Imagine this— a soft sea breeze, the warmth of the mid-afternoon sun slowly ebbing way, a glass of crisp Alsatian white wine in your hand, and a basket of flaky, freshly-baked croissants on the table in front of you. Looking up from the book that you’re reading, you see the sun leisurely making its descent into the deep, crystalline blue waters of the sea, casting soft, golden sunbeams on the small fishing boats making their way back to the village.
Sounds infinitely better than your stuffy office cubicle, am I right?
Just a 20-minute plane ride from Manila lies Balesin Island Club, an exclusive 500-hectare tropical paradise with its own private beaches located off the coast of Quezon Province. Balesin has a total of seven themed villages: Balesin, Bali, Phuket, Mykonos, Costa del Sol, Toscana, and finally, St. Tropez, where my family and I managed to book a room after a two-year wait.
Balesin’s St. Tropez Village was fashioned after the famous Hôtel Byblos located along the French Riviera.
During the late sixties, Lebanese billionaire Jean-Prosper Gay-Para confessed his deep admiration for the French actress Brigitte Bardot, and with this infatuation came the strong desire to build “a palace worthy of the Thousand and One Nights, unique in its kind, from one side of the Mediterranean to the other.” And thus came Hôtel Byblos, which will already celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 2017.
Thanks to the inspiration from this iconic hotel, the villas of St. Tropez indeed whisk its visitors away to a quaint seaside village in France. True to the original architecture, the buildings in the French village of Balesin are constructed in very close proximity with each other. Their weather-beaten exteriors were painted with earthy reds and yellows, and dotting the sides of the villas are small square windows that give an unobstructed view of the sea.
The lobby and hallways were painted with cheery yellows and pastel blues, emphasizing the spacious interiors and lofty ceilings. Tiny colored glass windows were scattered at the top of the stairwell, flooding the space with multi-colored beams of light during the late afternoon. The villas’ décor, some of which were even acquired from France, were carefully curated to suit the tropezienne theme.
As with the rest of the villa, our room did not disappoint. Reminiscent of a tiny seaside cottage, it was predominantly blue, with lush cobalt bedspreads flowing onto the wooden bedframe, a carved cerulean storage chest at the base, and a bedside study table complete with the quintessential pitcher-turned-vase.
Each room came with a balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Leave the balcony doors open to let the cool sea breeze in. Imagine having your morning coffee with this view!
Activities in the island are not limited to lounging around in cushy beach chairs (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You could go fishing, maybe try your hand at archery, or just go around the other villages in Balesin. It’s like going around the world…via a tiny golf cart. Once you’ve tired yourself out, retreat back to your beautiful French paradise, and let the crashing waves be your lullaby as you drift off to dreamland.
If you can’t spare the time to travel to the French Riviera for a quick vacation, then make your way to Balesin Island’s St. Tropez Village. If not for the fact that everyone around you was speaking in Filipino, you would really think you’re exploring the cobblestone streets of a little French village.
Oh, and don’t forget to order some buttered croissants and chilled white wine once you get there. Bon voyage!