I was one of the thousands who immediately embarked on “revenge travel” when alert levels were lowered in the metro and neighboring provinces.
I drove off on a relaxing escapade to Pico de Loro of which I heard so much about from my sons and from friends. It felt great to finally be able to liberate myself from the shackles of home confinement brought about by almost three years of varying alert levels.
With no laptop and no mobile phone in hand, I was also escaping from all the brutal and nasty election-related posts that dominate social media these days.
Pico de Loro, a 40-hectare residential resort village, is part of Hamilo Coast and is named after the mountain that can be seen from its entrance. It has a Beach Club exclusive to members and their guests who have a choice of either displaying their swimming skills in the sea, taking a dip in the infinity pool, or just relaxing on daybeds spread all over the beach while gazing at the captivating view of the sun-sea-sand elements.
Since I was on an honest-to-goodness relaxing holiday, I did all three.
The resort also has a Country Club that offers various sports facilities and indoor recreational amenities. Upon entering its lobby, I noticed right away some masterpieces of world-renowned Cebuano furniture designer, Kenneth Cobonpue, who is certainly a source of pride for us, Cebuanos. Completing the tightly-knit resort community is the nine low-impact residential condominiums that surround a four-hectare saltwater lagoon.
The amiable Celine Arenillo, who is the Marketing Communications Senior Manager of the facility, wanted me to see everything interesting about the village and was kind enough to draw up a schedule for me because she knew it was my first visit. I told her that my beautiful and functionally designed room at the Pico Sands Hotel was, definitely, a great start to a relaxing holiday. Its spacious balcony had a soothing view of the nearby lagoon surrounded by the condos.
After I got settled in my room, I immediately headed for the beach on one of those comfortable oversized golf carts that ferry guests around the entire facility. After having been forcibly kept away from the beach by the pandemic, it felt great, spending most of my time swimming, embracing the fresh sea air and getting that enviable tan, then relaxing on those beachfront daybeds, with a very cold piña colada in hand. It was, indeed, a real escapade from the boring city life.
The following day started with a hearty breakfast at the breezy patio of the hotel and I have to say that they have excellent tsokolate batirol, complemented by very good service from a team of well-trained banquet staff. It was the perfect way to prepare me for the first scheduled activity of the day – a very interesting mangrove tour.
Pico de Loro offers this tour to guests who appreciate ecotourism and those who are aware of their duty to help preserve nature’s bounty. The tour takes you on a leisurely walk through the mangrove forest, which is 10 hectares in size, the largest in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Along the path, I saw on the ground small mounds with holes on top and was told by our guide that dozens of crabs live inside those dried heaps of mud. They stay indoors and crawl out of the holes only at night, to look for food.
The tour also takes guests on a comfortable ride on a small boat along a narrow river, for a closer look at the different plant and animal species that proliferate in such untouched environment. Around 80 percent of the world’s important fish species have mangroves as their habitat.
While on the tour, I kept reminding myself of the mantra I teach my students when they go nature tripping: leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.
The latter part of the afternoon was reserved for a sunset cruise that took me to the different coves near Pico, the most interesting of which is the Elephant Cove, named so because the monolith right next to it is shaped like the trunk of an elephant. There is also the St. Elmo’s Cove, which has pure white sand, easily becoming a favorite of Pico’s guests, especially because it is also a good spot for snorkeling.
And, what is a sunset cruise without cocktails? Always one step ahead, the resort’s management prepared delicious finger food and a bottle of merlot for us, passengers, raising our satisfaction level to unprecedented heights. Still, we were reminded by the boat’s crew that a four-course dinner was waiting for us at one of the beautiful handcrafted domes set up on the beach.
At our dinner inside the dome, I marveled at such an ingenious way to partake of a de luxe meal, with the evening sea breeze blowing from all directions. The artistically designed cocoon-like structure even had piped-in music and mood lighting. Only in the Philippines can one have a lavish meal served in such magical ambience.
To me, part of real relaxation is having a good massage, so I tried out the services of the hotel’s spa. My therapist was so good that whatever muscle pains I had in my back and leg vanished, and, no doubt about it, I felt like a million bucks thereafter.
I planned to spend the following day just going around the entire facility on those nice shuttle carts, to enjoy the pleasant vibe of the place. However, when I passed by the Beach Club, I couldn’t resist the sun-sea-sand temptation again. The next thing I knew, I was already swimming in the sea, taking in as much fresh air as I could, and putting the finishing touches on my much-desired tan. After all, I was on an “escapade” from almost three years of bland, uninspired life within the four corners of my house.
Pico de Loro is certainly the best antidote to stress and boredom. Only an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila on well-paved roads, it’s where you commune with nature…in style. Perk yourself up and book your own “escapade” now through [email protected] or (632) 84647888.
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE
HOSPITAL: An institution which holds your ills by pills and kills you with bills.
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