Back in 2016, we had the chance to visit Manado for the very first time where we spent most of the 4D/3N visit at Grand Luley Resort in Tongkaina. It was such a memorable experience that we returned to the same resort in less than 6 months and during that time, we didn’t even set foot outside of the resort!
Yes, it was a memorable experience. These past few days, my mind had drifted multiple times to the captivating, clear water of Bunaken and the good times I had at Grand Luley Resort in Manado. I can almost hear the sand and sea calling my name… and as if no times have passed since my visit, I was able to jot down 8 things that I had loved most about our visit to Grand Luley Resort.
1.The private jetty. The jetty is one of our favorite spots in the whole resort. We loved walking the 500m boarded pathway with mangrove all the way to the seashore. From the jetty, we have caught the best scenes as the sunset behind the volcanic mountain, Manado-tua, and we’ve gazed at the most beautiful stars expanded across the sky. That spot never fails to make me feel small in the greatness of nature. I was told that if you wake up early enough in the mornings, you might even be as lucky as to see dolphins. Of course, I never woke up early enough to see it for myself.
2. Snorkel party in Bunaken Island. On the next morning after we arrived at the resort, we arranged for a boat trip to go to the Bunaken, the island pride of Manado. After breakfast, we walked towards the jetty to the speedboat the hotel had on standby for us, along with a box of mineral water, a stack of towels, sets of life-vests and snorkels, and a hotel staff to accompany us. The clear blue water was so inviting that the 20-minute boat ride seemed too long; we barely could wait before jumping into the sea. The moment our speedboat hit the dock, the snorkel party began! We had our share of fun in the sun… Thanks to the resort who arranged it!
3. Private balcony (with built-in towel rack). Call me “easy to please”, but as a mom with kids constantly in the water, having a rack to hang their clothes dry is a major plus point. Not to mention the view! In the morning, my children would wake up and go straight out on the balcony to greet the day. You don’t see them doing that here at home because mornings are clearly crazy around these parts. The best of the holidays are always free mornings and it’s great to be free with a view like this.
4. Pisang Goreng with Sambal Roa. Banana fritters with fish chili sauce? I get how the combo might seem weird, but it tasted so, so, so good! Especially when we’re having it by the poolside.
5. Discover Scuba experience. Now this, in particular, was extremely special and memorable for me. I promised myself a long time ago that I’d do something that I’ve never done before and after months of convincing myself to go for it, I finally went scuba diving IN THE OPEN SEA! (It’s kind of a big deal for a girl who gets scared of sharks when swimming in large pools.) It didn’t matter that I spent the first few minutes down there almost hyperventilating, worrying that I’d run my oxygen tank empty within seconds and pushing thoughts of Jaws far, far from my mind. I hung on to the dive master’s hands like I was hanging on to dear life (because I literally was!!!). But I’m so glad I did it because it was gorgeous down there. Things moved slower under the sea and if you cannot appreciate the beauty of Manado, you really should go under the sea, because that’s where the beauty lies. I’m also really glad that they have this program for non-divers such as myself, with professional dive masters who take care of you. I didn’t sign myself up for dive license (although I was very much tempted to) but thanks to Grand Luley, I checked something off my bucket list.
6. “Adopt A Coral” Program. A resort that cares for the environment in its surroundings? There’s really nothing better! Through this program, Grand Luley Resorts can help the public to learn about marine conservation as well as to encourage guests to sponsor transplanted corals and monitor its growth. You might think that this is simply a corporate social responsibility initiative, but knowing the owner and what she stands for, I believe that this program is really for the environment. Adopt A Coral program aims to revive and strengthen coral reef ecosystems in Bunaken by transplanting baby corals or coral fragments to form a new coral reef. The baby corals, which come from a mother colony that thrives in the area, will be taken care of by dedicated personnel. These reefs will serve as home and spawning grounds for thousands of reef fish.
7. Indomie at Siladen. There’s no beach in Grand Luley and that’s probably the only downside of the whole resort. However, Siladen Island is only about 10 minutes away by speedboat and it has become our family’s favorite beach. The fact that it’s quiet and not filled with tourists is what we love most about it. There aren’t many commercial places either – which is a good thing – until the kids were hungry and we didn’t have any food on hand. (At first, we had assumed that it was a tourist destination and that it’s bound to sell food or something.) It began to rain almost at the same time the kids started screaming for food. We went to the nearest “warung” and bought instant noodles. Since these instant noodles still needed to be cooked, we stopped to ask one of the locals if we could buy some hot water from them. Lucky for us, we were accompanied by two customer service staff from Grand Luley Resort. They helped to connect us with the locals and they even went into the kitchen to prepare our noodles for us. I understand that it wasn’t much, but their attentiveness towards us really touched my heart. And although the instant noodles ended up being the most expensive noodles we ever ate (because who’d blame the warung for taking advantage of the opportunity and sell the noodles at higher price to tourists, right? They’d be silly not to.), it was one of the best and most memorable experience we’ve ever had with Indomie.
8. The friendly staff. I can sing praises all day about the friendliness of the staff at Grand Luley. And these pictures sum it all. Two concierges accompanied us on our little excursion to the island. They prepared everything we could possibly need on the trip – drinking water, clean towels, life vests, just to name a few. And one of them even carried my son out of the water when he felt that the corals were poking his feet. I cannot thank the staff enough for making us feel at home in the Grand Luley Resort.
On a completely different note, digging up all these old photos from almost four years ago got me missing the sun and the sea even more. And… they got me missing my babies too! Look at how precious and tiny each of them was! Oh, my mama-heart.