After a year and a half of ups and downs, lockdowns and ongoing limitations on when and where we can travel to, it’s hard not to get swept up in dreams of an idyllic five-star beach getaway in 2022 – a time when we’re all hoping to see a host of exotic destinations finally get the green light and be reinstated as possibilities for the year ahead.
And if there’s one destination we’ve got our eye on here at LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, it’s the Philippines. This paradise multi-island nation is a jewel of South East Asia, but has kept its borders firmly closed to international tourists since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. To date, it remains on the UK red list – but with vaccination efforts ramping up across the country and global travel restrictions gradually beginning to ease, there’s hope that that might have changed by the end of the year, ready for 2022.
Characterised by pristine, white, sandy beaches fringed by rows of verdant coconut trees, crystalline waters lap the shores of the Philippine’s many islands, and with lush green rice paddies, scenic rivers and an interesting culture, it simply oozes appeal when it comes to those looking for a far-flung getaway to remember.
With many of its most frequented islands still relatively undeveloped and unspoilt when compared with more mainstream destinations, 2022 is the perfect time to visit – especially if you’re eager to experience it in its authenticity before huge all-inclusive resorts and complexes begin to take over.
When planning your great escape to the sunshine, be sure to check the visa requirements and any current travel restrictions before booking your flights. Currently, the new Electronic Travel Authorisation – known as the Philippines eTA Visa Waiver – is only available to citizens of Taiwan – but it is expected to be rolled out further afield over the coming months, meaning this epic destination could become an option once again.
Here, we take a look at the top luxury hotels and islands in the Philippines to add to your itinerary for your first big trip.
Shangri-La Boracay, Boracay
Perhaps one of the best known islands thanks to its long, sandy beaches and previously, a bit of a party reputation, Boracay has quite literally cleaned up its act in recent years. Now, there are strict limits on the number of tourists allowed on the island at any one time, and ongoing efforts to keep rubbish and pollution under control. The result? Boracay is almost back to looking like the unspoilt diamond it once was, and you can now go and enjoy a relaxed five-star break without the hustle and bustle of times gone by.
The Shangri-La is set on a lush green hillside overlooking the ocean, and makes for a luxurious and secluded hideaway that’s just perfect when you’re looking to get away from it all. Featuring a 400-yard private beachfront, two spectacular pools and a choice of opulent villas and suites, it ticks all the right boxes, and some.
Seda Lio, El Nido
If you’re looking for somewhere that has yet to see the party scene at all, then El Nido remains an unspoilt paradise, although pre-pandemic, tourist numbers had been increasing dramatically.
El Nido offers some of the most beautiful beaches the Philippines has to offer, and is a must for first timers. The stunning Seda Lio is located right on the beach within the Lio Tourism Estate and boasts a lengthy outdoor swimming pool and a range of luxurious rooms with views. There are also plenty of activities on offer here that are certain to please restless types.
Crimson Resort and Spa, Cebu
If you’re looking to base yourself in the thick of the action, then you might be seeking something that offers a little more than just beautiful beaches and a relaxed pace of life – and Cebu is just the place. From here, you can take whale shark and turtle spotting trips, head to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, visit wildlife sanctuaries and enjoy the secluded beauty of Mactan.
The Crimson Resort and Spa is an upmarket hideaway set on its own private beach, and offers the best of both worlds. Far enough away from all of the action on Bohol to feel exclusive and private, but close enough to access day trips, excursions and nearby sights when you want to, it features tropical-inspired rooms and classic furnishings, with a range of restaurants and bars and the obligatory infinity pool.