Friday, March 7, 2014

Weekend Getaway at Tagaytay Highlands

Entering the Highlands
A road trip is for those who appreciate the simple things in life – time with family and friends, panorama, encounters with different culture of people. One Saturday of April, 2012, I, together with my wife and daughter, traveled to Tagaytay Highlands. Knowing it to be an exclusive enclave, we chanced to go there because we were invited to a birthday of my wife’s cousin. If you want to see for yourself what the privilege members can do, hitch a ride or be sponsored with one of the executive members of the club and you’ll see what the buzz is all about.

Tagaytay is known for its clean air or cool weather. The breezy city 55 km. south of Manila, sits on dramatic 600-metre-ridge 2,500 feet above sea level overlooking Lake Taal and the volcano. The ridge is actually a volcano within a volcano: the ridge on which the city stands is the rim of a giant caldera that exploded centuries ago, forming the lake below, which encloses Taal, an active volcano.

In Tagaytay, the gourmet food or the simple all-time “bulalo” is enticing and the fried “tawilis” that make you forget your diet. Also, the place is noted for fresh fruits and vegetables sold by the roadside farmers and the several dozen churches, chapels and retreat houses that allow you to have a better communication with God. This is of course aside from the magnificent view of one of the world’s smallest volcanoes that makes every visitor to stop and look at.

We left the house in Fairview, Quezon City at about 9 in the morning using a 2011 Hyundai Accent. Passing through J.P. Rizal (Marikina), C-5, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exiting at Sta. Rosa Toll Exit of the SLEX going up to Tagaytay, we reached Sta. Rosa at about 11 in the morning. Not so much traffic, the good roads allow us to cover a two-hour comfortable ride at 60-80 speed from north of Manila to the City of Sta. Rosa. The usual Sta. Rosa exit is always heavy with traffic, and to satisfy the cravings for food, we took some time at Paseo de Sta. Rosa mall to buy some foods, had coffee at Starbucks and bought a cake for the birthday celebrant.

You know you are in Tagaytay the moment you see those ubiquitous hawkers along the road selling exotic fruits, buko pie and orchids and ornamentals. This mountain retreat has become more accessible to many urban dwellers who wish to drive their own vehicles to Tagaytay. If you have a private vehicle, the easiest way is via SLEX exiting either in Carmona, Mamplasan, or Sta. Rosa. If you wish to take a shorter route, the straight line from Manila is the Aguinaldo Highway via Coastal Road. However, be forewarned that you will be passing through the province with the most number of malls that it takes at least two hours to get to Tagaytay, particularly on weekends. For those who wish to use the public transport, there are buses in Plaza Lawton, Baclaran, Pasay-EDSA or Vito Cruz that go straight to Tagaytay via Coastal Road and Aguinaldo Highway.

Upon reaching the Tagaytay rotunda at the Sta. Rosa/Silang highway, we turned left and we arrived Tagaytay Highlands before 1 in the afternoon, after passing Picnic Grove, Development Academy of the Philippines, Crosswinds Suites and other known establishments along the Tagaytay-Calamba Road. The bell rings a name when you heard of Tagaytay Highlands. Its where leisure meets luxury. Nestled along the highest elevation of temperate Tagaytay lies a premiere leisure destination that speaks of exclusivity and luxury. Where stunning nature views and a breezy, cool climate come together to redefine relaxation. Where golf and country clubs, a selection of restaurants, and a variety of premium residential communities reshape your idea of a weekend getaway. At Tagaytay Highlands, life rises to a whole new level.

It was not a planned weekend getaway, if not for the birthday of wife’s cousin. She celebrated at the Midlands, particularly in the Horizon condo, one of the premium residential communities of the Highlands. The Midlands is made up of a variety of themed communities inspired by architecture and culture from different countries. The Horizon, within the Midlands, is a minimalist condominium community which brings golfers closer to the sport they love and proximity to the Tagaytay Midlands Golf Club.
Adjoining the Golf Clubhouse

Tagaytay Highlands has two exclusive golf clubs – The Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club and the Tagaytay Midlands Golf Club. Both clubs boast of 18-hole championship golf. Aside from these facilities, the Highlands has varied amenities, such as sport center, spa, conference center, inns, chapel, cinema, amphitheater, animal farm, cable car, business center, helipads, beauty salons, biking course, equestrian park, etc . You name it they have it.

In the Highlands, the lure of exotic and sumptuous food fare is relentless. With over 20 exquisite restaurants, it is impossible not to give in. You can taste a bit of almost everything in the world with its wide array of international cuisine that will suit the cravings of any discriminating palate. The Tagaytay Highlands Homes can be divided into three premier residential homes – the Highlands, Midlands and the Greenlands. Each community has its own distinctive class by itself.

In the afternoon, what made the visit exciting was the view of the highlands via the cable car. It is as if we visited the whole place in a 20-minute ride of the cable car, viewing the great part of the highland golf course, the stunning view of the cool, unpolluted atmosphere of Tagaytay’s lush mountains and the varied multi-tiered terraced condominium and log cabins.

As the dusk came, we prepared to say goodbye to this majestic place by taking pictures of the great view of the Taal Lake and volcano. The 12- hour weekend getaway was a simple way of bonding with family, relieving stress of the week’s hard work, and enjoying nature at a small cost. We arrived home at about 9 in the evening.

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