Stuck in the Past? Matabungkay Beach Hotel Review

Friday, May 04, 2018

With no mid to high-end resorts available in Laiya for the third weekend of March, my mother booked us an accommodation at Matabungkay Beach Hotel instead. Also called Matabungkay Beach Resort, this vacation spot was known to be one of the best high-end resorts in Batangas, Philippines during the 80’s.

swimming pool in tropical resort

As my mother reminisced her days as a regular employee, she said only managers and high ranking officials in their company could afford to go to Matabungkay before. Staying over the hotel equated to luxury - but for the aging millennial, this I had to find out myself.

Matabungkay Beach Hotel boasts a “total hotel resort experience” as the property caters to “comfortable accommodations, wide range of outdoor activities, pampering services, and music and sports lounge” (as per their website). They have been operating for 30 years in the seaside town of Lian, Batangas and they do have a wide chunk of land in that coastal area.

Upon reaching the gates of the resort, I began to understand why they still have available rooms, while the rest of the resorts in Batangas were fully-booked.


Restaurant

The lobby, reception, and restaurant are all under one roof. After check-in, we proceeded to the homey, tropical Philippine ambiance of their restaurant. Although they had an extensive menu offering, the rates of their food were expensive for its quality. The cost per dish was slightly higher than what Max’s or Gerry’s Grill would charge.

hotel reception
rattan chairs
restaurant, rattan chairs and tables, bar
people dining in a restaurant

The taste? Awful. For paying that much, we expected high-quality food. We ordered carbonara that tasted like powdered milk, a cold pizza that didn't even match unpopular pizzas sold in small carts, and Php 180 “fresh” mango and pineapple shakes that tasted nothing like real fruits, but overpowering mix of powdered juices (yes, powdered and not even concentrate).

After having our lunch at their restaurant, we understood why most guests bring their own food, not minding the corkage fee of Php 200 per head. If you’re hungry and have no other choice but to eat there, I suggest just getting calamares and plain rice.

halo-halo ingredients


Swimming Pools

While their food was a disappointment for us, thank goodness they have massive swimming pools. Near the restaurant are two pools for adults and children. Though I believe they aren’t newly-built, the pools were clean and well-maintained during our visit.

swimming pool
swimming pool with slide
swimming pool

Another adult pool is situated behind the main accommodation building and this one had a bar and several reclining pool chairs. My sister and I swam there at night, although I would suggest swimming first thing in the morning after the pools get a fresh clean.


Accommodation

For an overnight stay, we booked two deluxe rooms with the rate of Php 5,500 each (Filipino buffet breakfast included). The rooms were situated in the main building, which reminded me of old buildings in UP Diliman (was it in CMC? PHAN?).

staircase
hallway
room signage, lamps

Despite the building being outdated, we were relieved to find the rooms to be spacious. It didn’t smell old and moldy and the restroom was renovated, composing of a new shower head and working water heating system (still no bidet, though). We also slept comfortably during the night.

trees

For a four-star hotel (and luxury resort in the 80s), Matabungkay Beach Hotel does not provide free WI-FI in rooms. It’s also difficult to get a mobile and data signal in the room so you need to find a spot outside the main building. The accommodation price isn’t exactly cheap and in my opinion, a complimentary WI-FI access would have compensated the cost.


Beach and Water Activities

The resort offers a wide array of beach and water activities such as the usual kayak, jet ski, snorkeling, and diving. These activities are done farther from the resort’s shoreline. Near the shoreline, guests can opt for their covered balsa where they can eat and unwind while remaining afloat.


While the resort’s shoreline stretches far, their beach isn't favorable for swimming. During the time we were there, the water level was only ankle-deep, whether it was high or low tide. I know it’s not about the color of the sand (gray), but the beach looked like it needed some cleaning and rescue. The water itself is clear, but you’ll find dead seaweed and corals.


Even if that doesn’t sound good, on the other hand the resort has a massive space for guests to relax and unwind. The expansive property allowed us to stroll around the resort and many trees provided shade (some with swings hung on sturdy branches).



Other Facilities

Matabungkay beach was definitely not at par with beaches found in Laiya, but it’s a good thing the resort had other outdoor facilities for guests. It’s still a popular venue for team building activities, with parking spaces and gate passes available for private vehicles.


Huge cottages, videoke machines, and a bonfire pit can be found near the beach area. They also have a basketball court and a giant chess set, which we enjoyed playing. Apart from the massive space, Matabungkay Beach Resort has a wall climbing facility, archery, and obstacle courses ideal for team building.



It’s sad to see that the resort somehow got stuck in the past, it’s shining glory tarnished. With plenty of more affordable and value for money beach and hotel destinations in Batangas, the management should start thinking about reinventing their resort. There’s a line between preservation and neglect, and I think the hotel will eventually lead to the latter if both the management and local government won’t rehabilitate the area.

There’s still hope for Matabungkay Beach Resort to make a revival. But as the 80’s titleholder of “total hotel resort experience” and luxury resort living, I think their era has come to an end.



Tips When Visiting Matabungkay Beach Resort

1. Do not expect a high-end hotel and resort.

2. To save on food cost, bring your own food and pay for the corkage fee instead. Otherwise, leave the resort’s premises and dine outside.

3. Breakfast buffet is ok. Nothing special, but it’s not bad either.

4. The resort is still a favorable venue for company team buildings because of the space and numerous outdoor activities.

5. Expect to spend time waiting at the lobby when checking-out, especially during Sunday when majority of the guests are leaving the resort.


Overall Rating: 2.5/5


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The contents of this entry are purely my opinion and 100% honest based on my booking experience and accommodation. 

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