We celebrated my Dad's 56th birthday at Splash Island Spa and Resort (I didn't know that they have a spa but their website says so).
We (meaning I was the one who's coercing everybody to agree) were originally planing to go to Calaguas, Camarines Norte beautiful beaches, and even a trip up north to Baguio, for my Dad's birthday last March 27. But because of some unforeseen events, we settled on a much nearer and cheaper getaway. I got the whole family eight 50% off Splash Island vouchers from Twangoo which is a good deal because the resort, conveniently located in Binan, Laguna, is just 1 jeep ride and 1 tricycle ride away from our house (dalawang tumbling lang, hehe).
But even if we live a close proximity to the resort, none of us have actually gone there and have heard only what other people say about its water slides, which are the resort's main attractions. So I skimmed through the web for reviews and found a blog entry where the author expressed her disappointment with her Splash Island experience. It dampened my excitement a bit but I hoped for the best and decided not to set my expectations too high.
The Resort's Attractions
Splash Island claims to be the first (and the only?) water theme park in the country. The place is huge--7 hectares big and has 6,000 guest capacity. It does have a theme-park feel to it and unlike the usual resorts in Laguna (notably in Pansol, Calamba and Los Banos), where there are only swimming pools, there are lots of other things that you can do inside. There's zip line (P150), wall climbing (P50), Zorb, basketball hoops and I think I saw a place where you can have henna tattoo. According to the website, there's also a spa and paintball area but I didn't notice them.
But as I've said, the main attractions are the water slides. Sadly, the big and higher ones--Rio Montanosa, Dos Supremos, King Pilipit --are not operational. We only got to try the Big Bam Boo and Tausug Trails. The website lists down a number of attractions, but it looks like 2-3 slides are located in the same area so it doesn't seem a lot when you're already there.
Then there's also the Agos Grandes, which refers the to mechanically generated waves in their largest swimming pool. Actually, this is the only pool where you can enjoy swimming in and where the inflatables are. It has variable depths, from ankle to 7 feet deep. The other pools are just "catch-basin" for the slides but you can also swim in there when the slides are closed.
If you want to lazily drift around, there's Balsa River where the gently flowing water will tour you around the slide areas. The water is about 3 feet deep and runs sluggishly, which I found to be too slow and quite boring.
For the kiddos who want more action, there's Water Wahoo, an ankle-deep pool with a big water fountain slide in the middle and Curl of the Orient, a low water slide where they can enjoy their own twists and tumbles, kiddie-style. There's also the out-of-the-water slide, Boon Docks, but I reckon kids enjoy the water slides more because I didn't see a single child in this area.
One important thing to note is most of these attractions are not open the whole day so it's best to know the park schedule. Good thing, the resort is peppered with banners like these informing everybody of the park schedule and a map for easy navigation:
They have a food court called Fiesta sa Pulo that offers non-fancy fares like grilled, sizzling, Mongolian and traditional Filipino dishes along with different coolers like ice cream, Halo-halo, fruit shakes and various cold drinks. Others food stalls include Shakeys Pizza, Chinese and Hawaiian food, goto, chips and snacks, and cotton candy. You can also find a lot of hotdog stands scattered around the resort.
But frankly, there is nothing to rave about the food. For lunch, we ordered 2 bilao, each costs P400 and includes 3-5 viands, 4 cups of rice and 4 sets of styrophor plates and plastic utensils. 1 bilao is good for 4-5 persons. The taste was mediocre at best, two viands--grilled pork chop and Tilapia--were unpalatable. The pork chop was not grilled thoroughly and the Tilapia tasted weird that it was left untouched after a few bites. The only thing we enjoyed were the semi-ripe (manibalang) mangoes with bagoong dip.
During snack time, we decided to go safe and ordered a Shakey's pizza. For bottled juice drinks, we paid P25 each and P35 for sodas in can.
The Resort's Facilities (Cottages, Lockers, Parking Space and Public Transportation)
The first thing that we did when we stepped inside the resort was to look for cottages. If you're on a budget, you can choose the free table cottages that are provided for guests. But if you prefer a little privacy, they also offer Cabanas and Bahay Kubo style cottages for rent. Unfortunately, because it was Saturday and we got there less than 2 hours before noon, all the paid cottages are already occupied so we settled for one of the monoblock tables and rented two lockers where we kept our valuables during our stay in the resort.
To avail a paid cottage, you have to go around and find a vacant one. If you find one, you can occupy it right away and just wait for one of the resort's personnel to come and collect your payment. This process, I think is counterproductive because, as I mentioned earlier, the resort is big and the cottages are not exactly near each other.
With their current procedure, we spend our first 45 minutes going back and forth to look for vacant cottages (we found some but we're told that those are no longer available), to the customer service area (near the entrance of the resort) to ask some help in locating unoccupied cottages (because we thought they would at least know), to the public cottages area to pick a table, to the locker area (near the entrance of the resort) to rent lockers and back to our table finally.
It would've been better, if one personnel will manage the cottage rental and will tell us if there are still vacant and assign one to us. Otherwise, just tell us that there's none and advise to us rent lockers, if we want, and choose among the monoblock table cottages instead. More organized, yes?
Locker rental is P300 and we got two vertical ones, measuring about 9 x 24 x 9 inches (this is just an estimate). The horizontal ones have the same dimensions except the it's longer horizontally than taller.
There are also enough restrooms and shower areas and they are clean, well maintained and with running water. Parking is also not a problem, and even public transportation (tricycle) is accessible, just ask the resort's guard to call one for you. But be prepared to spend more than the usual tricycle fare because this is a "special" route.
If you're a beach bum or someone who enjoys swimming a lot, you might not have a grand time in this resort. Based on what I've seen and experienced, I think Splash Island was designed with kids in mind, and obviously they--the kids and kids-at-heart--are the ones who will enjoy the most. The resort's attractions would have been enough to keep adults from getting bored, but with 3 main slides not working, the other two offered but limited fun.
Although there are other things to do like the zipline, wall climbing and Zorb, these activities are not free. At P500 regular high-season entrance fee, one can't help but compare this with a nearby theme park, Enchanted Kingdom, which has the same day pass rate. But EK offers a lot more rides and attractions for P500.
The foods inside Splash Island--considering their tastes and serving sizes--are also relatively expensive. And like what I noted earlier, the management could do better by organizing the cottage rental instead of leaving it up to the guests to find vacant cottages on their own.
Overall, we had fun but only because we loved watching my 2-year old nephew laughed his heart out as the waves splashed on his body, as the water sprinklers tickled him and as he bravely jumped from the inflatable to my mom's arms waiting underneath the water. Bottomline, we had fun watching him have a blast and not really because we were wowed by the resort's facilities.
We got our tickets at 50% off and for P250, we felt that Splash Island was good enough. But if we paid P500, I'd definitely feel shortchanged.