The “ridge to reef” travel which seeks to connect mountain and sea destinations in one trip, or vice-versa, has been around for quite some time. Endowed by the Almighty with lush upland and coastal ecosystems in almost every part of the archipelago, this is an easy do-it-yourself concept for wanderlusts who want to experience the best of both worlds.
This consummate swing is no longer a DIY adventure left to chance with the seamless connectivity offered by Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City and Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club in Nasugbu, Batangas. Situated just above an hour away from each other, the sister resorts have reopened to offer families and friends its Sustainably Safe, a health and hygiene program of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. to ensure the safety and comfort of guests and staff in all their properties.
The most iconic landmark and arguably the best hotel along Tagaytay Ridge, Taal Vista is offering 25-percent discount on rooms for two persons with breakfast to lure lockdown-weary residents in this favorite mountain resort.
On top of the cool climate and the mesmerizing sight of Taal Volcano and Lake, it is also a foodie’s place with its dining outlets. Veranda Café serves Filipino heirloom dishes, international fare, and weekend buffets on both indoor and al fresco seating, while Taza Fresh Table is where diners can sink their teeth on tender steaks and other specialties from Friday to Sunday.
Guests who want something out of the ordinary can chill at an afternoon lounge with snacks and antipasto, pizzas, canapés, pastries, and cold cuts, barbecue their choice of meats and seafood at the “Grill at The Ridge,” or customize a romantic candle-lit garden dinner for two with your special someone.
Complete the pampering with a rejuvenating massage or treatment at the Asmara Spa which recently reopened for weekends and special appointments.
Before leaving for the next destination, don’t miss out on the well-loved pastries, pan de coco and ube ensaymada at the Cakeshop as pasalubong or snacks on the road.
Down at Pico de Loro in Nasugbu Bay, the closet beach hideaway to the metropolis, travelers can have a recharging retreat in an unspoilt seaside environment away from the madding crowd. Named after the popular mountain, it is the core a 5,800-hectare master-planned upscale property which blends the sea and mountains, and everything in between.
The star-rated Pico Hotel boasts of spacious and well-appointed rooms, which form a cluster of vertical development surrounding a man-made lagoon with fountains and tree-lined walkways.
Dotted by open spaces and landscaped greeneries, this sprawling property is an ideal spot to bond with the family, reconnect with Mother Nature, and isolate oneself from the centers of viral infection. It is also tops for lazy strolls, brisk walking, jogging and biking.
The resort offers a bevy of close-to-nature recreation such as trekking and mangrove cruise, as well and water sports, such as kayaking, stand-up paddle, jet skiing, and scuba diving. A must-do is the Santelmo Eco Trail, a moderate 1.2-km trek to Santelmo Cove, a powdery beach with a marine protected area teeming with lush aquatic life.
Guests can savor a picnic-type grilled lunch, and afterwards bask on cove-hopping around best-kept secret coves, pocket beaches and rock formations, and go snorkeling and fish-feeding.
Another must-try is the river cruise across the 10-hectare mangrove forest, which Hamilo Coast has dutifully conserved to help maintain ecological balance. The biggest of its kind in Nasugbu, the mangrove tour shuts you out from the outside and digital world so you can commune with the elements of this lesser-known but equally vital ecosystem.
Chow time is another highlight of your reef retreat at Pico Restaurant, which specializes in sought-after Mediterranean and Batangueño specialties, and the al fresco dinner setting at the adjacent Spanish Steps which gives you a front-row seat to the lagoon while munching on Iberian-inspired cuisine and drinks.
The Reef Bar, situated at Pico Beach, is a watering hole for cocktails and light orders, and treats diners a panoramic view of the mouth of the bay, which is best seen at dusk with the sun’s kaleidoscopic diffusion. Standing proudly at the beachfront, which teems with aqua sports and poolside fun, is “The Protector,” a Japanese anti-aircraft gun, which has guarded the cove during the Second World War.
With the seamless connectivity forged by Taal Vista Hotel and Pico de Loro, a ridge to reef retreat is a certainty, and not a DIY experiment which leaves so many things to chance.