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Sicogon Island to reopen in Q3

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Tanke Saltwater Lagoon
Tourists can use Sicogon island as a jump-off point to go to Tanke Saltwater Lagoon. -- AYALA LAND

SICOGON island is poised to welcome tourists by the third quarter, with direct flights and new accommodations such as a bed and breakfast and a boutique hotel.

Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) is transforming the 1,100-hectare island in Carles, northern Iloilo into “a thriving and inclusive resort community” that can serve as a jump off point to other beach destinations such as the Gigantes Group of Islands.

The island is set for a “grand opening” within the third quarter, according to an ALI press statement.

“By that time, Sicogon Island will have almost 100 rooms including affordable bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels, and more activities like cliff diving, mountain biking and zip-lining from a nearby islet to the main beach,” Joey Bernardino, Sicogon Island Hotels director of sales and marketing, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Sicogon island is a 45-minute boat ride from Estancia, the nearest port on the Panay mainland, and another 90 minutes from the Roxas City airport. It is also a two-and-a half hour ride from the Iloilo International airport. Air-Swift is also planning to mount flights from Manila to Sicogon island.

Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corp. is completing the airport and jetty port terminal. Its town center will feature a public market, church, and commercial spaces on a five-hectare lagoon surrounded by a boardwalk.

Ryan Ybanez, general manager of Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corporation, said they have tested the market for Sicogon with the launch of Balay Kogon. He noted the 26-room bed and breakfast has so far received positive reviews on its service.

Huni hotel
Huni hotel is set to open before the end of the year in Sicogon island. — AYALA LAND

BOUTIQUE HOTEL
On another part of the island, ALI is developing within the next few years a resort town with dining and retail options, as well as a range of accommodations, including a new boutique hotel.

“The first of its boutique hotels to open next quarter will be Huni, a homegrown Ayala Land brand named after ‘the hum of the sea (huni ng dagat)’ as captured by the conch shell,” the company said.

Huni will have 52 rooms — including the 28 square meter-standard room to a 41-square meter-family room. It will also have an all-day dining facility, a pool and other amenities.

“The (Huni) brand will be distinguished by the warm personable service of a bed and breakfast but with the reliable standards of an Ayala brand,” it added.

There are also plans to develop a beach resort and a hostel targeting budget travelers.

To preserve the island’s natural environment, Mr. Ybanez said all buildings along the beach will not be taller than surrounding coconut trees, and will be located at least 40 meters from the highest tide.

Sicogon island will also have “greenways” or landscaped walking paths, as well as centralized public transport to ensure it will be a pedestrian-friendly community.

“Its 282-hectares of protected forest, home to 350-meter high Mt. Opao, will likewise remain a sanctuary for the flora and fauna that now thrive there in line with the island estate’s vision of responsible tourism,” the company said. — Cathy Rose A. Garcia