Luxury Resorts, Exes & Martinis by the Beach
Luxury resorts tucked in exclusive islands are perhaps not the best places to run into your ex. There’s just no way of bailing out easily from the situation. Or isn’t the place just too romantic to feel awkward?
When luxury resorts become the saddle of unsuspecting drama.
The day kicked off early flying on AirSwift’s chartered flight straight to El Nido. I was with a company of fellow travel writers on a luxury resorts hop in one of the Philippines’ most coveted destinations.
After the buffet breakfast that welcomed us in Lio Airport, we were soon ferried to Pangulasian Island, crusing along Bacuit Bay’s rosary of limestone karst mountains.
The sun was a bit shy when we docked on the white sand fringes of the island. But the cheerful welcome from everyone in the resort made it all so bright.
While doing our check-in procedures, an unattended bag on the lobby with a blue shirt on top caught my attention. The shirt says, “I am the Boss”. It gave me a thud on the heart because that was similar to the cheesy couple shirt my ex and I once wore.
It couldn’t be it; I dismissed the thought & went on to rest in my private villa decked by the beach. Excessively spaced & laden with the finest furnishings, my assigned suite was truly fit for a king.
We were all excited to plunge into the crystal waters when everyone re-met in the lobby. I jokingly whispered to my friend that the room shouts of so much romance. “I agree but I’m too hungry to even think about it”, she exclaimed.
We sailed to Miniloc Island for brimming lunch & sped to an action-packed afternoon.
Just as we anchored on the lagoon for a kayak, I spotted the blue shirt again in a docked boat nearby. I never really wanted to kayak but curiosity hovered in my mind. So I requested our guide to paddle for me.
We cruised around in the hopes of spotting the owner but I was unsuccessful.
Then this happened…
The west was harboring light & the resort was starting to flicker in the thick foliage when we got back to Pangulasian. I decided to walk on the tree-lined trail to my room with the crickets croaking in unison.
Then, just when I was about to turn around the bush, someone waved at me from a nearby cabana—-the owner of the blue shirt! I froze in the stillness of the night as I was seeing my ex walking towards me.
“I spotted you this afternoon in the lagoon.”
“How are you?
“It’s a surprise to meet you here.”
I was speechless. All that I rehearsed for 3 years on what to say should I meet my ex for the first time again were all gone.
“Yeah, I’m surprised to find you here too. How’s a drink later at my place?” I may be sometimes lost for words but I’m always quick on the trigger.
Everything was already set when I got to the candle-lit poolside dinner. Over delectable 4-course Filipino favorites, we exchanged travel stories. But I admit that my mind wandered somewhere else.
I remembered how we both like sour miso soup & how our love gone sour after nearly 5 years of togetherness. I remembered how we both rejoiced in sweet leche flan & how everything became bland in our 3 years of nothingness.
These excessively pretty dinner set up in luxury resorts truly whip nostalgia. Arrgh!
The villa did not need so much preparation because as it was, the place was prepped for romance. Warm lights illuminated the patio that looked out to the sea. Soft loungers washed in white, the dreamy elliptic movements of the fan & the calm piped-in music created the perfect venue to open a closure.
Break-ups are hurtful, let alone the thought of seeing again the person who broke your heart is dreadful. You can actually drag the run-ins but you can never escape from it. And that night was the perfect night to seal it all goodbye.
But instead of making it ghastly, I turned it into a red carpet event. After all, being in luxury resorts like Pangulasian is no place for drama queens. As I heard the footsteps approaching I started to freak out inside. I composed myself & lit the candles.
“You’ve never changed, you’re still romantic.”
“Yeah, but not hopeless”, was my instantaneous dumb defense. “It’s 11, are you sure you have time for this?” Another dumb question I fired that I may not be ready for NO as an answer.
“I may not have all night but I want to catch up with you.”
At that moment I wanted to offer something on the rocks but I thought alcohol & exes make a good recipe for tragedy. Luckily, my villa had an in-suite espresso maker & boy, they’re really good.
But wait, there’s more
“It’s cold here, you’d like to talk inside?” It was the invitation I didn’t see coming. But I gave in with a big “oh no” at the back of my head.
We walked in barefooted on the polished hardwoods & sat on the huge couch like we used to do. As the sea gently murmured, we went on talking how we would move forward with our lives comfortably.
“So you still keep this Charriol bracelet, wasn’t this from our 3rd year?” My ex asked, seeing it on top of my travel book (of course, I placed that on purpose).
“No, it’s from our 2nd year. And oh, by the way, that blue shirt is so 2012”.
We chuckled & cuddled.
“I’m engaged & probably getting married next year”. We parted the night with those big words.
I slumped into my bed laden with crisp thousand-thread count linen. But I couldn’t hide the tiny beads on the corner of my eyes as it rolled into my goose downs.
Surely, I missed the pillow talks & those whispers of goodnight I love yous. But my ex is in another villa now tight in somebody else’s arms.
No more I love yous
The next day I saw them walking towards the boat for the mainland while I was on the veranda for breakfast. I just drowned myself in gruyeres, bratwursts, slab bacons & everything that gods eat in heaven.
We spent the day hopping from one island to the next. We got front row seats into Palawan’s luminescent underworld & chilled for lunch at the exquisite Lagen Resort. I tried my best to forget what happened the night before. Or at least faked it.
As the horizon fired in reds, we popped a bottle of bubbles at sea. Glasses clanked in toasts of happiness. But unknown to my companions, I was celebrating a different kind of feat, something liberating.
Thankfully, I was in the luxury resorts of El Nido because it made that closure in style. At best, it’s more cinematic to cry in a posh beachfront villa with everyone & everything at your beck and call than anywhere else, don’t you think?