70 per person.
- For Honda Bay island hopping, the hotel charges PHP2,000, which includes entrance fees to all islands, boat and car transfers and a packed lunch but no drinks. The owner said that this was a good price as it would cost PHP2,500 if we booked through a tour company - this was a LIE. I had checked the prices on sites such as gopalawan.com and 3BS previously, and for exactly the same package as he was offering but with the added bonus of a freshly cooked lunch on Starfish Island with drinks, it was only PHP1,100.
- We booked Honda Bay island hopping with 3BS but since we had to be at the tour agency at 7am and didn't want to worry about being late, we asked the owner if he could arrange for us to be driven there. He said it would cost PHP2,000 one way. Then he said to the travel agent that he would drop us off at Santa Lourdes pier, which is where we were going to go from the travel agency, at 7.30am because it was closer to the resort (rather than going an hour in to Puerto and then half an hour back to get to the pier). When I asked him about this cost the next day, he said it was PHP2,000 despite the fact that Santa Lourdes pier was only half an hour away - so he was charging the same price for the hour-long transfer to the city proper or the airport.
- For the City tour, the hotel charges PHP2,000 but you also had to pay for the return transfer at PHP3,500. On other tour sites, e.g. gopalawan, it costs PHP600 for everything.
- For the Underground river, the hotel charges PHP1,950 with only a packed lunch and no drinks. On other tour sites it costs PHP1,500 and includes a buffet lunch at Taraw resort with drinks.

2. There was actually no beach (only sea) and no swimming pool. When the tide is in, which is most of the day, there is no sand as the sea comes right up to the hotel wall. In the late afternoon, when the sand does appear, it is pebbly and obviously not dry.

3. Outdated bamboo nipa huts with bamboo floors with gaps so insects could go inside, despite there not being any food in the rooms. There were hundreds of red ants all over the bathroom and every night I got bitten at least twice per night and the bites were clearly from ants. We mentioned this to the owner but his response was "what do you expect, this is a rainforest" - hardly sympathetic. He could have suggested I buy some Off! lotion (local insect repellant lotion because the stuff we bought from the UK was not effective), which is what another hotel owner from a separate resort suggested when we happened to talk on the island hopping tour. We were offered a brick building when we mentioned our unhappiness with the state of our rooms but at a cost of PHP3,800 extra for a smaller place. We had already paid over PHP21,000 for the 6 nights. There were hundreds of hornets and ants also just outside the huts, which were sprayed with harmful chemicals and the large dead hornets were left lying all over the floor outside the doors - particularly dangerous because someone could have stepped on them with bare feet and one person was allergic to those types of stings.

4. There was NO hot water (not even a hot water tap) and hardly any water pressure.

5. The drainage system was such that toilet paper had to go in an uncovered bin in the bathroom, which was disgusting, especially since this was located under the towel rail (because there was nowhere else to put it) where we hung clothes and towels, which once fell in.

6. Inadequate lighting in the rooms, no TVs, no fridge, no shampoo/shower gel or any basic offerings. Towels and bedsheets were thin, ripped and spotted with stains despite supposedly clean. We also had to specifically ask for the rooms to be cleaned every day. On our last day, they didn't bother even though we gave our keys to the cleaner in order for them to do so.

7. Regular brown/black outs, sometimes for several hours - not great when there is nothing to do after dark except stay in your room to read a book. The brown/black outs were also particularly concerning in respect of restaurant food storage - meat etc.

8. Expensive food, which took about an hour after ordering for it to arrive, despite us being the only guests and on one occasion we only ordered chips. There is also a mandatory service charge imposed on everything plus a separate tip box at the reception desk!

9. This place is advertised as being in Honda bay but it's about half an hour away by car.

10. The hotel is at least an hour away from the city proper and is located on a main road - you can hear the cars/buses/motorbikes on the road from the rooms.

11. Towards the end of our stay, they claimed to have run out of nearly every item we wanted to order, e.g. fresh fruit such as bananas for milkshakes and calamansi. Though there was a store down the road, they didn't stock up on subsequent days after we had asked for these things.

12. One of our party had a stomach upset and luckily they had bought their own toilet roll because the cleaners had not replenished the toilet roll and they had not even provided a spare.

13. The owner seemed to drink heavily (even from midday) and appeared drunk at most times and on the first night admitted he was drunk so to wait until the morning to ask him any questions. He also kept pestering us - appearing then going away then reappearing several times while we were trying to have dinner, in the same way an annoying old drunk would down the pub. He was also moody, intimidating and rude whenever we had any queries. He was extremely condescending and spoke to guests as thought they were stupid. On our first night, during dinner, we also heard him loudly swearing down the telephone at someone from a tour agency in the middle of the restaurant. He acted inappropriately and unprofessionally. He said he was trying the sell the place so it seemed as though he couldn't be bothered. 

14. Transfer cars were dangerous - no seat belts, windscreen wipers were broken so they smeared the windscreen and one car had been smashed at the back but was still in service.

15. Our driver was late in arriving to take us to the airport on our way home and someone had to contact him at the time we were supposed to be leaving to get him to come to the hotel. Then during the journey, he kept stopping - seemed as though he had been drinking the night before and also alarming is that he decided to put on some spectacles half-way through the journey!
 

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
9 Thank L0vePhilippines
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
villaleonoraresort, Owner at Villa Leonora Beach Resort, responded to this review, 11 May 2012
Wow! Long story. Bit more like a fairy tale though. When people want to crowd 5 adults in one room of course it will not be as comfortable. Their choice.
If anyone can get a tricycle and shuttle van for 60/70 pesos I will give them the transport for free. We don't own the vans we just have an agreement with them which favors our guests.
It is possible to get cheaper tours when you join a large group through a travel and tour company but as a resort we tend to be more personal and we do and have always include a grilled cooked lunch as other reviews will testify to.
Had they asked the tour company to pick them up from the resort they would have been charged 3,500 peso.
It is possible to make some people happy some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
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Porvoo, Finland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 23 March 2012

Just have to say, really good place.. After travelling through really crowded places, this is like heaven. First just rest for couple of days, then took well organized trips to the islands that were the most beatyful you can think. If you go to Palawan, i really recommend this one. Also when you have eat only rice for three months, here you can eat really good food, little expensive but its worth of the money. ;) Thanks for everyone there.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Niko K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Villa Leonora Beach Resort

Property: Villa Leonora Beach Resort
Address: Sitio Dacutan, Barangay San Rafael | San Rafael, Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island 5400, Philippines
Region: Philippines > Mimaropa > Palawan Province > Palawan Island > Puerto Princesa
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #93 of 189 B&Bs / Inns in Puerto Princesa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The resort has eight air conditioned rooms en-suite with hot water showers. All rooms have double beds. Additional beds can be installed on request. Children under 5 years free. 5 to 12 years full. The resort also has 5 fan rooms en-suite with cold water showers. We arrange tours and are close to all the major tourist activities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Villa Leonora Beach Hotel Puerto Princesa
Villa Leonora Beach Resort Palawan Island/Puerto Princesa

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