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“Third Trip and We'll Be Back - It's That Good!”

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Kasai Village Dive & Spa Resort
Ranked #5 of 7 Hotels in Moalboal
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 4 June 2012

TRIP REPORT, PHILIPPINES, APRIL 2012

My dive buddy (husband) and I took our third scuba diving trip to the Philippines in April 2012. We spent one week at Kasai Village Beach Resort, Moalboal, on the island of Cebu. The second week we stayed at Atlantis Resort, Dumaguete on the island of Negros Oriental. Our travel was not as direct as usual as we wanted to fly with a Delta partner to take advantage of certain Skymiles perks. We flew Korean Air from LAX to Incheon Airport (Seoul, Korea) then on to Cebu City. We transferred from Kasai Village Beach Resort to the Atlantis Resort via ferry. For our return trip we flew on Philippine Air from Dumaguete to Cebu City (through Manila). From Cebu City we returned to LAX on Korean Air. Incheon Airport is fabulous, in my opinion it rivals the fantastic Changi Airport in Singapore. We had twenty-some hours of layovers on the return trip – so while the use of the various premier lounges was nice, I’m not sure it was worth it. Luckily our total time underwater (just over 37 hours each) was greater than our layovers. We will probably fly on Philippine Air (LAX-MNL-CEB) next trip.

KASAI VILLAGE BEACH RESORT, MOALBOAL, CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES
APRIL 11-18, 2012

Pictures can be viewed at http://www.picasaweb.google.com. Search “Best of Kasai, the Philippines”. Photos are by Reid McBride. Click on his name and the albums come up.

This was our third scuba diving trip to Kasai Village Beach Resort (www.kasaivillage.com). Our first trip to Kasai was in 2009 and second in 2011. We have been diving for eleven years and have over 850 dives each. We take several dive trips a year and have been to the Caribbean often. We have quite a few trips to Tropical Pacific areas as well. We are young (at heart – as chronological age puts us in the 60’s and 70’s). As with our other Asian/Tropical Pacific travel, we used Ultimate Dive Travel (www.ultimatedivetravel.com) as our travel agent. For the most part, we arrange our own travel in the Caribbean, but really appreciate having Ultimate Dive Travel taking care of the many details for our more exotic travel. They do a great job for us and we have never ended up in a resort or day room that wasn’t good.

Kasai Village Beach Resort is just outside of the town of Moalboal on the southwestern end of Cebu Island on the Tanon Strait. We flew into Cebu and took a three hour drive over the mountains to the resort where we were met with mango smoothies (yum!). Within 2-3 hours of arrival we were diving on the incredible reef in front of the resort. The entire shoreline in this area has beautiful sloping walls that start in shallow water (18-20 feet) and have the most amazing creatures and growth. This area is considered part of the famed coral triangle. “The Coral Triangle spans coastal and marine areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The Coral Triangle is considered by scientists to be the global epicenter of marine diversity and a major center of coral evolution. A full 76 percent of known coral species are found here and 37 percent of reef fish species.” (www.coraltrianglecenter.org)

A typical day at Kasai starts with breakfast, then the morning 2-tank dive. Each dive is planned for 60 minutes with a 60 minute surface interval. We get back to the resort in time to dry off and eat lunch and take a brief siesta before the afternoon 1-tank dive. If you’re not totally worn out after three hours underwater (we are!), you can dive the house reef in the late afternoon or take a night dive. The house reef is available all day and some people prefer to dive there instead of doing the boat dives.

In our week at Kasai Village, we made 19 dives. Water temperature was 82° F. This is the same as it was for our February 2009 trip and our April 2011 trip. I get cold easily and was comfortable in my 3 ml wetsuit; my husband dove in a 1 ml. Visibility was about the same as on previous trips 40-50 feet depending on dive site. There were more particles in the water and this was attributed to the earthquake that struck the area in early February.

With so many wonderful places to dive, why do we keep going back to Kasai Village Beach Resort is a question we are often asked. Diving is our first concern and Kasai provides consistently great diving, with safety conscious dive guides who really know the area and can find all kinds of great creatures (Felix has been our guide for the last two trips, but Tata, the dive manager, Alex, and Chris also do a great job), helpful staff (from boat crew to Allan in the compressor room providing us with chairs in the shade to analyze nitrox tanks). They handled our gear (except wetsuits, masks, computers) – from transporting to the boat to cleaning after the dives. Some of the amazing things we saw include dragon sea moth, solar boxfish, map puffer, mushroom coral pipefish, ornate ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, and frogfish. Turtles were abundant! On many dives we saw 5 or more (and one dive, we saw all 5 at once – so we weren’t seeing 1 turtle 5 times) .

Even though we spend most of the day underwater or getting ready to go underwater or cleaning up from being underwater, we do appreciate the rest of the resort staff who make us feel so welcome and take care of us so well. We love to stop at the bar on the way to dinner and chat with Pablo while we enjoy the ocean breezes and sunset. The restaurant/bar is well-managed by Ceto and restaurant staff (from chef Bebe and her helpers to servers Edz, Hermes, Rhanz, and Linda) prepare wonderful meals and go out of their way to remember what we like and how we like it. Owners Michael and Lydia Pettersson live on the property and oversee every aspect of the resort.

Finally the beautiful location is well worth several visits. The resort is small (12 rooms), but the rooms are large and very comfortable. Most have a view of the ocean; others are near the pristine pool. Ocean view rooms are oriented so that guests have a lot of privacy on their porches (with comfortable seating). Improvements are always underway at the resort. The pier (about 600 feet since it’s so shallow) will be finished soon. We were able to use the new stairs in April and they are really easy to climb – even with gear on. This makes shore diving so much easier. For boat diving, the banca boats can pull up to the pier and guests can step off and on without getting wet. When the end of the pier is finished, there will be a covered seating area. And speaking of banca boats, they commissioned a new, much larger boat that was almost finished when we were there and is probably already in the water. It has been designed with divers in mind. I am looking forward to diving from it.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Alabamasusana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 April 2012

If it weren't for the absolutely fantastic staff, this would have to be a "poor" rating. All the staff were uniformly excellent--the front desk staff were helpful and accommodating, the restaurant staff delightful, and the dive operation was one of the finest we've ever experienced. And the rooms were clean with a nice ocean view.

But, everything else fell short. As has been mentioned by other reviewers (we were the other couple with franztini), the restaurant was subpar. You'd think that if the management had read past reviews they would have done something about the truly mediocre buffet. As we don't eat a big breakfast before we dive, the only options were toast from packaged sliced bread that took forever, or yogurt that wasn't on the buffet but we thought to ask for; it was homemade and delicous. Lunch and dinner were the same--generally a fried appetizer that was cold, and rice, salad, fish, chicken and/or pork/beef buffet dishes that were also almost always cold. The dinner buffet was put out at 6:30. Although we usually eat later we took to eating as soon as the buffet was available and everything was still cold. I did mention it to the servers, and they responded by covering the buffet dishes, which didn't help.

Re the diving: We've travelled all over the world, and our favorite diving is in the Pacific. But diving at this location in the Phlippines was not worth the time, effort, and cost to get here from the U.S. east coast. While there was an abundance of turtles, big fish were practically non-existent. The famed sardines at Pescador Island disappeared several years ago, according to our dive guides, but the hype obviously remains. Most of the diving was at different locations along the same wall, so it was repetitious and not very interesting. Saw about two big schools of fish in a week of diving. Except for the night dive, we never came out of the water excited at what we'd seen. By contrast, the night dive was one of the best we've ever done. Easy dive with unusual creatures at every turn.

The resort fell short in other areas as well. Broken, non-adjustable lounge chairs at the pool. No place to relax after dinner. And Wi-Fi was available in the office and for a few steps outside the office. Our shower had hot water, but if was basically a trickle.

I am reluctant to writing such a negative review, because again, the staff were so wonderful. We had a late transfer to the airport for a 1:00a.m. flight and we were allowed to keep our room all day. The dive staff were incredibly hard working and very helpful. But I can't justify recommending this place because of the mediocre diving and all the shortcomings of the resort.

Room Tip: Sea view only. Avoid the poolside rooms.
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Scubalo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2012

Without a doubt, the best, friendliest, most accomodating staff you will ever find - they were awesome!! They knew your name from the first day and greeted you often. Remote location, so don't plan on doing much other than diving and hanging out. The rooms were very nice, clean and comfortable, but I would have liked more storage or shelving. As with many dive destinations, not much else to do. We went to town hoping to find some souvenier shopping or restaurants - just buy your stuff from the guy at the resort !! So when you get tired of eating just about the same food everyday, don't get your hopes up of finding something in town. If you go to town do your shopping in the drugstore (liquor, sundries, snacks) if you want brands you have heard of. The food got to be too much of the same, but when you see the selection in town, she does a great job ! Breakfast omelets were always good, but get your toast in the toaster before you brush your teeth if you want toast with your breakfast - lol !! Dive locations weren't as diverse as everyone would have liked, and an earthquake hitting 6 weeks before we arrived didn't help, visibility wasn't great, but when you are seeing lots of micro stuff and tons of turtles it makes up for it. The boats and pier are very basic, but the staff does a wonderful job of making it as easy and comfortable as they can. The dive shop area was very nice and they had just completed renovations the day we left, so it's even nicer now. The work on the pier is behind schedule due to the earthquake, so at some point when they finish their boat and pier it will be a bit more comfortable. Hey, it's diving, get over it !! The dive staff was amazing and some of the hardest working people I have ever met - thanks Tata & Chris - love you !! The massages are well worth it, but for the fact I had mine during the day and they chatted to each other during my massages. Definately sign up for a couple of massages - great deal and very good. The bar and bartender were the only evening activity, he was wonderful, but don't expect a huge selection, but pretty good if you aren't really particular. A/C worked great ! Wi fi available near office and they were very accomodating when you needed to use a computer (office open until 10pm). All in all it was a very nice place and the staff was the best !!

Room Tip: Either a king bed or two doubles, either pool view or ocean view, other than that I think they are a...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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2  Thank travelwmn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2012

First, the staff MADE the resort. If it weren't for the staff it would have been barely tolerable!

Food: Littlegor is completely right - the food was ALWAYS cold no matter what time you arrived for lunch or dinner. The buffets were basically the same every night. so after 8 days I was soo looking forward to leaving. We got through breakfast by asking for yogurt (which by the third day EVERYONE was asking for) and cutting up fresh mangos and pineapple.

Rooms: We had an ocean view room and I would recommend only booking that type of room. Great view, place to sit outside and watch the sunset, and a place to hang your wet gear. Our AC wasn't really noisy, but the pillows were foam, but I asked for four more which they gave me so I was a happy camper! All the items in our room worked, however the sheets and towels - though clean - had stains which was very unappealing.

Non-diver: I would NOT recommend this resort. I sat out a third dive because I was doing a night dive and sat by the pool. NOT relaxing - there was construction going on at the dive area, people cleaning rooms, small ants climbing all over me, and the plastic lounge chairs were not adjustable. I gave up after 20 minutes and went back to my room.

Diving: The diving was very easy and would be great for a beginner. I did not experience the issues that Littlegor brought up. Our dive master was a youngster (I think I started diving when he was still in diapers ;-), but very considerate and thorough. However, I should mention that we (group of 4) are very seasoned divers usually diving our own profiles without a dive master so we were not in the least demanding. Do NOT expect to see large schooling of any type of fish. It isn't here. The marine reserve is a joke. You pay 100 pesos per dive to pay for it and we saw fisherman leaving the marine reserve almost every morning at 6am. I highly, highly recommend the night dive - it was the best of our trip. The mandarin fish were mating and we saw some of the most unbelievable crabs, starfish, and octopus - all at the end of their pier! Plan on at least an 80+ minute dive.

Boats: As mentioned, you are diving from the traditional boats which I found very easy. We did not experience any issues getting on or off our boat, however I really think it has to do with the captain. We saw the second boat captain making his divers (at times) get in the water to get on the boat. The pier is under construction, but while we were there they had finished one set of stairs and had floated a second set of stairs out to the end of the pier. I would assume that it should be done within the year, but I did not ask.

Would I go back? No. The diving just was just ok as was the resort.

Room Tip: Only book the ocean view rooms
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank franztini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 March 2012

First, the positives. The staff at this resort are amazing - so friendly and always willing to help. They knew everyone's name and there was a big smile whenever we saw them. Sadly, the rest of the report is not so positive. This resort, while having a lot of potential, has a long way to go before it comes to an acceptable standard.

The location is about a three hour drive from Cebu airport. The resort is isolated, with nothing within walking distance. Not an issue for divers but not so great for a non diving spouse for example. There is simply not enough to do - just lying by the pool and maybe a visit to the "spa" which is a small thatched hut by the beach, providing a full range of services.

The rooms themselves are spacious. I had a pool view room but the sea view ones were larger and had a sliding glass door looking onto the water. Probably worth the upgrade since there was not much to see from the pool views. Another big advantage of the sea view rooms was that they had lines for hanging wet gear. Nothing for the pool rooms on that front. The beds and foam pillows were extremely hard and took some getting used to. That, combined with the noisy AC made for an unsettled night's sleep. While we were at the resort, there were three power failures - these did not last long but were an annoyance particularly as one occurred just after we had checked in and were trying to unpack. The rooms are equipped with fridge, kettles and hair dryers. None of these items worked in my room. When I reported to the front desk, the only action that was taken was rermoval of my kettle. There are no safety deposit boxes in the rooms so anyone concerned about valuables deposited these at the front desk. Otherwise, they were left in the rooms were the hotel said they had never had a problem.

The food for our group of 20 was served buffet style, with a mix of Filipino and western dishes. Our biggest complaint was that the food was often served cold and must have come out of the kitchen that way since it was cold no matter what time you arrived. There were steam trays but I don't think that fuel was placed in the burners on a consistent basis. There was rarely any dessert other than fresh fruit which was delicious but a bit monotonous as the same things were served three meals a day.

The dive staff were extremely hard working, involved in extremely labour intensive activities that would not have been necessary had the dive operation been better organized. Work was taking place on the dive shop while we were in residence but while we were there, there was no shower or WC in the area so going back to the rooms was the only choice.

The dive boats were Filipino style bancas (large, outrigger canoes) which were not designed to be dive boats. The worst effect of this was the difficulty of getting into and out of the boats both at the pier and while on dives. Someone in our group counted fifteen different ways that they got us onto the boats depending on the tide conditions and whether you were the first or second boat to arrive. Often, we had to swim between the boat and the pier, an activity that was particularly unpopular when it was cold and rainy out and we had just warmed up after a dive. Keeping carry aboard items dry was also an issue. There is a large pier which has been under construction for five years now - I am not sure whether its completion will improve things on this front. Getting into the boats after a dive was another mission as the ladders were not quite long enough to get a foothold on the bottom rung. Not being designed as dive boats, there was really no efficient place to store extra tanks, weights etc. with the result that these items were lying about on the deck creating a tripping hazard for anyone wishing to move around the boat. One member of our group fell and dislocated a shoulder part way through the trip, cutting short his dive opportunities.

The divemasters themselves appeared to be of varying competence. The other boat had the head divemaster and those divers seemed very pleased with him - they also seemed to have a very good rapport. Our boat was a different story with two divemasters who had only been with the operation for just over a year. The kindest thing to say was that they were not seasoned and therefore failed to keep control of the divers in their group. Although gloves are not permitted on dives, two divers were allowed to wear them and were often seen dragging themselves along the coral wearing these gloves. Even worse, the two dvemasters and these same two divers had metal sticks that they used to secure themselves against the current by poking into the coral. They also used these same sticks to poke the fish and other creatures in order to create better photo opportunities. The divemasters used these sticks to drive out shy creatures that had gone into hiding under rocks, etc. Briefings were abbreviated and not very informative. We had one dive were currents were extremely strong and the highlight was a cave at 100'. Neither of these factors was mentioned in the briefing with result that one diver had a panic attack when he realized the conditions, aborted the dive and never got in the water again. Two divers down out ot twenty - a ten percent casualty rate, both of which might have been avoidable. On another occasion, our divemaster told our group of five to go down to the moorring line and await the rest of the group. I did this and waited for eight minutes for the best of the group, which failed to materialize. When I realized how long I had been there alone, I decided that they were not coming and went off in search of the group on the reef. When I could not find them, I decided to return to the boat as I had already been left alone for fifteen minutes and was not comfortable with this dive any longer. On my way back, I chanced to run into the group. It turned out that one of the members of the group had decided she did not like the divemaster's plan and had decided to stay on the surface, not at the mooring (which was at 40') and had convinced the rest of the group to do the same. The divamaster decided to stay with them as he said he figured it was better to lose one person than four - that's why I was left alone. So unprofessional. The diving itself was unremarkable. Poor visibilty and little variety on the dives - there was little to distinguish one dive site from another and we ended up returning to same sites three and four times during our eight days of diving.

I cannot reccommend this resort on any front. It has a lot of improving to do.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled solo
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7  Thank LittleIgor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2012

I have never enjoyed a spot as much as this. We arrived in Cebu after a long flight and were picked up by Kasai Village staff. The ride was long but they made it fun for us. When we arrived at the resort it seemed like it only took all of the staff a few minutes to remember everyones name. The check in staff, restaurant staff, dive staff, and even the groundskeepers were all wonderful. We had a great meal and after a long trip we were ready for bed but first I went for a massage. For about $35 I had the most wonderful massage. Regular massages are about $17 but the deluxe one hour massage with two therapists is to die for. I thought that this could be a disaster if the therapists had an uneven touch but frankly they were perfectly matched. I had a massage every day.

The rooms were clean, fresh and roomy. The bathroom was so clean. I noticed that one guest mentioned noisy airconditioning. I didn't notice the air conditioning at all. The balcony had a great view.

Probably one of the most notable features of this resort is it's dive shop area. Completely open with a separate are for every guest to hang their gear. I have attached a picture of this area as it was so nice. All our equipment was washed and made ready for the next days diving by a great staff. We were able to dive nitrox at a reasonable cost for the week.

The dive staff were excellent. Our group of 16 divers (plus one additional couple) were put on two separate boats and we were treated royally. The diving was great, the divemasters were so good at pointing out things to see (although after probably 100 turtles I began to get tired of seeing the sign for turtles). Lot of macro and the Pescador Island sarding dive was really interesting. The water was so warn on each dive (between 84 and 86 degrees F) that I never wore a wet suit on the entire trip.

The restaurant was very good. Meals were available as soon as we got off the boat for lunch and we could have breakfast early. Supper was a treat at about 6 which gave time for a massage before the meal. Every one of the staff were outstanding in their desire to provide excellent service.

The front desk staff were all very good and they made a real effort to greet you every day. Since our sleep schedule was off from the trip the first morning I was up about 4:30. Staff were arriving for the day and they were so friendly. The fellow working to freshen up the landscaping was so accomodating as one of the members of our group found a couple of hermits crabs had wandered into the swimming pool. He dropped everything and went to work extracting them from the pool.

Michael Peterson the owner is a great guy, very hands on and his family are all involved as well.

The final night the staff put on a goodby show for us and it was so fun. Not professional but very personal. The owners two young children were dancing in the show and they were delightful. I can't wait to go back.

Room Tip: Every room is excellent. The rooms away from the beach back onto an area where there is a rooster w...
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  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with friends
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3  Thank bob1948lds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2012

we spent a week at Kasai Village and dived three times a day in general. The house reef was awesome, with an incredible number of species of fish, invertebrates and coral. Staff were terrific at helping us find unusual and stunning specimens including mandarin fish spawning. Our room was immaculate and had a beautiful view of the sea and pier. I'd recommend this repost highly. Btw the spa is outstanding!

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Scamper54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kasai Village Dive & Spa Resort

Address: Tuble, Moalboal 6032, Philippines
Region: Philippines > Visayas > Cebu Island > Moalboal
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 7 Hotels in Moalboal
Price Range: £90 - £154 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Kasai Village Dive & Spa Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The resort is perfectly suited for diving and other water sporting activities. On exciting excursions with jungle trips, cave exploring, motorcycle riding in the mountains, hill walking to the waterfalls and hot springs and much more, you will get to know the diversity of the amazing Island of Cebu. Alternatively, Kasai Village Resort is equally suited for romantics and those who just want to relax. We believe that YOU deserve to have a great and relaxing vacation with your family or friends. The friendly and luxurious atmosphere of the resort gives you the chance to get away from the everyday stress and get into island time. We will make our best to give you the holiday you deserve and dream of. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Kasai Village Dive And Spa Resort
Kasai Village Dive Hotel Moalboal
Kasai Village Dive & Spa Resort Moalboal, Philippines - Cebu Island

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