Monday, March 28, 2011

Place: Splash Island Spa and Resort at Binan, Laguna

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:




The Food

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.

The Verdict

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.

21 comments:

  1. It's so sad that they couldn't live up to your expectation of water theme park. Also, their rides should be operational by now. Tapos na March. Peak season nila di ba? so supposedly, everything is in order for their guests. Sayang naman.

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  2. Yes sis it's supposedly peak season already. Good thing we only paid P250/head. If it's P500, di talaga siya sulit. I heard Splash Island's having management problems since the beginning. Maybe that's the reason why they didn't make a splash despite the potentials.

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  3. I think it was my blogpost on our Splash Island experience that you saw and read. I was very disappointed at the time. I emailed the management about my complaints and the only thing they did was to take out the list of different food establishments you could find in the resort. They did not even take the time to answer my email, so that also tells you what kind of management they have in that resort.

    During the time of our visit, (a month before yours), there was just the food court which you correctly described, that was serving food. Oh, there was one hotdog stand, I remember, which ran out of buns before the afternoon was over.

    I would think Splash Island would have improved their facilities and services, but it seems they don't care what their customers think of them, after all, they're offering 50% off their entrance fees left and right, and they probably think that the poor service and facilities go with the huge discount.

    You're right, too, we only got to enjoy the experience because we saw how the kids really enjoyed themselves. Otherwise, there really is not much to say about Splash Island, or the experience of going there.

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  4. Hi Sheng and Kaye! Just went there last week. Its not good parin. To think holiday pa and di pa rin operational. Apart from the schedule of the rides, hindi pa lahat binubukas plus they dont follow it pa. The facilities are dirty, they are undermanned, the place itself is not well-kept. Not worth our 500/head. Its very far from the Splash Island I remember when i was younger. They turned from world class to worst class. Sira pa talaga yung chicken inasal sinerve sakin. :( Kakahiya sa kasama ko, pinagmamayabang ko pa naman.:( Wont ever come back.-Jedainz, Davao

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  5. @kaye, yes, it was your blog that I was referring to. I lowered my expectations na after I read your experience at Splash Island, but I wasn't still impressed. Buti na lang we got it at half the price, otherwise it's really not worth it.

    @jedainz, thanks for sharing your experience. I hope the resort will improve kasi sayang, the area is so big and it has potentials to be a nice resort. Yung tilapia nabili namin na kasama sa bilao, di na din maganda lasa kaya di na namin kinain. Did you come all the way from Davao just to go to Splash Island? Too bad, you didn't get what you paid and traveled for.

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  6. Hi Sheng,

    The Original EK is not a water park. If you will compare EK biki (the water park attraction of EK using inflatable pools) with splash island I think splash island is better. Becasue of the wave pools, slides, water wahoo etc. Its more correct to compare Splash island to other resorts in Laguna area or in the entire Philippines with same attractions. With 400 pesos on weekdays or 500 pesos on weekends. free tents, I would say that its a good deal already. Water parks in other countries are very expensive, in Australia for example although not the same level with splash island will cost an equivalent 6000 pesos all day pass. So you could see that at 500 pesos these days are already a good deal.

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  7. Hello,

    I didn't compare Splash Island and EK on the account that they're both water parks but because they both have the same day pass rate. IMO, you'll get more value for your money in EK simply because there's a lot more you can do inside the park. When we went to Splash Island, 3 slide attractions were closed so after trying out the 2 slides that were operational, there was nothing left to do but to stay in Agos Grandes or in the tent. There wasn't even a 2nd large pool to swim in if you want to avoid the crowd flocking in Agos Grandes.

    Also, the value of money and standard of living in Australia (or in other countries for that matter) is different in the Philippines so it's hard to compare if they're getting the same value for money as what we're getting with the P400/P500 Splash Island fee.

    P500 may not seem a lot nowadays, but I still think that Splash Island offers limited fun for P500 especially if not all slide attractions are open. Good thing we only paid P250, so it was good enough for us.

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  8. To Anonymous (would have helped if you put your name)

    I think it's not right to compare us with those in other countries. For one, their standard of living is much higher than ours so however much they spend for their attractions is compensated by how much they make in a month. Tayo lang namang mga Pinoy ang mahilig mag-convert ng dollars to pesos so we believe those in other countries pay more for the services they get and just because prices here are much lower, we have no right to complain. Thing is, for us Filipinos, P500 is already big, considering we don't earn that much. Hard-earned money ang P500 and not all can spend for a day in a resort that says they have all kinds of really nice attractions. You would still feel shortchanged if you go there, spend that hard-to-earn P500 per head, and then find out how bad service and facilities were.

    As for EK being compared to Splash, I think what she meant was the level of enjoyment you get. I agree with Sheng, having gone to EK a few months ago, that you'd have enjoyed EK more than spending a day in Splash Island. At least their attractions are all open, and they don't overpromise but underdeliver.

    Re EK Biki, at least, again, you know you are paying for those inflatables, not for those slides and other attractions that are not open to public.

    @jedainz: so sorry splash isn't any good still. I'm not surprised, though. I just vowed to myself that we're not going there anymore. Not worth it. Sana binasa mo muna yung blog posts namin ni Sheng. hahahahah!

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  9. Thanks Kaye :) I agree with you 100%.

    I haven't been to EK lately so di ko alam yung EK Biki. I was referring to EK, the original theme park, and yes, level of enjoyment you'll get for the P500 day pass. I've been there twice and I still want to go there again. Sulit kasi and on both occasions, I felt the whole day was not enough to enjoy the theme park.

    Contrast this with out experience in Splash Island na after trying out the 2 slides, medyo bored na kami kasi wala ng ibang magawa. Buti na lang we have a 2-yr old kid with us, siya lang talaga ang nag-enjoy and we just enjoyed watching him have fun.

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  10. EK is relatively near because I am also from Sta. Rosa, though the old Sta. Rosa part. Been to EK a couple of times and what's good about it is that it doesn't just improve, they also put newer attractions, at bukas naman lahat when you go there. Mahaba lang talaga lagi ang pila pero it's ok. ganun talaga.

    again, kung magcocompare, EK is comparable na rin to the level of enjoyment you'd get from a more than P2k day pass to the Universal Studios in Singapore. Shempre mas maganda dun kasi mas elaborate ang mga rides and andun ang mga mascots pero dun sa worth of money you'd spend, proportional na sila. Unlike Splash. :-(

    anyway, for those who still want to go there, wala namang masama. Malay natin, iba iba rin ang level of enjoyment natin. haha!

    I'm just sorry about the food they gave you. We paid in full for the two bilaos that we got but we were not happy with them. Sana nga lang kumain na lang kami sa labas para kahit mahal, worth it naman. Birthday ko pa naman nun. hahaha!

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  11. Too bad naman, gusto ko pa naman bumalik dun kasi once palang ako naka punta at 1995 pa. Madumi ba ang tubig? Sabi kasi sa akin madumi.

    Comment lang.

    Ang major problems kasi ng Splash Island e yung economics at management. As you all know, seasonal lang ang gusto pumunta dun. Pupunta kaba ng tag-ulan?

    Mainteneace - wow can't imagine how much it costs. First. where do they get the water? Imposible naman sa nawasa (tama ba)? So I think deep well pero mahal mag pa bore at mag pa set up ng deepwells. Second. How to maintain a clear and clean water? Third. Eh yung electricity pa para sa mga pumps or if they're using gen-set, mahal na kaya ang fuel.

    Economics - definitely you cannot compare SP sa ibang parks, kasi ang bottom line yung ibang parks year round open at may guests, ewan ko lang sa Star City but sabi nila EK open for a whole year. So in economics may profit ka for the whole 4 quarters of the year unlike Splash na summer lang.

    Price - oo ngat namamahalan kana sa P500 pero kung sa tutuusin baka break even lang sila sa 500/head or worse. Kaya panu nila mapapaganda yung system nila kung non-profit generating yung park? Dapat taasan nila ang price, kaya lang may pupunta pa kaya?

    Food - sana mag adjust sila kasi good food means good customers, db? Sa pinoy pa naman basta masarap yung pagkain babalik balikan. Pero dahil siguro sa less costumers less sales and more loss.

    As a customer, I want to help in a way pero sana improve nila yung services nila. Baka nga mas maganda pa sa Grotto Vista kaya laging madaming tao.

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  12. Hi Sheng!

    I've heard about Splash Island but I've never been there. Based on your review, I can see that the place is huge and nice but I'm not sure if I'll go there during rainy days. During summer, yes.

    By the way, last month, my cousin Jeena, went to Watercamp Resort in Cavite for a three-day stay. They told me that the place is nice and comfortable. Although it's located in Kawit, Cavite, it's possible to go there in just an house from Metro Manila because of the newly-opened Cavitex of Cavite Express.

    Also, Watercamp in Cavite is one of the best travel destinations, Cavite resort Philippines area. I might go there with my friends next, next week. Thanks for sharing the review!

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  13. I love your review Sheng! It is so honest and very much helpful for me who don't know what to expect when we arrive there. Just like you, I bought our tickets for 50 percent off and we were targeting to go there around 1st week of July. The last time I went to this place was when i was in High School! So I think it is totally different now.. BTW, do we have to pay for the parking?

    Thanks! Nice Review..

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    1. 50 parking fee
      slides still not working properly mahahaba ang pila maloloka ka
      250 is not bad anyway.

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  14. @Mao, I'm sorry for the super late reply. Something came up and I wasn't able to go online for a few months. I think the parking is free, but I'm sure you already know that by this time :)

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  15. your post is really helpful, next week is the field trip of my kids to splash island and i told them what i read here. told them that if water is not clean they are not allowed to swim..they are disappointed but then again it's for their own safety...i'm a bit of an OCD..so medyo paranoid ako when it comes to cleanliness..thanks a lot..

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    1. yesterday we'r there super dumi ng tubig sa balsa river felt very itchy today huhu

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  16. tnx guys for the information..punta sana kmi on my vacation kya lng now after i read the comments wag na lng.go back n lng kmi s EK.enjoy kpa tlaga dun young and old.

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  17. Can i ask any updates on the service of Splash island? Under new management cla ngaun db?

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    1. lahat ng sinabi ni sheng un pa rin ngayon maloka ka

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  18. hi guys..just went there yesterday too bad super dumi ng water sa balsa river feeling itchy ryt now prayed it wont last long huhu
    agree to all ur comments SHENG, so sad i did not care to find in the net comments about splash island di nalang sana kami nagpunta
    500 is not worth it, slides had very long waiting line kc naman 3available na magkatabi slides isa lang ang working may umaagos na tubig dapat lahat para wala ng pila ang init kaya
    1pm umuwi nalang kami
    if you really want a wholeday swimtime PLEASE come to VOLETS resort sa dasma cavite we did have a grand time there ikaw nalang magsawa sa dami ng pools parang 12 to 15 pools all in all if im not mistaken(you can browse in the net and please read comments also para sure kayo kahit saan nyo gusto pumunta mahirap pag andun na kayo tapos panget dont be like us)
    curiosity can kill u ganun ngyari sa amin hehe kc sabi ITRY NATIN ayun KATI nakuha ko. WAAAAA

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