Before you say “cheers!,” let me tell you at the outset that this feature isn’t advertising a well-loved American whiskey-flavored liquor. But just the same, you will surely offer a toast to this comforting southern getaway near the outskirts of the metropolis.
Standing proudly in Alabang is the 32-story Vivere Hotel, the first five-star accommodation in the fringes of Metro Manila, which catalyzed the development of the district into a plush hideaway within the megacity. A Latin word which means “to live, to inhabit, to be alive,” it takes pride with its merry mix of countryside and urban lifestyles, which is unmatched by the other luxe hotels in the concrete jungle.
Undeniably, it is their enviable location, which seems to transport Vivere to a suburban spot—a master-planned community with plenty of open spaces, tree-lined promenades and greeneries ideal for jogging or a relaxed walk.
Guests can marvel at the soothing panorama of the few remaining swathes of greeneries of the big city, the placid Laguna de Bay, the undulating Sierra Madre mountain ranges and the mystical Mount Makiling just a few heartbeats away. On a clear day, the picturesque windmills of Pililla, Rizal and the scenic Antipolo ridge can be seen in the horizon.
Add a dramatic effect to your gourmet meal as you catch the sunup or sundown at The Nest Dining in the Sky at the 31st floor, arguably the best rooftop restaurant in this side of the Metro. The best part of the day, though, is towards dusk where the roofdeck becomes a cozy twilight zone when the sun sets and emits a kaleidoscopic explosion of colors.
On top of the luxury amenities and features typical of a five-star facility such as well-appointed rooms, spa, fitness center and swimming pool, the hotel prides itself by being a repository of the works of Filipino artisans. There are tasteful paintings by Pinoy artists that liven up various spaces, the local-made and upholstered furnishings, elegant lobby ornaments and exquisite tapestries, which adorn the suites.
Throughout its exteriors and interiors, it etched its own style with the merging of the traditional and innovative elements. In pursuit of this advocacy, Vivere has even dedicated a department to ensure the constant support to local crafts to showcase the enigma of the Filipino culture to foreign guests.
After a relaxing staycation within the city, the hotel can take you to an authentic out-of-town retreat further south in the rustic town of Mabini in Batangas, regarded as among the world’s best scuba diving havens. The area is more popularly known to divers and beach lovers as Anilao, the entry point to the dive sites in Balayan Bay, which extend to the island town of Tingloy.
Azure, Vivere’s sister resort, is an idyllic treat to the senses being surrounded by lush greenery and azure waters, where a teeming marine life abounds. Tucked on a rugged terrain, it is the proverbial “home away from home,” being an actual house before being transformed into a bespoke shorefront secluded paradise.
Its design draws inspiration from Asian tropical destinations, most notably Bali, with its quaint and intimate 13 suites, each one of which exudes the comfort of a southern home. The suites, which are exotically named Azure, Elan, Anima, Zephyr, Ultima and Rejuvena, among others, evoke an uplifting ethos, which blends well with its natural and built environment.
Vivere Azure boasts of its casual-luxe interiors, with unmissable details that reflect the owner’s penchant for the extraordinary. Just like its city hotel, almost everything here is locally sourced and environment-friendly to complement the nature around it, not to obstruct or destroy.
While nearly all the properties in the area are dive resorts, it would like to distinguish itself as an exclusive getaway, which marries the comfort of a cliffside home and the opulence of a five-star service. Scuba diving activities, though, can be outsourced with partner resorts so guests can marvel at Balayan Bay’s enchanting underwater world—48 breath-taking dive sites to be exact, which boast of marine biodiversity like no other in the planet.
Acclaimed as the world’s second top destination for macro photography, Anilao has been declared by the Department of Tourism as the home of the annual Underwater Photo Competition Festival, which draws the world’s celebrated underwater photographers.
To keep you occupied on your stay, the resort can arrange island-hopping and beach-combing excursions, snorkeling, kayaking or wind-surfing lessons, and other recreation. Better yet, Azure can make you a part of its social responsibility activities aimed at preserving the ocean’s ecological balance.
For a more laid-back vacation, you can just sip a cold drink by the scenic infinity pool, feast on your favorite dish at the restaurant overlooking the bay, enjoy the greeneries, listen to the crashing waves or catch up on a best-selling book on the resort’s treehouse. And if it is your lucky day, you may just spot dolphins leaping around the waters.
After experiencing the best of both worlds at Vivere in Alabang and Anilao, we can indeed say “cheers” to this southern comfort.