Friday, March 30, 2007

a nearby escape

for susie's birthday, i decided to take him someplace we've never been to before. i made the necessary preparations about a month ahead, but i was really afraid that something would go wrong.

thankfully, things went off without a hitch. :)

so let me tackle this one by one.

booking. probably the most painful of the entire process. though the website details the process quite well, there were some problems. they said that once you fax your deposit slip to their office, you'd be contacted, and your reservation will be confirmed. once i faxed the receipt, i didn't get any confirmation, even though i provided all the details that they needed. i had to text them to get a confirmation.

also, it would have helped if they mentioned that you can only fax your deposit slips during certain times of the day. it's not wonderful to hear a constant ringing sound on the other end of the line after a harrowing day at the bank.

but, at the end of the day, we got the room we wanted, so i guess that ended well. let's move on.

directions. as printed on their website, these are the directions to the place:
1. Take the South Superhighway. Exit at Lucena/Batangas Exit.
--> No problem finding this one. Some brochures of Viaje del Sol and Casa San Pablo might say it's Exit 50A, but it's really just exit 50.

2. Drive straight down the highway towards Batangas, passed the Makiling Conference Center, St James Academy and the Yakult factory (all on your right side). Upon reaching the Batangas junction, turn left, passing Junction Inn and the Laurel statue, towards Sto. Tomas.
--> landmarks mentioned are not in order. this might just be the o.c. in me, but i think it's more helpful if you write it down in order. it should be: st. james academy, makiling conference center, then yakult factory.
--> it might just be my frustration, but i did not see the laurel statue.
--> and finally, you don't exactly TURN left. there's a fork in the road, and you follow the road to the left. (yes, i believe there's a difference.)

3. Drive passed Jollibee, Rose & Grace Bulaluhan and the Pamilihang Bayan. After a few meters, you will reach the Batangas intersection, with an Isuzu Truck showroom across. Turn left toward YKK factory.
--> landmarks should be in this order: rose & grace bulaluhan, jollibee, then pamilihang bayan.
--> the ykk factory has no huge, visible sign. if you're not from there, you may not know where it is. but you'll figure it out.

4. Drive straight towards Alaminos. At the Alaminos boundary, follow the sharp curve of the road to the right and drive passed the Alaminos proper.
--> whatever you do, do NOT turn into that small road that says "san pablo city." that's not where you're headed.

5. After Alaminos, drive straight down the highway toward San Pablo City.
--> this one's pretty easy.

6. You will see a Caltex station to the left, right before a fork in the highway. The right side of the fork heads straight to Lucena, the left leads to San Pablo city. Take the left road, this is Colago Ave.
--> this one's pretty clear, too.

7. Drive down this street to Barrio San Roque. Watch for the PT&T office and the Community Hospital on your left. You will notice a welcome arch, immediately after this, to the right, is Kay Inay Resort. Turn into the resort gate, Casa San Pablo is inside.
--> and by "immediately," they do mean immediately. just drive slowly when you're close to the arch.

staff and service. no complaints here. they're part of the reason why i can erase the nightmare of the booking process from memory. from the guard that welcomed us at the gate to the all-around guy that hunted down delicious beer for us, everybody's just so friendly and courteous. eighteen thumbs up.

cleanliness. oh, the place is quite well-kept. even though the rooms are filled with collectibles and antiques, everything's free of dust and fully functional.

ambience. being around such a quaint environment does one a lot of good. the furniture, the accents, the rooms all merit closer inspection. you start to wonder who used to sit on the chair your sitting on, how that lamp was used, and what that p.m. carved on the table stands for.

as for the outdoor area, you're given a huge expanse of grass to run around in, hammocks to lie in, plenty of nooks to curl up and read a book in. the garden is filled with trees, the air is pretty clean, and though the highway is a short walk away, you only hear a faint buzz that reminds you of the chaotic world outside.

rooms. one of the things that makes casa san pablo stand out is the fact that no two rooms are the same. each room was painstakingly designed by boots alcantara himself (the owner), and his love for antiques and collectibles is evident in every room. to see the other rooms, you can check this out. we got to see some of the rooms after checking out. we asked mylene to give us a tour, and she gladly obliged.

food. what i love about this place is that the price you pay includes overnight accommodations and three buffet meals. as susie and i are very enthusiastic about food, this is definitely good news. i was a bit disappointed with lunch (rice, chicken kare-kare, liempo, and salad that has eggplants and onions), as nothing on my plate got me shovelling food down my throat.

dinner was a different story. they served pinaputok na tilapia and pork sinigang. i downed the sinigang right away, and concentrated on the tilapia. as mentioned, susie and i managed to go through three whole tilapias. do i still need to say that it was incredibly good?

we had binalot na kanin with chicken adobo, scrambled eggs with tomato, dilis, and native hot chocolate with pinipig. such a nice way to start the day. if only someone would cook breakfast this bongga everyday, i'd probably be up early all the time.

so, despite the booking glitch and the confusion with the directions, the experience was quite wonderful. how often can you find a getaway that's so close, yet gives you the feeling of being away from it all?

contact details:
casa san pablo
san pablo city, laguna
tel. no.: 0917-8126687 (boots alcantara)

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