This Boholano Couple Wanted a Simple Rest House for Retirement. They Built a Stunning Resort-Farm Instead
After 25 years of working in the technology retail industry, Raymond Roldan and his wife Janeth looked forward to enjoying retirement in their home province of Bohol. The couple owns Save N’ Earn, the largest telecom chain in the Visayan island, with over 40 retail outlets and a few wholesale clients. They bought a small parcel of land overlooking the Bohol sea in the small town of Loon and built a rest house there. They also started a small organic farm.
That was the original plan. But an article Roldan read in a magazine inspired him to expand the retirement idea into something much more.
Vita Isola is a resort farm located in Loon, Bohol
“I read in a magazine that another telco guy opened a farm and tourism concept somewhere in Luzon,” Roldan told Esquire Philippines. “It’s called Costales Farm. I also attended a conference on agritourism, with former Tourism Secrtary Mina Gabor. And one of the speakers was (current) Tourism Secretary Berna Puyat. That’s when I realized, pwede pala ito.”
The "ito” he is referring to is Vita Isola, a sprawling property that is an organic garden, aqua farm, restaurant, events space, and boutique resort all rolled into one. The roughly one-hectare property has a carefully manicured landscape with coconut trees, green grass, a traditional two-story house with a restaurant on the ground floor and the couple’s private living quarters in the second floor. It also has a two-bedroom house called La Casita that is open to guests for overnight stays.
The property started out with an organic farm
Vita Isola is one of the province’s best-kept secrets. Opened in 2018, the resort-farm is located on the main island of Bohol, about an hour away from the tourist favorite Panglao Island, where all the big resorts and dining outlets are located. But what Vita Isola lacks in “party atmosphere” it more than makes up for in tranquil landscapes, and honest-to-goodness peace and quiet.
“Before the pandemic we got mostly European guests here,” Janeth said. “We’re not far from Cabilao Island, one of the best dive spots here in Bohol.”
While guests can just as easily while away the time lounging on one of the beach chairs with a good book or going for a swim either in the pool or in the ocean, Vita Isola also offers a ton of activities for those looking to get busy. There are water sports activities like kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, or you can grab a line and go fishing yourself to catch perhaps your next meal. The property also has an aqua culture farm that guests can visit to learn about how fish like milkfish (bangus), ketong, pompano, and abalone are grown. The resort can also arrange different tours like island hopping or a mangrove tour.
An organic restaurant serves homemade, Boholano dishes
An unexpected retirement plan
The Roldans say running a resort farm was never in the plan, but they just sort of just went along with it as it keeps them busy as they ease into retirement. The couple has three kids, two of whom are already involved in the retail busines, while the third is still in school.
Our kind of bar
The pandemic upended their plans for Vita Isola, but during the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHOTOX) last September, they got a visit from Secretary Puyat who urged them to be ready for when Bohol itself reopened to tourists.
“This was one of the destinations (that DOT chose to highlight),” Raymond said. “Nasiyahan din naman yung mga tao, kaya dinerecho na lang naming (The people liked it, so we just went ahead).”
More rooms are coming at Vita Isola
Because the property only currently has a two-bedroom casita, options for more guests are limited, but the couple says there are already plans of building more rooms in the space that’s currently being used for outdoor, socially distanced events, such as wedding receptions.
The next time you find yourself in Bohol, Vita Isola, which literally translates to Island Life, will be waiting for you.