After 8 months of staying indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was time for a breather! There are several destinations that have opened up around the Philippines, all with safety protocols in place. If you're coming from Manila, one of the most accessible and refreshing places to visit is Tagaytay. A city in the mountains, it offers a cooler temperature (range of 18-27C). There are no medical tests required but SOME establishments only allow guests between the age of 15-65 (as of Dec 2020).
Travel Tip : For a list of domestic destinations that are open for tourism, entry requirements, government-accredited lab testing sites, check out the Department of Tourism site, Philippines.travel/safetrip. I also recommend checking the respective local government sites on Facebook or through their website.
Of all the government-accredited hotels in Tagaytay online, Taal Vista seemed the most promising with its reasonable room rates, excellent customer reviews and safety protocols. Other exciting features of this hotel is its backyard which offers a full view of Taal Volcano and since I have not swam in months, I looked forward to using their outdoor pool!
I booked directly through their website, Taal Vista Hotel and was able to get a room at 30% off. As of December 2020, only guests from age 15-65 are allowed in the hotel.
We left Manila past 7:00 AM on a Saturday. By the time we reached EDSA, traffic had built up until South Luzon Expressway. Going up to Tagaytay, traffic was tolerable. The one-way traffic schemes seemed to be working. Since check-in was at 2:00 PM, we stopped by Sonya's Garden for a nice brunch and then to the Puzzle Mansion, two of the places which I've been wanting to visit for the longest time!
|at Sonya's Garden
After our side trips, we headed to Taal Vista. Check-in was relatively quick, even with the additional steps we had to take. Our temperatures were checked twice, before entering the hotel premises and the hotel lobby. We also filled up a health declaration form and maintained social distance as we waited to get checked in.
|Lobby Lounge, one of the 3 dining options in Taal Vista Hotel
We're staying at a Ridge room in the Mountain Wing, which offers a nice view of Taal Lake. From the lobby, we had to go down an escalator and walked in a long tunnel to get to our room. This reminded me of the ones used by planes, you know, the ones that connect from the airport doors to the plane's entrance. I love walking and enjoyed the tunnel but it's something you need to consider if you're having difficulty moving with your legs.
The 38 sqm. room has a private balcony, where we indulged on a tranquil scenery of Taal volcano and its lake. Sharing a room with my brother and sister, we were quite comfortable and had plenty of room to move around. The beds were also perfect for us, one single bed and a King size bed.
|complimentary sanitation kits for guests checking-in
We took all our meals from the in-house restaurants; There are 3 to choose from Taza, TheVeranda & The Lobby Lounge). Of the three, we were able to try The Lobby Lounge and The Veranda. Both offered satisfying meals and the prices aren't bad for a nice hotel (expect to pay around 500+ each).
The next morning, I went for a swim. At 7:00 AM, I had the pool to myself. It's not a heated pool so I had to bear the chilly water. The pool is big enough for me to enjoy laps and I swam for nearly an hour. The water was so clear! :)
Note : To use the pool, you need to reserve a slot by calling the reception.
|Taal Vista swimming pool
After a nice, hot shower, we headed to The Veranda for breakfast. This in-house restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. The tables outside offers a nice view of the volcano and the lake but I wanted to seat closer to the food, a nice and simple buffet spread! I missed buffets!
|buffet line. The yellow signs on the floor are distance markers.
I'm happy that most guests were respectful and
maintained distance from others.
Most of the food were behind glass counters, with the staff putting food on your plate. All the dishes were tasty, mostly Filipino staples of fried rice, eggs, fried fish, corned beef, longganisa, beans and bacon. There's also a pastry corner with danishes and croissants. I noticed there isn't much options for vegans other than fruits and salad. Of all the food I tried from the buffet, the most remarkable for me was the croissant. It's nice and flaky. Though a bit too buttery, it went well with sunny side-up eggs.
The breakfast buffet was over-all, a happy experience. I felt safe dining in with the new safety measures in place, plus we always made sure we wore our masks and face shield when walking around. More importantly, we always sanitized our hands & mindful of others. There are markers on the floor to remind guests to maintain physical distance. You start lining up to get a plate. Eating utensils are sealed and placed inside paper envelopes that can be repurposed for masks. Instead of the usual create your own salad where all ingredients are exposed, basic salad have been placed in jars. Various dressings and yogurt are also in separate containers. Coffee and hot choco were on a separate area, away from the food. Unfortunately, some guests still gathered around the coffee area, instead of waiting for the person ahead to finish filling their cup. Sigh. Establishments can only do so much. We all need to do our part to make it safe for everyone.
Checking out of the hotel was quick and super easy. We settled our bills before packing our stuff and once we're ready to get out of the hotel, we called the reception and left the access cards in the room. Then, off we go. I love their hassle-free process!
|beautiful Christmas tree near the reception
Tagaytay's cooler temperature, nice restaurants and nature views makes it one of the best places to visit from Manila. The view of Taal Lake and Binintiang Malaki, the most popular of all the 47 craters of Taal volcano is always breathtaking! If I need to spend a night or two in Tagaytay, staying at Taal Vista would be at the top of the list. We had such a nice experience here. :)
|Taking one last photo before heading home. Happy holidays, everyone!
Places to Visit in Tagaytay
Sonya's Garden - a popular bed and breakfast serving good breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet (750 PHP/head). The staff will bring the food to your table and you can always request for additional serving size which they bring over to you quickly. The dining area is huge and airy so even if there were many people dining in, it did not feel crowded. Service was friendly and fast.
Facebook Page : Sonya's Garden
Website : www.sonyasgarden.com
Puzzle Mansion - this museum showcases two floors of the impressive jigsaw puzzle collection of Georgina Gil-Lacuna. With 1,028 sets, she was the former Guinness World record holder of the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles. The current record is now back to Luiza Figueiredo of Brazil who presented 1,047 sets on July 2017. Luiza achieved her first world record in 2010 with 238 puzzles, then surpassed her own record on 2012 with 502 sets.
Facebook Page : Puzzle Mansion Tagaytay
Museo Orlina - this art gallery with a features the works of renowned Filipino glass sculptor, Ramon Orlina.
Facebook Page : Museo Orlina
Website : www.museo-orlina.org
For more information on other places, things to do in Tagayaty, check out these Tagaytay Itineraries: