Anya Resort & Residences Tagaytay is an oasis not far from Manila that offers multiple dining options, numerous relaxing pools, a spa that will relaxes both body and mind, and rooms with a view of sprawling pineapple plantations
Summer was fast approaching, and heatwaves were beginning to occupy the concrete streets of Metro Manila. Traffic piled up on the streets and work became more stressful as deadlines got closer and closer. It was evident that a mini-vacation was needed. The idea of a midweek excursion out of the city seemed like the appropriate prescription to rid any and all unwanted stress in the body. Luckily, Anya Resort & Residences is located only an hour and a half away from the city limits, making it the most convenient location to forget and unwind. Friends and colleagues have mentioned the tranquil aura and premium experience that Anya had to offer, so I quickly jumped at a chance to stay at the Tagaytay-based resort when the offer was made.
Upon receiving a booking confirmation, expectations for a true luxury were extremely high. I was immediately contacted by Anya’s Lifestyle Assistant, a hotel representative assigned to make sure your stay is as relaxing as possible. She asked me my preferences in pillows, room scent, spa treatments, and whether I’d like to avail of their unpacking services. It was impressive that the hotel was already so hands-on before I even reached the property. Just by communicating via email, I already knew that Anya would do anything for the comfort of their guests. Rightfully so, because they have a name to live up to. Anya derives from Sanskrit dialect, and when translated to English actually means limitless.
A Room with a View of Pineapples
Once I entered the main lobby of the hotel, I felt the cool Tagaytay wind gently touch my cheek. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Manila anymore,” I said to myself, looking over the sprawling property and the inviting swimming pools in the distance. I felt as Dorothy did when she first arrived at the magical land of Oz. In a matter of minutes, I found myself at ease, forgetting everything work related and eager to change into my bathing suit and relax with a cocktail in hand. Checking-in was speedy, especially with the help of my Lifestyle Assistant who saw to my bags and spoke to the receptionist, allowing me to unwind at the lobby which is built like somebody’s living room. When my key card was retrieved, I was escorted back to the front of the house, where a private golf cart awaited to take me to my room.
The cart drove down the winding roads of the resort lined by charming villas facing all directions. My driver had remarked that I had come in the best time. He said the sun was bright and hot during the day, and by nightfall the cool weather would come in. Upon reaching Villa 9, my Lifestyle Assistant had observed that I had to the best view in the entire resort. When I entered the room, I completely agreed. Outside the large floor-to-ceiling windows was a view of a sprawling plantation with rows upon rows of pineapples. This is what makes Tagaytay distinctly Tagaytay, and I was excited to wake up this view the next morning.
The Little Things Count
Anya never failed to forget the little things that makes staying at hotels a memorable experience for hotel guests. As I requested via email the night before, my room was aromatic with the smell of lemon grass and orange blossoms. My pillows were plentiful as well, as I always opt to sleep with a lot. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover a framed photograph of myself on the bedside table, beside a handwritten welcome note and a large can of freshly made confections. After eating several of the cookies, I slipped into my swimming shorts, grabbed a robe, and made my way to the swimming pool.
There are two swimming pools to choose from at the luxury resort (Elite Club members have the privilege to use a private pool). I chose the one closer to my room, which was ideal as it was tucked away from the eyes of those eating at the all-day dining restaurant. I dropped my things under a large umbrella and jumped into the water. For the next few hours, I did not move. Call it hydrotherapy if you will, but with the hot sun on my face and the cool water covering my body, it was my little slice of heaven that particular Wednesday afternoon. Things only got better when the friendly wait staff brought out my cocktail, a spicy Cilantro and Chili Mojito. He was even kind enough to take my photograph as I waded through the water.
When I returned to my room to prepare for dinner, the staff had left an origami crane accompanied by a note on my bed. It read, “The origami that has been placed in each suite has been individually created by Anya’s own creative and warm hearted seamstress, Ms. Susan Diaz, from her hands to yours.” After a hearty dinner at the signature Samira restaurant, it was time for bed. Although Anya has a lot of amenities and activities to offer (next time I’ll surely try the blind wine testing), the hotel’s cozy suite called out to me. I soaked in a bubble bath for close to an hour, before hopping into my king-size bed ready to drift off.
After a peaceful sleep, the sun was up, and I was on the balcony staring into the pineapple fields while eating one of the fresh oranges from the fruit basket. When I was ready for breakfast, I called for a golf cart which took me to Samira. There I enjoyed a solo meal overlooking the entire property. Croissants, fruits and fresh orange juice were enjoyed in the cool Tagaytay morning air. My main course was the tapa with garlic rice, which energized me for the day I had ahead.
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When breakfast concluded, I had a short chat with General Manager Peter D’Souza as he made his rounds on a golf cart. The Indian-born hotelier has been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, and has managed numerous luxury resorts in India, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Maldives, Doha, and Cambodia. “We have set a benchmark in Tagaytay. Our tagline is “Welcome home” and that’s why whenever you pass by someone from Anya, they say it to you. Everybody form your room attendant to your Lifestyle Assistant has a mission to make you feel at home. We have a lot of returning clients who keep coming back because they feel at home. They could’ve gone anywhere, but they come here because they feel connected to our team,” he mentioned.
Peter begins his mornings at Anya at 7am, conversing with the guests having breakfast. This way, he is able to communicate any issues to his staff during their morning meetings. The general manager has a lot to oversee in the resort, making sure that its running like a well-oiled machine. A typical morning for Peter includes delegating and coordinating with the hotel staff, keeping tabs on seven landscaping teams, fixing the village operations of the homeowners, talking to housekeeping, and interacting with guests. He also says that Anya has a lot planned in the near future, sharing that they are looking to hold yoga classes, build a bicycle track, and construct different entertainment zones which includes outdoor giant chessboards and jenga sets.
For now, guests can opt to visit the hotel’s popular Niyama Spa which includes a variety of different massages to ensure maximum relaxation. The most premium is the Niyami Signature Massage which is a 90-minute deep tissue massage with bamboo sticks and an in-house blend of aromatherapy oil. The treatment is said to improve blood circulation and promote overall well-being. Another option is the Traditional Massage. Also 90-minutes long, it uses ancient Filipino healing art and Virgin Coconut Oil to relax the mind and body.
Parting with Pizza and the Idea of Next Time
Before my time at Anya ended, I had to make sure to try the brick-oven pizza at poolside restaurant Anila. Rarely have I met a person who didn’t enjoy this dish. A selection of the best pizzas was ordered for the table, but one struck my fancy most: the truffle pizza! Freshly made and quickly cooked in the restaurant’s open kitchen, it was the ideal parting meal during the relaxing stay. Although I didn’t want to leave, reality called and Manila awaited.
The entire experience at Anya was too short. There were still many things to discover, but in a way, I was glad that I didn’t get to experience them yet. This gives me an excuse to come back, to leave my stresses at the door, and fully unwind on the property. It is the kind of experience that we yearn for during the harsh work week, a dreamy getaway that feels unreal. Luckily, Tagaytay isn’t too far from Manila. When things get tough, the oasis is there to welcome us home.
Anya Resort & Residences Tagaytay is located at Buenavista Ave, Tolentino West, Tagaytay Cavite. For more information phone (02) 657 1640 or visit < www.anyaresorts.com>
By Chino R. Hernandez
Photographs courtesy of Anya Resort & Residences
Additional photographs courtesy of Chino R. Hernandez