Donatela Hotel is an eight-hectare botanical sanctuary along the waterfront of the Bohol Sea. A private and serene resort with only 12 villas.

In love with fireflies & food at Donatela Hotel
FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes (The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2018 - 12:00am

Millie: Once again, we found ourselves back on Panglao Island, this time on a nature trip. The province of Bohol is being promoted as an eco-cultural, agro-industrial tourist destination. There is just so much to see and do that one can’t possibly fit it all in during a short, two- to three-day stay.

So much for the beach — we just did that a month ago, although I would have loved to just laze around all day at the beach again. But I had to cope with my full-of-energy Karla, who wanted to do a lot of stuff!

Perfectly grilled Tomahawk steak, served with grilled tomatoes, eggplants and potato wedges.

Paprika Restaurant with open-deck seating and two all-glass air-conditioned dining areas featuring international cuisine.

Karla: As soon as we arrived, our first stop was to check out the tarsier sanctuary by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, then the Baclayon church. During this visit, the museum was closed, but we were able to see that the bell tower that had collapsed during the 2013 earthquake had been fully restored.

Since there was not much more to see at the church, we decided to purchase some Osang’s broas, a family favorite located behind the church.  Mom and I were so excited that we were going to pass by Osang’s that we got the whole group excited for broas. As soon as we got back to the van, someone had already opened a pack to share with everyone. Haha!

Millie: We stayed at Donatela Hotel, a boutique resort with 12 garden villas nestled in a 7.5-hectare property. The resort is a botanical reserve complete with helipad, animal sanctuary, equestrian stables, spa, gym, dive shop, a huge swimming pool, pool bar and restaurant with a breathtaking view of the Bohol sea.

From the restaurant, one can go further down to a corniche, a perfect spot for sunset cocktails where one can actually ask the barman to concoct a tailor-made drink.  Go further through the corniche and there is a tiny cove: a secret, private beach!

There are two special villas with private swimming pools, perfect for honeymooners or a family of four. The family villa is designed in such a way that it can actually be a duplex. The amenities of all the villas are five-star quality, fully air-conditioned, with a mini bar, flat TV and a fabulous bathroom.

Each of the 12 villas had its own pocket garden, allowing one to totally immerse in the peaceful, serene and tranquil surroundings. I particularly liked walking through the garden pathways, which were well-lit even at night, and one could literally smell the flowers. The gardens were lush and beautiful plants abound: bromeliads, heliconia, ilang-ilang, ferns, dapo, even lilies in the ponds. You name it; it’s here. I couldn’t help doing my contemplative walk.

The Honeymoon Villa is a 140 sq. m villa with a private garden, balcony, daybed seating and a private pool as well. The room is also equipped with TV, Wi-Fi and a bluetooth music system.

Karla: On our first day, we were served fish quenelles, fresh lumpia and bruschetta for sunset cocktails overlooking the sea. Of course we were also served cocktails of our choice. Shortly after we proceeded to the pool area for a barbecue dinner. We had the Samba salad made of shrimp, papaya and pomelo served in a coconut. We also had mini-burgers, seafood curry with papadums, Korean beef stew and grilled assorted fish, squid, and prawns upon order. Dessert was freshly baked tarte tatins and tiramisu.  Mom and I could not resist. The tarte tatin was very good.

In the morning, you get a whiff of freshly baked bread. They make everything, from croissants to Danishes, baguettes, loaf bread and much more. Mom enjoyed their coffee so much that she had two cups for breakfast and one more after lunch.

Tagliatelle frutti di mare, tagliatelle pasta
with shrimps, fish and squid.

We had a great spread for our Day 2 lunch. It started with the Asian 9 salad consisting of lettuce, caramelized walnuts, water chestnuts, tomatinos, three colored bell peppers, chicken, and a lemon with sesame oil, vinegar and honey dressing.

We were also served smoked kingfish carpaccio for cold appetizer, tagliatelle frutti di mare, and the star of the lunch spread, the Tomahawk. We were then offered a tray of to-die-for desserts. My favorites were the cappuccino cheesecake, lemon meringue, Belgian chocolate mousse and the Chocolate Hill, a fist-sized cream puff coated in caramelized sugar and filled with chocolate pastry cream.

Millie: A most magical moment was at dusk, when we went on a boat ride on the Abacan river situated in the municipality of Cortes in Tagbilaran to see the fireflies all lit up on the mangroves. It was so beautiful, really nature at its best! They were like tiny Christmas lights, flickering in the dark. The boat ride itself was so romantic, especially since we were lucky again to have a full-moon experience. We were served snacks and beverages on the boat and the only thing missing was some form of music. But then again, we were with a bunch of foodies who talked about food from morning till night!

Late supper was at Tarsier Botanika in Alona, a popular tourist destination. It’s amazing how Alona has boomed in recent years with many hotels, restaurants and curio shops.

We were served quiche Lorraine and empanadas to start with, a salad with shreds of chicken, hardboiled egg, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber and walnuts drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. We had grilled coral prawns, grilled pork belly served with atchara, huge chunks of beef kebabs and chicken tikka served with a creamy yogurt sauce.

Karla: On our last morning, we got up early for dolphin watching and to go snorkeling around Balicasag Island. Baby dolphins made a quick appearance but we got a huge bonus when one of our boat crew spotted a whale. We caught the last few seconds of a sperm whale diving into the sea with its tail flipping into the air as if to say hello and show off. That, I think was the highlight of our island-hopping morning.

Waiting for us back at the resort was our last brunch spread of Greek salad with cottage cheese, sushi, seared ahi tuna with sushi rice, grilled lamb chops with polenta, and again, an assortment of desserts.

Millie: All this time, we were accompanied by the very engaging resort manager Herve Martin, who accommodated our every whim and fancy and made sure we were comfortable and well-fed during our stay. I say “well-fed” because the food did not stop coming, as fruits and native delicacies were delivered to our villa twice a day! The staff were efficient, well-trained and service was impeccable. The food experience was definitely five-star; all the courses, from starters to dessert were absolutely divine that it is no small wonder guests from nearby hotels and resorts walk in simply to dine.

It gives us good reason to come back to Bohol, but in the meantime, I think it’s time to go on a serious diet after all the eating we just did, but it was well worth it.

Donatela Hotel’s Tropika Pool Café & Bar, perfect for sunbathing during the day and stargazing in the evenings.

* * *

Donatela Hotel is located at Km. 16 Hoyohoy Tawala, Panglao, Bohol. For reservations and inquiries, contact the resort at (038) 510-8472, mobile 0917-526-6001, or email reservations@donatelahotel.com. For more info visit www.donatelahotel.com/.

* * *

Send email to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and quichethecook.ph @gmail.com. Find us on Facebook:  Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

DONATELA HOTEL PANGLAO ISLAND PAPRIKA RESTAURANT PHILIPPINE TARSIER FOUNDATION TAGLIATELLE FRUTTI DI MARE TOMAHAWK STEAK
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