Friday, November 20, 2015

Mountain Getaway - Family-Run Wonderland

By Tony Mariadass

Cool, refreshing, breathtaking, scenic mountain getaway

The Campuestohan Highland Resort in Bacolod City in Philippines is a unique theme park and exotic, but very affordable.
Nestled with Mt. Mandalagan as a background it is a place for young and old to experience and revel in.
The resort is the brainchild of the visionary couple Ricardo Cano Tan and his wife Nenita Tan, who built this nature’s wonder from scratch, starting from conceptualising, designing and seeing their dream become a reality.
This glorious haven in Negros Occidental is situated right on the boundaries of two of the most progressive cities in the province - Bacolod City and Talisay City.
The property is on a 5-hectare land situated about 800-meters above sea, and from this vantage point, one can see the breathtaking view.
Looking towards the east, one can see below the sprawling cities of Bacolod, Talisay, Silay and Bago. In fact, one will also be able to see the port of the town of Pulupandan. On clear days, one can see the western side of the island of Panay and Guimaras, bounded by the calm sea bedecked by the beautiful blue sky and white clouds above it. To the west of the resort are the majestic mountains covered in lush vegetation and hundreds of thousands of century old trees that have remained untouched for several generations. To the south of the resort is the equally majestic Mount Canlandog.

Most of the time, the weather in the resort is downright cool and mist engulf the resort in minutes and disappear as fast too for a clear view.
It is indeed like walking in heaven in this resort.
The uniqueness of the resort is that it is a friendly family resort which can be used for retreats for groups, holiday stay or just a day trip. Activities are plenty and above all unique and thrilling.
Above all it is very affordable. The entrance fee for a day trip which includes the use of the swimming pool, children’s playgrounds, resort grounds and hanging bridge is about RM17, while rides cost between RM4 to a maximum of RM22.
Among the attractions include the biggest gorilla in the Philippines which roars every few minutes to give a real mountain atmosphere.
The resort also boasts of the first in the world cable hamster wheel which is 100m metres long. Other attractions include the four lane sky bicycle ride which is 100 metres long, the zip line which stretches for 340 metres and virtually travels through the resort, rope course, grand carousel, mini train ride and pony rides.
Another latest attraction which is in its final stage of readiness is the wave/wade pool with a stream running around it and a windmill.
Unlike other theme parks which have their accommodation in a separate buildings away from the park, all the accommodations here are in the activity areas itself.
For instance, one can stay inside the gorilla, windmill or beside the swimming pools.
From the resort entrance, one can immediately see the beautiful and imposing log cabin that is somewhat reminiscent of the picturesque structures that dot the countryside of the old west. The log cabin offer spacious rooms, complete with amenities.
The resort also offer a number of attractive, single-detached cottages, resembling cottages of The Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, which is called Bonita Huts at the resort. True to their name, which is Spanish word for pretty or beautiful, these huts really look appealing and oozing with charm that would definitely captivate visitors. Then there is the shoe-house accommodation.
If one is just visiting for the day, they go for any of the available day cottages, ranging from the big cottage which could accommodate twenty persons, small cottage good for twelve to fifteen persons and umbrella hut which that can take in ten persons. One can also opt for big canopy tents, which can accommodate ten persons, and small canopy tents which is good for six to eight persons.

While the resort can accommodate about 1,500 visitors in a day, it has accommodation for about 150 people in the various accommodations sites around the resort.
Prices for overnight accommodation range between RM300 to RM700 per day for three to six persons depending on which accommodation and is inclusive entrance fee and breakfast.
“This is a dream come true for me and my wife. We were only dreaming of a retirement home, but when we saw the property we wanted to share it with others,” said Tan a former Councillor in Bacolod City who will be running for the post again in the coming elections.
“What is fulfilling is that every part of this resort was designed by us,” said Tan who said has already spent US$2 million developing property.
“It is an ongoing process as I keep adding things as I come up with ideas.”
Both husband and wife without fail walk around the resort to personally welcome the guests and at the same time get their feedback.
“We continuously look for ideas to improve this place and what better way that getting feedbacks from the guests. We also want to ensure that the guests are satisfied and well looked after during their stay here,” said Tan who was the former president of Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) and also president of Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in the early 90s.
Tan also has his son Ralph to assist him in the management of the resort.
“This resort has a very personal touch from us and it is a family affair,” added the 67 year-old Tan.
Indeed it Tan has turned resort into a wonderland that can fill the hearts and minds of children and adult alike.
Reinventing the wheels of time by remembering the age of the dinosaurs right into the realm of superheroes and giants like the Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Thor and the Green Lantern, it is all there in the ‘Heroes Hall’.
There is famous personages in the world like Elvis Presley and Michael Jordan besides King Kong, the giant gorilla.
There are two huge swimming pools and another wave and wading pool is to be ready soon for kids and adults also awaits those who wanted to take an invigorating dip amidst the glorious backdrop of imposing mountains.
A huge function hall, pavilion, and a gourmet restaurant is also part of the resort.
The food at the restaurant is something to savour, especially the local delicacies is a gourmet haven for food connoisseurs.
One of the resorts greatest assets is the owners themselves enjoy cooking and serving delicious food specialties to friends and associates.
This is why it is not surprising if the dishes served at resort are truly exceptional in taste and quality.

You can choose from among the many variety of dishes that the resort restaurant offers, from the truly flavorsome "Fried Cansi" to the mouthwatering and extremely popular Ilonggo dish called KBL or "Kadyos-Baboy-Langka."
And to spoil one rotten at the resort, it even as a spa to relax after a day’s out experiencing the resort’s activities.
Getting to the resort from the Bacolod City International airport itself is an experience as one passes through villages and narrow roads as one makes the gradual ascend with directions to the resort all along the way.
It will take about half an hour from airport or up to 45 minutes from the city centre and unlike in Manila – it is minus the traffic jam. Life is much slower moving here unlike the hustle and bustle in Manila.
As one comes nearer the resort, the air gets cooler. Agriculture thrives in this side of Talisay City, with various crops being cultivated on both sides of the road. Plenty of gamecock farms can also be seen on either side of the road since it is widely believed that game fowls breed well in cooler surroundings.
At the resort, security is at its best with the resort’s own security working round the clock assisted by the local security force fully armed.
The resort also has its own ambulance on stand-by in case of emergencies.
Every detail has been taken care of at the resort so that the guest can have a peace of mind and just the truly unique and enchanting experience that they will surely cherish all their lives.
While any time is a good time to visit the resort, maybe planning a trip during the third week of October will “killing two birds with one stone’ as the Masskara Festival is celebrated then.
Masskara is the most colourful festival in Philippines and has now become a major national attraction and has gained popularity both at home and aboard.
The Festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop and the price of sugar was as an all-time low. In the midst of these tragic events, Bacolodnons decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles.
A prominent feature of the festival is the feature mask worn by participants. These are always adorned with smiling faces. Masskara thus a multitude of smiling faces. The smiling face which is the primary symbol of the Festival represent the positive outlook in life that despite all the distress and difficulties.
Other areas of interest to visit while in Bacolod include the ‘The Ruins’ in Talisay City which is one of the 12 most famous ruins in the world, the Mambukal Resort in Marcia, the San Sebastian Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace in Bacolod City.
The Campuestohan Highland Resort is certainly a must place to visit for a holiday if one wants to experience something different and exhilarating.

Key Facts:
Capital: Bacolod City
Population: 3.1 million
Land Area: 7,936.07 sq. km (or 792,607 hectares)
North – Visayan Sea; East – Negros Occidental; South – Sulu Sea; West – Gulmaras Strait.

Getting to Bacolod City from Kuala Lumpur:
Airlines: (to Manila) Malaysia Airlines and Cebu Air (3 hour 15 minutes)
Connecting from Terminal 2 or 3 in Manila by Cebu Air or Philippines Airlines to Bacolod City (1 hour 15 minutes).
Flying Cebu Air means connecting flight to Bacolod from same terminal – Terminal 3.

For your reservations, please contact the following numbers:
Landline:+63 (034) 702-0964; +62 (034) 433-3335
Mobile: +63915-211-1406+63917-300-5007+63925-600-8088
Office Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Office Address: Bacolod TP Truckers, Gonzaga St., Bacolod City
Resort Address: Sitio Campuestohan Brgy. Cabatangan/ alternate route via brgy. Granada and Alangilan Talisay City 6100 Philippines
* Reservations must be made at least 3 days ahead if resort visit will fall on a weekend, and at least 1 day before if coming on a weekday.
* In cases of delay or cancellation, kindly inform our office at least 3 hours before set time.

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