BEFORE Candon City and Vigan City in Ilocos Sur became a popular tourist destination, there was the sleepy town of Santiago.
A few minutes from the highway is a different world altogether. In fact, you are transported to Santorini, that fabled Greek isle in the Aegean Sea.
Opened last December, the Vitalis Villas is part of the hotel business of Artstream Hospitality Management Group Inc. (AHMGI), headed by Kristine Singson Meehan.
The other hotels under it are Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City, Le Monet in Camp John Hay in Baguio City and Luna Hotel in Vigan.
Vitalis Villa is named after Macario Vitalis, the Ilocano painter who migrated to France. With her father, Rep. Eric Singson as concept artist, a version of the Santorini was started more than a year ago. Because the coral foundation was very hard, it took the workers longer than they should. The cottages incorporated the coral when they could, becoming part of the walls, shelves and furniture.
Unlike the original Satorini’s cottages, which were built of pumice, those in Vitalis were carved from the coral and supplemented with concrete and whitewashed with blue accents.
The Vitalis Villas are beautiful, especially during sunrise and sunset, when the sun’s rays play with the colors of the walls and windows. There are 20 villas under Project 1, Meehan said. The second phase will include 50 units. Right now there are three huge pools, with two open to the members. There are two restaurants, including one serving coastal Mediterranean with supervision of celebrity chef Roby Goco. There is also a conference area and a chapel.
The villas tried to be faithful to the so-called Cycladian architecture of the Santorini, including the lime-washed narrow passageways and sanded façade. The still-clear waters of the cove is also much pleasant than the rough Aegean Sea. Those who want to stay in the Vitalis Villas would be given a scheme when they can stay for 30 days a year and earn them dividends, as well. They can also avail themselves of the various sea activities offered to Vitalis Hotel, like kayaking, jet skiing, banana boat and snorkeling. There is also a 1-kilometer zip line and a petting zoo for the children.
Image credits: Mau Victa