My castle in the sky

My castle in the skyEvery time a trip to Baguio City comes along, I always get excited. It’s definitely the calming effect of the temperate climate, the soothing smell of pine trees, and the complete feeling of pure relaxation that make me want to zoom fast to the city in the wink of an eye. 

Of course, my “escapade” to the City of Pines is always complete when I stay at my favorite refuge, The Manor of Camp John Hay, my “castle in the sky.”

But before I rave about this world-class accommodation and its superb facilities, which always make my vacations up North perfect, let me first take you down memory lane with a short history of how this once-American facility came into being.

My castle in the sky
The imposing The Manor at Camp John Hay, as seen from the garden.
During the Philippine-American War, the United States 48th Infantry Unit established Camp John Hay as a military reservation for American soldiers, a refuge for them from the relatively hotter temperature of the lowlands.  

But, during World War II, it served as an internment camp of the Japanese army, and the headquarters of General Yamashita. Of course, it was also where Yamashita surrendered to the American forces at the end of the war.

After the war, the camp remained under American rule and became John Hay Air Base. When it was finally turned over to the Philippine government, it became a tourist attraction and a forest watershed reservation.

The iconic The Manor at Camp John Hay is always a joy to stay at. There is something magical about the place, which you feel the moment you enter its lobby. It could be the sincere smiles of the staff who treats you like royalty, or the hotel’s old world charm, or the crisp mountain air coupled with the scent of pine trees, that makes for a superbly pleasant welcome. 

Its marketing blurb says the hotel is “nestled 5,000 feet above sea level...and blends the surrounding beauty of nature with the element of luxury and spirit of hospitality,” and I believe every word of it. This is the reason why, when the daily “organized chaos” here in the metropolis warrants a red flag, I immediately find a way to transport myself, the fastest way possible, to the “city in the sky.”

The Manor’s rooms are always my favorite, especially those that look out into the garden. The bed and pillows have perfect consistency and ensure a restful sleep. And I like the fact that the windows can be opened to let the cool, unpolluted mountain air in—certainly, a healthy way to recharge for the following day’s activities.

No doubt about it, the buffet breakfast at Le Chef is the ultimate energizer. The spread of culinary choices is just so impressive, it supports what doctors always say that the breakfast should be the most important meal of the day.  

Thanks to multi-awarded Chef Billy King of Le Souffle fame, The Manor’s breakfast fare is the most popular breakfast buffet in the city. In fact, I know of friends who stay in other Baguio hotels but drive to The Manor for breakfast.

My other favorite at the hotel is The Piano Bar. Somehow, I can never end my day without having drinks at this venue, and singing along with the band who play all my favorite songs.  

During this particular recent visit, I must have gulped down several bottles of my favorite San Mig Lite, as I sang along with the band a whole repertoire of “good old standards” that could easily rival that of Michael Bublé or Barry Manilow.

Of course, how can I leave Baguio without pasalubongs for friends left behind in the metro’s sweltering heat? The Le Chef Delicatessen has everything I need. Their very popular Raisin Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, and other pastries always tempt me to fill up several bakery bags for my family and friends.  

So, when my friends ask me what makes my Baguio visits all worth the long road trip back and forth, with a twinkle in my eye I give them a ready answer—complete relaxation at my castle in the sky!

My castle in the sky
Santa and his reindeer are ready to roll from The Manor’s garden.
For feedback, I’m at [email protected]


MARY EXCITEDLY ASKS: Peter, how much do you love me?

PETER LOOKS HER IN THE EYES: Look up at the stars, that’s how much I love you.

MARY IS CONFUSED: But it’s morning, there are no stars!

PETER NODS: Exactly!

Topics: Baguio City , The Manor of Camp John Hay , castle in the sky , Le Chef
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