Amid the global coronavirus lockdowns, it seems counterintuitive to go from one indoor venue (your home) to another (a room in a hotel or resort) and spend precious time and cash while doing it. But we all yearn for a change of scenery and just a little more space every so often – and Anya Resort Tagaytay provides these in spades.
For one night in June, when the so-called NCR Plus dropped to general community quarantine and government allowed tourism businesses to open their doors just a crack, my wife and I accepted an invitation from Anya management through a good old friend of ours (emphasis on “old”, but bless his heart) to size up the resort for ourselves.
It seemed a bit intimidating at first, what with Anya Resort’s billing as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and not having the pleasure of staying there beforehand. But what’s the worst that could happen in 24 hours in Tagaytay, in expectedly plush surroundings and nothing to lose except gas money to drive ourselves south?
As Mikel Arriet, general manager of Anya Resort, says in his welcome letter to guests, they had redefined their customer experience through “Your Safe Sanctuary” protocols. This ensured that their operations dovetailed with the Staycation Certificate granted them by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to accept guests between 18 and 65 years of age for leisure purposes.
Reopening as a safe staycation sanctuary guaranteed the safety of both guests and the resort’s associates amid COVID-19, as Arriet said they reviewed Anya’s operations and “structured lines of action to respond to the needs of the guests in the new social reality prompted by the pandemic”.
In practice, this means that once a guest arrives at the 7.2-hectare estate at Buenavista Hills just off the main Tagaytay-Calamba Road, a staff member on a golf cart will escort you from the parking lot straight to your villa of choice, luggage and all. No need to wait in a packed lobby – and risk being infected by an unassuming fellow guest – while checking in; in my case, it was just a handful of staff led by Arriet waving us their welcome, lined around the rotunda in front of their main building as we scooted past.
The digital Anya Experience Assistant underpins the rest of your stay even before you arrive at the resort. Through any web browser, guests can make their preferences and requests known prior to arrival up to the time they leave. The same guest officer that checks you in at your villa will confirm your choices and ensure they are followed to the letter.
Despite the health and safety protocols throughout the 78 rooms and two restaurants, heightened sanitation and disinfection, and a contactless communication service called “Ask Anya”, guests are pretty much free to do as they please during their stay – with prior booking for the facilities to ensure physical distancing.
In our experience, it was incredibly difficult to leave our villa, indeed being lavished with all the comforts of a luxury hotel. From the huge welcome platter of hors d’oeuvres (paired with a complimentary bottle of wine) and fresh fruits (that you can have sliced or turned into fruit shakes just by asking), to the sink-into sofas and king-sized bed and the loooong bathroom with a big tub at the end, the introvert in us had all the reasons to cocoon and shun the greenery outside.
But it was also impossible to resist the three swimming pools outside (two adult, one kid’s pool), the Niyama Spa, the spacious gym, and even the well-appointed library – not a typical feature of any resort I’ve been to. The wifey and I made sure to try all these amenities out, with Niyama and the library leaving us most impressed.
Let’s not get started on the food options at Anya, which are sure to sate even the biggest appetites (like mine) with a selection of meals prepared with the freshest ingredients from in and around Tagaytay. After we put our bags away, we strode to the Anila Poolside Restaurant for what turned out to be a heavenly lunch of their signature brick oven-baked pizza, salads, and pastas – downed with the same avocado shakes blended from our villa’s welcome fruit gifts.
To shake off the incoming food coma, we decided to walk back to our villa, where we stumbled upon outdoor game setups sure to appeal to children and active adults alike. Our pick was the archery range, with my S.O. hitting the mark (and thankfully not me as I was filming her) quite well with the duly-sanitized bow and arrow sets laid out on a table for guests to use.
About three hours and a good nap later, it was time to sample the dinner courses at the Samira Restaurant, which boasts a menu of Mediterranean choices and fine wines. We could do no wrong with any dish they offered, and the chefs and waiters came around to greet us and make sure our palates were truly satisfied.
While the dinnertime ambience at Samira is nothing to sneeze at, the restaurant really opens your eyes to Anya’s beauty in the morning, as the breakfast area at the balcony overlooks the pool and allows you to gaze at the emerald hillsides in the distance. The resort may not have a direct view of the Taal Lake and volcano, but with the sumptuous brekky items before you and the whole experience Anya has to offer, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on Tagaytay’s best at all.
That’s probably why, pandemic be damned, we simply can’t wait to return to Anya Resort Tagaytay – hopefully when this current quarantine spell is lifted soon. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place where you can just open your villa balcony and sit on a wicker chair, as you take in the good life and, as GM Arriet says in his welcome letter, “relax, reconnect, and rejuvenate.” It’s a precious moment we all deserve.
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