Sunday, December 26, 2010

Secluded Cavite inn offers more than just bed and breakfast

By Karen Lapitan
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 06:31:00 12/26/2010

Filed Under: Philippines - Regions, Hotels & accommodation,business, Tourism

INDANG, CAVI-TE—A secluded inn here is enticing guests and tourists who want to experience tranquility away from the bustling city. And it makes itself distinct from the usual concept of bed and breakfast that most tourists know.

Aptly named as Balay Indang, guests can expect to feel at home while inside the area.

General manager Marge Tan says guests can feel as they own Balay Indang during their stay.

“We are not your usual bed and breakfast as we operate 24/7, and we offer more,” she adds.

According to Sonia Garcia, staff supervisor, some tourists who want to visit Tagaytay City sometimes opt to stay in Balay Indang for their accommodation.

Balay Indang is located a few minutes away from Tagaytay City where most tourists flock.

Garcia adds that staying in Balay Indang is like owning a rest house for a day. “We let our guests explore the four-hectare land. They will never run out of activities here. It doesn’t end in sleeping inside the room, eating and going home.”

Guests may need to bring mosquito repellant with them as they roam around as the area is full of plants and trees, making them vulnerable to mosquito bites, Garcia advises. “The idea behind this is to let our guests be closer to nature.”

Unlike the usual accommodations trying to invite guests, Balay Indang does not have a prominent sign that tells passers-by what it offers.

Balay Indang can only be distinguished by the house number “88” hugely painted on its gate, making it a seemingly concealed inn.

Tan recalls that Balay Indang started as a vacant lot in year 2000 that was later transformed into a retreat house with only a few rooms.

“The owner was wondering then what to do with that vacant lot. Then, he decided to build a house that soon turned into a retreat house,” he says, adding that this four-hectare property was developed in year 2004, and became open since then to accommodate guests who want to experience the laidback ambiance they offer.

Balay Indang started as a retreat house with a capacity of 35 until the demand increased, prompting them to build more rooms for at least 70 persons.

Some guests are already booked for their stay in April in time for the Holy Week, according to Garcia.

Tan clarifies, however, that Balay Indang does not have plans of expanding further as they just want to share the place. “Balay Indang is not meant to work in a ‘mass production’ mode. We want our guests to be relaxed and feel as if they own the place.”

No fixed menu

Guests staying in Balay Indang are not given a menu during meal time.

Garcia claims that the dishes they prepare are very flexible. “We prepare what we want, but we make sure our guests would like it.”

In some cases, the staff of Balay Indang needs to conduct research on what food to prepare whenever they have foreign visitors.

“We had some Korean guests who stayed here for almost a month. We wanted to make them feel at home by preparing the food they are used to. Marge and I researched on Korean dishes,” says Garcia.

Another reason she cites for not having a fixed menu is for the guests to be not tired of the food Balay Indang offers.

Asked on Balay Indang’s best seller, Garcia says each dish they prepare is considered a best seller. But guests often request for their famous Halo-halo Turon and baby back ribs.

Garcia says they make sure that they prepare balanced meals all the time. Meals are always composed of vegetables, fruits, seafood, chicken and pork. All meals are accompanied with fresh juice.

Guests staying overnight will be served with five meals. On every meal, each dish served is “refillable.” This offer of Balay Indang keeps guests coming back.

“Minsan, guests ang nasuko sa dami ng pagkain,” claims Garcia.

Homey feeling

Guests can feel that they own a rest house for a day as they can use most of the facilities within Balay Indang.

Some of the facilities include a swimming pool, tree house, playground, pavilion, secret garden and billiard hall.

The rooms are named after Biblical characters as it is intended to be a retreat house.

“No double decks are inside the rooms since we want our guests to feel at home and not to be inside a dormitory,” says Garcia.

A room service may not be needed as everything a guest needs is right inside each room—mineral water, toiletries, spare towels and blankets.

The rooms offer a rustic ambiance with the capiz-made windows, wooden sliding doors and high wooden ceilings.

Although the area is already naturally airy, most rooms are air-conditioned for the guests to be fully comfortable.

Balay Indang boasts of its main house that has a spacious living room and dining area where guests can also stay.

The interior is filled with pieces of furniture, projecting a fusion of different cultures—mostly countries from Southeast Asia.

Guests are also allowed to pick the fruits from the fruit-bearing trees scattered within the area, says Garcia.

Balay Indang is a favorite hangout place of popular cyclists, reporters and politicians.

Randy David, Representative Sonny Belmonte and some TV reporters are frequent visitors of Balay Indang, according to Garcia.

The place is ideal for seminars, retreats, team buildings and yoga sessions. Balay Indang has also been a favorite venue for weddings.

“Annually, there are around 8 to 10 weddings held here,” says Tan.

Without having to spend on marketing and advertisement, Balay Indang has gained a positive reputation through word-of-mouth and blogs of their previous guests.

The fee for an overnight stay is pegged at P2,500 which mainly go to the food served. Day tours are also offered.

Balay Indang is located along Mendez Avenue in Indang, Cavite, about 30 kilometers south of Manila. Reservations can be made through the general manager (0917-8665825).

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