Manila has its own urban charm and attractions — but if you have lived here long enough, you also can’t deny that sometimes it helps to get away from the city life. For instance, the mind-numbing traffic can drive even the most laid-back person up the wall.
But the good news is – Manila is just a small dot in our archipelago. When the hustle and bustle of city life gets too intense, we can always just pack up and find little corners of zen elsewhere in this diverse country.
For the next long weekend coming up, you may want to consider these holistic retreats and allow yourself to get that much needed – and deserved – respite.
1. Bahay Kalipay Retreat Center
Located amidst a picturesque forest landscape in the serene city of Puerto Princessa is a wellness center that promotes holistic healing through yoga, raw food, workshops and detox programs.
During your stay in Bahay Kalipay, your entire diet will consist of raw food, so nothing is cooked. That doesnt mean that you will only be served fruits and veggies, the Bahay Kalipay team has ingenious ways of serving up a raw food storm in the form of sushi, soups, burgers etc.
Unlike some of the other wellness retreats mentioned on our list, Bahay Kalipay is not a resort. Those who wish to visit this wellness detox destination will live the simple life in nipa huts.
This ‘house of happiness’ functions as a community of healing, and a sanctuary for those seeking the tranquility of a slow life.
“The people who work and live here have a real lightness to them that’s different from just being relaxed – they feel… unburdened, free. ” – Dindin Reyes, yoga instructor
Source: Wholeness Center Philippines website
One of their trademark programs is called Deep Nature Cleanse, where guests are invited to spend seven quiet days to immerse themselves in daily yoga classes, fresh and raw food, a “coconut feast”, deep nature body scrub and massage sessions, and a nature trip to Nagtabon beach. If you are looking to bring meaning to your life, you can try their healing workshops like Inner Dance, a “transformative self-awakening process” that uses intuitive healing and other modalities to release trapped emotions that are preventing you from living your life fully and more consciously.
2. The Farm at San Benito
Perhaps one of the country’s best known escape dens, The Farm is a multi-awarded luxury resort located in the rural outskirts of Lipa, Batangas.
A quick Google search will show you a multitude of photos shared by visitors from all over the world, attesting to The Farm’s relaxing atmosphere.
This 49-hectare paradise is home to stunning villas and suites, infinity pools, scenic backdrops, and is a popular spot for ‘spa-cationing’.
“If you’ve ever dreamed of being exquisitely and completely spoiled, The Farm is sure to surpass your every expectation.” – Margarita Medrano-Tupaz
The products used in their spa center are 100% natural, organic, and fresh from their very own coconut and cocoa plantation. They also offer “Integrated Medical Services“, where guests are taken under the care of licensed experts and doctors in perform produces like Colon Hydrotherapy to gently flush toxins out, intravenous vitamin infusions, acupuncture, the Body Salt Bath to relieve the body of muscle pains and anxiety, and a lot more.
3. Kapuluan Vista Resort
Unlike The Farm and Bahay Kalipay, the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud offers a more interactive kind of relaxation, with a location that is tailor-made for adventure seekers, and amenities that are ideal for quality time with loved ones.
If yoga or meditation doesn’t appeal to you (yet), you can find your own version of zen in this beach resort. Dubbed as the “most innovative resort in the North“, you can go surfing, diving, or snorkeling in its pristine beaches. They also offer guides if you want to hike the nearby trails, or explore tourist spots like the Blue Lagoon, Kabigan Falls, and Saguigui Bat Cave.
4. Brahma Kumaris Retreat Center for Spiritual Learning
Brahma Kumaris stems from an 80-year-old religious movement from Sindh, Hyderabad (now in Pakistan). Today, the international organization has over 8,500 centers in 100 countries, one of which is located in Tagaytay.
With the aim of helping individuals “re-discover and strengthen their inherent worth”, they facilitate silent retreats in their modest abode (that means no phones, no scrolling through your Facebook feed or watching random BuzzFeed videos), and introspective workshops for groups, with themes ranging from Unleashing Creative Powers, to Stress Management, Modern Parenting, among others.
They also offer courses on Raja Yoga, an ancient meditation technique that will help you change the way you think about yourself and your life by tapping into the positive qualities latent within you.
5. Nurture Spa Village
Another must-visit in Tagaytay, Nurture is known as the first premiere wellness spa in Tagaytay which promises to pamper you through ‘ecotherapy’ or “healing by and through nature”.
Among their best features are their lush gardens and outdoor facilities, where guests can go glamping (or glamorous camping), build a bon fire, barbecue, and roast marshmallows! At Nurture, you can enjoy the thrill of sleeping outdoors and going camping with friends without the work.
You’ll wake up to a glorious breakfast waiting for you. The best part is you don’t have to worry about those calories as they have a trampoline and a playground where you can channel the inner kid in you.
Nuture offers Filipino-inspired treatements as well. Visitors can choose from either a “hilot” – a 1-hour therapeutic Filipino full body massage or the “Dagdagay” – a 1-hour tribal foot massage using herbal clay and bamboo sticks.
6. Qiwellness Living
Qiwellness Living combines traditional Chinese practices and modern techniques. A quick peek at their website would give you an idea of the kind of service and aesthetic they offer – elegant, assured and sophisticated.
Also located in Tagaytay, overlooking one of the countries’ most-prized gems, Qiwellness will help create a “sensorial journey” for you.
If you aren’t a big fan of massage, their signature massage, Qiharmony, is perfect for you. This massage which mixes reflexology, acupressure, and tui-na techniques, revitalizes your body and spirit all while you’re fully clothed!
Their quest to give you an unforgettable experience doesn’t end in their spa services, they also have a teahouse that offers a distinctive Yin Yang degustation menu, where you will be served nine (yes, nine!) courses.
“Degustation” isn’t a term we always come by in regular restaurants; it’s a term which means “careful, appreciative tasting” of various signature dishes, aiming to hit the senses in the right places through exquisite preparation and presentation.
Aside from being a popular choice for weddings, this little piece of heaven in Tagaytay has served as a sanctuary for students, professionals, families, couples, and individuals in search for inner peace and Divine Providence.
Caleruega was founded by Dominican priests, aptly naming it after the birthplace of their patron St. Dominic de Guzman in Spain. It was perhaps their vision that their retreat house would serve as a place for rebirth for troubled souls who yearn for a cleanse.
Tucked away on top of a hill where the mesmerizing landscape of Mt. Batulao is within view, Caleruega is blessed with abundant space, adorned by comforting pine trees, a koi pond, awe-inspiring works of art, two beautiful chapels, and luscious gardens where you can stroll in complete silence and reflect.