March 9, 2012
A retreat in the Cordilleras
Living in Manila definitely has its ups and downs, but most of its dwellers would probably say that, for the most part, there are more "ups". Besides the horrendous traffic, the impossible commute and the unsightly photochemical smog at the end of each day, the urbanized metro sufficiently caters to most demands of everyday life, and because of that, becomes a more convenient place than most rural areas in the country.
But this is precisely why an escape to the provinces, on the other hand, is your best bet when the city life gets too fast-paced and you genuinely feel the need for some rest and relaxation.
At the Northern part of Luzon, around 5,000 feet above sea level, The Manor at Camp John Hay boasts of being a "home away from home" in the chilly city of Baguio.
They have good reason to say so. The hotel is a delightful refuge, as literal as it is in the figurative sense of the word, by being a five-minute drive farther away from the busier streets of Baguio and closer to the pine-covered mountains that surround the 264-hectare Camp John Hay.
I found it both fortunate and unfortunate that the time I spent lodging in The Manor was also the first time I've been to Baguio. Unfortunate on one hand because if you, like me, are all for adventure and practically filled the whole trip with plans of exploring everything there is to be discovered in this cool city, then you're better off booking with another hotel.
The Manor is a place of rest and staying indoors, in my opinion. No matter how pumped up you are to go out there and explore, especially since the hotel also offers shuttle services to any point in the city, the warm and cozy interiors against the freezing outdoors will tempt you to lazily lounge around your suite, then the four-story structure, and eventually, the rest of Camp John Hay.
It's not even the many hotel activities they boast about that tempt you to stay indoors, really. What's more tempting is the breathtaking view, the welcome change of climate and the expansive surroundings that invite you to take a stroll in them first before the getting to know the rest of Baguio. It is a handful, in my experience, but worthwhile nonetheless. A quick Google search will show you the list of amenities and facilities they have, but it's always best to see and experience these kinds of places on your own.
It's also amusing how The Manor almost tries to sneakily disconnect you from the outside world and pry you away from all your electronic gadgets. Wi-fi hotspots are present but only in the common areas; they honestly make it a chore to have one inside your room. It might turn you off initially, but eventually you'll realize how much of a welcome break it is from your being wired and connected all the time.
There are places to see, food to taste, things to experience in The Manor itself that will take your mind away from work and give you time to stop and breathe in clean air for once—something you won't be able to do anymore once you're back in the metro.
Although some might disagree, I find it fortunate that my first memory of Baguio is inseparable from my stay at The Manor. It offered enough fun, rest and relaxation to a point when I felt ready to go back to my real life in Manila, which is, in the end, what taking a break really is all about.
The Manor at Camp John Hay is located at Camp John Hay, Loakan Road, Baguio City. For inquiries, you can call their Baguio hotline at (6374) 424-0931 to 47 and their Manila hotline at (632) 845-0892 or (632) 845-0911. You can also send them a message via email at email@example.com or visit their website at www.campjohnhay.ph.