A "Home-Away-From-Home" Experience at Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa
Named after the only known indigenous tribe of Bohol, Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa is a charming all-villa seaside property set on 40 acres in the province’s popular island destination of Panglao. The resort features a diverse topography with lush greenery, a private 600-metre powdery shoreline, and gradually descending cliffs that command a view of the cerulean Bohol Sea.
Eskaya can be accessed by a swift one-hour flight from Manila and an easy 30-minute drive from Tagbilaran airport. The resort’s rustic stone entrance is hard to miss with its massive riprap wall framed by flame trees; a salakot-inspired (native Filipino hat) guard house stands in the middle. Paved pathways lead to 24 thatched villas, comprised of the original 15 (designed by the architectural firm Mañosa & Company) echoing a traditional Filipino vibe and nine new villas with interiors that resonate a fresh, contemporary take on Filipino design by the up and coming interior designer, Jigs Adefuin. Eskaya’s villas are solidly built of stone and combined with the ample use of indigenous materials like bamboo, cogon, and wood.
Adefuin’s collaboration with the owners of the resort started when the latter read an article about the interior designer’s exhibit for the ninth anniversary of design hub, LRI Design Plaza. Keenly interested in Adefuin’s signature style, the resort owners tapped him for the Eskaya expansion project. “When the owners came to meet me [for the first time], they discussed how they wanted to have a fresh approach to the interiors of the new villas [that were being constructed]. The brief given to me [specified] a bahay kubo or nipa hut with high-end modern amenities. So basically, the overall design concept is contemporised Filipino,” explains Adefuin. While native touches and the tropical atmosphere are maintained in keeping with the original villas, the new ones reverberate a lighter ambience, with cleaner lines and urban elements.
Adefuin made sure that the new villas created under his helm would be coherent with the resort’s first phase. While it was imperative for him to meet the resort owners’ expectations, Adefuin still managed to infuse his own identity into the design; each villa radiates balance, symmetry, and proportion; lighting also played a role in reinforcing the mood in different rooms. “I designed the interiors of the new villas with the Asian market in mind. They [usually] prefer modern amenities [even within] an island setting. The intent is to create an inward expression of the bahay kubo but with brighter ambience and a [more contemporary] experience,” he says.
A koi pond that instantly induces a relaxed state of mind marks the entrance to the split-level garden-view family villa, Balai Banai Duha. One of the premier structures in Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa’s new phase, it is extremely generous in size with two main bedrooms, a living room, a dining area, and a fully-equipped Bulthaup kitchen on the ground floor, plus two bedrooms in the second storey loft. City comforts and neutral palettes are used all over—from the dining and living to the bedroom spaces. The luxurious kitchen that comes complete with tableware was created with the Asian guest in mind, allowing families and groups of friends to enjoy a “homeaway-from-home” experience where they can prepare and savour their own meals in the privacy of the villa.
Bedrooms feature roomy closets made of Philippine mahogany frames with fire-bended raw wicker backed by woven matting. Brass wall accents depicting trees hang above the headboards reflecting the natural foliage outside. Glass skylights fill the spacious outdoor bathrooms with sunlight at daytime. Decorated with textured wall tiles and fixtures by Porcelanosa and fringed with bamboo walls, the master bathroom features a luxurious Drayton freestanding tub by Victoria & Albert as its focal point. The space certainly invites guests to take pleasure in a tropical bath experience.
Ground floor bedrooms have direct access to the villa’s private pool, which glows dramatically at night. On the outdoor deck, loungers allow guests to chill out and enjoy the evening breeze.
Adefuin also designed the interiors of eight 197-square-metre grand villas. Each features a master bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look out into the private plunge pool; a cosy living area with daybeds; and a combination dining and kitchen area. Most of the furniture has been designed by Adefuin and produced by Sigvard Selections.
In addition to the villas, Adefuin was also commissioned to extend the resort’s open-air dining outlet, Lantawan, which overlooks a pool and offers views of the land- and seascapes.
“I worked around the extension, which has a structure [defined by] columns and a massive glass skylight that bathes the room with natural light. The columns, wrapped with Bohol’s native coral limestones, support a wooden trellis that carries the weight of the glass panels,” shares Adefuin. Also on the drawing board is a walk-in wine cellar to be incorporated into the restaurant.
In line with the cont emporary Filipino theme, the Lantawan extension features customised wood dining tables and woven abaca chairs. Adefuin used a distressed wood finish for the dining tabl es to ensure easy maintenance.
Special mention should be made of Lantawan’s Filipino cuisine. Must-try’s are the mouth-watering humba or braised pork belly on a bed of garlic with fermented black beans flavoured with Mallorca, a locally-produced gin; the savoury binagoongang lechon kawali or crispy pork belly tossed in fragrant shrimp paste served with string beans, pumpkin, and okra; and classic Boholano dish beef balbacua or slow-cooked ox trotter stew with local vegetables. For dessert, the delicious biko (rice cake) infused with hints of lime and ginger, and banana turon (fritters) with ube (purple yam)—a rootcrop abundant in the province—are recommended. In the evenings, guests can enjoy al fresco candlelit dinner by the resort’s scenic infinity pool.
Still under construction is the gym, which will offer modern fitness equipment combined with refreshing views. Adefuin designed the gym with contemporised Filipino touches. “Wood and glass will be prominent on the walls and windows. A lighted cove will highlight the wood-cladded ceiling. We also superimposed woven patterns on the flooring,” he says. The construction of the gym is expected to be completed by year-end.
When asked about what else is in store from Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa, Adefuin gladly shares that an exclusive airport lounge at the soon-to-be-launched Panglao Island International Airport is in the pipeline. Eskaya’s guests can surely look forward to several surprises in the coming year.
Words by Maritess Garcia Reyes | Photography Aldwin Aspillera | Additional words, production, and styling: Mia Borromeo
Originally published in Philippine Tatler Homes, Volume 20