Jun 18, 2012

Holy Week and Club Balai Isabel

           I don't usually go out of town during holy week, trying to avoid the volume of people all eager to leave the metropolis. But for some personal reason, I agreed on the invitation and its been a decade since the last time I'm some place nice on a holy week, relaxing and reflecting.

We booked our 3 days holy week stay at Club Balai Isabel through agoda.com which is very convenient and arrange our trip so as to accommodate our yearly holy week practice of  Visita Iglesia.  Thanks to Tin for handling all the details as everything went through as planned. We started Holy Thursday before the break of dawn and our Visita Iglesia kicked off by 5am at Landayan Church in San Pedro, Laguna then to Sto Rosario Church in Pacita Complex, to San Isidro Labrador Church in Binan, had our breakfast at the Binan market then proceeded to Sta Rosa de Lima Church in Sta Rosa. Afterwards we headed to Tagaytay for our succeeding church visits, Lourdes Church, Pink Sisters and Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church to finally capped off our Visita Iglesia. That's 7 Churches and 14 stations of the cross. Thank God we started early coz by noon traffic in Tagaytay was already getting crazy but good for us, we were already heading the opposite direction going Talisay via the steep and zigzag Ligaya drive.We reached Club Balai Isabel in no time without any hassle but before we enter the premises, we had our lunch just beside the entrance of Club Balai at Allano's Grill. Food is good but it took forever for the food to arrive. We cant fault them though, there were only two people manning the place and that includes the chef  and there are more or less 20 people waiting to be fed.

Club Balai Isabel  is a huge resort with different types of accommodations to suit your needs and before getting inside, the guard at the entrance would check your booking status and verify with the front office before they let your vehicle in. Our booked accommodation was a lakeside suite room but we were upgraded to a lakefront suite, which was just great.

Regular capacity is 2pax and maximum capacity is 4 with an add on of 1,500 pesos per additional head with buffet breakfast included. What's even nicer about this room is its facing the beautiful view of Taal Lake. It has a small kitchen but all hotel rooms does not allow cooking. You can do cooking when you book for Villas instead. We rested for a bit, washed up and took naps and then suddenly the toilet bowl started acting weird, it wont flush. We called maintenance to fix it while we went out to have dinner and then came back only to find out our CR is getting worst .... yes its disgusting and they cant fix it! We demanded a transfer to a different room and they have no choice but obliged. The only available rooms were the more expensive suites in the Malvar building. We cant helped but be awed with our new room, that little bumped a while ago proved to be a blessing, from our original booked accommodation of 6k a night, we are here now enjoying an 11k worth of daily stay. God is great!

photo taken by Caezar S.
This was the view from our balcony that night while we were having some drinks and chatting the night away, just lovely!

panoramic shot using my HTC Sensation XE phone

.... and its even more lovely when morning broke out !!!

Our Malvar 401 room has a loft with 2 queen size beds and a bed with a pullout on the main level. A maximum of 6 pax can occupy this room. One large balcony facing Taal lake and a regular sized balcony on the side.

3 days is not enough to fully appreciate the place, it's quite huge. The only activity I had the chance of doing was swimming in the 2 pools and of course eating and sleeping. There are actually 3 pools within the place but the other one is quite crowded due to the fact that the main dining area where buffet eating were being held is housed in there.
Terraza Cafe / Pool
Here's where we had our breakfast buffet. If you're fond of breakfast, their menu would definitely thrill you, american, pinoy, chinese ... you'll find it there. We stuffed ourselves with breakfast so that by lunch we're still full. We also had our lunch here but choose to go ala carte. For dinner, we tried their buffet for 450 per pax, well, not bad for that price. On the other nights, we just went outside and discovered some hole in the wall place that's worth our effort, forgot to take note of the name though.
Kumintang Pool
Kumintang pool is the largest among the 3 pools and they are open till midnight, the 2 pools close a little earlier. I couldn't resist the chance to go night swimming, it was necessary to clear my mind and  that night was just perfect, the moon peeking, the lights twinkling and the atmosphere was very inviting. I was ready to go by myself until I was able to entice one friend to join me. The right swimming attire is a must though, no shorts and no tshirts allowed and a number of lifeguards were manning the area checking every nook and cranny and of course assuring the safety of their guests, which was just what they need to do.
night swimming (HTC phone shot)
I would have enjoyed another night and do some water activities or just simply hire a bike and go around, stay on one corner while reading a book and wait for the sun to set, that truly would have made this vacation perfect. Well, next time maybe, when time is fully in my hands and I can just be myself and no one has the power to ruin it, untill then this view below will forever be etched on my mind ;)

shots using HTC Sensation XE

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