My partner told me the island is more fitting for a prison. Unfortunately I had to agree.
Initially had high hopes for Sumilon - especially having enjoyed staying at Bluewater Maribago in Lapu Lapu. But this falls way below that standard - yet has much higher accommodation rates.
Problems commenced with the booking - attempting to book thru the online system. Many attempts without success. Their helpful Manila-based Reservations eventually made the booking.
Arrived at Cebu departure jetty. Met by a staff member who ran thru the island's detail in a small voice and much too quickly. None of us followed what he was saying and most of what he informed seemed to be 'don't take this to the island', 'don't do this on the island'. We felt as tho we'd arrived to a zoo or tourist attraction, not a hotel!
A quick & very nice boat ride across to the island. We were dropped at the sandbar due to the tide being unfavourable to land opposite side of the island - where the hotel was. Had to walk thru/over many sunbathing/swimming tourists, up a very high cliff to a waiting jeep. No-one explained why we were doing this or that it wasn't always this way. All in 33 degrees heat. Not a great start.
Check-in for the rooms - hmmmm, no real Reception, just a desk at the restaurant. The lady was helpful but we were then given keys and pointed in a direction to walk. Not assisted to the room.
The paths are stones and the island is very rough - not mentioned on their website. Nothing is cultivated or maintained by a gardener - or if so, not to a high standard. I'm all for enjoying the 'natural' look & feel of an island (much prefer that to a fake setting) but this island simply isn't picturesque and is grossly over flattered on their website. The page entitled 'Discover The Island' shows a photo of what must be the sandbank. ...but it's missing the hundreds of stones & shells all over it, along with the equal numbers of people (non hotel guests) drinking & swimming there in the daytime. There is nowhere to sit away from the sun, no bar or restaurant next to this and it's also a good 10 mins or more walk from the hotel area, along a stone-only path.
We followed the hotel's advice (and flattering website description - 'the island trials are truly amazing! A map in your room will help you navigate through the paths. A camera is a must.') ....don't bother. It's very dangerous - cliff-edge, rock/boulder paths & no fencing/rope barrier to the 100+ft drops. We walked 6am to the watchtower. This dangerous cliff-edge path, with vague small arrows pointing into dense tree areas, completely barren of any leaves, plants or grass. It resembled a land where fire had ripped thru it and left only the tree trunks & branches. Nothing to see, no views of note & you need to constantly look down at your feet to ensure you don't fall to your death or twist an ankle.
The evening buffet was bland and dinner finished inside 20minutes. However the 2nd evening's dinner was even worse - no buffet (as promised when we booked) but 'due to low numbers of guests' a set menu without any choice of alternative. Disgusting as the hotel know you have no other option but to accept what they give you - as no shop or alternative restaurant on the island. Breakfast has a lot to offer but lacking in flavor and the hotel seriously needs to invest in some ceiling fans for the restaurant to keep the flies off the food that is on the buffet.
Massage - me & my partner took an in-room full body massage. I stopped mine early as it was dull, my partner had aches the following morning from where she had hurt him by not massaging the correct points!
Library (website blurb: A selection of bestsellers and historical books will be available for the young and restless.). Reality - two bookcases in corner of restaurant filled mainly with german language books left behind by tourists. ...as per most hotels, but again completely over-sold on the website as something much more spectacular!
The Family Villa...
From the time we arrived to the time we left one bedroom's toilet didn't flush. Twice we complained & twice someone went to 'fix'... still not working when we departed.
To the leftside of the villa, from the pool garden area down the side of the villa you can find broken plastic chairs, some garbage, broken bits of plastic & other housing material. All this inside your villa's fence!
And for us, with 3 kids, the worst part was the promised 'included in the room cost' lagoon kayaking and fishing. This is supposedly on the opposite side to the sandbar, the hotel's private 'beach'. Down the cliff you go to a barren & very windy 'beach' area. Almost all shells, stones & broken coral. Savage nature, quite beautiful, but not a play area for kids & not the private hotel beach you imagine when seeing the cost of the rooms per night! The website states: Explore the island’s calm lagoon and steer through the high mangroves! Test your skills and fish the lagoon waters using the simple but challenging line and hook. .. the reality was 2 or 3 kayaks piled up in a broken shed, at the side of a very murky water 'pond', the air heavy with mosquitos. No-one was around the 3x we went down there to actually offer the use of the kayaks and in all probability I don't believe you could - the wooden jetty to where they are kept was almost broken and definitely not safe for children to walk on. No fish feeding mentioned or offered.
The trip to Oslob, for the whalesharks, was ok. The driver was very helpful & friendly, arranged everything quickly for the official check-in prior to us getting into the boats. I had completed the same experience last year and it was definitely quicker with the driver's assistance but it still isn't worth paying almost double for the experience thru Bluewater when you could easily use their complimentary boat over to Cebu & hire a trimotor or similar for the 5mins journey to the whaleshark experience & handle arrangements yourself.
This island is barren with no nature of note, food is bland, staff really don't seem to care much and obviously have a high turnover of guests (staying only 1 or 2 nights) thus don't see value in offering quality service.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.