Tagaytay City has always been a sentimental favorite for short weekend jaunts for many Metro Manilans.
Amid the light and cool mountain weather, it offers so many pleasures that appeal to every type of bakasyonista or road trip warrior.
Tagaytay has a wide variety of hotels and inns to fit every budget, restaurants that appeal to even the snootiest of palates, rest and recreation with its indulgent spas and casinoâ€¦I sometimes wonder if anyone actually even remembers that the cityâ€™s main appeal is actually the Taal Volcano. On a clear day, the volcano and its surrounding lake is just breathtaking to behold, especially now that there are less fish cages in the water.
When my friends and I go to Tagaytay, itâ€™s usually to pay a visit to the Pink Sisters Convent to petition the cloistered nuns to give strength to our own special-intention prayers. Then weâ€™re off to Ilog Maria in Silang, Cavite to load up on our propolis-based soaps, throat sprays, and lately in my case, muscle liniment to soothe my aching left shoulder.
We head on to other pasalubong stores like Amiraâ€™s to stock up on foodie treats to take home, Gourmetâ€™s CafĂ© for the coffee beans, lettuce, and salad dressings, the freshly-baked raisin bread and pot pies at Bag of Beans, quesong puti and carabaoâ€™s milk from Mr. Mooâ€™s, to name a few. Lunch is usually at one of crispy tawilis- and sinigang maliputo-serving restaurants along the ridge, or some hidden haven of culinary genius weâ€™ve recently heard of.
In our latest trip to Tagaytay, we stayed at the luxurious but rustic-themed Discovery Country Suites. With only seven suites, guests are guaranteed rest and privacy, as well as the special care and attention that Discoveryâ€™s staff at all its properties are known to provideâ€”with their right hand on their heart, and a response of â€śCertainlyâ€ť to each request.
I loved our suite, the Nantucket, which was designed with an American country home in mind. It has light cool blue walls and hard wood floors, with flowers as accent pieces in vases sitting on sturdy tables, and in picture frames on the walls.
At 61 square meters, it is the second largest on the property, with large pictureÂ windows that looked out to Jacuzzi on the grounds, as well as the Taal Volcano vista. Outside the windows was a small balcony to soak in the view while having oneâ€™s morning coffee and paper.
As is the usual in any Discovery property, itâ€™s the little touches that count; the details that almost always tailor oneâ€™s stay to perfection. I just adored our plump goose down pillows of varying degrees of softness, on the firm but restful mattress, which got me sleeping the minute my back touched the bed. There were also fresh-baked cookies beside our coffee maker, patiently offering themselves up for our midnight munchies. Wi-Fi was also available in the dining room as well as in our suite, which enabled me to keep in touch with the outside world while in our semi-secluded getaway.
Aside from the tranquil and well-appointed suites, one of the best draws ofÂ this excellent boutique hotel is Restaurant Verbena, which remains as my favorite restaurant on the ridge. It serves fresh, contemporary country cuisine created with passion and heart by Chef David Pardo de Ayala, former executive chef, now resident manager of Discovery Suites, Pasig City.
On the evening of our arrival after a rather hellish three-hour trip from Manila (a story one for the books!), we were welcomed to a sumptuous dinner divinely executed by the restaurantâ€™s outstanding culinary team, after we partook of the complimentary wines, cheese, and scrumptious hors dâ€™oeuvres usually served during cocktail hour.
After a rather soothing sleep, the next morning we had a superb breakfast, designed just for us, based on our instructions. And as I said, with every request which would probably tax even the most patient of service staff, we were handed everything with a winning smile, and tip-top efficient service from our server.
So itâ€™s no surprise that Restaurant Verbenaâ€™s peerless reputation as a culinary retreat on the ridge has been amply rewarded with a citation as one of the Top 5 Restaurants in the Philippines by the annual dining bible, the Miele Guide.
At present, Discovery Country Suites is offering a â€śVerbena Interludeâ€ť package at P8,500++ which includes an overnight stay at either the south-of-France-inspired Saint Tropez suite, or the Spanish-themed Andalucia suite. Guests are treated to a wine and cheese sampler during cocktail hour from 5 to 6 pm, and a choice fromÂ three gourmet set menus prepared by the restaurantâ€™s talented culinary team that can be availed of either at lunch or dinner.
Whether itâ€™s a short pause from the hassles of daily living you are looking for, or a quick break to bond with family or friends, this hotel on the ridge is just the perfect place to do it.