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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

My reverie among the clouds

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The other day, I found myself pleasantly floating in my daydream among the clouds, probably a natural reaction of my mind to the various stages of quarantine we all had to go through these past months. 

But the best part of that reverie was that I was actually living it, when I came to realize that I had checked in at Taal Vista Hotel, that beautiful property up among the clouds in Tagaytay. This iconic landmark is a favorite refuge of many urbanites who, like me, also dream of getting away from it all!

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to engage the hotel manager in a leisurely chat. I discovered that the hotel is now 81 years old, having been established in 1939, during the Commonwealth Era. I thought to myself that, for a business to have survived this long, in spite of fierce competition, it must be doing something right!  

POSTCARD-PRETTY. The breathtaking view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake is certainly an antidote to stress.

While chatting with the manager, I immediately knew he could have easily rattled off 81 reasons why his is the hotel of choice in this southern holiday destination for stressed city dwellers like me. But I’m happy highlighting just a few because they’re more than enough to prove a point, and because my column has space constraints.  

First up, the breathtaking view of the volcano and the lake is beyond compare. In every stay, I always find myself spending hours at the balcony of my room, awed by such spectacular panorama of God’s creation. This enthralling view seems to detoxify my cluttered mind and soul, reenergizing my psyche in preparation for my return to the complexities of urban life. 

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Secondly, the very comfortable and functionally designed guestrooms always make for a cozy cocoon for any tired soul. This time, as part of the hotel’s health and safety protocol, the rooms are subjected to a thorough disinfection and sanitization procedure before guests check in. In fact, before I could enter my assigned room, I had to break with my room key the safety seal on the door, which validated the room’s conformity with the required health protocols.

The hotel’s rooms are spacious and well-designed, with a balcony that offers a marvelous view.

Thirdly, the attentive and upbeat service that I got from the staff was, indeed, a positive reflection of the hotel’s de luxe standards. I was so impressed seeing the hotel officers at the reception lobby, interacting with guests who were checking-in. And, as I got to my room, it was heartwarming to see a very nice welcome amenity on the desk, with a handwritten note from the manager. Such cherished gesture certainly made me feel like royalty and this caring attitude from the officers and staff certainly demonstrates why this hotel is so successful.

Another gem I can attribute to this de luxe property is the personalized touch which is evident in the things they do for the guests. It gives a laudable and added dimension to the usual top-quality service expected of any 5-star establishment. Like what they did to my order of the favorite Filipino dessert, halo-halo. They did not serve it in the usual tall glass or bowl like what other hotels do. Taal Vista Hotel’s halo-halo comes in an honest-to-goodness fresh buko shell, which affords the customer the fun experience of scraping and eating the coconut meat, the Filipino way, as part of the dessert serving.

Hotel manager Ramon Makilan

And, since the hotel serves native culinary specialties during breakfast, management thought it best to have a trio serenading guests with popular Filipino melodies, creating a much-appreciated jovial ambience to an otherwise ordinary scene. Frankly, I’ve been to almost all de luxe hotels in the country, including several previous visits to this one, but this was the first time I had the pleasure of having a most enjoyable breakfast amidst lilting live Filipino tunes. Certainly, a nice feature!

To help guests document their delightful visit, the well-groomed hotel grounds offer varied backdrops to memorable photo opportunities for anybody, whether alone, with a loved one, or with the family. In one part of the garden, there is a big arch made of bushy plants dotted with big pink and white blooms, perfect for lovers and soulmates. In another part, there is a giant picture frame, tilted for a touch of fun, ideal for solo poses or wacky mementos.  

A giant standee of cut-out letters that spell “I Love Taal Vista Hotel” is a favorite of guests who want to keep a lovely remembrance of their marvelous holiday. Propped up as backdrop accessories in certain parts of the garden are bicycles with a basket up front filled with bouquets of colorful blooms. They remind me of those I see travelling around the European countryside, a beautiful way to banner the hotel’s pleasurable, stress-free environment.

Taal Vista Hotel’s delicious halo-halo served in a fresh buko shell.

And, of course, another reason why Taal Vista Hotel is way ahead of the pack is its amiable manager, Ramon Makilan. He is from Cebu, and we all know how everyone who has visited the city or the province raves about the heartwarming Cebuano hospitality.  

He sees to it that guests feel the same caring aura once they walk into the hotel premises, as every employee walks the extra mile just to make visitors feel welcome and appreciated, a typical Cebuano hospitality trademark. And with an enviable ratio of 225 employees serving only 262 rooms, you can understand why the standard of service is exceptionally high.

Low-lying clouds blanket the road to Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay.

Makilan’s solid background in food and beverage and his 28 years of experience in the hotel industry has made it easy for him to implement systems and procedures that result in a memorably pleasant experience for all guests, like those that I have mentioned earlier.  

So, when you start feeling burdened by the challenges of urban living, especially now that we’re struggling through this pandemic, try getting pleasantly lost among the clouds in nearby Tagaytay and de-stress at Taal Vista Hotel. You’ll see that daydreaming has never been this good!



We all know mirrors don’t lie. I’m just grateful they don’t laugh!

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