The way to Nasugbu, Batangas feels like one big adventure. If you're not taking a ferry from SM Mall of Asia, then you have a relaxing road trip ahead of you, one that will take you through Cavitex in a zippy, albeit leisurely fashion which is a mere 73 kilometers from Manila (it's almost twice that distance if you go the Tagaytay route). You ply through the industrial areas of Ternate (Cavite), zoom through Kaybiang Tunnel, bask at the awe-inspiring Hamilo Coast via the zigzagging mountain of Nasugbu (Batangas), and in less than 2 hours, you're in this exclusive resort community developed by Henry Sy of SM Malls.
The compound is a controlled environment. You get to embrace serenity. In its entirety, Pico de Loro has Pico Sands Hotel, condominium units for members, Pico de Loro Beach, the Club House's swimming pool, the infinity pool by the beach; basketball, badminton and squash courts; playpen for children; 4 well appointed dining halls and restaurants and several bars. Nope, you won't feel the vibrant mercantile atmosphere of Sy's gigantic malls. Leave the party ambiance in the urban jungle. This is a place to kickback, relax, speak calmly, renew energy and wallow in your authentic smiles.
The interiors were modern and tasteful, if a tad basic, but the beds were comfortable and big. Our room had a balcony that could only get better if we had a view of the lagoon in the center of the development, but what we had was a view of the mountains instead. It wasn't bad. If you booked via Agoda, which seems cheaper (think P2,000 to P3,000 cheaper) than when you're booking elsewhere, a room facing the lagoon is P1,000+ more expensive than the mountain-view rooms. Yes, you get what you pay for.
The 4th floor hallways are painted in palettes of sandy cream-and-seashell white hues they look so "clean". The minimalist veneer in fact worked so well, your migraine might as well be halfway through convalescence. Once I started navigating around, I saw the series of swimming pools that adorn the Club House veranda: an adult pool beside the serene lagoon; a children's pool with squirting waters; At night, these pools acquire colors imbuing them a sense of drama. Lifeguards man the area until sun down. You may hike your way to the beach (a 10-20 minute eastward walk depending on your speed). But free tram rides could be had if you wait in one of their several stops. Just ask the guard and they'll radio your vehicle for you.
|The big picture. this photo only courtesy of their website.|
Lunch and supper are on the pricey side, but what do you expect? Instead of dining a la carte, we opted for buffet because their non-buffet spread seems limited for that sum of money, you might as well fork out a bit more.
If you want to eat inside your room, you'd have to order and pick them up yourself. Here are the menu dishes and their respective prices: cream of broccoli (P180), caesar's salad (P285), cape cod salad (P360); fettuccine bolognese al ragu (P330), spaghetti carbonara (P395); pico club sandwich (P310), tuna melt (P245), hungarian sausage (320); pico burger with cheese (P295), margherita pizza (P345), tuscano pizza (P450), shrimp scampi (P450); Rice meals - pork adobo rice (P220), mongolian barbeque fried chicken (P330), yang chow fried rice with chinese chorizo; fresh fruit dessert (P170), dulce de leche cheesecake (P220); kid's choice includes three - spaghetti bolognese, fried chicken with rice or fries, fish nuggets with rice or fries (P260 and above). That's what's available (at the time of writing) so don't look for more. And I repeat, don't expect people delivering your order to you. You have to pick your order at the restaurant.
Hamilo Coast has 31 kilometers of coastline and 13 exclusive coves that are gradually being developed into prime properties. In line with these developments, areas have been renamed to suit the modern ambiance. Mount Palay Palay for example becomes Mt. Pico de Loro. Barangay Papaya is lost in the neological but otherwise spiffy term Hamilo Coast. In a few years' time, these coasts would be offering more eye-popping leisure centers for the well heeled.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Just to save a few bucks, you can bring some drinks with you; some chips and those comfort food with you. There supposedly is a convenience store here, Grab and Go, but I didn't see it. There's also a Kultura Butik, your proverbial souvenir shop. There are complimentary water bottles in your room but that's about it.
I've read about some guests who complained about how boring it gets, but as I've mentioned earlier, Pico isn't the party scene. If you're looking for urban vibe, why go to the coast? More importantly, why leave cosmopolitan Manila if throbbing music and dance clubs are what you're after? You've been misinformed about your destination, honey.
ACTIVITIES AND DINING
There are plenty of activities to enjoy - swim at the pool or at the beach, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, wind surfing, cove tours and island hopping; basketball, tennis, badminton, squash, bowling, children's playgrounds, billiards, game room, karaoke rooms, gym and dance studios, library. Dine at any of the following - Lagoa, B&B, Lanai Bar, Pool Bar, Reef Bar, Sun Coral Cafe, Arribada Lounge and Brisa Bar.There's the Rain Spa at the Sands Hotel as well as outdoor massage huts. We had our breakfast buffet at the Baia Ballroom because the other restaurants were teeming with people. The ballroom was of course spacious and food choices were abundant.
I will be featuring the other facets of Pico de Loro in succeeding posts - the beach and the glass chapel by the hill so check them out. It isn't hard to get drawn to this place. It isn't your cheap beach side detour, but I am sure the photos speak for themselves. Sometimes, beauty and convenience can be lavish and that's alright.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|Read a book while submerged in pool water?|
|Adult pool of the Club House.|
|Children's pool. The men in red uniforms are the lifeguards.|
|Boundary between the adult and children's pool.|
|Swimming pool facing the pond enclosed by the condo units.|
|Mt. Palay Palay (aka Mt. Pico de Loro) surrounding the coves.|
|Quiet pathways to the beach and back.|
|Room at the 4th has fast wifi, LCD cable TV, ref, split-type AC, a balcony and a bathroom (no bathtubs).|
|The adjoining room with single bed. This is one of the hotel's 154 rooms spread on 7 floors.|
|The view from my balcony which is really the entrance to Pico Sands Hotel.|
|4th floor hallway.|
|Pico Sands Hotel's lobby facing the pond.|
|The huge painting at the hotel lobby.|
|Receiving counter at the Club House.|
|Club House facing the swimming pool.|
Pico de Loro Beach and Chapel in the next post. For more information, please DO NOT inquire here. Call 632-464-7888 or 63-917-809-1289. Or visit their website at http://www.picodelorocove.com/
The ferry ride from Mall of Asia will set you back by P500 per person for members and P600 for non-members and will take you 1.5 hours to get there.
Directions to Pico de Loro - http://www.picodelorocove.com/getting-there/car
Kaybiang Tunnel on your way to Pico de Loro from Ternate Cavite - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2014/04/kaybiang-tunnel-philippines-longest.html
|Play pen for your tots.|
Pico de Loro Beach and its Underwhelming Dining Experience - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2014/04/pico-de-loro-beach-and-its.html
Glass Chapel by the Hill in Pico de Loro - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2014/04/pico-de-loro-glass-chapel-by-hill-and.html