Family Hotel Review: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dumaguete, The Philippines
A marine sanctuary on its doorstep, sweeping lawns, and a mouth-watering menu. Atmosphere is light years ahead of most other family friendly resorts in Asia.
Best For: The perfect tropical family resort; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Philippa Langrish
Why You’ll Love It
Amazing food, 5* scuba diving, an in-house marine biologist, a daily yoga schedule, eco-friendly, a secluded spa, socially responsible, countless excursions on offer and all in the lap of luxury. There is nothing I didn’t love about Atmosphere Resorts & Spa.
So far, this is the best family resort that I have found in the Philippine Islands. We were welcomed at the port (from Siquijor) by a smiling driver who kindly took us to the local bakery (at our request) to stock up on the island’s delicacy – Silvanas Biscuits. Upon entering the resort we were welcomed by a vast lawn which snaked its way down to the ocean, with bougainvillea and frangipani trees creating a speckled, shady walkway down to the pool, yoga treehouse, dive centre, bar and restaurant.
My husband immediately booked the afternoon dive while my daughter Maya and son Gillan played on the sandy beach which is conveniently shaded with palms. We had a quick healthy lunch of falafel wraps and club sandwiches before exploring the rest of the grounds and booking a loose itinerary for our three day stay.
By the evening, Maya joined the children playing on the beach which is in eyeshot of the poolside bar and restaurant. My husband, baby Gillan and I relaxed by the pool with frozen margaritas and bar snacks while Maya scampered around after the other children, occasionally taking a dip in the pool before sprinting off down the lawn to throw pebbles into the sea.
As the sun set over the sea the rest of the guests convened around the bar, brought together by the pleasant lounge music, stories of scuba finds and of course the lure of “Happy Hour”.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Gabby and Matt who own the resort have created a great tropical hub for families and infused it with love, care and incredible attention to detail.
The couple have two kids themselves, and after searching unsuccessfully for a suitable local school for them, they decided to build a gorgeous little international school next to the resort for their staff’s children. The school is run by an award-winning head teacher from the UK.
After school hours “Kids Cove” activities are offered for little guests. Maya enrolled in a half-day art work shop while we went out on the dive boat. Needless to say she was brimming with pride later in the day when she showed us her Chinese dragons, 3D elephants and the numerous pictures that she created while we explored the depths of Apo Island.
The following day Maya had a two-hour marine biology one-on-one session with Daniel, the resident marine biologist. Daniel looks like a surf dude, messy blond hair, totally at ease and 100% obsessed with sea critters. Maya was transfixed! I took the opportunity to visit the spa during this time and on collecting Maya she burst into tears at the realisation that the session had ended and there were no more turtle pictures to discuss.
Two hours later there was a talk for adults on the local marine life. Maya took a front row seat in the balmy evening air and I listened in to learn about the habits and habitats of the creatures we had seen during our dives. This is a really special place for kids as there are countless activities for all ages which sit perfectly alongside the relaxed ambiance of the resort.
*Atmosphere Resort kindly offered my family and I a complimentary stay and a discounted rate on food. All other expenses were paid for personally. All opinions in this review are entirely my own and would happily return to Atmosphere and pay full price.
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa’s co-owner Matt is a practising architect and this is evident in the lofty ceilings, spacious layout and native design meets western convenience. There are 26 rooms in total separated into the following categories:
- 14 suites which sleep 3/4 guests (2 of which are interconnecting)
- 8 apartments (sleep 2/3)
- 4 penthouses (sleep 5/6)
- An additional 4 family suites are in planning.
Our suite had been thoughtfully designed with an almost triple height ceiling, corners of accent mood lighting and tonnes of plugs for all my hubby’s digital devices. There was a full length desk nestled behind the bed which looked out through the sliding doors onto the balcony – an enviable office if ever I saw one. The white walls are decorated with local paintings and navy blue satin soft furnishings.
I was particularly delighted by the separate his and hers wardrobes and sinks allowing me my own little sanctuary. There was an enormous balcony that stretched the full length of the suite with a hammock, dining table, and sofas creating a lovely private sit out area overlooking the sweeping lawn.
Best Rooms For Families: The best rooms for families depends on the age of your children. Although the penthouses are good for teenagers, the family suites are ideal for younger kids. There are a couple of safety points to be aware of; the balconies have large gaps in the rails, but there are nets you can affix over the gaps as a precaution. I would also advise supervising young kids on the outdoor hammock as the floor below is tiled.
The food at Atmosphere is delicious!
Breakfast My favourite meal of the day is always breakfast. The restaurant provides a buffet of cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, cereals and toast in addition to the specials board. Specials included eggs benedict, sweet shawarma, full English, American omelettes and traditional Filipino bangus, tocino, tapa and rice.
Lunch & Dinner Juicy steaks cooked in port jus, grilled tuna and snapper, sautéed scallops and prawns definitely whet the appetite. There is a full wine cellar stocked with wines from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, France, Italy and North America. The desserts were equally mouth-watering. We tried the “ménage a trois” which was a triple chocolate mousse. I am told scuba diving burns 600 calories a time so I figured I could indulge a little! Vegetarians are also catered for with signature veggie burgers, falafel wraps, and mozzarella basil and tomato paninis amongst other veggie fare.
For Kids: Maya was more than happy with the kids menu, and the restaurant staff kindly agreed to puree veggies and fruit for Gillan’s baby meals. Kids are provided with high chairs and treated to grilled chicken, pizza, spag bowl, carbonara and fish and chips.
Activities for Parents
Activities at the resort include: Scuba Diving, scuba Courses, snorkelling, excursions to waterfalls and lakes, Dumaguete city tour, swimming with Whale sharks, local market tours, Apo island day trips, zip line and hot springs, yoga, spa services, visit to Atmosphere Soup Kitchen (ASK). ASK is a philanthropic food and nourishment programme which the resort funds to help feed some of the poorest kids living on the island.
The scuba diving is excellent and the instructors here are incredibly well informed. Our instructor Noel even had an underwater dive pad which he used to show us the names of the more unusual creatures we found!
Activities for Kids
Kids Cove Club, Marine Biology Kids Club, Swimming, Snorkelling, Scuba, Boat Trips, Kids Yoga, Kids Spa (8yrs +). Plus all the excursions mentioned above.
A/C, babysitting available for an additional charge, common rooms, handful of baby cots available, doctor on call, nearest clinic is 5km away in Dauin, the nearest hospital is in Dumaguete (20km away), no extra beds, two inter-connecting suties, dedicated kids’ club, dedicated kids’ dining facilities, dedicated kids’ pool due to open very soon, laundry, small hotel shop selling jewellery, rash vests, t-shirts, waterproof bags etc.., excellent spa, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi (complimentary and available throughout the property).
Environmental measures and social responsibility: The resort has eco-friendly products in the bathroom, energy saving bulbs, dual toilet flush, no plastic or straws, water dispensers instead of plastic bottles, recycling in kitchen, soap dispensers, and solar heated hot water. Atmosphere asks their suppliers to deliver by hand where possible to avoid excess packaging. A large part of the island is also powered geothermally that they even export some power to neighbouring Cebu Island. There is also a salt water chlorinator converter in the pool to avoid the use of chlorine pellets in the pool. Bravo Atmosphere for doing so much to offset your footprint!
Rates per night are as follows: Suite: 11,500 (approx. US $260) Apartment: 13,000 (approx. US $295) Penthouse 18,000 (approx. US $408) Rates include the following:
- Airport return transfers and ferry pick-ups
- Overnight luxurious accommodation
- Welcome drinks upon arrival
- Complimentary wireless internet in all rooms and through the resort
- Complimentary buffet & cooked to order breakfast with juices, tea and locally brewed coffee
- Unlimited filtered water
- Complimentary afternoon bar snacks
- Luxury turn-down service with a surprise
- Tropical fruit in all rooms
- Baby cots for children below 3 years
- 24 hour swimming pool use
- Complimentary Indian Head Massage
- Complimentary Introduction to Yoga
- Complimentary Introduction to Scuba in the Pool
- Atmosphere guided Garden & Mountain walks
- Complimentary excursion to Atmosphere Soup Kitchen
- Taxes and service charges
Please note that the rates quoted are off-season, peak season attracts a supplement. For an exact quote based on your family’s requirements please contact the hotel directly.
When to go:
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards. Be careful travelling in the months from September to December as this is when the typhoon season is. Temperatures range from 27 – 40+. Avoid travelling in the busy holy weeks of Easter and Christmas.
Location & Travel:
Dumaguete is located in the southern Visayas, just one hour by plane from Manila (862km) and 3 hours on the fast ferry from Cebu (169km).
For international travel fly to Manila or Cebu and take an internal flight to Dumaguete.
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Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1. Enrol your kids in the Marine Biology club. Their little minds will be so inspired afterwards they will be eager to share all their new found knowledge with you at dinner time.
2. Have a frozen margarita by the pool, or two if its happy hour.
3. If you have an underwater camera or are thinking of buying one this is the place to take snaps. Apo Island has a diverse selection of rare sea critters and fish to see.
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