Lio Tourism Estate, Barangay Villa Libertad, El Nido, Palawan
Rates start at P11,800
At a Glance
Room: Minimalist and spacious
Food and drink: Two words: lechon kawali
Staff: Proudly Palaweño
Why you should stay: It’s your very own space in a tropical paradise.
(SPOT.ph) Everyone already knows by now that Palawan is one of the world’s most beautiful island. It’s just a matter of choosing which side of this island province we should fly to; and Lio Beach in El Nido is a good option, especially if you want everything you need within reach. That said, Lio Tourism Estate—a 325-hectare complex that houses restaurants, bars, stores, and even a hiking trail—opened a new accommodation option right in front of the beach: Huni Lio, which started welcoming guests in July.
The two-storey resort only has 50 rooms, ensuring an intimate crowd and the staff's full attention on their guests. “It’s structured in such a way na mas malalaki ‘yong rooms. What we want to tap are families who want upgraded facilities,” Joey Bernardino, group director for sales and marketing of Ten Knots Development Corporation (a subsidiary of Ayala Land), tells selected members of the press. The room size of Huni Lio's spacious air-conditioned rooms range from 34.5 square meters to 54 square meters. The latter is perfect for families and can fit up to five people. All accommodations have balconies that look out to the four-foot swimming pool in the middle of the resort.
Like the rest of Lio Tourism Estate, Huni Lio practices Ten Knots' guidelines for sustainable tourism. Instead of complimentary water bottles inside the hotel room, you can fill up your own tumblers through the refilling stations scattered along the halls. Instead of single-use shampoo and bath gel bottles, the rooms have dispensers.
“It's a showcase of contemporary Filipino design,” Bernardino explains about the design concept. Furniture pieces are all local and mostly made from woven materials. Murals by local artists also make the common spaces more interesting. The staff is 90% Palaweño, all trained not only in hotel management but also in environmental conservation.
“It’s not the facility. It’s the culture, it’s the people, it’s the community. ‘Yon ang naaalala nila,” he adds on what Huni Lio can offer to its guests.
What to Do
The beauty of Huni Lio’s location—unlike its sister resorts Hotel Covo, Casa Kalaw, and Balai Adlao—is that it’s far enough from the crowd of the three in-land accommodations, but still within walking distance to everything that the estate has to offer. You can rent out a kayak or swim in the crystal-clear water of Lio—a 4.5-kilometer white-sand public beach, which is still yet to be discovered by tourists. Go a bit further from the shore and you can already see colorful corals down below.
If you plan to get out of the estate (and we’re telling you, it would be tempting to just stay where you are since everything’s a stone’s throw away), you can sign up for a luxurious island-hopping tour with El Nido Yachting Club, which you can find at the second floor of Shops@Lio. You can rent a whole boat all to yourself (starts at P25,000) or join a group tour with fellow intrepid travelers (starts at P3,999 per head). Tours are all inclusive of land transfers from your hotel (in El Nido town or Lio Tourism Estate) to the jump-off point (either in Lio Beach or Corong-Corong Beach) and vice-versa, boat transfers by dinghy from the shore to the yacht, welcome drinks, ice-cold drinking water, buffet lunch in a private beach, mask and snorkel, towel, and life jackets. Tour guides are also there to tell you more about the islands. Fees also include the eco-tourism development fee, lagoon entrance fees, and processing and facilitation fees—so all that's left to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy.
For lovers of the deep, you can find El Nido Adventure Scuba’s office also at Shops@Lio. It offers fun dives, refresher courses, and night dives to El Nido's most popular sites like South Miniloc, which is known for schools of yellow snappers and barracudas and a massive coral garden; North Rock, which is popular for its rock formations; and Twin Rocks, for sightings of stingrays and manta rays.
You can also rent bamboo bikes and go around the estate on wheels. These not only exercise your muscles, but also lessens carbon footprint.
Where to Eat
If you can’t be bothered to go far from the resort, you can enjoy Huni Lio’s beachfront restaurant that offers Filipino food. Its highlight? The lechon kawali that you can eat on its own or in a rice bowl of “deconstructed” kare-kare.
Don’t worry, you can burn it all off later when you walk to the rows of restaurants within Lio Tourism Estate—only to gain calories again. There's Fat Choy for your usual Chinese fanfare, Pizza & Amore for Italian dishes, Red Crab—which has a special menu that's exclusive for their El Nido branch; and El Nido Grill for your sizzling plate favorites.
If you're looking to cap off the night with some drinks, there's Jungle Bar from the PIOPIO brand. The two-floor kubo-inspired bar boasts locally made arts and crafts for its interiors and a laid-back vibe that's fitting for a beachfront establishment. There’s also Manille Beach Bar, which has interesting cocktails made from the local craft spirits of Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc.
Where to Shop
Aside from Shops@Lio’s lineup of restos, it also features stores for your pasalubong needs—or, you know, for yourself. Cabañas by Tesoros has Filipino handicrafts that are perfect for balikbayan and foreign guests. They even consigned funny shirts from Linya-Linya. In case you run out of swimwear, you can drop by Salt and Sun. The estate also has a newly opened Mercury Drug for your emergencies.
But what makes shopping at Lio Tourism Estate all the more interesting is its artists 'village—Kalye Artisano. Opened in November 2017, it features more than a handful stores that sell artworks, postcards, souvenir shirts, home decor, and jewelry.
The overall design—wood flooring, handwoven mats on the walls, and thatched roof—matches what these places have on display. Sometimes, you'll see local artists like Nuno Finez and Pagasa Donato making their next creation in their shops. Workshops on buri weaving, jewelry-making, and basic painting are also often held in the common area.
How to Get There
The best way to go to Lio Tourism Estate is via a one-hour direct flight from Manila to El Nido through AirSwift. Shuttle transfers are available from Lio Airport to Huni Lio.
You can also watch our walk-through of Huni Lio in El Nido:
Huni Lio is at Lio Tourism Estate, Barangay Villa Libertad, El Nido, Palawan. Room rate ranges from P11,800 to P13,800. For more information, visit Huni Resorts Group's website.