After a three hour-long bus ride from Manila, I was back in historic Bataan. If previously I traced its past in its epic shrines, museums, and local dishes, this revisit consisted of the timelessness of nature. I was determined to see a different side of the province via Orani which has a quaint village called Tala. It's known to be a jump-off point for hikers and mountain climbers who want to scale Mount Natib. It's also the site of a newly-opened mountain resort called Vista Tala. The 9-hectare resort and recreational park has recently been developed to lure sybarites out of their gilded cage called urban life and make them relax in the elusive company of woodland views and whoever they tagged along for the escapade.
My three-day version of such a getaway included a 10-hour hike to and from Pasukulan Falls on my second day of stay, but I almost canceled it the moment I stepped inside the resort. The property is at the farthest point of the chilly community where coffee-growing is common among residents. And, since the area is on a high elevation, front yards of houses are dotted with strikingly beautiful flowers. The best part of being at Vista Tala, though, is simply experiencing the art of being idle. With stunning fog-draped mountain views to gaze at from the resort's expansive view deck or its cliff-side swimming pool, any guest can easily be disarmed of an exhaustive itinerary. Suddenly, there's no point to anticipate check-out. Almost immediately, the notion is to either extend one's blissful stay or revisit the soonest time possible.
The Tale of The Eagle
The site is also where bird-watching can be very rewarding. It's been said that a prominent eagle used to visit the place on certain weekdays before the construction of the resort was started. Back then, it was an unpaved road so no major trees were felled for the venture. When construction began, another road was put in place of the old one next to it. These days, guests can sometimes spot the visiting eagle from afar and I think at one point I actually saw it. To make a permanent reminder of that, the resort owner commissioned to have a sculpture done in its image out of marble. It's the attractive landmark that guests can now see at the entrance of the resort restaurant.
Booked at one of the decent row houses with my contributing photographer and friend, I was prepared to lose track of time. Mobile signal was intermittent and the resort currently doesn't have Wi-Fi access for guests, but I did not mind going semi-unplugged if I was surrounded by lush greenery. I found out from the resort staff that the presence of modern KTV rooms (tucked away from the guestrooms) and computer game stations somehow compensated for that. Named after different mountains in the Philippines, the row house we stayed in was called Mt. Masaraga. Its 18 square meter space of two beds is perfect for four guests who are entitled to a complimentary breakfast and access to the swimming pool. It has the basic room features that include a cable TV and bathroom with bathing essentials (soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.).
"Named after different mountains in the Philippines, the row house we stayed in was called Mt. Masaraga."
|Villa with Jacuzzi|
|The balcony of Villa with Jacuzzi|
|(top) Villa with Jacuzzi; (bottom) The balcony of Villa with Jacuzzi|
There are other types of rooms to choose from. For couples, the rustic Nipa Hut (12 sq. meter) can work since it can accommodate a total of two guests although they can always tag along a third wheel (extra bed and complimentary breakfast). That's just going to set them back a little more than a thousand pesos in addition to the room rate. It costs less to stay there than in the row house but it has an immediate view of the distant mountainside directly from the room window.
Couples who are more elaborate with their romantic needs can settle for either the Standard Villa or Villa with Jacuzzi. Although both room types are ideal for romantic couples, they can accommodate a group of four guests (family or barkada). For privacy, both have a splendid balcony to walk out on barefoot from the bedroom past its sliding glass doors.
"For privacy, both have a splendid balcony to walk out on barefoot from the bedroom past its sliding glass doors."
|The view of Vista Tala from the Pasukulan Falls hike trail|
|(top left) Smoothies; (top right) Sinigang; (bottom) Seafood Pancit|
Getting around the sloping terrain was easy because the ground has been well paved all around the resort. I noticed that there's no shortage of fancy trash bins anywhere which is indicative of the management's active effort in waste segregation. Even pockets of the resort's cliff-side have been creatively designed for leisurely strolls that allow a variety of views of the Bataan Natural Park. Its function rooms were also designed to showcase that same mountainside view which is a perfect accent to any event whether it's for celebrating a milestone or holding a typical seminar.
The Convenience of A Store and Restaurant
Since the resort's location is a good 15-minute drive from the Roman Superhighway, the presence of an in-house convenience store and restaurant is a great advantage to guests. Freshly cooked meals are available at the resort's own F&B facility and various supplies like snacks, slippers and souvenirs are accessible at a store that's a short distance away from it. As a result, the management adheres to a strict policy of not allowing guests to bring in their own food.
|The swimming pool at night|
|Vista Tala Restaurant|
|The swimming pool for adults|
|A view of the restaurant and villas|
I actually appreciated the convenience of a fully operational restaurant since the resort is on top of a high terrain. For memorable meals, my friend and I had a big bowl of Sinigang Na Liempo the first night and then a hefty basket of fried chicken with fries the following night. For snacks, I highly recommend the restaurant's delectable Seafood Pancit which I paired with a refreshing glass of mango shake.
Vista Body Spa
Guests who love to be pampered with a soothing massage can take comfort in knowing that the resort has Vista Body Spa which offers traditional room service massage for an affordable rate of P500 per hour (P250/hour for succeeding hours). This is a good deal compared to other resorts I've visited in the past that charge a thousand pesos for the same service.
|The swimming pool for the kids|
|The restaurant and al fresco dining area|
For residents of Bataan or those who are just passing by the province en route to another destination, a day tour is possible between 9:00am and 5:00pm. A portion of the day tour rate is consumable.
I've been to other parts of Bataan in the past but it was my first time to see a Baguio or Tagaytay-like scenery in the province where I found it pleasurable to wear my hooded sweater in the middle of the day. The village of Tala may have reminded me of such destinations but I'm certain that it has its own unique charm. Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park can very well be that remarkable distinction.
Photography by Josua Chan and Karl Ace
Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
Official Facebook fan page of Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
Address: Brgy. Tala, Orani, Bataan, Philippines 2112
Phone: +63 917-569-9479 or +63 999-990-4680
Check out my day hike to Pasukulan Falls here.
More Photos Below:
|A function room|
|(top left) Gym; (top right) KTV; (bottom left) Game stations; (bottom right) Convenience Store|
|(top) Villa with Jacuzzi; (bottom) Villa balcony|
|Vista Tala Restaurant|
|A function room|
|The friendly Vista Tala Restaurant staff|
|The row of Nipa Huts|
|Vista Tala Restaurant|
|(top) Mt. Masaraga Row House; (bottom left) View deck; (bottom right) Bathroom|
|The view from the function room|
|The Narra Pavilion where the game stations for kids are|
|The resort bar|
|Another swimming pool at the resort|
|The woodland view from the resort|