By Michelle Anne P. Soliman

When children are busy with school and the parents are working all the time, quality time with the family is difficult to carve out. So it is good to know that a fun weekend getaway — Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park — is just a 20-minute ride from Manila to Cavite via NAIAX.

The resort — then known for its service and facilities and tranquil environment — first opened in 1976 when it was called Puro ng Burrungoy. At some point it became known as Covelandia. In 1998, it was renamed Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park. In November 2017, it was accredited as a four-star resort by the Department of Tourism.

“My earliest memory — it was called Covelandia. My father had opened it in 1976. I spent my sixth birthday here. But it didn’t look anything like this. It was very different,” recalled Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park’s managing director Gilbert C. Remulla.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary as the Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park, the resort has added and updated attractions and lined up promos for this summer vacation.

“We try to be relevant and attack the industry by finding a niche and concentrating on that niche. Ten years ago, we decided that we are going to be a family-friendly destination. We wanted to cater to families with young kids,” Mr. Remulla said of how to keep the business thriving. “Leisure is a diverse business… What is leisure to one might not be leisure to the other.”

In the 1970s, guests had to travel by boat to cross the main road and reach the island resort. Nowadays, it is accessible via a bridge which leads vehicles directly to the entrance.

To keep up with the times, the rooms have USB charging ports, Wi-Fi internet connectivity, flat screen TVs, and modern bathrooms.

And as pets are considered family members these days, they too are welcome at the resort — for P1,500 per night, per pet, said Executive Assistant Manager Malu Samaco. Rooms may be provided with sleeping baskets for the pets.

The resort has a hotel with a range of room classes, cabanas, and dormitories.

Beyond the rooms, the resort offers a multitude of activities for both children and adults including go-kart rides (P100 for every 15 minutes) and mermaid swimming lessons.

A major attraction is the Oceania Swim & Splash Park which features a 3,000-square meter lagoon-shaped pool with four giant fiberglass slides and giant inflatable slides.

Children can have a bit of wet fun in The King Crawler, a Dutch-designed vertical urban play structure, installed with colorful rubber flooring (EPDM) to minimize the possibility of accidents.

Another major attraction is the 3,200-square meter Island Aviary where guests can interact with more than just birds. Visitors are free to feed bananas to rabbits — the ostriches also enjoy a banana or two. Braver guests can hold the 16-foot-long, 200-lb Burmese python which, according to Mr. Remulla, was donated to the resort by its previous owner when it was 10-foot long. Checked-in guests can enter the aviary free of charge. Walk-ins pay P50 per person.

A vacation is not a vacation without sumptuous meals. The Fishing Village — a group of huts built on stilts overlooking Manila Bay — has expanded its menu with three Kamayan sets that include seafood, pork, and beef dishes good for six to eight persons. Meanwhile, Sangley Point’s Western cuisine menu has been spiced up with new dishes as well, with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and pasta. The resort’s two other restaurants are iCafé and Bayside KTV.

Despite its various improvements, Island Cove has maintained its tranquil feel.

“When it’s yours, [you] really have to put the value in taking care of it,” Mr. Remulla said.

For more information, visit or call (02) 810-7878, (046) 434-0210. On social media, follow @IslandCoveHotelandLeisurePark on Facebook, and @islandcovephil on Instagram and Twitter.