Kandaya Resort is so remarkable, we were a bit surprised that it isn’t famous. You may be excused for not having heard of Kandaya, as it’s only been open a few months (since December 2014), and it has not started marketing itself in earnest. Nevertheless, it is impressive, and by “impressive,” we mean Kandaya’s environment, the architecture and design, the landscaping, the attention to detail, the service, the food and drink, and the overall feeling that someone has thought of you and what you might like.
That “someone” is the Yeung family, who owns the resort. The story of Kandaya is the story of the Yeung family, in many ways. Carlos and Mariquita Yeung are a Hong Kong and Cebu family with three adult children, Carla, Martin, and Jewelle. Mariquita, née Salimbangon, grew up in nearby Medellin, Cebu, population about 50,000, a place known for its sugarcane plantations and small refinery.
Kandaya is the core of the Yeung family. It was originally the site of their beach house, where the family would spend their Philippine vacations as their children were growing up. Because the Salimbangons are a typically large family, this beach house grew to include 13 rooms, with different themes. The Yeungs shared many happy years together at Kandaya, when the children were young. When the children went off to schools abroad, their time at Kandaya was cut back to one visit a year.
After graduating from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, Martin Yeung, who is named after his maternal grandfather, proposed to the family that they consider developing the property into a resort. The original buildings, made largely of wood, had deteriorated over time, and had to be rebuilt anyway. The issue was whether they would rebuild to the original function, as a private but expansive beach house, or completely transform the place into a world-class resort.
“When I was younger, we spent pretty much all our holidays here,” says Martin. “That included summers, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.” Martin speaks fluent Cebuano as a result of those years. “It was a magical place for me. Hong Kong is a vibrant city, but also a concrete jungle. When we would come here, it was all nature. I experienced a totally different world. We were right by the sea, we built a tree house, we had a little farm. We would go out fishing and cook what we caught. It was a wonderful time, growing up, and I wanted to share that magic.”
Indeed, from a philosophical point of view, what else do we want our life to be about, but our most precious experiences? Creating those experiences is the core goal of Kandaya, and the magic shows in the details…
Read more about Mariquita Yeung and Martin Yeung of Kandaya Resort in the cover story of Asian Dragon Magazine’s May-June 2015 issue.
[Photographs: Wig Tysmans]