Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A   B E T T E R



Nothing seems sensational in Santo Tomas. The old town had always been a transit spot for me. It was where I took a piss on bus stopovers and had quick snacks en route to special events in neighboring San Pablo City. If I had to really appreciate this side of Batangas, I had to more than get off a bus. I had to schedule a full visit and scope out the terrain.

I kicked off my 2015 with an immersion of Santo Tomas not knowing what attractions to see but I knew I had to stay at its newly-opened accommodation called NDN Grand Hotel because it was something that fell on the disc of my vision from the bus window one long commute back to Manila from Quezon Province. All I knew before arrangements were made was that it has a swimming pool.

Hotel swimming pool
The bathtub of the NDN Family Executive Suite

The balcony view

Spacious Rooms and Function Halls

As the town pumps out an emerging middle class in the province, the 65-room hotel becomes a smart holiday escape from Metro Manila or an easy choice for staycation among locals. Daily living is thriving and residents are catching up on trends. As a result, the hotel’s rooftop multi-purpose halls (the biggest can seat 150 guests) are always booked for special occasions.

Balcony Love

The 5-storey tourist inn looked luxurious from the outside and its high-ceiling lobby gave me a peek of what I was to experience inside my booked Standard Room. The bedroom balcony fed my endless craving for a spectacular view. What it offered me was an unobstructed pastoral panorama of rural Batangas – a vast grazing patch of green accentuated by cattle. Suddenly any travel affliction I was mulling over did not matter. All rooms at the hotel have balconies and seeing foreigners on long stays go in and out of the establishment seems to be the result of such a room feature. That’s one sensational thing so far.

The tourist-friendly Rio De Camballao
(top) Rosalinda's Kitchen or hotel restaurant; (bottom) Fitness Gym
Buffet Breakfast and More

For room rate-inclusive complimentary breakfast, my buffet plate included danggit which I tore into like unlimited bacon. I’ve been to Capiz’s seafood capital of Roxas City but the Talisay-hauled treat gave me another sensational reason to extend my Santo Tomas escapade and test the other room categories at the hotel.

My stay also had me access the air conditioned fitness gym which a lot of the long-staying foreign guests seem to enjoy. As for the room Wi-Fi internet access, it was strong and reliable. I particularly found it convenient that my high-tech devices automatically got connected sans the trouble of viewing login pages or other time-consuming internet menus.

The two-bedroom NDN Family Executive Suite good for six guests
My booked Standard Room

One room that I will be returning for with my family is the spacious, 2-bedroom Family Executive Suite which can allow six guests and has a couple of bathrooms (with one having a bathtub with fancy headrests).

Poolside Relaxation

A tranquil spot at the back of the hotel was the poolside which provided guests access to a well manicured garden and a chance to lounge at its gazebos and wooden benches. It was where I had an afternoon soak to catch the sunset. 

The General Miguel Malvar historical landmark
Sensational Side Trips

Pepsi Cola recently opened a new plant in the town and Via Verde -- the country’s first solar-powered low-cost subdivision -- has been attracting numerous real estate investors. During my stay at the hotel, I had the chance to make a side trip to the development that was launched by Imperial Homes Corporation (IHC) a few months ago. I also checked out the secluded and tourist-friendly river called Rio De Camballao in the village of San Isidro Sur, an hour away from my tour base. The fresh flowing water offered me a natural pool dip for the afternoon side trip. On my way back, I visited the General Miguel Malvar Shrine which was just a stroll away from the Santo Tomas Public Market.

The location of the shrine also has another statue of the last Filipino general to surrender to the American forces. During my visit, it stood there on a temporary status facing its permanent version from a close distance in the same town where he was born. General Malvar is best remembered in Philippine history as a brave revolutionary leader in the late 1800s. His ascent to revolutionary leader role was the result of fellow Batangas residents in Nasugbu being slaughtered.

General Miguel Malvar's other statue
Complimentary buffet breakfast at NDN Grand Hotel
Via Verde, the first solar-powered subdivision in the Philippines (see the agent's contact info further below)
Rio De Camballao of San Isidro Sur

The rest of my stay at the NDN Grand Hotel was spent at the bedroom balcony where I had the relaxing view of the nearby Mount Makiling. Further down, a top view of a miniature Taal Volcano reminded me that I was still in Batangas. Lingering at the lobby, I found a wooden sculpture of Batangueno fishing folks quite interesting. A few spots in Batangas may still seem reluctant to global tourism but the new Santo Tomas hotel is certainly giving visitors a new sensational view of the province. A better one at that.

NDN Grand Hotel

Address: 26 J.P. Laurel Highway, Brgy. San Roque, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, Philippines
Phone: (043) 740-3711 or (043) 740-3712 or (043) 740-3713
Mobile: (Globe) +63 917-683-5506 or (Smart) +63 998-531-0993

Via Verde (Solar-Powered Homes)

Contact an Imperial Homes Corporation (IHC) agent today.
Mobile: 0928-775-8049 or 0917-259-5708 or 0943-804-4965 or 0922-818-3403

More Photos Below:

Hotel Facade
Koi pond by the hotel entrance
Queen-sized Premiere Room
Hotel poolside
Miguel Malvar Museum


  1. Hi! May i ask saan po mas ok magstay in Sto Tomas? Microtel or Ndn grand hotel??... Reg food, room, amenities? Thank you :)

  2. It's worth trying both hotels coz each has a touristic charm offered.

  3. Hello po! Saan po kaya banda ung Rio de Camballao? Di kasi namin nakita kanina. :( ang tinuro ni waze and google map ay nasa pan-philippine highway daw sya. Pero thrice kami nakadaan dun kanina pero wala. :( salamat!

    1. It's not along the highway. It's in Barangay San Isidro Sur. There's a road going from the highway to the barangay.

    2. 65km or San Pedro. Sto. Tomas Batangas. You'll pass by St. Padre Pio National Shrine. You will see a small bridge then a curve before you reach the San Isidro Elementary School. Straight ahead in the small road. You can ask tricycle drivers to take you there around 100-200 pesos. ;)

  4. Hi how do you go around santo tomas Batangas? Does NDN have a car rental/shuttle service?

    1. You can commute as there are a lot of jeepneys and tricycles there. The hotel also has a shuttle service.

  5. do you have contact numbers in camballao?

    1. I'm sorry as I don't have information for that.


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