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El Rio y Mar Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 8 October 2017

nice people without crowds, great western foodw nice service, a relaxing place and a great resort w great crew for diving, this place is to dive, see Dugong and WW2 wrack. This is the best place i went so far in Philppines.

  • Stayed: September 2017, travelled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank annahoidid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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31 - 37 of 381 reviews

Reviewed 6 October 2017

We were looking for a place with a peaceful, natural setting to relax without crowds of people around, and El Rio fit the bill. I like a lot of detail when I read reviews, so this review is going to be pretty comprehensive.

Let me begin by saying the resort staff is wonderful! From pick-up to drop-off, they were courteous and cheerful, which adds so much to the overall experience. The transfers costed 3000 pesos for the two of us, but it was worth it because we were given such amazing service. Even though we had to leave for an early flight at 5:30 am, they had a huge serving of breakfast food packed for us (we had full-board meals), and even had a guitar player and several employees at the dock to see us off. Unbelievable. I hope the owner pays them well because they deserve it.

Now on to the resort… Although the resort is located along the waterfront, it isn’t a typical beachfront resort because it is located in an inlet. It’s more like a placid lake. So you won’t hear the sound of waves crashing onto the shore, although the gentle sound of water lapping against the sand is nice too. The good thing is the water isn’t too salty so your eyes don’t sting as badly when you swim. The calm waters are also ideal for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling (you can borrow the equipment for free), all of which we tried and really enjoyed.

CABINS: The cabins are directly in front of the water but we didn’t swim in it due to a) jellyfish (they give you a warning notice about them) and b) there is a marshy swamp (that sometimes doesn’t smell very nice) behind the cabins that flows into the water in front of the cabins, so it didn’t make the water very appealing. The water in front of the cabins closer to the jetty seemed better, we did see some guests swimming around there. There is an area roped off for swimming in front of the swimming pool that is protected by nets so jellyfish can’t come it. There is also an area in front of the jetty for snorkeling. There is a huge school of jackfish that swirl around there, so that was pretty neat to see. The water is crystal clear on sunny days. We were there 6 days, it rained a few days but pretty much every day had partial sunshine.

We arrived at 10 am and since our cabin wasn’t ready, they had us wait in the TV/library room. Thankfully it was ready at 11. So they let us check in early and have lunch as well, which was very nice of them. We stayed in a Native Cabana, number 14. It is the second to the last one farthest from the main lobby and restaurant, about a 5-minute walk if you walk fast. We didn’t mind as it was extra exercise and there is more privacy since fewer people walk by. They have two umbrellas in the front of each unit, which was handy since it rained a few times. The cabin is a duplex and is a decent size, with a huge comfy bed. We did sometimes hear our neighbors coming in and out and a few times when they spoke loudly we could hear the tone of their voices, which wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t a huge bother.

A pitcher of clean water is provided each day along with a kettle and packets of tea and instant coffee. Each day at around 4 pm someone brings you a yummy snack of cookies or cake. There is a mini-fridge as well. Toiletries are limited to toothbrushes (no toothpaste), q-tips, shower cap, and sewing kit (does anyone ever even use those?!). Lotion, shampoo and shower gel are provided in dispensers. Water drainage is not very good in the sink and shower but they never totally clogged up. Slippers and robes are also provided. The a/c worked fine, although it was the old box kind so it was a bit noisy. It seems like the Cedar cabins have a more modern a/c unit. There are no TV’s. Knowing this beforehand, we downloaded a bunch of movies and watched them on our laptops when we came back from dinner, and that worked out fine for us. There were a few times when housekeeping forgot to fill up our water pitcher and dump the trash but all was quickly rectified when we mentioned it.

An important tip about the Internet: There is Internet access in the rooms but it is VERY weak and spotty, as it is all over the resort, even at the main lobby. It takes several minutes to just open a web page. Fortunately, when we were at the Manila airport, we purchased a Sims card that could be used for both phone and internet for 7 days, for only 300 pesos ($6 USD). It worked great and we were able to Skype our families, access emails, etc. When you go out of the baggage claim area, through the glass doors, to your far left is a kiosk called GLOBAL. It is near the money exchange counter. We had been given coupons on our Philippine Airlines flight for a free Sims card to use for 24 hrs through GLOBAL. When we stopped by the kiosk, they gave us the free Sims and told us about the 7-day deal. So glad we went for it. Unless you want to be totally cut off from the outside world, I highly recommend bringing a phone that uses a Sims and getting the Sims card offered by GLOBAL. Also, there are no phones in the room (don’t ask me why) so the Sims is handy to contact the front desk. It’s also handy to book a GrabCar when you need a ride from the local Terminal 4 to the international terminals at the Manila airport (who knew the terminals are so far apart and the airport shuttle only comes around once each hour! Our Grabcar costed 155 pesos to get from Terminal 4 to Terminal 2).

POOLS: There are two pools but one is used for diving practice. You can use that one for swimming too but there are no lounge chairs around it so it really isn’t very practical. So it’s mostly the main swimming pool that is used. It’s not very big but suffices for cooling off after sports activities. Pool towels are provided.

RESTAURANT: We were a bit worried because we were told the main restaurant was under construction (to be completed at the end of October) so it was moved temporarily to where the recreation room/gym was (the mini-gym, ping pong table and billiards tables are now out in the open next to the pool bar). However, the temporary set-up was fine and we were pleasantly surprised with the excellent quality of the food. We went for full-board meals and were very happy with them. The breakfast is buffet style with the typical egg station (everything omelets were good). You can also order waffles. The other choices were mostly Filippino or Chinese dishes. One day there was Fettucine Alfredo, which was surprisingly good. Besides coffee, milk and tea, they always had 2 types of fruit juice and lots of fresh fruit. Lunch is a 4-course meal and dinner was 5 courses. So much food! The lunch and dinner menu is the same and you are allowed a maximum price of 500 pesos for the mains, which include most dishes except high ticket items like tenderloin steak and crab. We found the choices varied and most of the time they were excellent. The portions are huge as well, so if you decide to go a la carte you could probably share if you are a light eater. Here are our recommendations: Starter (if not full-board, price range for starters and salads is around 180-290 pesos) – Baked Mussels with fresh salsa, Duck Springrolls, Artichoke and Spinach Crostini. Salads – Ahi Tuna salad, Tropical Salad, Chicken Pesto Salad, Tofu and Grilled Eggplant. Soups: Truffle Mushroom, Spicy Seafood (very spicy), and Oriental Soup. Mains (if not pasta then they come with your choice of steamed veggies or potatoes any way you like them, most mains were between 400 and 500 pesos): Pepper Steak, Fideua (not sure if I spelled it right but it’s basically Spaghetti with lots of seafood in a cream sauce), Stuffed Porkchops, Mussels with Chorizo. The pizzas are ok but the crust is a bit thick and on the dry side. The only dish we really didn’t like was the Stuffed Squid. Everything else was excellent or above average. They tend to dish out lots of gravy/sauce on the plate so if that gets on your nerves, you may want to request to have sauces on the side. The desserts were also pretty good, especially the cheesecake, the mango crepes, and the mocha cake. We were a bit disappointed no ice cream is offered but it is probably difficult to import. No drinks besides water is included in the full-board meals. San Miguel beer is around 105 pesos.

They have this great guitar player who played in the evenings. The last two days he was joined by his brother and they were fantastic. Get your requests ready, they can play and sing pretty much any classic song you can think of!

SPA: We had a back massage (1/2 hr for about $15) and the mani/pedi ($6 each). We also tried the 1 hr anti-stress massage on the floating spa (about $30pp) and it was great. There is an opening that is cut out on the floor so you can look down into the sea and see fish swimming around during your massage. They only offer massages on the floating spa, everything else like scrubs/facials are done in the regular spa. The mani/pedi’s are basic, there is no place to soak your feet but they do trim your cuticles and nails and do a decent job of painting them.

EXCURSIONS: The resort is a 20-minute boat ride and a 50-minute van ride away from Coron town, where you board the boat for the excursions. We went on the Coron Island Tour and had a total of 10 people. The more people who sign up, the lower the cost. So it ended up costing us 3750pp, around $75pp (I think the cost for 4 was 4750pp). A bit expensive by local standards but we felt it was worth it. We had a very nice tour guide named Darren, who kept a close eye on everyone. We made 5 stops. Even though it rained that day, the water was warm (thank goodness since I am deathly scared of cold water) so it was still very pleasant. The Twin Lagoons was beautiful and interesting. As you swim around, there are bursts of warm water from hot springs below. We also stopped by 2 lakes that had warm, crystal clear water. No fish there but there were neat rock formations. The next stop was a coral reef teeming with fish. The last stop was a relaxing hot spring with 39-degree water. The trip includes life vests, snorkel gear, water, and a generous lunch of rice, roast pork, grilled fish, cucumber/tomato salad, fresh fruit and soda.

The only downside to this resort is it’s so far from Coron town to go on excursions. No tour company will pick you up from the resort because it’s too far. And if no one else at the resort signs up for an excursion, the price for 2 people to go on the Coron Island tour is almost 9000 pesos pp ($180), which is absolutely ridiculous. I definitely think management should at least make transportation into Coron town available at a reasonable price so that if no one signs up for excursions, people can have the option of going with a local tour company in Coron.

Wonder if I have set a record for longest tripadvisor review… Sorry for all the details but I hope they will be helpful. Despite the small inconveniences, this is a wonderful resort with great staff. We definitely plan on coming back!

  • Stayed: September 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
15  Thank Kayne N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2017 via mobile

The reason to come to this place is to dive, see Dugong (sea cow), and WW2 wrack.
The resort is 4stars, the condition of rooms are superb, all sea view.
The only one restaurant here is the best that I ever had experienced for diving in Philippines, even better than some 5stars in Cebu.
All staffs in both dive shop and resort not just friendly and response very fast, this may because the owner and operator are from German.
I definitely will come visit again.

Stayed: October 2017, travelled with friends
1  Thank williamhtam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 September 2017 via mobile

This place is truly heaven on earth. I have travelled a lot of the world, and this is one of my highlights in all my years travelling. The location is great, the staff were brilliant, and I was bought to tears several times while we were there by the 'above and beyond' detail and attention that was offered so happily by the staff. I spent months finding the right location and accommodation to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday and truly can not wait to go back there again. We stayed in a Cedar Cabin on the waterfront and were steps away from snorkelling with the tropical fish amongst the coral any time we wanted. There are hammocks throughout the entire place, or on your own balcony if you book a cabin that were super comfortable and great to rest in during the heat of the day. The snorkelling off the pier here needs to be seen to be believed. I have been to the Great Barrier Reef twice and this was far more superior. I paid extra money for my husband's birthday dinner and the staff set up a beautiful private area for us near the pool, and we had our own chef who prepared a 5 course meal for us and then the staff all came along with cake to sing him happy birthday - absolutely priceless. There are 2 floating massage areas which you get to by boat (the staff take you) where you can enjoy a massage whilst watching the fish swim below you through the hole in the floor directly under where you lay. Tours leave the resort each day if you are interested but we were happy to stay and just rest or swim with the fish most days. We did take one tour where we snorkelled with the Dugongs and sea turtles - that was a lovely day. There are free kayaks, stand up paddleboards, snorkelling equipment to rent and 2 pools to keep cool in. Truly loved this place, and we will go back again one day - 10/10 :D

Stayed: August 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Maree68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 September 2017

Remote, secluded island resort which is a shuttle bus and ferry boat ride away from Busuanga airport. The view is spectacular and the staff is very nice. Lots of things to do - basic water sports (kayaking, paddle board, snorkeling, etc.), rec stuff indoors, spa, etc. - while in the resort. We availed of their daylong island-hopping package and we had the best guides. Everybody goes to the one and only restaurant for all meals so if you like variety, that might not be so great. The food however was above average. There's also a decent breakfast buffet. Cottages were spacious and clean.

The only con I could think of is that you cannot really swim on the beachfront as it is full of plant growth. But if you just want to lounge around with a view of the sea (they have a ree bar on a pier that does just that), its a perfect setting.

  • Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank riceysu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2017 via mobile

3 days in El Rio was awesome! The place is solemn, great view and amenities with a very courteous staff! My Fiancee almost lost her ring by the beach and all staff chime in to help locate the ring! We did some photoshoot and we were well accomodated!

So many things to do, the ambience is so relaxing and the cottage is very intimate!

A very good place to chill and relax... !! Brilliant experience!

Stayed: September 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank IB0511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2017 via mobile

Beautiful secluded spot with plenty to do if you want. Plenty not to do if you're that way inclined too. Just enjoy the location.
Staff were all amazing. My room was a Casa Deluxe and was the best room I've been in for quite some time.
Did 2 dives on the house reef which were enjoyable and well priced. I will definitely be back.

Stayed: September 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Roostermandingo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Rio y Mar Resort

Address: San Jose, Coron, Busuanga Island 5316, Philippines
Region: Philippines > Mimaropa > Palawan Province > Busuanga Island > Coron > San Jose
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in San Jose
Price Range: $110 - $441 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — El Rio y Mar Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Rio Y Mar Resort is the perfect haven for those seeking an escape from the urban jungle. Nestled in a beautiful tranquil bay with a breathtaking view of calm waters and rolling hills, the resort offers the perfect ambiance for romantic getaways and retreats. Guests are guaranteed of personalized service with the trademark warmth and charm of native Palawe'os. The resort also offers scuba diving, hiking, water sports and tours around Coron. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Rio y Mar Hotel Coron

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