Monday, July 1, 2013

Family fun at Taal Vista Hotel: Day 1

Remember that stormy week a little over a week ago? The week when Typhoons Emong and Fabian had a vacation here in the country? Well, that was the week we had our vacation at Taal Vista Hotel and, boy, was Tagaytay beautiful in stormy weather!

To be honest, I wanted to cancel our trip. I was freaked out by the freaky weather. But in all my years of going to Tagaytay, I've never actually seen the thick fog that it's also known for (the others being the brisk weather and, of course, the volcano), so Vince and I packed our bags and off we went with our baby boys.

The drive was amazing—the cars on SLEX kicked up so much water, each car looked like it was surrounded by its own little cloud. Then the trees and grass were dancing wildly in the wind. Of course, I was a bit nervous, too, but Vince is an excellent driver so even though the road and weather were very wet, we were very safe!

Taal Vista Hotel at last! We got there just in time for lunch. Vito needed to be refreshed. Iñigo, always hungry, needed to be fed. But the boys made sure to charm all the ladies of Taal Vista first. Good boys!

The hotel has a modest lunch buffet at the Café on the Ridge but the Filipino and Continental dishes are incredible. There's a salad bar, a two-soup station, two kinds of rice and pasta, about half a dozen meat dishes, and a small table for the desserts. I actually like that there are just a few dishes. I always get overwhelmed with huge buffets and I don't like that I have to walk half a kilometer for my food. So a carefully selected spread of delicious dishes like the buffet at Café on the Ridge is wonderful.

Buffet rates are also affordable. Since we were there on a weekday, it was just around P800 a person. So inexpensive for such good food and great service! (For complete dining rates, click here.)

We were joined at our table by Celine Arenillo, the super friendly and sweet Marketing Communications Manager of the hotel, and Chef Edwin Santos. Chef Edwin just started at Taal Vista, having just ended long years as the chef of Shangri-la at the Maldives. He told us he has three kids and that it was the third kid that forced him to go abroad because expenses skyrocketed when your kids go from two to three. So we're rethinking our plan to have another kid haha!

This is me listening to Chef Edwin talk about the cost of raising three kids. You can see how worried I look haha. You can also see that this is how I look on regular days—hair unbrushed and no makeup whatsoever. So if anyone ever tells you I'm a glam supermom, I'm not!

Anyway, Chef Edwin prepared special dishes for us that weren't served at the buffet. This is Siniguelas Gelato with Baklang Maruya. The ice cream was an interesting experience—it really tasted like siniguelas! The crispy banana fritter was yummy. I really liked the baklang banana, a mix of saba and latondan, which is only available in Tagaytay. (It's bakla kasi "matigas sa labas, malambot sa loob.") Chef Edwin said that everything on the menu is locally sourced so that the food is super fresh. I guess that's why it's also affordable.

After our big lunch, off we went to our room at the Lake Wing where we were greeted by a fruit platter and a welcome note (Thanks, August!). We had booked a stay at Taal Vista because of a Deal Grocer voucher that was about to expire. I've always wanted to stay at Taal Vista—it's the oldest and biggest hotel in Tagaytay! I love history! Plus, it has the best view of the volcano and the lake. But I don't know why I never booked a stay there in all the years we've gone to Tagaytay. So when Deal Grocer offered a deal, I was so happy!

I was even happier when last month, my dear old friend Ro Manalo invited me and my boys to stay at Taal Vista. Ro is the Director for Marketing Communications of all of SM's hotels. Yes, I did not know that Taal Vista was acquired by SM. So I told Ro, "Yes!!!" and that's why we ended up having a longer vacation than intended!

Anyway, our Lake Wing had this view. As you can see, the fog was rolling in super thick and so we didn't have a view. We weren't disappointed. We've seen the volcano many times before but the fog, the fog was an awesome sight itself. A lot mysterious, a little bit scary. Did anyone here watch John Carpenter's The Fog? Gave me nightmares for years. So Tagaytay's fog gave me delicious shivers!

My boys! Love them to bits! This is our Premier Room. It's a big room! Gotta love old hotels! It has a balcony. It's bright. It has a queen bed and a single bed. Really very comfortable beds, too. Make sure to check the closet for extra pillows.

There's a big TV, a long desk, a coffee and tea service, a hairdryer, a mini fridge, a safe... standard features of a 5-star hotel.

The bathroom is huge. I love big bathrooms! That's the large sink with its accompanying large mirror. The toilet is to your left, the shower is to your right. The water is strong and hot. Thank the heavens! I can't stand hotels without hot water!

Standard signature toiletries. Unremarkable, though, so bring your own. Oh, one thing that surprised me about the bathrooms is there is no door. Read that again. No door. There are smoked glass doors that separate the toilet and the shower but no bathroom door. So if you like to do your business in private, well... No door!

My sons loved that there was no door, though. You see, whenever I'm in the bathroom, they don't like it, so they're always knocking or barging in (if I forgot to lock the door). So you can bet they were absolutely delighted they could still be with me when we were on vacay! Silly kids!

By early evening, the fog lifted for a few minutes to unveil the volcano. Such a tease!

We had dinner in our room. The drive tired us out and the weather was chilly so we got lazy to go to the restaurant. We all just vegged out in front of the TV and ordered in. The food was good but the beds were more inviting so we turned out the lights and soon dozed off.

Part 2 coming up next! I'm going to do a giveaway so make sure you follow our Taal Vista adventure!

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  1. Siniguelas is one of my most favorite fruits so I'd really love to try that ice cream. And yes, BAKLANG maruya --- cool! ;)

    Your baby boys are the cutest. Love Iñigo's soulful eyes. ♥

  2. Thanks for this, Frances! :) Loved spending time with you and your beautiful family (although super bitin!).

    Our weekday lunch buffet is a good deal talaga, especially now that we're offering a PhP200 discount for it (weekdays only) so it's down to PhP588 per person until the end of July.

    Oh and by the way, your room was a Premier, not a Deluxe. The Premier Rooms are the ones with a balcony with the best view of the lake. :)

  3. We're spending my dad's 65th birthday there! Got to stay at Taal Vista when I represented my boss for an event. Brought the kids who enjoyed running up and down the grassy area outside the resto. Room service is the best (especially with kids!! heehee)

  4. Siniguelas ice cream - now that's really something and a must-try! :D Would love to get a good deal at Taal Vista, too. And by the way, pretty mom ka pa rin sans makeup (walang bola!). :D

  5. Nice post. I was fortunate to have a family that loved to vacation together - well at smallest until my male sibling and I strike our teen years and it wasn't "cool" to spend time with the family.

  6. From the looks of it, I can see how beautiful and relaxing this place is. I had the same experience at our Vanuatu accommodation last year. The only difference is that this one has a modern ambiance while Vanuatu has that exotic look.

  7. Your hubby wears his watch on his right wrist, too! (I know, of all the things to notice.) I knew it wasn't just me!

    Love the Tagaytay fog, too! We once drove through thick, thick fog coming up from Midlands. It was a bit scary but I secretly loved it!

    1. So I guess I'm still weird for being a righty who wears her watch on her right wrist? Oh, man!!

    2. You're not weird! We all have our own little quirks. I used to wear my watch OUTSIDE my sleeve (in another life when I used to wear long-sleeved shirts). But if I did see your watch on your right wrist, I'll automatically assume you're a lefty! You just reminded me to never judge a book by its cover! =)

  8. Lovely pics Ms. Can't wait for our own staycation too at Taal Vista on thursday with my boys and 5 month old baby =) I hope they'll offer us the siniguelas ice cream also hahaha! (wishful thinking!) oh well, I hope we'll have a blast din. Your boys are super cuties. will wait for your next post... =)

  9. Haha! My day 1 post looks EXACTLY like yours, Frances! LOL.
    Can't wait to book another stay at Taal Vista. We had a gorgeous time last weekend!

  10. Your vacay was so fun Frances! :) I can't wait for Day 2! Oh, how I miss Taal Vista, I was always there during Holy Week when I was in college! (my Tita and Tito always brought me along, lucky me!) I wish we could go there soon (me and my little family) :D

  11. Ooooh I love love love Taal Vista! Love the service, the rooms, the food, EVERYTHING!


This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!