Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

If you still have a day or two to leave your layover in Manila for a quick escape somewhere in the province of the Philippines, this list of 11 near-Metro Manila resorts, hotels and natural attractions is definitely going to be useful. For old lists, you can check part 1 and part 2.

In the tradition of informing vacationers of similar destinations that I've visited in the past year or so, I'm sharing here my new essential list that will make your whole year interesting for travel:

1. Nauvoo Farm Resort
Location: Magalang, Pampanga
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Roughly 2 hours

Nauvoo Farm Resort
Nauvoo Farm Resort
Nauvoo Farm Resort
Magalang is known for its heliograph towers, a vintage tool of communication in the time of the Spaniards. It's also where colonial houses attract long lost loved ones to see each other for reunions. And because it's blessed to have ubiquitous views of Mount Arayat, several resorts here have successfully maintained operations in the past decade. With the addition of the newly-opened Nauvoo Farm Resort, this town in Pampanga is also likely to lure more nature-loving travelers for quick getaways than ever before.

It's no more than two hours by bus (EDSA to Marquee Mall) and jeepney (from Marquee Mall to Magalang town proper) from Metro Manila anyway. Just add a 15-minute tricycle ride from the town proper and you're there!

Read more about Nauvoo Farm Resort.


2. La Florentina Resort
Location: Bustos, Bulacan
Travel Time From Metro Manila: 40 minutes by car via the Plaridel Bypass Road; Less than 3 hours by bus and tricycle

La Florentina Resort
La Florentina Resort
La Florentina Resort
With an arterial bypass road having been completed in Bulacan, traveling from Metro Manila to this neighboring province for quick getaways no longer has to be time-consuming. Among the many towns in this area, Bustos is touted to attract new tourists to its newly-opened resorts, one of which is an emerging family and barkada getaway at the heart of Bonga Menor called La Floretina Resort.

The resort is located where over a hundred mango trees currently stand and where a rice field used to be. With no trees felled in the course of its construction, the resort takes advantage of the farming plain to accommodate its Olympic-sized swimming pool. The vast space is also where guests can now have access to its seemingly endless rows of 100 nipa-roofed open cottages. At a strategic portion located away from the busy resort entrance and swimming pools, its modern-style villas can be found for relaxing countryside overnight stays.

Read more about La Florentina Resort.


3. Harvest Hotel
Location: Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
Travel Time From Metro Manila: 3 hours

Harvest Hotel
Harvest Hotel
Harvest Hotel
Cabanatuan is no longer a city in the middle of nowhere. It's now the economic heart of Nueva Ecija where a lot of other exciting things are happening at its fringes. In the past few decades, it has proven to be an exciting destination for meaningful stopovers that tend to linger for more than a day. Proof of this bountiful change in the scenery of the former provincial capital is the aptly named four-star Harvest Hotel.

The 81-room hotel was where I stayed for more than a night simply because I appreciated its practical luxury. It was my official tour base for my visit of Minalungao National Park, an emerging natural attraction in the province.

Read more about Harvest Hotel.


4. Tutulakan River
Location: General Nakar, Quezon Province
Travel Time From Metro Manila: 2 hours of commute, plus a 30-minute hike

Tutulakan River
Tutulakan River
Tutulakan River
Most of the terrain of the Sierra Madre in Quezon Province are still in a preserved condition. Secluded by nature via localized storms and typhoons, there are still spots that remain untouched by modernization. The Philippines' longest mountain range is not entirely inaccessible as it is most accessible from Metro Manila via Tutulakan River which is located in General Nakar, past the border of Rizal in Brgy. Daraitan.

The natural attraction is roughly a two-hour drive away from Quezon City or Pasig City, plus an hour of hiking through Daraitan for the next village of Pagsangahan in Quezon Province. The secluded river is what some locals who live in the far-flung mountainside communities of the town tackle as their shortcut from Rizal aboard a bamboo raft instead of hiking longer on foot.

Read more about Tutulakan River.


5. Midori Clark Hotel and Casino
Location: Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
Travel Time From Metro Manila: 2 hours

Midori Clark Hotel and Casino
Midori Clark Hotel and Casino
Midori Clark Hotel and Casino
If you're a traveler with an aversion for clutter, outdated design, and idle scenery, the high-end quality of Midori Clark Hotel and Casino is definitely going to appeal to you. Located in mainland Luzon's Clark Freeport Zone, the 111-room hotel is not just a modern facility for relaxing stays in Pampanga. Beyond its crisp interior and gargantuan space, attractive sections await every traveler who decides to book an overnight or long stay, whether for business or leisure. Its next-door space of greenery that's accentuated by age-old trees is enough to make a guest preoccupied in the odd hours of the day.

With Pampanga being less than two hours away from Metro Manila, the hotel is touted to attract numerous special events from conferences to weddings. For one thing, its garden area is fabulous for romantic "I-dos" while its spacious Festa Hall can accommodate a total of 400 guests engaged in any kind of revelry.

The hotel and casino is a must-book in the province, especially now that the area where it is -- Clark Freeport Zone -- is being seen as an emerging gateway to various destinations worldwide and other essential facilities in Central Luzon.

Read more about Midori Clark Hotel and Casino.


6. Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa
Location: Antipolo City, Rizal
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Less than an hour

Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa
Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa
Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa
Going to a spa in a congested city normally happens at high-end facilities and for an expensive cost. A guest may feel robbed of his hard-earned money but he's willing to trade it for the elusive rejuvenation that his tired mind and body demand.

At Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa, though, the high-end facility is not an opulently decorated building that has no windows. The rejuvenating result is the same and, perhaps, even more meaningful because the venue is the well-manicured cliffside of a mountain resort, just next to Loreland, where the view of the Laguna de Bay is enthralling and the rest of the Sierra Madre is relaxing.

Read more about Luljetta's Place Hanging Gardens Spa.


7. LeBlanc Hotel and Resort
Location: Antipolo City, Rizal
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Less than an hour

LeBlanc Hotel and Resort
LeBlanc Hotel and Resort
LeBlanc Hotel and Resort
LeBlanc Hotel and Resort is located at a tree-thronged side of the city where traffic is bearable and the air is still incredibly fresh. It's just a stroll away from the newly-rehabilitated Hinulugang Taktak Falls which makes the area less frenetic than the rest of the city. From its roof deck special event venue called Sky Garden, guests can have a whiff of serenity with expansive views of nearby hills and more trees. The hotel's location is perfect for last-minute wedding ceremony preparations and it fulfills the fantasy of every wife-to-be.

Read more about LeBlanc Hotel and Resort.


8. Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Location: Antipolo City, Rizal
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Roughly 1 hour

Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Perennially laid-back Antipolo City is still rife with rural cliches -- especially at the foothills of the Sierra Madre where nature is thankfully unharmed by modernity's excesses. In Barangay Calawis, a family-run nature reserve is on its first year of operations as a mountain resort complete with a swimming pool, special event facilities and native-inspired lodgings for couples, families and large groups of guests. Called Mount Purro Nature Reserve, the property is an emerging venue for vacations, team building, private meetings, planning seminars, conferences, corporate events and parties. Here, nature is preserved as a variety of trees drape the whole property. As a result, visitors tend to forget the time which is always good for the necessary retreat that led them to escape to this secluded part of Rizal in the first place. And the best part? The getaway is less than two hours away from Metro Manila.

Read more about Mount Purro Nature Reserve.


9. Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
Location: Orani, Bataan
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Roughly 3 hours

Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
The best part of being at Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park is 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 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.

Read more about Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park.


10. Costales Nature Farms
Location: Majayjay, Laguna
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Roughly 2 hours

Costales Nature Farms
Costales Nature Farms
Costales Nature Farms
Costales Nature Farms (CNF) is an attractive result of the combination of science, technology, and nature under the nurturing hands of its founder, the late Ronald Costales. He staunchly supported the practice of abstaining from the use of pesticides in crops so that they are not loaded with toxic chemicals for people to consume. Instead, the farm exists to foster a more holistic and natural ecosystem. With his passing, his wife Josephine or Josie is left to lead it but she's not alone in the endeavor as her grown-up kids have imbibed the same values for the environment that she and her husband were able to develop in the past decades. As chairman of the eco-farm, Josephine is positive that the legacy of Mr. Costales via CNF lives on.

Eager to relax in rural splendor of this farm resort and imbibe the farming lifestyle for a day or two? It's just a couple of hours of drive away from Alabang via the Majayjay-Lucban road.

Read more about Costales Nature Farms


11. Playa La Caleta
Location: Morong, Bataan
Travel Time From Metro Manila: Less than 4 hours

Playa La Caleta
Playa La Caleta
Playa La Caleta
Bataan is always considered by a lot of beach-loving tourists for quick getaways. Because it’s a peninsula, any traveler is bound to have access to a generous coastline. Some are fishing villages and bird sanctuaries, but there are definitely a lot of coves to choose from. Morong’s Playa La Caleta is one aptly named eco-tourism resort where a random escapade can become a memorable one regardless if you’re on a solo, romantic or group travel.

Read more about Playa La Caleta.


Check out my other lists of quick escapes near-Metro Manila:

Part 1
Part 2

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