Published in the Life & Travel section of Manila Standard Today
The place was first recommended by a fellow lawyer who spent a few days there with her family. Then, it was again recommended by a fellow blogger who took his family there to celebrate their wedding anniversary and his wife’s birthday. I needed no more prodding after the second recommendation. I made reservations and off I went to Balay Indang with my family.
Balay Indang is located in Indang, Cavite, a short drive from Tagaytay City. From Aguinaldo Highway, turn right to Mendez Road and go straight until you hit the end of the road. Turn right and 3 km. farther, you will see a wooden gate with the number 88 painted on the wall. You have arrived at one of the most relaxing spots imaginable.
My husband and I uttered our first exclamations of awed pleasure upon entering the gate. We were greeted with stretches of greenery and flowers in every color. More exclamations of “Ang ganda! (How beautiful!)” were uttered during the short walk as we moved leisurely over canopies of flowers and vines.
Upon reaching the main house, the first thing we were asked was whether we wanted to have lunch before bringing in our bags. We could only say yes while taking in the aroma of flowers wafting all over the living room.
The place was like Aladdin’s cave minus the dreary darkness. We were in a large, bright, high-ceilinged room where throw pillows are casually arranged on numerous couches and a day-bed with a canopy made from a sheer white fabric. On the floor and tables were ornaments that only a true traveller could have accumulated.
We moved to the large and airy dining room where mirrors of various sizes and designs adorned one wall. One side overlooked an outdoor dining area and, beyond it, a magnificent garden.
The salad was served. My daughters said they had none of the bitterness that characterize commercially sold salad greens. Probably organic, my husband remarked.
Next came a platter of barbecued chicken, bangus belly cooked a la bistek, and a creamy dish of cauliflower florets and ham. We ate contentedly and were told that the pasta would be served soon. There was plain white rice and yellow rice with raisins and crisp pop beans.
My daughter Sam feasted on the cauliflower (her favorite vegetable) and I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to sample it when the staff removed the plate from the table. As I started to protest, she said, “I re-refill po…”
After lunch, we retrieved our bags from the car and we were escorted to our bedroom. A queen-sized bed, a double bed and a single bed were more than sufficient for my husband and I and our two daughters.
The room had a high ceiling and the few pieces of ornaments were just begging to be photographed from various angles. There was an armoire where the linens–towels and spare blankets–were stored. With everything within reach, who needed room service? The bathroom, with all the amenities of any modern bathroom including a water heater, was rustic with cobbled stone flooring. There were spare rolls of toilet paper and the toilet area was separated from the bath by a dressing area.
My husband suggested a hour or so of rest but I said I’d go down for a smoke at the front porch and I did. After one cigarette, I took a walk down the path to the zen gardens. There were hammocks under the trees where one could curl up with a good book and just while the day away.
There was a playground for toddlers. There were water fountains and ponds that one could just stare at and get the feeling that time stood still.
The pool was devoid of swimmers and we had it to ourselves. What a blissful afternoon! We swam, we played, we made fun of each other, we squealed with laughter as we took photos of each other underwater.
When we tired of the water, we walked the few meters to the largest pavilion in the compound to play billiards.
For merienda, we enjoyed the most tender sotanghon ever. A cup of coffee was just the right way to end the afternoon snack. After that, we were off again. This time, armed with our cameras to satisfy a hobby all four of us share–photography. In a place where everything was worth photographing–from each tiny flower to the bushes of soft-stalked lantanas that swayed to the rhythm of the soft breeze to the knick-knacks that could be found in every pavilion–a few hours were not enough. We decided to wake up early the next morning to take more photos.
If we were impressed with lunch, dinner was doubly impressive. We had mushroom soup — not the commercial kind — topped with croutons (I asked for seconds), fresh garden salad, Chinese style fried rice, tender and super moist baby back ribs, the most tender steak I have ever eaten, cabbage omelet and a stir-fried shrimp dish.
We played scrabble after dinner. At 9 p.m., the girls didn’t object to settling in for the night. In a place where there are no TVs or the Internet, early bedtime did sound logical. But owl that I am, I went down again–and outdoors–to take more photos.
We had breakfast at around 7:15 the following morning. By 7:45, we were out in the gardens again.
There is no concierge or reception desk at Balay Indang. Our bill was handed to us when we had our morning snack. PhP 1850.00 per head for an overnight stay might not sound inexpensive. In fact, my husband was not too keen on going to Balay Indang when I told him the rates a week earlier. But after experiencing what Balay Indang had to offer, even he had to concede that it was worth every centavo. The ambience, the cleanliness not just of the bedrooms but of the entire place, the friendly and very efficient staff, the food (effectively eat all you can)…
Balay Indang prefers that its guests make prior reservations. Day trips may also be arranged. You may reach them at 09178374261.