First impression. Our group were welcomed into Nurture Wellness Village's bright and airy nipa hut-style reception with lemongrass tea with a hint of mint. Some of the staff started serenading us, playing indigenous instruments like gongs. The cool air of Tagaytay, the greenery, the light breeze, and the genuine warmth of people, made me feel at ease.
Check in. We were given forms to fill in, answering wellness lifestyle questions. Our team of five was at the wellness center for the Work Well Project Program (TWWP), a team-building package weaved in with the wellness program. Four of Nurture Spa’s staff were to attend to us to moderate our activities, including Rimwell Cosino, a registered nurse in charge of checking on our health.
Room. The spa sits on a one-hectare property of landscaped gardens and greens. Two large tents were set up for us at Kampo Sabila, a short walk from the main pavilion and restaurant. The site is like a theatre stage, with the wild trees as our backdrop. The tents are big, each set up to accommodate three people. Single mattresses were laid on the tent floor, each with two pillows and a thick blanket, and toiletries, and one light lamp to share. The his and hers bathroom, set up less than 100m away, is for sharing, but it is clean, with separate toilet and shower cubicles, and fitted with hot and cold running water. Before dusk, we were given mosquito repellent lotions, although there was no need for it. If we needed anything, there was a bell we could ring to call the staff. Next to the tent sits a dining table, a small barbecue grill, and a huge bonfire with a griller surrounded by stone seats. The night sounds were enchanting — geckoes, cicadas, the hooting of an owl.
If camping is not your thing, the spa has deluxe forest view rooms, superior garden view rooms, standard garden view rooms, family rooms good for four to six. There are also four air-conditioned Ifugao suites, huts inspired by traditional houses found in Ifugao in the Mountain Province.
The program. We were booked for an overnight stay with an itinerary I pre-approved. The program starts with an individual health scan, using the Digital Meridian Scan, a computerized health scan system that checks for things like the performance of your nervous system, energy level, metabolism and liver state, among others. The scan is said to be 90%-95% accurate. My results were mixed. One colleague had a not-so-good result, prompting her to start a new healthy lifestyle.
Then we had lunch at Gabriela, the in-house restaurant that serves traditional Filipino and continental dishes. The vegetables were organic and came from the spa’s own green house. I had the kale smoothie, convinced of its health benefits. Concocted with a sweet tropical fruit, it tasted mildly tart and sweet. My favorites among the food we tried were the Nurture Spring Roll made of palm and basil; Nurture Greens Salad made of homegrown organic veggies topped with white cheese and croutons and served with oriental vinaigrette; the very good roast pumpkin soup; and the suman sa malagkit (sticky rice roll) with mango filling and served drizzled with local chocolate.
After lunch, we were whisked to the pool side, a beautiful garden setting where a table was set up for the cooking demo activity. Here, one of the kitchen staff taught us how to make vegetable and fruit smoothies, and raw pumpkin pomodoro pasta.
After the quick “show and taste”, it was time for the “happy dance,” shaking our butts silly to the tune of Gentleman, supervised by a guide. Two rounds of the song and sweat is pouring.
A little break then we were off to the Eco-therapy Exercise Circuit where we were asked to go around the garden and follow each exercise regimen posted on the “Par Kur” exercise trail. We went through a series of simple exercises like stretching, pushing drills and jogging.
Then on to the fun part — massage treatments under gazebos facing mature trees and wild plants. I signed up for a head and shoulder massage, a 30-minute treatment on a wooden reclining chair.
The rest of the team had a mix of facial, head and shoulder massage, and foot massage. I asked my masseuse for light pressure, aiming more for relaxation. She worked her way from my head, down to my neck and upper back, working on some tense muscles.
The day ended with us chilling out, lounging in our campsite, enjoying the peace and quiet and chilly fresh air until it’s time for dinner. The temperature was about 17 degrees. Our server for the night lit the bonfire, prepared the grill, and delivered skewered vegetables, dory fish, chicken and hotdogs, all ready for us to grill.
The next day, we had Tai Qi Gong, a traditional Chinese exercise focused on increasing energy flow through gentle repetitive movements, accompanied by proper breathing techniques. Afterwards, we all felt recharged. We also went on a tour of coffee and pineapple fields, spotting wild growing vegetables like taro, ginger, yam, squash, chayote, mushrooms, and different kinds of banana trees, and found Nurture Spa’s very own garden planted to organic herbs and vegetables like lettuce, kale, tomatoes, cabbage and carrots.
Service. Genuinely warm.
We like. The luxury of space for meditating and exercise, the restaurant’s green but flexible menu. The projection of the local Philippine culture through use of indigenous board games like sungka; sarongs, robes and staff uniform accents made of abel, a traditional woven fabric from La Union. The eco ways practiced by the spa — use of harvested rain shower; use of eco-knit towels; use of recycled paper for the toilet roll and biodegradable containers. The close proximity to Manila, an hour's drive away.
Not so keen. Nothing really except for some minor bumps. The bell used to call the staff wasn’t working. The menu could use a little more hard work by offering brown rice and muscovado sugar.
Verdict. A place for relaxation and play that will encourage you to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Highly recommended for intimate groups.
The Glamping Package, which includes an overnight stay in a tent, arroz caldo breakfast, a 30-minute outdoor treatment, and barbecue dinner costs P3,190 per person.
How to get there. It’s a leisurely one-hour drive from Manila via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), exiting through Sta. Rosa or Greenfield City where there are signs leading to Tagaytay. From the ridge, turn right to the direction of Tagaytay City, and head to the rotunda, go towards the direction leading to Nasugbu, Batangas. The row of restaurants to your left marks the next junction (Magallanes Square) where you are to turn right. Signs will easily lead you to Nurture Spa.
Nurture Spa Village Tagaytay is at 7310 Barangay Maitim II West, Tagaytay City Philippines; tel +632 710 9786, +6346 512 6237, +63918/ 8888 772; www.nurturewellnessvillage.com
Originally published in InFlight Traveller Volume 1/Issue 2 2014. Updated November 2015