Accessible, customized vacations available at The Farm

Accessible, customized vacations available at The Farm
By Walter Ang
July 6, 2009
Manila Bulletin

The Farm at San Benito is opening its doors to more Filipinos via new packages and rates. In the past few years, The Farm has gained somewhat of a notorious reputation as an expensive vacation destination and a place that only loony vegans and colonic-addicts go to. The new management of this tropical spa resort is on a mission to change these negative perceptions.

A former coconut and coffee plantation located at the foothills of Mount Malarayat, Lipa City, Batangas, The Farm is a 48-hectare resort filled with gardens, ponds, rivers, lagoons, and waterfalls. Less than two hours' drive from Manila, it is a wonderful escape for the body, heart, and soul.

Yes, the resort's coffee enema and colon hydrotherapy services (one of its defining features) are still available, but The Farm assures everyone that absolutely no one is required to partake of these services when they visit. With that piece of information promptly out of the way, Filipinos may be more open to the opportunities that The Farm can offer for a nice vacation.

Aside from the new accessible rates being developed, the notion of choosing only what you want out of its many amenities and services is the latest innovation that The Farm offers. While packages have always been available, everyone is encouraged to call up their Manila office to customize a vacation that suits their personal needs or budgets. From day trips to long-term stays, with options to include or skip amenities like the spa services and transfers from their Manila office, the power of choice is given to the customer.

For harried ubran-dwellers, The Farm's lush surroundings, peppered with tropical flowers and ferns, can provide a much-needed retreat to calm the nerves. It is, after all, not the party-ready shores of Boracay. The Farm is definitely more for people seeking a more quiet environment.

The layout incorporates outdoor "private areas" throughout the resort meant for meditation, reading, or just a plain relaxing nap. An "ampitheater" facing one of the lagoons is the venue for daily yoga sessions. Four separate pools and a network of walking and jogging paths gives people a chance to clear their heads while communing with nature. More physically inclined guests can partake of classes ranging from belly dancing to martial arts.
The Farm's spa has an infinity pool with a view of Mount Malarayat and private massage pavilions, each within their own enclosed gardens. There is veritable menu of massages, scrubs, and special treatments using only natural products like fresh coconut milk, virgin coconut oil, coconut fiber, coffee, and cocoa.

The resort has different kinds of suites and villas using traditional and contemporary Southeast Asia designs. The Palmera suites have open-air shower rooms and private backyards while the Sulu Terrace suites are elevated structures (think bahay kubo) that feature an outdoor sleeping area under the house, complete with cushions and pillows.

Till the end of September, spending a day at The Farm will cost only P4,800 per person, inclusive of meals, a walking tour of the resort, a massage, and use of the facilities such as the pools and library. Suites that regularly start at P7,000 will be on discount for the next few months to as low as P3,500 for single occupancy and only P4,200 for double occupancy.

The two major streams bounding the resort provide a source of "natural healing water with uncommon purity" that is used in the preparation of the resort's food. The Farm's restaurant features organic vegan cuisine made from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.

The output is cleverly disguised as "regular" food, such as their "scrambled eggs" made from corn and cashew nuts. The menu is extensive, from crackers (made from coconut meat) and breads to chutneys, curries, pastries, pasta dishes, and even ice cream. The Farm strives to serve food in its raw, "live" state because they believe that heating food over a certain temperature destroys or lessens its enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
There is also an herb garden where afternoon is tea is served. Fresh herbs like mint and lemongrass are picked from the garden and steeped on-the-spot for the guests. Admittedly, the food takes some getting used to, but if guests only plan to stay the day or a weekend, they can consider it as a short adventure in expanding their palates. Guests who plan or need to stay longer will no doubt benefit from the "fresh" food.

The combination of fresh air, proximity to nature, spaces for solitude, spa treatments, and healthy food are all part of The Farm's overarching desire to help its guests come to a sense of balance and healing, no matter what state of health they're in.

Filipinos who are relatively healthy can go for some solitude and relaxation while those with more serious medical conditions can (still) take advantage of consulting with the resort's staff doctors and even getting medically-guided programs tailored for their needs, whether wellness maintenance, detoxification, or recovery is the objective.