Brgy. Puypuy, Bay, Laguna—The reduction in travel during the pandemic, and people’s willingness to find simple pleasures closer to home, bode well for the ‘staycation’—holidaying at home, or in one’s home country.
Many countries dependent on tourism are caught in a double bind. Opening the floodgates to visitors could bring foreign income to their struggling economies, but it could also risk a life-threatening second wave of COVID-19.
It was welcome news then when a bed and breakfast in Laguna – a well-known sanctuary for nature seekers escaping Metro Manila’s heat and traffic—announced that it was welcoming guests back last September.
The re-opening of Lotus Pod bed and breakfast carried strict caveats, though, as per the minimum public health standards set by the Department of Tourism(DOT), Department of Health (DOH), an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
Only four of the eight casitas tucked between rice paddies and tranquil lotus ponds of the resort can be booked at any given time.
The popular spa pavilion and its services, e.g. massage, zen treatments, remain suspended indefinitely.
Rules on social distancing, wearing of masks, and hand-washing are in place.
From weekend farm to tropical Oasis
Lotus Pod started as media icon Cheche Lazaro’s weekend farm, which she expanded through the years, converting it into a wonderful tropical oasis. It is accessible via a shortcut that Waze instantly points out—skirting traffic from SLEX to Los Baños.
Styled by Lazaro herself, in fusion Filipino/Balinese style, the resort offers eight casitas, spacious huts, magnificent Bali-themed entryways, and an elegant outdoor dining setup, interspersed with expansive backyard gardens that continuously nourish the 3-hectare property in Bay, Laguna.
The casitas (a number of which are PWD-friendly), are ensconced within rice paddies and lotus ponds, and are a short walk from the resort’s pool, a children’s playground and treehouse, a spa and dining pavilion. Each casita has its own hot-spring plunge pool.
The large lounging and dining pavilion serves home-cooked Filipino food. Meal options extend to “dining under the stars” in one corner of the resort that magically transforms for one’s evening repast.
Simple, quiet life
You’ve probably heard about “the simpler times” far too often from every aunt and grandma you’ve crossed paths with. But with Lotus Pod, where nature follows your every stride, you’ll find that there is so much life in simplicity.
Here, there is music in the rhythmic rustling of leaves and the quiet hum that envelops the casitas. Each bite of the food they serve comes from the most natural ingredients sourced from their little gardens. Water flows in lotus ponds, spring water baths, and dipping pools perfect to soak one’s feet in after a long day under the summer sun.
Balinese architecture woven intricately into the surrounding elements greets visitors. It is all very simple, nothing to think too hard about. Yet every corner of this bed and breakfast immerses itself in its greenery and lotus pond with so much reverence and respect for nature.
On the walls of the Casitas hang paintings of Nina Lim-Yuson, president of the Museo Pambata Foundation and sister to Cheche Lazaro. The delicate ink and watercolor artwork complement the simplicity of the rooms’ uncomplicated combination of wood and soft textile patterns.
Every casita has a private entrance that leads to a walkway with a garden and one’s very own open-air hot spring dipping tub. Once you’ve settled in, you’ll find an unobscured view of Laguna’s rice fields and plantations right from your terrace.
The casitas can accommodate up to two adults and two kids, or three adults if you’re planning a staycation for you and your best friends.
The traveler who yearns for ease and comfort will find a home for himself right here. Leisurely outdoor walks, whether during the day or at night, are so quiet that you can hear the faintest sounds.
Ideal for events, best for the spa—but not now
Before the pandemic, Lotus Pod’s peaceful landscape entranced event planners in and outside Laguna. It opened its doors to weddings, parties, and other events that called for an elegant and tranquil space with the majestic Banahaw mountain range serving as a backdrop.
Even today, guests – carefully spaced for social distancing— can enjoy dining al fresco underneath a canopy of lights. But the big events, just like the sybaritic amenities of the spa pavilion, will have to wait until possibly next year.
But for now, guests from Metro Manila and elsewhere can journey to Lotus Pod bed and breakfast to sample—even if briefly—the little pieces of home that would always remain within reach during these trying times.