Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mambukal Resort

I first heard of the Mambukal Resort on the TV program Sports Unlimited. Since then, this mountain resort in Murcia, Negros Occidental has been on my must-visit list. Finally, thanks to my work, I found myself in Mambukal early this year. You see, we were scouting for a venue for our team building activity and Mambukal Resort was the "IT" place for us.

Day 1
We took the earliest flight to the Silay-Bacolod Airport. Nick (of Talisay City government) fetched our group at the airport and brought us straight to Mambukal Resort. It was a long ride. We passed through the major thoroughfares of Bacolod, caught a glimpse of the grand Bacolod City Hall (it reminded me of the White House) and feasted our eyes on the vast sugarcane plantations. It was very rural with all the greens and the view of the mountain. After over an hour, we were entering the quiet town of Murcia but the resort was still far from the town center. Conspicuous signs leading to Mambukal abound so you won't definitely get lost. We passed by a military camp, more and more sugarcanes and more and more greens before we reached our final destination.

Getting there:

By air: Major airlines have daily flights to Silay-Bacolod airport. From the airport to Mambukal, you may take the vans for rent at the rate of Php 1,400.00. Other option is to take a V-hire to Bacolod and from there, take a mini-bus (big jeep) to Mambukal.

By sea (especially those coming from Cebu): Take a barge or fast craft from Toledo City to San Carlos then ride a Ceres bus or van bound for Bacolod (via Don Salvador). Get off at the Mambukal crossing and then hail a jeep or habal-habal that will take you to the resort.

The Jeep

We expected thirty (30) participants for the team building so we booked two clusters of their cottages. Each cluster has one (1) room for two (2) pax and six (6) pax and two (2) rooms good for four (4) pax. 

LGU Cottage (one cluster of four rooms)

There was so much time in our hands before lunch. We made an ocular inspection of the place, making mental notes as well as scribbles on the resort map for the games and challenges that we were to conduct for the next two days.

Finally, lunch came. The caterer didn't disappoint us. Up until our last day in the resort. The dishes served were delicious, yummy just like your comfort food or lutong-bahay. We had four courses plus soup, salad, pasta and dessert.

The first day was devoted to the meeting so we just stayed inside the conference room the whole afternoon. And may I say that the hall was too big for 30 pax. It had the basics: white screen, white board, sound system including the microphone, tables and cushioned chairs and rostrum. 

After the meeting, everybody had ample time to go around the resort.

Ishiwata Bath House

Mambukal has a variety of amenities to offer its clients. I learned that this place is popular for day tours but I suggest you stay a night or two to fully enjoy everything that this mountain resort has to offer.

Accommodation: Rooms good for 2 and 4 pax all have single beds while the 6-pax room has 2 double decks and 2 single beds. The room is spacious. It has a big sink similar to a kitchen sink, a table, enough chairs, clean sheets and a pillow/bed. There is a small veranda in every room where you can chill out. It has clean, private T&B which has a water heater. Caution though. In some rooms, the heaters worked perfectly fine. However, in our case, tepid water was all we got. The resort does not provide towels at once for free. You have to make a refundable deposit to get your towels (Php 100.00/room) and we also had to make another Php 200.00 deposit/room upon check-in. And by the way, there is no television inside the room or anywhere in the resort. So for couch potatoes, you'll be forced to go out, enjoy the cool mountain breeze and stretch the muscles of your sedentary bodies.

And if you'd like to be one with nature, you can actually pitch tents at their camping grounds.

Amenities and Facilities: As I said, no TV in the room. And no telephones as well. In fact, the only network with working signal is Smart Communications. But the outdoor facilities and sights will make you forget of the wired world for the duration of your stay (unless of course you'd want to immediately upload your photos or blog about your experience or post your status on FB or Twitter).

If you love the water, you'll surely go kayaking (there are only 3 working boats at that time), or take a dip in a number of pools within the resort, or relax your tired body in their sulfuric hot dipping pool.

For nature lovers, you'll have a field day identifying the trees, shrubs and flowers by their scientific names. Kids and adults alike will definitely learn much from all the info placards nailed on the tree trunks. And when you're done with botany lessons, it's time to meet and greet the winged creatures such as the bats and the butterflies.

Those with adventurous streaks can jog, climb the wall, scale a part of the mountain to see the seven waterfalls, cross the canopy walk or fly via the Slide for Life.

And if you like to be pampered after a long day of exploring the place, go get some massage at The Blade Spa.

Food: You can have your food catered, cook your own meals or choose from a wide range of Negrense and Filipino dishes at their food court. There are about five stalls, including Enting's of Sagay.

Day 2
We started the day with our version of Amazing Race. Despite the gloomy sky and intermittent rains, our participants took on the challenge and had so much fun. The teams were a motley mix of professionals, young ones and young once as well as the physically challenged and physically fit. The tasks tested the stamina and endurance of the team members, boggled their minds with legalese, trivia and math problems, and strengthened the bonds of the teammates.

This was followed by a heated discussion on who to save in case of a nuclear explosion, building the tallest and strongest tower out of drinking straws, picking up boats scattered all over with blindfolded eyes and getting past the spider web.

And just when we thought we were done with all the physical activities, we found ourselves trekking to the waterfalls late in the afternoon with our guide Zaldy Guising leading the way. We only managed to see about three falls. The day ended with almost everyone enjoying the hot waters in the dipping pool.

Day 3
Mambukal Resort is a nice setting for photo shoots and some of us wasted our morning hamming up in front of the camera and striking poses here and there. The others went swimming and trekking while a couple tried the zipline.

We left the resort after taking our lunch. It was a good three days of communing with Mother Nature. We embarked on our next destination feeling refreshed and recharged. And we hope to spend another fun vacation in Mambukal soon.

The rates at Mambukal Resort as of January 2011:

Entrance Fees
Adult Php 30.00
11 years old and below Php 10.00
Light vehicles Php   15.00
Trucks and buses Php 30.00

Swimming Pools (Kiddie and Adult Pools, Mambo Pool, Dipping Pool)
Adult Php 50.00
11 years old and below Php 20.00

LGU Cottage (2pax) Php    900.00  (2 single beds)
LGU Cottage (4pax) Php 1,200.00  (4 single beds)
LGU Cottage (6pax) Php 1,500.00  (2 single beds and 2 double decks)
Family Cottage Php 4,000.00  
(2 bedrooms with living room, dining room and kitchen)
Tourist Lodge (Ordinary) Php    600.00  
Tourist Lodge (De Luxe) Php    750.00
Tourist Lodge (Suite)  Php 1,000.00
Dormitory (Exclusive Use) Php 2,000.00  (10 double decks)
Camping Php      30.00/pax
Additional Foam Php    100.00

Picnic Huts
Big Php  600.00
Small Php  300.00

Tables with 4 chairs Php    100.00 
Trellis with 1 Table and 6 chairs Php    300.00

Wall Climbing Php      25.00
Slide for Life Php     100.00 - 2 trips
Canopy Walk Php      50.00
Boating Php      30.00/pax
Butterfly GardenPhp      20.00

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