For the same reason you can't (and shouldn't) have a date at home, it's also quite impossible to have a vacation while at home, for obvious reasons.
Looking out the window into the sky to breathe in some fresh air will reveal the cracks in the ceiling that badly need repair, and the thought of it will nag at you. Rummaging through your pantry to whip up a fancy snack is like a reminder that you need to buy groceries because you've run out of toyo and suka (you also have to make your snack yourself, see). And going out for a dip in the pool is, well, not everybody has a pool at home. Realistically, if you want to relax — and if money were no object— your house is the last place you want to be in.
As for us, since we live in the South, one of our frequent haunts, when we want to go out a quick trip, is the town of Tagaytay in Cavite for its cool climate and piping hot bulalo. However, due to its steadily increasing popularity over the last few years as a weekend destination to families and balikbayans, travel time which used to be mere one-and-a-half hours could now extend for up to three or four hours one way.
Thankfully, there's another development nearby that's more motorist-friendly. Driving to Nuvali in Laguna only took us about 30 minutes—near enough to drive to, but far enough to escape the busy-ness of city life.
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The first place we checked out was Seda Hotel, and it's everything you would expect of an Ayala property: warm, wide spaces, relaxing neutral tones, and a structure that blends and works beautifully with nature. It felt like a weekend home combined with the luxuries of a 4-star hotel.
It was difficult not to fall in love with the room overlooking the lake. Sure, it came with an oversized bed with soft pillows and linen, bedside reading lamps, a spotless bathroom, and all the creature comforts one could ask for, but the vast, green space outside our window calms like no other.
Exploring the property further revealed a playroom where kids can keep busy with toys and activities and animated videos, and a game room (yes, dads can spend hours here playing the PS4 and computer games) with a fantastic view of the lake. Of course, a dip in the infinity pool is always a good idea.
One could also experience buhay probinsya here without having to go too far. We drove a few blocks to visit Greens and Patches, a three-hectare tree nursery that houses hundreds of plant varieties, and we got to harvest fresh produce ourselves. There were eggplants, okra, upo, bell peppers, lettuce, and saging na saba for picking, and, while not all were in season, they also have all the vegetables in the song "Bahay Kubo." We also got potted plants like pandan and herbs like tarragon and sweet basil.
By the pond nearby, and with the help of the Greens & Patches staff, the kids caught a live tilapia. It was such an exhilarating experience for the little ones that they screamed in delight as the fish tried to wiggle its way out of the hook!
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At Solenad, we watched as the koi fish scrambled for food as we fed them (P15/pack), creating a beautiful splash of colors on the water. We rode the water taxi, a 10-minute trip around Nuvali that helps one appreciate the beauty of nature while traversing the lake. For P30 per person, it's quite an enjoyable outing, especially for kids.
Had there been more time, we would have wanted to visit the Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary too, or watch wakeboarders at Republic Wakepark, or try the bike tracks just nearby.
Just yesterday, November 11, Nuvali also opened its Magical Field of Lights at The Fields in time for the Christmas season. The show which runs from November 11, 2017 to January 7, 2018 (every 30 minutes from 6 to 10 pm) features 5,000 pieces of tulip light buds and laser lights that change color with the music, a wonderful spectacle from the same team behind Ayala Triangle Garden's Festival of Lights in Makati.
Alas, the weekend's over, and it's time to say goodbye to the hospitable hotel staff. But its true what they say—a vacation refreshes the soul and gives one a renewed perspective, and this visit at Nuvali was certainly one for the books.
To get to Nuvali, one can take any of the five South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) exits at Mamplasan, Sta. Rosa, Eton-Greenfield, Silangan, and Canlubang. Nuvali is also easily accessible via public vehicles and P2P from major centers like Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Balibago.