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Christmas south of the border

Bellevue Hotel Christmas tree display, Vivere’s newly renovated rooms, Laguna Lake view at Bellevue’s Signature Lounge and New Year’s Eve fireworks at Vivere.

THE South is arguably among the most underrated getaways in the urban jungle called Metro Manila.

With the few remaining swathes of greeneries in the megacity, the placid Laguna de Bay, the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, and the mystical Mount Makiling, it has the perfect balance of cosmopolitan vibe and that distinct out-of-town feel. On a clear day, the imposing windmills of Pililla, Rizal, and the scenic Antipolo ridge can be seen in the horizon—a panorama no other place can replicate.

Acacia Hotel’s Christmas-themed lobby

Alabang, the hub of business and recreation in the south, evokes that unique blend. And with the crippling traffic jam along the northbound lane of the South Luzon Expressway in recent weeks, southerners should better savor the charm of their colony during the holiday season.

Many thanks to the country music crooner Gene Autry (not Ed Sheeran as you expected) for bringing inspiration to this southern rediscovery.

Standing proudly in the district is Vivere, the first five-star hotel in the area which catalyzed the development of the posh hideaway within the megacity. A Latin word which means “to live, to inhabit, to be alive,” it recently underwent a room facelift to give southerners a trendy and comfy staycation for the long holidays.

For a fun-filled season, the hotel is offering Simbang Gabi Specials, Santa Meet and Greet, in-room cinema and a Jazz Christmas with the Jazz Band at The Nest Dining in The Sky roof-deck restaurant at the 31st floor.

On New Year’s Eve, Vivere will light up the southern sky with its spectacular fireworks to welcome 2020 through a buffet dinner and live entertainment from Joey’s Mood and Live Atlaz Manila.

And if you’re itching for a real out-of-town retreat beyond the city, Vivere Azure, a bespoke shorefront secluded paradise in Mabini, Batangas, beckons. An opulent cliffside home, you can marvel at Balayan Bay’s enchanting underwater world and kaleidoscopic sunset.

The hotel also has an irresistible Homey Holidays package where guests can win raffle prizes, such as getaway to Azure, an overnight stay and a breakfast buffet in Vivere.

A few minutes away is Acacia Hotel Manila, a 261-room luxe urban haunt named after the sturdy Philippine hardwood tree. Aside from the typical modern features and amenities of five-star lodging, its distinguishing mark is the warm service and hospitality, which their staff extends to its visitors.

A growing favorite among executives and millennials, it is offering a deluxe room package from December 15 to 30 and, January 1 to 5 for P4,485 net, which includes use of facilities, and shuttle service within Alabang.

Proudly a Filipino hospitality brand, Acacia has branched out further down south to the charming cities of Bacolod and Davao.

At another bend in Alabang is The Bellevue Manila which has become an icon of luxury in the south and a preferred venue for special events, conventions or simply family stays.

Guests can book until December 20 for an ultimate three-night stay for only P5,888 nett, which includes daily breakfast for two, P1,000 credits each for Café D’Asie and Azurea restaurants to be used during the stay.

Throughout December, Café D’Asie is rolling out an  Special Italian buffet dinner every Thursday, a Friday seafood lunch and dinner buffet, and a paluto buffet lunch every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It also offers Christmas Specialties from around the world every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until December 23, a Noche Buena, and a Christmas Day lunch and dinner buffet. Enhancing dining pleasure is a pianist-singer who will regale diners with carols, ballads and well-loved tunes.

Phoenix Court, Bellevue’s Chinese restaurant, has unveiled a special Christmas and New Year set menu from the Chef and will be available until December 28. At Homare, guests will discover a new haunt for authentic Japanese cuisine with the restaurant’s assorted sushi and maki platters.

For after-dinner cravings, there is Pastry Corner with its Cake of the Month—the Yule Log, made of almond sponge cake and tiramisu cream mousse filling matched with your coffee of choice.

You can capture a soothing commanding view of the greeneries and the placid lake at Vue Bar, Cellar 22, and the Signature Lounge while sipping cocktails or having a meal. The panorama is both stunning at day and night, but more mesmerizing at dusk with the setting of the sun and the emergence of urban night lights.

Livening up the hotel’s Yuletide atmosphere is its in-house choir, some of whom came from the world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir which Bellevue Resort in Panglao, Bohol, is supporting.

Environmentalists will be pleased to note that the property has adopted a “green” campaign for environmental sustainability—the use of paper straws, organic soaps and shampoos, and water pitchers to replace of single-use plastic bottles.

With its seemingly infinite splendor, the south Metro is sizzling with surprises this season and beyond.

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