First impression. The Oriental Luxury Suites Tagaytay, a seven-suite boutique hotel which opened in February this year, has views to die for. Its cliffside location gives it a unique vantage point for viewing Taal Volcano and Lake, with the rolling greens of Lauren town, Batangas in the foreground. The interior is predominantly Thai, from furnishings, home accessories down to the uniform of staff and music played in the background.
The living areas on both floors open out to a lanai and verandah, both with spectacular views of the volcano and lake. The Oriental is also lucky enough to get views of both the sunrise and sunset.
Check in. Stress free. We got comfortably settled in our suite before we’re asked to sign a pre-filled in form.
Suites. All rooms are suites. We’re booked in one of two executive suites on the second level with views from my glass windows and private verandah. Thai elephant motif pillows adorn the beds; the floor and walls are made of repurposed wood, creating a sense of warmth. A small office desk containing hotel room essentials like bottled water and the bar menu features a sculpture of a Thai woman and a framed photo and description of Chiang Rai in Thailand, the name of our suite.
Flatscreen cable TV, Wi-Fi internet access, and a bathroom with a complete line of signature toiletries, hot and cold running water, and glass enclosed rain shower are the standard amenities.
Food. The hotel only serves breakfast, a choice of Filipino or Western. I had the Filipino — garlic fried rice, beef tapa (a fry up of local cured beef), boneless milkfish, dried fish; tomatoes, salted eggs, atchara or the Filipino equivalent of sauerkraut, salad, fresh fruits for dessert, and juice and coffee. My kids went for Western – salad, beans, toasts, bacon, sausage, sunny side up egg and hash browns, and juice and hot chocolate. It’s a hefty breakfast that came with a personalized note. The food was good, made even better by the al fresco setting and view.
For lunch or dinner, it's easy enough to drive for a few minutes to the city center where there are lots of restaurants to choose from. There’s Carlos Pizza for pizza and pasta, fine dining restaurant Antonio’s, and countless eateries and restaurants that serve bulalo, slow cooked beef shank with vegetables, a local delicacy. Try Diner’s, which also serves really good homemade coconut pie. If you want a good cup of coffee, go to Bag of Beans.
If money is no object, you can arrange ahead with the hotel for a personalized dinner complete with a chef flown in from affiliate Swagman Hotel Manila. The specialty is Filipino, particularly grilled and barbecued ribs.
Activities. There is nothing much to do but to bask in the scenery and enjoy the feeling of escape. It’s a place where you can catch up with your reading or writing. There’s a relaxing infinity pool on the edge of the property for an afternoon dip. For families with kids, Sky Ranch, a mini theme park with restaurants, is a 10-minute drive away.
Service. Quite exemplary. When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with cold towels, drinks and local snacks. Our dedicated butler, Raymond, was ready to attend to us at the ring of a bell. All very Downton Abbey. Raymond seemed to anticipate our every need, from handing us a pocket Wi-Fi and password (the hotel just soft opened and has yet to set up its own Wi-Fi) soon as we entered our suite to providing us with a basket of bottled water, towels, bathrobe, and snacks at the pool. In the afternoon, housekeeping brought us treats of candied jackfruit and pastillas.
We love. Everything! Including the fact that you can rent the whole place all to yourself if you’re willing to pay the price. And you can bring in food.
Not so keen. Hardly any. The bathroom could use some towel rails and hooks. And the spotty Globe phone signal, which is hardly the hotel’s fault.
Verdict. A great place to recharge. Highly recommended.
Published rates are from P10,000 (US$200) with breakfast for two. Check introductory rates on Oriental's Facebook page.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller Volume 4 Issue 15. Updated April 2017