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Reviewed February 14, 2013

Me and my wife spent 5 nights at Mangenguey with a plan to relax after 14 days of traveling around Philippines.
First I have to point out that this is not a 4/5 star hotel although they charge you as it would be. I have to say that the island itself is really nice on a remote place so you can really relax yourself and enjoy snorkelling and doing nothing. One of the most important reasons why we decided to go to Mangenguey was because of the "fabulous cuisine" as per their words. We must also not forget that they charge you 75 $ per nigh for 3 "fabulous" meals. WELL I HAVE TO TELL YOU - DISAPPOINTED BIG TIME !!! I have travelled a lot in Meditarainian countries as well as in Spain and believe me that the food from Mangenguey is not even close.

I will tell you:
Breakfast - bread + marmalade , fruits and chocolate bread. OK for one day but you have everyday the same, when I asked for eggs the reply was that they are not available!!!

Lunch - disaster!!!! served at 02.00 pm, outside temp. - 35 C ; they serve you toast with french fries and ketchup !!!!!!!!!!! (crazy). Note that lunch is everyday almost identical

Dinner - OK but very very far from fabulous !

*In five days there we didn't have one single fish for any of the meals!

Bottom line is that they overcharge you for what you are getting in return and I would definitely recommend different island for you holidays.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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18  Thank tratar20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 12, 2013

Mangenguey is not only a beautiful island, but also a superb place to unwind and feel pampered. Helena and Richard are gracious, non intrusive, hosts and the staff is so nice, gentle and accommodating! The rooms are cozy and chic; the food is good -perfect waldorf salad. I enjoyed a wonderful stay and cannot thank enough the owners for letting us share their piece of paradise and for keeping it in such great shape (oh, those corals!). Worth every penny. Gracias.

Room Tip: I love them all!
  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Lau74SXB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 10, 2013

One can easily be charmed and captivated with the bevy of information and how it is presented on Mangeguey's website. The seeming mystery is intriguing; the prospect of peace and privacy away from the crowds very much alluring. This is what drew us to book a 1-week stay at Mangenguey.

Upon booking, we received the confirmation email with some guidelines on the schedule for pick-up from the airport and boat transfer to the island. I had also inquired about a dive certification course as this was Palawan after all and renowned for its pristine waters and rich marine life. Mangenguey's rate for a 3-day PADI Open Water Dive course is USD800. This cost does not yet include the theory part which is another USD100 or so that can be signed-up for online. With the total cost for PADI certification via Mangenguey amounting to over USD900 compared to USD300 up elsewhere in Coron, I inquired if perhaps I could make arrangements with another dive operator instead. I was told that this would be fine.

I wasn't able to sort any firm agreements with other dive operators until we were finally at Coron and waiting for the boat transfer to the island. I was able to negotiate for a more reasonable rate with a reputable dive operator and it seemed fortunate that Richard was at the place at the time and gave us his blessing to setup a place for the dive instructor to stay overnight at Mangenguey's staff house.

On arrival at the island we were greeted by Angela and directed to the Azur cottage. We were instructed on how to wash the sand from our feet using the native vessel and then shown into the cottage. I read all 90 reviews on Tripadvisor and was slightly unsure of what to expect considering the recent negative reviews posted. Unfortunately we had already made our booking so there was no canceling. Moreover, the positive reviews seemed to outweigh the negatives. Wanting to make the best of the holiday ahead, I requested for a copy of the waiver and registration forms in advance. This is apparently the very first thing guests are demanded to complete regardless of their state on arrival. With this ready and handy, we could at least start to enjoy our holiday ASAP. I found it funny that the spiel about the dogs was exactly as 1 TA reviewer had put it: there is 1 dog (Pandak) who is the pet, and 2 dogs (Java and Zuma) who are let loose at night to serve as the night watch. If you come across the night dogs, don't panic; just stand still and slowly make your way back to your cottage. And then of course the feeding schedule: breakfast is served from 8-9:30am, lunch at 2pm and dinner at 8pm and please do not be late. With all of that aside, we were told that lunch would be served shortly and for us to just make our way towards the main house where all meals are served.

We were the only guests for the first 2 nights of our stay. It was indeed peaceful and we were very much enjoying not having to bother with any crowds. Neither did the staff bother us except to request for us to proceed to the main house for scheduled meals. There was a concern on efficiency since it made more sense to walk up to the main house and get our drinks instead of asking for this and then walking back to the beach/cottage and waiting for an eternity for our orders to arrive. Nevertheless this was inconsequential as for the most part of the day there was just peace and quiet being surrounded by glorious Mother Nature.

Our dive instructor was scheduled to arrive on the third day and this is when things started to shift. An experienced dive master, George, was sent and he was actually just visiting from Greece. It was his first time in the Philippines and an interesting coincidence that he happened to be in Coron during peak season and the dive operator was in need of an extra pair of hands. This is how he ended up in Mangenguey as our dive instructor. After introducing ourselves, he naturally inquired as to where we could sit and have coffee to start our discussion on the exciting couple of days and dive course ahead. As we were making our way toward the main house out comes Helena from her living quarters charging towards us and screaming about her running a business and that she was not making any money out of the dive course we had signed up for and George was most certainly not getting a free stay on her island. To say that we were astounded is an understatement. She kept screaming at us and was visibly shaking with anger. We pointed out that her husband had told us that it was not a problem to have the dive instructor stay at the staff house. Had there been any misunderstanding about this arrangement no one had bothered to inform us during the past 2 days that we had already been there. Her reply seems to pretty much surmise the kind of person that she is as she told us (and I cannot forget these words): "My husband is not well. He does not know what he's talking about; he's crazy. He doesn't pay the bills. I do." For the price that we were paying, her reaction was simply unacceptable. Even her beloved pet Pandak was barking at George throughout the entire confrontation!

We were all shocked at Helena's impudent treatment, especially George who has been a resort manager for 20 years and never has he witnessed such attitude. George was the epitome of professionalism and worked to recover from the tension that Helena had created. He told us not to worry, that we would have a great time with the course, and that he would speak to Helena to work things out.

A few minutes later he requested to have a word with Helena. They were just a few feet away from the table and I could get bits and pieces of George appeasing Helena in Spanish, telling her that we were her guests and that she was getting our business anyway and that he was not there to take any business away from her. She was simply unreasonable and seeing that she had no plausible explanation just walked off. At some point during lunch, Richard came by our table and started to tell us of his morning fixing up the cottages in the back and filling us in on the state there. When finally we found an opening in between his litany of wirings and carpentry, we asked him about the obvious mix-up with arrangements for George. And here is another reply that I cannot forget: "I'm sorry about that, we have just all been stressed around here. The desalinator is broken again and guests are arriving and the cottages are not yet done and people have not been showing up for work. I apologize for my wife, please understand this is peak season and a very stressful time for us. We'll work it out but please, excuse my wife." Again, for the cost to stay here, such treatment is just inexcusable. Where do you find a place where it is the guests who accommodate the owners? And this is the hospitality industry we're talking about.

George was every bit the professional and did not for once broach the idea of just canceling the course and upping. Never mind that he did not know where he was sleeping that night. We proceeded with our dive instructions and the time spent on the boat or in the water erased the horrible episode with Helena. The only time we were ill-at-ease was at dinner when we had to be at the main house and Helena a few feet away in the kitchen. Despite all this, George carried on with the course and made a genuine effort to keep tension at bay.

We considered to cancel the next 3 remaining nights we had to stay at the island and made inquiries at some other resorts. Angela informed us that we would not be refunded for these nights but instead costs from incidentals could be deducted. Unfortunately all other places were also fully booked since it was peak season. The idea of being inconvenienced by having to move around given the short holiday was equally unappealing and so we decided to just make the most of our stay. Oh and by the way, George tried to sleep in the hammock in front of our cottage but later on in the evening one of the night dogs started barking at him so he ended up sleeping on the boat. He didn't even try to knock on our door and ask for assistance.

One of the things highlighted in other reviews is the fantastic food. Throughout our entire stay (that's a total of 12 meals, not counting breakfast) I can count about 5 dishes that I can rate. All else were just absolutely not worth the compulsory USD75 daily rate per person. Breakfast is the same all throughout: a fruit platter of about 5 different kinds of fruit (apple, banana, pear, grapes, dragon fruit, watermelon, orange), a bread basket with 3 kinds of bread (pan aux chocolat, croissant, bagel), a tropical coconut drink, and coffee or tea. Being a light eater, I inquired if I could possibly have only half the serving of lunch and dinner meals and instead have a hard-boiled egg for breakfast in exchange. This was definitely not possible and it was preferred that the food that I cannot consume go to waste rather than work out something more economical other than charge USD25 for 3 eggs (considered a special request). In terms of the dishes that I would willingly order again in place of all the other dishes: eggs benedict, filet mignon, Spanish tortilla, shrimp al ajillo, and churros con chocolate. The other dishes that are not really worth mentioning other than being ordinary: croque monsieur, trout, salmon & cream cheese bagel, beef stew, steak sandwich, some kind of salmon casserole, and paella. The meals on our last day were the worst of all! For lunch we were served some kind of a makeshift deli pizza with pepperoni and cheese on French baguette. This is the kind of sandwich I would put together with leftovers I can find in the fridge. For dinner it was bouillabaisse that tasted of spoilt seafood. The fish, clams, mussels, and squid were definitely overcooked even possibly not fresh and we were more fearful of getting upset stomachs from the awful dish that we just refused it. Helena did come by each and every table that evening to ask about how the food was. She visited our table last and just being fed up with it all and it being our last night that we did not want to spoil anymore than it already was, we simply replied "good" to her inquiry of how the food was. It was pretty apparent that she did not care for any constructive feedback anyway so we just did not bother.

Prices of the drinks, as with everything, were unjustifiable. USD4/PHP200 for a bottle of beer, USD8/PHP400 for a classic cocktail, and USD10/PHP500 for signature watered-down cocktails. A bottle of red/white Spanish wine costs USD30/PHP1,500 and a bottle of Helena's favorite bubbly costs USD50/PHP2,500. A quick Google check shows that these do not even actually cost a third of the price! Even with shipping costs included at bulk, it is highly doubtful that it would cost all that much.

After our last meal, we decided to enjoy the quiet beach and clear sky with some star gazing. We were out at the beach trying to make out constellations and satellite sightings when the dogs showed up and started barking at us. Being already accustomed to them, we stood up to make our way back to our cottage. This was when Helena showed up and admonished us: "It's 11pm. You should be back in your cottage because the dogs are out now." Not a single inquiry as to how we were doing or even try to pacify us. No, it was more important to her that her dogs were soothed and not us, the paying guests.

As for the cottage, well for one the location was choice. It is right on the beach and a few feet away you are at the shore. It is utterly marvelous to wake up and pull the curtains aside to the sun rising! The actual quarters are nothing special other than being a roof for the night with toilet and bath. Sure, it was charmingly rustic. But again, for the price, one would expect at the very least for rodents to be addressed. Yes, we did have some survival biscuits and nuts with us which we resorted to keep in the safe the second night when we realized there were rats. By the fourth day when the couple staying at the cottage next door said that they too had rats, Richard said he would have some rat poison put out. It was effective because by night-time the culprit was convulsing to its death in the bathroom. We threw it out in the bin next to our cottage and told Richard about this the following day so that it could be taken care of. On our last day I threw out some other items and found the dead rat still in the bin!

Now the icing on the cake. The morning of our last day, Angela gave me back USD100. She told me she miscalculated the bar tab and we were inadvertently charged an excess of USD100. When I finally found the time to tally up the costs myself a few days later, it turns out the miscalculation was USD163. This could be an inconsequential amount that could be written off as tips for the staff but the thing is Mangenguey already charges an exchange rate of PHP45 to USD1 versus the actual PHP40-42 rate. The explanation is that this is where they take service charge and tips from. Thing is, I do not even know if the further USD63 would be credited as tips or simply absorbed in the books. I wrote Angela regarding this matter and she requested that I re-send her an email and take out the part about the returned USD100 and simply indicate an overcharge of USD63 and not USD163 as I had originally written. She explained that this was so as not to "confuse/upset" Helena.

Overall, Mangenguey is a huge dismay. The island itself is beautiful. The remoteness and disconnection from modern civilization is refreshing. Sure, the poor service can be excused. This can be addressed through training. The high prices can be considered if actually worth it. Had it not been for the people we met during our stay (Angela, George, Mark, and Tanya), or being seasoned travelers who enjoy each other's company and are able to humor through a sour situation, it would have all just been a complete and utter nightmare. Helena does not seem to have a clue about running a business in the hospitality industry that her business is in. Evidently she does not care much for guests' welfare. This is obviously a mom&pop operation, sans the price. It could have so much potential, if the owners are willing to make adjustments. Unless that happens, it would be better to go elsewhere. In terms of a unique island that offers privacy and seclusion, have a look around. There are a few other places in Palawan that can surely offer much more!

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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62  Thank kaimorales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 8, 2013

This was such an incredible experience, i don't think you'll be able to find this anywhere else. We had the yellow two room hut on the beach which had a lovely view and was really nicely decorated. my boyfriend was afraid he'd get bored but there was plenty to do. We hiked around the island, went snorkelling, and there are little boats you can take out. The food was really delicious most of the time and just nice at other times. It was really nice to meet the other guests as well we were with a really young cool group of people.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Stefanie v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 5, 2013 via mobile

The island is really a spectacular and magical place to stay. The natural beauty and unspoilt surroundings create a wonderful romance.

There is an interesting concept of the resort- huts made of natural materials like bamboo and mud, chic and simple decorations which maintain the island charm. The island is owned by hosts Richard and Helena. They try to create a warm atmosphere by socializing with the guests and making sure their stay is pleasant.

The best activities are snorkelling and boating which are free and unlimited. The coral reef was the best we've seen in the Philippines so far and was worth it just for that.

Our main complaint was the price, hidden costs and value for money. Upon departure, you will receive a bill for many things you didn't think was not included, such as $75/person/day for food (regardless of whether you had one meal or three). Transport fee was another hidden cost. Drinks were quite overpriced. It really was a lovely stay and we would be happier if the costs were more transparent and upfront instead of being faced with a huge bill at the end of our stay.

Also, the attention to detail seemed to wan off after the first day, when our room was not really taken care of or our water replenished. For the cost, we would have appreciated slightly more attention. Also, when we arrived in busuenga airport, no one greeted us or gave us clear instructions of how to get to the island. We had no idea where the ferry transfer etc was. Expect a cramped van to take you to the ferry stop with other tourists squashed in.

Overall, we had a good stay and enjoyed our stay very much. It's a once in a Lifetime paradise stay- provided you can foot the bill.

  • Stayed: February 2013
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2  Thank tlfern
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
carratala13, Owner at Mangenguey Island, responded to this reviewResponded February 8, 2013

we are allways greatful if we get constructive criticizem and we are unhappy when we do not deliver perfect service since that is realy our aim( as is quite clear in the reviews) we succed most of the time.
But to be fair I want to CORRECT the issue of PRICE and HIDEN COSTS.
We are a very small, independant, Social Entrepreneurs in a remote location......to keep our Island protected and prestine as well as deliver the standards that we aim for is a difficult and expensive proposition......so yes we are not cheap, but we feel ( and obiously most of our guests do too) we deliver a value for money product.
Regarding hiden cost.....well is NOT TRUE.....well informed travelers can go to our very extensive, beautiful website were ALL IMPORTANT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE. In the different ports that sale our property ( were we realy have little control over the information they put) most of them provide us with the customer email address on the booking voucher. Upon receiving of booking we email a welcome letter to the guests providing ALL IMPORTANT INFORMATION and COST so I do not see how we can be criticized of NOT BEING TRANSPARENT.
I encourage all travelers to do their research and read all the information previous to their booking to avoid missunderstandings.
Gracias

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