Mangenguey Island
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About

4.5
#28 of 59 resorts in Palawan Province
4.6 of 5 bubbles
Location
4.5 of 5 bubbles
Cleanliness
4.5 of 5 bubbles
Service
4.0 of 5 bubbles
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Mangenguey is truly like no other place in the world. It is intimate and private, a destination that blends the incredible beauty of untouched Nature with culture and art. The island is a perfect location to create a new vision of Utopian living and redefined luxury for the twenty-first century. Mangenguey is an exquisite and remote Virgin Island comparable in natural beauty to the best in the world; it is located in the Calamianes archipelago in Northern Palawan, Philippines. It is right at the center of the Coral Triangle, one of the world's richest marine biodiversity zones. Getting There. Mangenguey is 45 minutes away from Manila, Philippines by plane. There are regular daily flights to Busuanga airport via Air Phil Express, Cebu Pacific, or SKYJET.Upon arrival at Busuanga Airport, guests take a thirty-minute drive in an air-conditioned van or private car (with additional charge) that takes them to Coron Town. In Coron, guests board our native banka for an approximately 1-1/2 hour (depending on sea conditions) beautiful scenic journey to the island. Airport transfers are $65/ trip and include land and sea transport. We recommend a minimum stay of three (3) nights for guests traveling from not so distant locations, and a week for guests coming from far away. Food and Beverage: The dining experience on Mangenguey is like no other: fresh sea air to stimulate the appetite, gorgeous views of the ocean, superb cuisine, warm and friendly service, and interesting conversation. Helena's simple and approachable Catalan-inspired cuisine is definitely one of the highlights of the Mangenguey experience. Gathered around the gracious table for communal dining or "al fresco" in the garden, meals in Mangenguey reflect the distinctive character of Helena. Shaped by her Spanish childhood and her years of travelling throughout different continents, combined with her knack for using local ingredients, each meal on Mangenguey is a unique epicurean adventure and pleasure for the senses. All guests are served 3 gourmet meals a day for a fee per person, per day. We accommodate "Special diets" provided advance notice and at an additional charge per day per person. Guests can also enjoy a variety of classic cocktails and a selection of wines, spirits, and beers. A truly luxurious moment on the island is the pre-dinner drinks at the Big House: sip the house champagne or our Signature Cocktails as tantalizing aromas waft from the open-style kitchen while Helena's cooks. Entertainment. Guests can swim and snorkel in the reef, paddle around the island in native bankas, bird watch, or trek through the forest. They can read on the veranda facing the sea, play pool in the Big House, or watch the sunset while sipping champagne and listening to Maria Callas. The adventurous can dive or snorkel in the magnificent house reef or in the turquoise waters surrounding the island. We customize island hoping and diving tours on our comfortable bankas to fit your desires and interests that come complete with gourmet picnics and butler service. Our private diving trips must be booked in advance with our Dive Master. Experience the beautiful reefs and the Japanese wrecks. We can plan a perfect diving experience based on your skills and desires. Private diving courses may also be arranged.
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33.7 km
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Detailed Reviews
Leceinej wrote a review Feb 2014
Manila, Philippines17 contributions21 helpful votes
4.0 of 5 bubbles
This place is just beautiful with its long white beach and clear waters. I had fun with unlimited snorkeling and they let use all you need for free. Basically,you can have the beach for yourself since the place can only accomodate few guests. The workers are polite and friendly especially Nancy and Rey. The owner Richard took us to some caves and it was really an adventure. We were there when typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines. The owners and workers took all guests to the main house to be safe. The next morning the cottages were destroyed and everything was just a mess. We fell asleep on the floor the next evening but the owners made sure that we were comfortable and safe all the time. I can't thank enough everyone especially Richard,Nancy and Rey for taking good care of us. I am sad about what happened but hopefully they can restore everything in the island. It was an unforgettable experience. A beautiful place made even better by the people who runs it.
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Date of stay: November 2013Trip type: Traveled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
ediehu wrote a review Apr 2012
Hong Kong, China18 contributions34 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Pristine white sand beach - check
Remote location - check
Privacy - check
World-class food - check
Coral reef - check
Top service - check

If you're a sophisticated world traveller between the ages of late 20s to early 50s, not interested in commercial tourism, but looking for an escape to a pure tropical paradise far away from other tourists, then Mangenguey is your place!

I escaped the real world for a few days last week and found myself in Utopia. From the moment you step onboard the banka in Coron that whisks you away towards the island, you feel the weight of the world lifting. After a peaceful two-hour ride past lush islands that were once witness to fierce naval battles in WWII, you arrive at your destination with glistening turquoise blue waters lapping up on a pristine white carpet of sand. There is a bamboo pier jutting out into the waters, which was not used for disembarking but is the island's icon.

The warm staff is on hand to greet you as you step onto the sand. On the beach there are two small bunglalows - the Yellow and Crimson. The Crimson one was 2 stories and both cottages had large inviting patios that allowed you to lounge on large pillows while facing the sea. I had originally booked the smaller Rosa I room on the other side by the main house, but due to maintenance in that area, I was upgraded to the top floor of the Main House in the Azur room. The Main House is a large stylish open space where the main dining room, kitchen, bar, reception and pool table was. There are no doors - everything opens on to the sea. To enter, one must first wash their feet. Erica, the head of reception and concierge took a coconut shell ladle and scooped out water from a large ceramic vat and washed my feet. She took me upstairs to my suite which was about 1000 square feet. The door was a bamboo-strip sliding door (no locks on any doors) opening on to a sitting and dressing area. To my right was a large open-air bathroom, with a separate toilet. The bathroom had two sinks, a tub and a shower area, bamboo floors. In the other direction, the bedroom behind screen doors, opening to a double bed with a mid-century modern bed frame painted with accents of 'azur' blue, thus giving the room its name. There were two low chairs also upholstered in the same shade of blue. One set of doors opened onto the balcony with views of the ocean just less than 50 yards away. Beyond the third set of sliding doors was the shared living room complete with its own bar, sofas, desk and decorated with old family photos and art books. A second bedroom adjoined the living room on the other side, but was unoccupied while I was there.

There was AC, Wi-Fi, a safe, hot water, but between 6 and 10 am, they turn off the generator to conserve electricity. All the water, except for drinking was de-salinated ocean water. To be ecologically minded, the run-off water was also collected from the showers in vats and re-used to wash feet, wash the floors, water the plants, and for general cleaning. The temperature was perfect, so I didn't use the AC at night - opting to keep the screen doors closed and just listen to the ocean as I drifted off to sleep.

Meals were served at 9 am, 2 pm and 8pm. It's part of the package at US$75 a day. Breakfast is served outside the main house with guest seated at individual small tables. I ate alone. Everyday you get an assorted bread basket (a croissant, chocolate croissant and a bagel), a selection of spread (cream cheese, butter and jam), coffee, a coconut and a whole platter of fresh fruit. On the first day I was served way too much food, so I asked for half the amount for the next few days. Lunch was bagels and lox on my first day and a Parma ham, tomato and Manchego cheese sandwich on my 2nd day. Dinner was beef and mashed purple yams. I'm a pescatarian, so the staff made me a special veggie steak dinner, which was delicious. If you require special food, you must notify the staff ahead of time. A $25 charge will be added to your bill for every meal that you require a special meal. One night the chef made chicken paella and I had a veggie stew and another night it was a seafood stew. The food all have a Spanish touch, because the owner, Helena is from Spain. Dinner on the 2nd night was at the main dining table, where all 6 guests could mingle.

Apart from meals, the only other thing to do is enjoy the beach. Guests can borrow snorkel gear and go out to explore the virgin reef just mere steps off the beach. There are also a couple of small paddle boats with catamaran arms on both sides, that guests can use too. The island is small enough to paddle around in about 30 min, if you don't stop. You can also take the boat to the other beaches on the other side of the island. One morning I swam around the entire island in about 40 min. One of the boys who works for the resort can also take you up the mountain and explore the caves. Of course laying in a hammock and reading was also one of my favorite activities on the island.

I went to explore one of the other beaches one afternoon with the boat and felt as if I was the first one to have discovered this unblemished virgin beach. Instead of finding the usual garbage on beach, I found clam shells the size of my head littering the beach. I had only seen shells like that in stores or used as decoration, but never on a beach because the beaches are usually already stripped of its shells. It's illegal to take shells off the island though, so I donated my discovery to the hotel.

If you're going out to Coron, one thing not to be missed is the spectacular diving sites. Coron is famous for it's WWII Japanese wrecks that are scattered on the sea bed. The Americans sank part of the Japanese fleet in September 1944. The wrecks are definitely the biggest draw in the area. While the resort doesn't operate it's own diving, they can arrange a dive package tour with a local dive shop. The other guests on the island wanted to go diving, so it was arranged that we would all pay US$100 for the dives, boat, gear, lunch and dive master. But as it turned out, the famous excuse "The boat broke" was used on the morning we were to go diving. After a few last minute phone calls, Erica arranged for me to join Seadive Resort, the largest dive outfit in Coron. Because I had my own gear, they could take me as an add-on, but not my other island mates (they went the next day). I had to charter the resort's only boat to take me out to rendezvous at the dive site - at $100. The 3-tank dive was a bargain at US$60 including lunch. The diving was amazing - you felt like you were in scenes from the movie "Titanic." My boat came to take me back just before sunset and I finished off the day with a cinematic sunset on my way back to the island.

Helena and her amazing staff work extremely hard to maintain this utopian life. It's quiet (no kids under 16), remote, classy yet casual and minimalistic. It's barefoot luxury at its best.
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Date of stay: April 2012
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled solo
Room Tip: There are only 7 rooms on the island. Five of them are cottages and 2 are in the Main House. ...
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from HelenaMangenguey, Owner at Mangenguey Island
Responded May 28, 2012
Gracias Edie for the long wonderful review!!!! you were a "perfect" guest!!!! Hope to share Utopia with you again Helena, Richard and The Crew
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
milmik wrote a review Dec 2011
Manila, Philippines5 contributions16 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
August 27, 2011 was the day we were supposed to walk on the shores of Mangenguey Island. My friends and I were the first 4 passengers who checked in for the flight from Manila to Busuanga...we waited and waited and waited...suddenly, there was an announcement that our flight was cancelled due to bad weather. One couldn't imagine the loss we all felt, but thanks a lot to Helena, we were able to reschedule our trip in no time! Exactly 3 months later, we left Manila with a cautious hopefulness for a vacation that proved to be sublime. The 2 and a half days we spent on the island were not enough to get our fill of the pristine fish and coral-filled waters, powdery white sand, and scrumptious meals. Imagine having waters full of different breeds of fishes and amazing coral formations in your backyard. There were also adventure trips available for the more land-inclined guests and I must say, they were great forms of exercise as well! Meals that look like they were served in 5-star restaurants were carefully prepared either in the dining area or outdoors. Each day culminated with the four of us sitting on the dock watching the sun set and the moon rise. The sky was a blanket of stars enabling us to identify constellations and count shooting stars as they came at a constant pace like the ones you would see in Disneyland's Space Mountain ride. Richard and Helena's personal touch made the trip more unique and enjoyable, too. It was like living in a bed & breakfast on an island. On top of his daily work with the maintenance of the infrastructures on the island, Richard would bring us out on adventure trips and would point out the nice areas for snorkelling. Helena takes breaks from managing the ins and outs running the resort to cook the gourmet meals we can't help but look forward to. Since power was provided by a generator, our rooms we a bit too dark at night and we were up and about early each morning because air-conditioning was off, but we called our stay at the resort a 5-star roughing it experience. We would definitely go back in a heartbeat and the trip was truly worth the wait!
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Date of stay: November 2011
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
sadey70 wrote a review Mar 2013
Llangollen, United Kingdom43 contributions116 helpful votes
3.0 of 5 bubbles
We spent 7 nights on Mangenguey - some parts of the stay were good, others less so. The best way I could think of structuring this review was to take each key element and list positives and negatives in order to give as balanced a review as possible…

1) Transfer
Positives:
* The boat ride over to the island from Coron town was charming.
* Since we were already in Coron, we were able to meet the boat directly at the Sea Dive restaurant, from where it sails, rather than the airport.
* Sailing was on a traditional 'bangka', which we found to be very authentic and enjoyable.
* The transfer took approx. 2 hours through some stunning island scenery.
Negatives:
* Seating on the boat was on wooden slatted benches with no cushions, so got a little uncomfortable after a while.
* No refreshments were provided - we expected water at the very least but there was nothing, so make sure you take your own with you.

2) Arriving
Positives:
* The boat came right up onto the beach so it was easy to just hop out into the shallows, straight in front of the beach houses, just a few steps away from the shore.
* Bags were whisked away from the boat straight into the cottage.
* We arrived at around 2.45pm and were invited to take lunch (usually served at 2pm), which was very welcome.
Negatives:
* No welcome drinks were offered on arrival – not even water, which we found to be very unusual and rather disappointing.
* We were shown briefly around the room, then were immediately read a list of the 'house rules' and asked to sign a waiver, as though this were the most important thing. We asked if we could read the information and sign over lunch, which was agreed to. More on the waiver under ‘rules’.

3) The island
Positives:
* The island itself and the surrounding environment are stunningly beautiful.
* Good sized beach with sand like sugar, turquoise waters, natural shade provided by tropical trees and a pretty good, if small, 'house reef' that runs along the beach.
* There are a couple of trails that can be walked to explore the island, which were nice to do - though would recommend doing them on a cloudy or windy day as it gets pretty sticky once up in the 'jungle'.
* Sand in all areas of the beach and main house were meticulously swept of leaves every day, which made walking around barefoot in most areas easy and comfortable.
Negatives:
* Path to Rosa cottages was rocky and full of broken coral, rather than sand, so not possible to walk there barefoot.
* Hammocks in front of each of the 3 beach cottages were pretty comfortable, but the only other seating or loungers were a number of very basic and uncomfortable wooden deck chairs. * No proper sun loungers or anywhere to lie down meant that the hammocks were like gold dust.

4) The cottages
Positives:
* We stayed in two different cottages during our stay - Mimosa and Rosa 1. All the cottages are built in a similar style, using traditional materials such as mud, stone and bamboo, which felt very rustic and authentic.
* All had an outside deck and large sliding windows / fly screens to allow as much light and air into the room as possible.
* You could hear the sounds of the ocean lapping against the shore from all rooms.
* Mimosa cottage was fine – in a good location right on the beach and very spacious and airy, if a little tired in places.
Negatives:
* We had booked into Mimosa for the first five nights of our stay, but it was booked by another party on the final two nights, so we decided to take Rosa 2 for those two nights. We had looked at the island on google maps before booking to try to get a sense of the island layout, since there is no island plan on the website. We could make out three buildings on the beach so assumed that these would be the three main guest accommodations - Crimson/Azur, which share the same building as a duplex; Mimosa, which is a larger footprint as it's a two-room cottage, about 10 feet away from the duplex, and, we assumed, Rosa 1 and 2, which also share the same building but are semi-detached. We were surprised and very disappointed to discover on arrival that the building we thought was Rosa was in fact the owners' house, and Rosa was across the lagoon, past the pumphouse and staff quarters and quite a distance from the beach.
* Rosa 2 takes up the right hand side of the building and is next to what can only be described as a building site – piles of rubble and rubbish from the recent completion of these two cottages.
* The view over the lagoon is also partially blocked by a large tree, so we asked to take Rosa 1 instead since it was empty.
* Rosa 1, on the left, is slightly better located, although it is next to the staff’s houses, but does have a good view over the lagoon and surrounding ocean and islands.
* Sadly, because the building is built into the hill, there is very little air circulating so the cottage got extremely hot and sticky, even with the fan running. Also, there is no adjustment dial on the ceiling fan so it only runs at one speed – fast. We didn’t need (and preferred not) to use the a/c in Mimosa, but here it was essential.
* Over dinner, staff would take a bottle of water and leave it in each room, but both nights we stayed in Rosa, we were forgotten and had to return to reception to get our own. Sadly, out of sight is most definitely out of mind in relation to these cottages.
* Rosa 1 and 2 are the same price as Mimosa and are most definitely NOT worth the money.
If we had known that Rosa was located where it was, we wouldn’t have booked it and would have left the island after 5 nights.
* In our opinion, Helena and Richard, the owners of the island, should base themselves in Rosa and use their own house (which has the best location on the island) as guest accommodation.

5) The food
Positives:
* Lunches were better than dinners on the whole.
* The second half of the week was better than the first - we assume due to a change of chef.
* Portion sizes were generous.
Negatives:
* Very over-priced.
* Drinks, except water, cost extra – even tea & coffee, soft drinks and local spirits and beer.
* Very disappointed to discover that no local cuisine was served – the menu is very much Spanish, which is fine in Europe but not what we traveled to The Philippines for.
* Absolutely no choice or flexibility. Each meal was a fixed menu, which was not communicated in advance, so we had no idea what we were getting until we sat down at the table and it was served.
* On one occasion we asked what was on the menu for dinner and were told 'it's a surprise', so we couldn't even find out when we tried!
* Food itself was very hit and miss. Some pretty good dishes - eg. Gambas in garlic, reasonable paella; others were terrible - eg. boulliabaise with the most overcooked seafood I've ever tasted, very tough and dry pork chops and salmon (beautifully cooked) in what appeared to be Heinz tomato soup.
* The last night was the best meal we had all week, but it was too little too late.
* They could put up a small notice each day advising what was ion the menu so you could at least see if there was anything you didn’t like – for example I would have been happier with a couple of the meals if I’d known they were going to be served with a particular sauce, which I could have simply asked to be left off as for me they spoiled the whole dish, but even this level of flexibility was absent.
* Breakfasts were okay for the first couple of days then got incredibly boring as it was the same thing every day – fresh fruit and croissants/pain au chocolat. I’ve never been more in need of a piece of toast or bowl of cereals!
* One morning one of the other guests asked if they could have toast instead of croissants but they were told ‘no’.
* Overall the food was incredibly disappointing and the way in which it was served was too much like school dinners – ie. you get what you’re given. People don’t pay $75 a day for no choice and average food.

6) The team
Positives:
* Richard was fine. A little over-enthusiastic sometimes but he never seemed to stop working and regularly came around to ask if things were okay, could he arrange any activities for us, etc. etc. He even got my partner playing the guitar again, which was great (despite the blisters in his fingers as a result :o)). We got the feeling he was over-compensating for the lack of service and friendliness from his wife.
* The rest of the team were terrific – special shout-outs to Rhona and Ronald who were great and genuinely seemed to care if guests were happy and having a good time.
Negatives:
* Helena was not a happy lady, apparently. Our first encounter with her was when we amended the waiver before signing it and she marched over to ask if we were lawyers (we’re not, just savvy travellers). She then proceeded to explain what the waiver was for but didn’t listen to our point of view or concerns at all. We saw Helena once a day for about a minute when she walked from their house to the reception area to collect paperwork and walk back again. If you made eye contact, she would say hello but we never got a smile from her all week. The only other time we saw her was when all the guests were leaving the island on the same boat and she came to say goodbye. We got the feeling that she wants the island to herself (understandable - I would too!) but as a result she seems to see her guests as an inconvenience or irritation.

7) House rules
* Never have we paid so much to stay on such a beautiful island but had so many rules and constraints imposed on us.
* Meal times are completely inflexible – breakfast is served at 8am, lunch at 2pm and dinner at 8pm. Not ‘from’ 8pm but AT 8pm. The last thing we want to do on this type of holiday is clock-watch, but on Mangenguey you have no choice because meals are served promptly at these times, again with no flexibility. In fact, if you’re 2 minutes late for dinner, the staff come to your room and get you! Meal times felt like we were in boarding school.
* The waiver we were asked to sign on arrival was worded in such a way that absolves Mangenguey or any of its staff of any responsibility for anything. We have signed waivers in other places we’ve visited and completely understand the need for them, and have never had a problem signing them in the past as generally the hosts accept some form of responsibility if anything happens that is the result of their negligence etc. This one doesn’t include any such wording and asks you to sign to say that anything that happens to you at all on the island, is your fault. We were not happy with that so added our own wording to one of the paragraphs to cover that. We think this waiver should be re-worded and also sent to guests at the time of booking to give people the chance to ask questions, rather than waiting until you arrive, when it’s potentially too late to disagree.
* There are guard dogs that are released at 11pm to wander the island freely overnight. We weren’t told anything more than that on arrival so were a little concerned and unsure about what that meant for us. When we asked, we were told that they are there to ward off unwanted visitors who come to the island for shells and turtle eggs – fair enough. We were told that the dogs were not too vicious and If we encountered them we should stand still and let them sniff us. I am comfortable with dogs, but my partner less so and the fact that these dogs were wandering free meant that we were pretty much confined to our cottage from 11pm, which meant no midnight walks along the beach or getting up for early morning swims. We were told that if we wanted to do anything like that, we could tell Richard in advance and he would lock the dogs up, but that didn’t leave much room for spontaneity!

Overall:
* Mangenguey is marketed as a ‘barefoot luxury’ destination but doesn’t quite hit the mark. We think it is trying to be too many things to appeal to different markets and is missing the point. We think they should decide on a target market and stick to it.
* If they want to be 5 star luxury, then they need to get rid of the house rules and be much more flexible, especially with regard to food menus and meal times. They should also include local alcoholic and soft drinks in the cost and improve the service to offer a butler type of arrangement. They also need to stop charging for tea and coffee and get rid of the ridiculous charges for ‘room service’ and snacks.
For this market, the rooms also need attention as they are very basic and pretty tired in some places. Insect spraying would also be good as I don’t think people who pay for 5 star luxury expect to be chasing cockroaches around the room every night before they go to bed!
* Alternatively, they should market themselves as a ‘barefoot’ option to appeal to the more relaxed traveller. For this market, they still need to relax their rules as ‘barefoot’ shouldn’t include having to watch the clock etc. They also need to reduce food costs if this is the way to go.
* Mangenguey is a truly beautiful island in a unique position and for that reason, deserves to be successful.
* For us, the lack of flexibility spoilt what would otherwise have been a great experience and relaxing island escape. Sadly, unless things were to change dramatically, we would not return to Mangenguey.
Read more
Date of stay: February 2013
3.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
3.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
3.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Room Tip: The beach cottages (Crimson/Azur and Mimosa) are the best located. Rooms in the main house are...
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
rmorales wrote a review Feb 2013
Singapore, Singapore12 contributions67 helpful votes
1.0 of 5 bubbles
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!
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Date of stay: December 2012
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
2.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
2.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
sarah g wrote a review Apr 2012
London2 contributions50 helpful votes
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Paradise vs Hell

Me and my two friends were anticipating our stay at Mangenguey Island during our whole trip to the Philippines. We had previously booked three nights but throughout the journey we kept imagining the Paradise we had made it to be in our heads and decided to book an extra night, arriving a night early. But as many things in life, it didn't turned out to be what we expected at all.

Paradise
We arrived in Coron at the end of the day and got picked up be a lovely couple, Mr. and Mrs. Portuquez. The 2 1/2 hour boat trip to Mangenguey Island at night by (nearly) full moon was something to remember, I would even dare to say magical. Arriving at the island and seeing our cottages beautifully illuminated, a bright spot in the middle of the dark ocean, was mystical and put our expectations way up high. I was ready to state that this was the most amazing experience of my life so far.

Regarding the island itself, I was't wrong at all. The beach is small but beautiful, clean white sand, tons of beautiful seashells and corals, amazing flora, pure, crystal clear water and beautiful reefs and corals that make you want to snorkel around the island forever. Hanging from the coconut trees were plenty of hammocks where you could enjoy your siesta.

The cottages and the main house are decorated magnificently and are a proof of exquisite taste.

Hell
But that's about it. I have to say that this island would be a Paradise if you could swap the management entirely. Without Helena and her staff, this place would be a very enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, we were about to discover that we had landed on Passive-Aggressive Island, run by a tyrant.

Upon our arrival, barely giving us enough time to breathe and settle in, we where handed over the waivers (as mentioned before in other reviews). I was still feeling shaky from the boat ride and tried to fill it out the best I could, but Helena's manager Erica was pressuring me to be quick, as dinner was waiting for us. I told her I wanted to read through the waiver, as I'm not comfortable signing something I haven't read thoroughly, but she kept saying it was a standard form and I rushed through it. Apparently, as I was later told be one of my friends, I stated in that form, by default, that I was married (!)

Me and my friends then rushed for dinner, nicely set up close to the beach in front of the main house.

[On a general note, all meals could have been more easily enjoyed if the staff actually let you take your time and appreciate the food, and would not frown upon you being a slow eater. I am on holidays and paying good money to stay somewhere secluded and peaceful, so if I want to take an hour to chew on my meat, I will.]

After that meal, I went to my room and though I could relax on my porch for a while. Erica stopped by to give me my signed register form back. I asked her if it was aloud to smoke out on the porch and her reply just made me tremble: she sad it was possible, but that they had guard dogs that were released every night at 11 o'clock. It was 11.30 when we had this conversation, and she had failed to warn me? I found out the next morning that my friends, staying in the room above me, hadn't even been warned, which could have been extremely dangerous.

Considering that the island is quite isolated, I understand the need of having some sort of protection system. But warning the guests about this system is equally important, as it can endanger you if you're not aware of it. The reason I was extremely upset about this is the following: apparently the dogs only respond well to Helena herself and their trainer (I presume at least), which ultimately means they are only a protection for Helena, not for the guests. I was told that if I was to run into one of the dogs during the night, I should freeze in the position I was in and let them smell me (!) to make sure I was no danger to the island (!). Considering we are talking about an animal that, no matter how well trained it might be, has a will of his one, who guarantees me that it won't consider me a danger, even if I'm not? Furthermore, some people are actually afraid of dogs or have adverse reactions when in panic, so if anyone would to freak out when spotting one of the dogs, it is pretty accurate to say that that situation might not have ended that well. And, in that case, that person might as well bleed out on the beach, as you have no means of contacting the staff (no phone in the room, no direct phone number to the management, no indications of where Helena or anyone of the staff is residing, nothing). Personally I think that if the solution for a guests safety is the dog to sniff you, they should introduce you to the animals upon your arrival, for them to know you're not a threat and for you to feel more comfortable around them.

[of course I encountered one of the dogs about 10 minutes later. I was standing on my porch when he came out of the dark and started barking at me, whilst circling my porch. First I tried the freezing method (as recommended by the staff), but after a while I felt ridiculous and started walking backwards into my room, slowly and never losing eye contact with the beast, until I felt safe].

The following morning me and one of my friends got to know Helena at breakfast. Although her taste is truly impeccable, I have to say that her presence is rather austere and that she can be quite rude at times. She lacks all kind of charisma or charm, which we were not expecting considering the venue. Rather than a strong, feisty spanish lady, she has a cold and uninteresting tyrannic presence. Her whole staff seems terrified of her all the time and has developed a very annoying passive-aggressive way of communicating, pretending that everything is fine at all costs, maybe to avoid retaliation? It makes you feel you're in a B series horror movie, a poor Grindhouse remake that lacks all humour and has a boring plot.

One of the things most praised about Mangenguey is the food. Me and my friends have spanish friends, have been to Spain several times and have eaten in a lot of good Spanish restaurants. One of the key things about Spanish cuisine is the quality of the fresh, local ingredients. Although all the dishes served during our stay where nicely cooked and where, as a concept, great, they lacked quality big time. We didn't have any fresh fish or seafood, which, considering we're living on an island, is very disappointing. At all meals I had the feeling that the dish could have been amazing, but that something went wrong along the way. I wasn't able to finish a single one of my meals, neither could one of my friends, as he started feeling ill the moment he got there. We later figured out way, as my other friend (his wife) had food poisoning and got seriously ill from it on our last day on the island. Before I go into detail, I have to say that is is extremely strange that anyone would think that keeping a catalan diet on a remote island in the Philippines is sustainable. Now I understand why they charge a fortune for the poor quality food - it takes a long time to get there and requires a lot of effort to be kept, so the guests pay for the hosts eccentricity, getting mid to low range quality meals served in exchange. Furthermore, the Philippines are still a paradise and people living there should make an effort to preserve the islands and the environment. Just thinking of the carbon footprint of this 'luxury diet' makes me feel guilty and sick.

Another note on the meals is that they are strictly scheduled. It is like you've landed at boot camp and Helena is everyones instructor. There is no time frame option for food intake (unless you're happy to eat snacks all day), meals are served 9am, 2pm and 8pm sharp. The dinner is served in the main house, where everyone sits together like a big happy family (B series horror movie strikes again). But, against what we have expected, that does not include the host or the staff. The guests sit around the big table and are forced to engage in conversations whilst the staff stands around and observes. Not relaxing at all I must say. Luckily we had nice people staying on the island while we were there, so the conversations where actually pleasant, but the whole environment seemed forced and fake. All Helena was interested in was the food, asking if it was good or not. We did not dare to make any bad remarks - she is one scary lady! Ah, and by the way, I do think they must turn of the freezer during night, every day they would serve re-frosted ice cream after lunch.

By the time my friend got seriously ill from the food, me and her husband did asked the staff if we could have some special food for her as she was sick and not able to eat any of the regular meals. As a result, we Helena confronted us visibly upset that we where questioning the quality of her food and told us she had a tropical virus (?). Considering that I didn't feel that well after the first couple of meals, my friend had been ill for two days prior to his wife getting really ill and one of the other guests mentioning she wasn't feeling well either on her last day, I seriously doubt that that was the case. Also, we did not approach her in any accusing way, we actually just thought that things like this frequently happen when flying to more exotic destinations and that it could have happened to anyone anywhere in the Philippines - sometimes you just don't tolerate a different diet that well.

I think this episode was the cherry on to of a very high and unstable cake, as Helena never again engaged in any conversation with us nor came by to see if my friend was feeling better. I ran into her on our last night, tried to joke around and talk to her, but she dismissed me with a very sarcastic laugh, didn't even look at me and just said - hope your friend is feeling better, enjoy your dinner - and walked away. We never saw her again as she didn't bother saying goodbye (as she did to one other guest that left the night before). For someone who is trying to have a familiar and cosy ambient on the island this behaviour seems rather cool and uninterested. Only one of the staff members, Joseph, asked me once if she was feeling better and came by the room to check on my friend (but only because he had to come by to tell me and her husband that we could not have dinner in the room with her). Erica, one of the management staff members, only met us the morning we left, as she was away from the island. No medical assistance was offered to us at any time, which is incredible upsetting considering Helena thought my friend had a contagious virus (!).

We had to spend two nights and one day asking everyone to please be so kind and provide for some crackers, bananas and coca-cola, feeling completely ignored. Me and her husband took turns at running down to the main house and asking for special food or to have our meals in the room with her, as she was getting really weak and had difficulties in getting out of the bed at all. Every time I asked for something I felt like I was demanding something completely unreasonable and often had to go down to the kitchen and ask two or three more times, as the orders where often ignored. At some point we where told they where out of coca-cola, but I had been sitting on my porch half an hour earlier and saw one of the staff members arrive in a boat with a new stock of waters and coca-colas.

Over all, the service is poor and does not live up to a 4 or 5 star hotel standards at all. Even at very simple hotels you get free water, here you had to chase someone overtime you where thirsty. Everyone seems unhappy, terrified all the time. Although they are quite worried about security and safety (if you go in the water alone, you can be sure that there is a guy standing camouflaged behind a coconut tree to watch over you), it is OUTRAGEOUS that you're not warned previously, as it constitutes a huge invasion of privacy. Not to mention that you can't entirely enjoy the island whenever you want, as the dogs make sure that you only step out of your 'cage' when the schedule allows you to.

I good go on with bad remarks about Helena (I do not include her husband, as we didn't meet him because he was away in the USA) and her management, but I just got back from this trip to hell and feel extremely tired. In the end, all I need is some holidays from my holidays.

But the one thing I can not stop distressing is the panic one can feel if you're to get ill on this island. We felt completely alone and I am glad that there where three of us to handle all of it. I don not want to imagine what a person would feel like alone in this situation. The first night my friend felt ill, her husband wanted to come down to my room to get some medicine from me (at that point I did not know that she was feeling that bad). She had to suffer through the whole ordeal without medicine, because he was unable to come down because it was after 11pm and dogs had already been released. Again, there was no way of contacting the staff to ask them to provide for some medicine.

Although I was able to enjoy the beauty of the island and relax at times, when I was lying on the porch reading a book or dosing off, or whilst swimming and snorkelling, those moments where shadowed by all the bad things that happened along the way.

The environment that this island was supposed to have is the one of a couple that had invited you over as friends, making you feel at home and welcomed. What I felt was that my ship happened to sink close to the island and that they were forced to rescue me, and where now very annoyed about my presence there.

Bottom line: I DO NOT RECOMMEND anyone to stay at this island. I am sure that there are other paradisiac destinations one can travel to and relax, whilst still feeling free and able to enjoy the experience. This island is not worth the long travel.
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Date of stay: April 2012
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
4.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
3.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
3.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from HelenaMangenguey, Owner at Mangenguey Island
Responded Apr 18, 2012
Is always sad to get a bad review because we always try very hard to do the very BEST to INSURE a PERFECT STAY FOR ALL OUR GUESTS....But alas sometimes that seams impossible!!!! I cough try to reply to the comments but I wont, I will let OUR RECORD SPEAK BY IT SELF INSTEAD. Gracias, Helena of Mangenguey
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
Elena M wrote a review Oct 2013
Manila, Manila, Philippines9 contributions53 helpful votes
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Basically remember this - when you are on this island you will have to stay till the end of your trip no matter how bad things get. trip back to main land is at least 2-3 hours and you'd have to use the boat of the resort if you were not smart enough to arrange your own transfer separately..

My sister and I stayed there last Nov 2012.

1) There were cocroaches in the room, on the bed, under it and in the bathroom. My sister coming from Switzerland got so freaked she insisted on sleeping with lights on all 3 nights we were there. The staff and the owner literally screamed (!!) at us for making commotion late at night about the roaches in our room and when we demanded they kill the insects they came into the room with the poison and literally sprayed all the bed sheets, our close, etc. with it. As if deliberately. all this was done with very sour and unhappy faces as if we should have been feeling guilty for the poor employees and owners and waking them up at 9 pm (!!) to kill sweet little cocroaches size of my palm in our room which we are paying 300$ for.. their explanation was: "You knew you were arriving into Paradise with wild nature, what did you expect..". Of course explanation that roaches aren't actually 'wild nature' but the by-product of poor cleaning service and hygiene were ignored.. We were totally ok with little gecko on the ceiling by the way. that's the sort of "wild nature" you expect on tropical island calling itself Utopia..

2) food - not what expected. my sister actually loved it but it was her second time in the country. as to me living in the Philippines for over 4 years and being around - it was standard. It was ok but nothing special. and of course the knowledge in the back of your mind that you have no choice other than eating this or you will stay hungry doesn't really help. Dinner area was gorgeous though, my most favorite place on the island - huge trees, sea view, breezy..

3) island itself is gorgeous of course. but they could have done much more with the decor. the villa we stayed in was way too simple. I'm not sure what they were going for - balinese style, traditional filipino style, "the cheaper-the better" style - it was neither here nor there.. the path to the dinner area could have been paved with some shells or stones, it would have looked so much better. the beach is not what you see at the pictures - it's narrow and becomes deep very quickly. basically don't expect amanpulo or balesin sort of beach. however if you like to dive and snorkle or swim instead of aimlessly walking for meters and meters for cheesy instagram pics - its a find :-) to get away from all the stupid and rude staff and owners we were snorkling all day long..

To sum up: beautiful island, great idea and not bad implementation but terrible, rude and impolite staff and owners. you basically feel like a hostage and realize that even if you don't like smth you can't voice it or you will be treated badly till the end of your stay.
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Date of stay: November 2012
2.0 of 5 bubblesValue
1.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
1.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
1.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from HelenaMangenguey, Owner at Mangenguey Island
Responded Oct 18, 2013
Is always sad to get a bad review because we always try very hard to do the very BEST to INSURE a PERFECT STAY FOR ALL OUR GUESTS....But alas sometimes that seams impossible!!!! I cough try to reply to the comments but I wont, I will let OUR RECORD SPEAK BY IT SELF INSTEAD. Gracias, Helena of Mangenguey
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MlleCoco wrote a review Mar 2012
London, United Kingdom1 contribution37 helpful votes
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Although the location is a paradise, the staff and the hosts, to the exception of Richard,were rude, impolite and unprofessional.

Arrival
The first thing you are being handed over when you arrive instead of a glass of water or a juice like at most luxurious resorts, are forms you need to sign off the minute you have touched based on the island. Worth noting that the location being in a remote place, it would take most people coming from the US or Europe about 24h. The island is situated about 3h boat ride from the city of Coron, on the busuanga island, about 1h flight from Manila.  

Food and meals
Although the food is generally good it is not exceptional and certainly not to the standard of a 4/5 star hotel. Also if you have a special diet such as eating fish and no meat you will be charged an additional $25 per day on top of $75. In my opinion eating fish on an island shouldn't be an issue and more eco-friendly than Parma ham imported from Italy at exorbitant prices....

General hospitality
This is the main issue we have experienced on the island. Although the website sells a formidable and hospitable atmosphere to foster intellectual conversation between people and where Helena wanted establish her salon, the atmosphere we've experienced is one of a tyrannic and bossy hostess with little savoir-vivre or warmth and on the contrary rather rude and arrogant. When we arrived on the island before lunch we weren't greeted by Helena until the evening and in a rather laconic way. The only sentences she addressed to us (apart from the rather rude one I will detail below) were: "lunch good?" or "dinner good?". As a second example when a friend joined us later on the island after a very long trip from Sydney, in her usual fashion she sent her employee to ask him to sign-off the forms straight away and pay the additional amount for the room. Since I had negotiated a discount price of $350 for the 2 bedroom cottage Mimosa for 3 people occupancy I explained that the additional person should only pay $30 extra as per the website rate and asked her to check with Helena as we had agreed by email. About 5 minutes later we got the visit from Helena (notwithstanding she had never spoken to us) asking without even greeting my friend freshly arrived after an 18h flight, or rather barking what was the problem. She was so aggressive with us that we didn't want to discuss and agreed to pay the double rate. When my friend went to the office to pay he was asked to give his credit card so they can make a copy of both sides of his credit card which he refused as one should while travelling. Helena then informed in front of my friend that my friend was leaving the island and they should get a boat ready to leave the island. It was 9pm!

Prices and service
Totally overpriced. You're paying for a 4/5 star rate but it is mostly 2 star if not less. You feel at someone's place and you are disturbing and that anything you ask is totally inappropriate. You don't even get water during the day in this heat. And this is not due to a lack of staff... The room usually doesn't get cleaned until the following afternoon which makes it uneasy to use considering we were 4 people sharing a 2 bedroom cottage.
Due to Helena's tyrannic management the Filipino staff is afraid of her and has lost total sense of simple hospitality than most Filipino are naturally good at. Some take on her arrogant attitude and have no sense of running a hospitality business. We also learned that they worked about 13h a day with only 4 days break in a month!

Overall a place to absolutely avoid.
Although the concept keeps attracting people to this resort that is a place to absolutely avoid if you don't like being ripped-off and talked to arrogantly. The region is beautiful and club paradise has been recommended to us ... But who knows if it's not another tyrannic western woman exploiting the local staff and ripping-off tourists lured in another paradise....
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Date of stay: March 2012
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
3.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
2.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled with friends
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
MrAndMrsChips wrote a review Dec 2010
Asia15 contributions48 helpful votes
1.0 of 5 bubbles
I opted to spend the beach portion of our Asian Honeymoon on Mangenguey Island.

I was meant to be paying $240 per night for the two of us, including food but not the taxes and service charges which were another 22% on top.

For this price you can live in the lap of luxury on a really top resort in The Philippines.

However, when we arrived we realised that what we were getting was basically just a Thatch and Bamboo hut on the beach with cold water shower, a ceiling fan with 12 hours a day of generator power to run it at night.

I actually like staying on simple beach huts on beautiful tropical islands. I just dislike paying nearly $300 a night all in for it!

Coron is a great spot, fantastic snorkelling, scuba diving, the weather was fine for us (mix of sun and rain but always warm). However, the best bits of that are available if you stay at the cheapest resorts (of which there are plenty).

Diving at the resort cost us nearly $400 for two dives in a small, uncovered boat with one dive master who really upset us by breaking the golden rules of scuba by grabbing a clown fish in his hands and keeping him there to show off to us. Three dives of the same (great) wreck sites can cost as little as $60 with other resorts (and they provide better boats, equipment too!).

Drinks on the island were all 4 times what you would pay in other locations in the Philippines.

Food was good though, and Helena is an excellent cook.

We worked out day one that we would rather cut short our stay as we could see that we were being ripped off price-wise. I had booked last minute, direct and Richard confirmed to me that they had no one else that they had had to turn away to accommodate us (the resort was nearly empty) however they just presented a bill to us of $2.2k on our last night there with no explanation.

We tried to get them to be reasonable as charging us for the full 5 nights was just outrageous, but in the end the most they would take off was $200 so we had to swallow hard and pay $2k for three nights.

On the island you are completely dependent on the owners. You can't get off the island without them, so we really had no choice at all.

It put a real dampener on our trip and whilst I appreciate Richard and Helena are trying to make the island economically viable for them, I am just a customer not a shareholder so I don't see why I should have to pay through the nose to support their "utopia".

So I really wouldnt recommend anyone stay there unless they get a massive discount. There are many, many better priced alternatives in the Philippines/Asia so keep your money.

Thats not good news for Richard and Helena but as they made clear to us as they forced us to shell out $700 a night for our shortened honeymoon, business is cut-throat. Even on a paradise island....
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Date of stay: December 2010
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
2.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
3.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
2.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
True N wrote a review Feb 2011
Peoria, Illinois17 contributions35 helpful votes
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Our stay started out nicely. Richard the owner was quite friendly and went out of his way to make our stay comfortable. But our stay soon soured.

Guests have their meals together on one dining table, so you're pressured to socialize with complete strangers, make conversation and be nice. My wife, being a very private person, wasn't happy about this and avoided having meals unless they were served in our unit.

The meals were hit-and-miss - 40% hits and 60% misses. It was as if the meals were experimental. A couple of times, the soup was inedible. To Helena the chef's credit, the cookies were to die for. On checkout, we ordered some of these heavenly cookies for the road.

My biggest peeve was this: when we stayed one extra night, the hotel, without advising us, charged the extra night at DOUBLE our booking rate.

Also on the bill was the return boat trip to the island: an unexpected $75 fee. This is rich, considering we could have arranged the same trip independently for maybe $20.

Anyone going to this hotel should ask for all fees prior to booking. There are far too many hidden charges. And be warned: service fees and government taxes adds 22% to your subtotal! Your final bill will floor you. What you pay for at this resort will put you in a luxury resort elsewhere, e.g., El Nido, where you can enjoy more bang for your buck.

Another frustration we had - although this is about Agoda rather than the hotel - is that there is no way to contact Agoda other than via the form on their web site. They publish a phone number - which to our surprise was a Thailand number (a long distance call from the Philippines!) - but if you call it, you only get a recording instructing you to use the web form. On an emergency, such as when my wife contracted dengue and was hospitalized for 3 days prior to our arrival, we had no way of knowing whether rearranging our trip was acceptable until 2 days AFTER filling out the form. During this whole time, we could not rearrange our flights.

In conclusion: we won't be back at this hotel, we won't recommend it to others and we warn others about booking thru Agoda.
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Date of stay: November 2010
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
4.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
4.0 of 5 bubblesService
4.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Response from elf001, Owner at Mangenguey Island
Responded Mar 7, 2011
No matter how hard we try there is always people we cannot seam to please! I encourage everyone to visit our website before making a decision to visit Utopia. Mangenguey is wonderful but not for everyone! Regarding charges this gentleman had move dates two ice, the first time we waive the charges but the second time we apply the Cancelation Policies clearly written in both the Agoda page and in our website. 100% charges for cancelation 20 days to arrival date, and yes we do charge 12%vat and 10% service charge on top of your bill. Is not true we charge double in this case, we charge our regular full board cost. By the way he extended his stay by one night, I wonder why? If he was clearly unhappy and dissatisfied. I also want to point out we did room service every meal to his wife without extra charge and try very hard to accommodate her. Regarding my food and culinary skills I guess you can read the other reviews and make your own conclusion! We are proud of our ratings and we work very hard to make Mangenguey a perfect experience and will continue to do so hoping to share Utopia with you. Mangenguey is an adult destination and guests must be 16 years or older.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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ALSO KNOWN AS
mangenguey island hotel coron
LOCATION
PhilippinesMimaropaPalawan Province
NUMBER OF ROOMS
7
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MANGENGUEY ISLAND - Resort Reviews (Palawan Province, Philippines) - Tripadvisor

Frequently Asked Questions about Mangenguey Island
Which popular attractions are close to Mangenguey Island?
Nearby attractions include Pass Island (5.9 km) and North Cay Nature Island (6.3 km).
What are some of the property amenities at Mangenguey Island?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free wifi, an on-site restaurant, and a lounge.
What food & drink options are available at Mangenguey Island?
Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant and a lounge during their stay.
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