The first time I saw Kandaya was on paper, an architect’s rendition that—even on a one dimensional page—felt grandiose. Jewelle Yeung was discussing the details of the dining hall with her mother Dame Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung, pondering over the indoor structures inspired by fishermen’s wooden traps that were to encase the tables, turning them into private coves.
“These will cost an arm and a leg,”
Jewelle whispers. “But they will make all the difference.” The nitty gritty of building a resort to rival those that the family have enjoyed in their travels has become all too real, and quite the herculean task. Just months earlier, Haiyan had blown her way through the northern part of Cebu, and the path of destruction included Kandaya, then set to open in a few months. The storm had virtually wiped out all of the landscaping, and left some buildings damaged.
But not unlike Jewelles’ beautiful rendition of the resort’s logo: a lone watchtower and the name of the warrior for which it was christened after in a simple, stark font, Kandaya continued to watch over and persevered.
So the first time I set foot on her, you can imagine the sense of elation. Kandaya is less warrior-like and more a champion of understated elegance that is the manner by which her mistress lives. The service is quiet and unobtrusive, almost invisible…the hallmark of truly world class service.
Until the welcome drink arrives, a glass of chilled tuba, a signature Bisaya drink of fermented coconut. The plebeian favorite, made fresh from the coconut trees dotting the property, becomes the great equalizer. It is unfussy, delicious, completely homegrown, and starts a
conversation. Exactly like Kandaya.