TRAVEL

The Farm at San Benito

I love holidays. Especially with girlfriends. It is the promise of youthful and reckless delinquency. Late-night gossip-bonding over men and boys, frolicking in our PJs, and reminiscing on days when we were young, single and free.

So, when my best friend told me she was planning an all-girls getaway, I was delightfully giddy. But the excitement left almost as quickly as it came when she told me we were going to ‘The Farm at San Benito‘. My immediate response was a dry and unenthusiastic ‘Where?

Little did I know, I was about to go on the most soul-calming and spa-filled holiday to date.

About a 2-hour drive south from downtown Manila (Philippines), The Farm at San Benito is nestled deep within a 48-hectare of tropical coconut plantation. Established as a holistic wellness and healing retreat, The Farm at San Benito is one of the world’s few fully integrated medical and wellness resorts.

Their award-winning spa offers a wide array of wellness treatments ranging from scrubs, massages and steam therapy. But they are best known for their detox and integrated medical treatments.

After a 3-day stay with my two girlfriends, this is my review on The Farm at San Benito.

Location
Fairly easy to get to by car. Head south towards Lipa, Batangas from Manila. Due to extreme chaotic driving patterns of Filippino drivers, and after many heart-skipping near accidents, I would recommend hiring a local private driver with car. Or, book airport transfer directly with the resort for Php 4,500. That is approximately S$130 (USD$100).

The Grounds
One word: Lush. The perfectly-manicured landscape of lush greenery makes this place instantly relaxing and tranquil. Set on over 48 hectares, The Farm is built on only 10% of its land making room for future exciting projects at this compound. The property is well-spread out and extremely private. With over 25 villas and 80% occupancy, we hardly bumped into or saw the other guests.

On the property, there are pockets of beautiful and amazing landscape from a waterfall, an outdoor  amphitheater, an orchidarium, lagoons, organic garden, a medical wellness clinic and several yoga/mediation salas.

Outdoor reception grounds (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Organic garden (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Main walkway from reception and villas (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
The resort’s waterfall and pool (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Outdoor Thai Lounge (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Main lagoon (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Lush grotto area with a gigantic Mango Tree that’s hundreds of years old (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
South Swimming Pool (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
South Swimming Pool (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Massage gazebo at South Swimming Pool (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

Accommodation: The Garden Villa
And all I have to say is – WOW. High ceiling fan, wood-panel flooring, enormous King size bed with fluffy pillows, outdoor rain shower, outdoor stone bathtub, unlimited supply of their homemade coconut oil sea salt scrub, and an outdoor balcony with comfortable furnishings – made this stay truly luxurious, intimate and relaxing. When we first checked into the villa, we saw a big beautiful peacock on our lawn! And we were told that is a common sight!

Entrance of our Garden Villa (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Garden Villa (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

 

Our bathroom (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Outdoor shower and stone tub (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

 

Our balcony (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Our garden (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Daily fresh flower arrangement on our balcony (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
First sighting of a peacock on our lawn (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

Food: ALIVE! Restaurant
ALIVE! Restaurant is the only food and beverage outlet on the resort, where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served. Founded on the theories of Hippocrates (the Father of Medicine), the cuisine is strictly vegetarian and vegan (no dairy and no eggs). Using all natural, organic, unrefined and wholesome ingredients, the delicious menu is created to support their wellness and medical programs. The portions are actually very good. In the kitchen, we noticed that food is not cooked on direct fire. Instead, food preparations are either made raw or cooked on very low heat to retain the fullest nutritional qualities of the ingredients. Even the water they serve is flavored with fresh herbs, picked daily from their organic garden.

Signage of ALIVE! Restuarant (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Water with fresh herbs (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Breakfast menu (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Buckwheat Pancake (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Organic salad (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Rice vermicelli with stir-fry vegetables. (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Roasted eggplant soup (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Coconut crackers with fresh mangoes (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

Spa: Salus Per Aquam
The award-wining spa is called Salus Per Aquam. It is Latin for health by water. As we stepped into the spa’s reception lobby, we were greeted by the most amazing infinity pool set against a mountainous backdrop. Here, we again see several peacocks roaming the spa grounds and walking pass bikini-clad guests lounging on pool beds.

I did the Purification Treatment – Yin Yang Body Polish. The 90-min sea salt scrub applied using smooth and rhythmical strokes made me instantly unwind with a sense of inner calm. The big treat was the shower after the scrub. Within my private spa villa, I had to walk out across the outdoor garden to go under a (man-made) waterfall shower! Just me and nature.

Entrance to Salus Per Aquam (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
Infinity Pool (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
The perfect place to relax and read a book (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

The Animals
They don’t call the resort The Farm for nothing. We found free-roaming peacocks, ducks and…goats. All common sightings during our stay.

(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
(This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

The Signature Treatment: Colema
The Farm’s most notable signature treatment for first-time beginners is their colon hydrotherapy. In other words, colema. Colema is an organ (colon) cleansing technique targeted for the ultimate body detoxification. This is a treatment not to be missed. It would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower! Highly recommended. Click here to read more about my colema experience at The Farm.

Colema Treatment Room (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

The People
Lastly, the staff at The Farm is impeccable. From check-in to check-out, every encounter with a staff at The Farm was beyond expectation, and always with a smile. There is an inherent quality in all their employees to serve and care for their guests. And there is no asking twice.

With the owner of The Farm at San Benito, Mr Naresh Khattar (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)
With Michael Di Lonardo, GM of The Farm at San Benito. (This photo is the copyright of katjuju.com)

Activities: What You Can Expect To Do
Sleep, yoga, read a book/magazine/newspaper, swim, fresh flower arrangement classes, chef cooking classes, spa, walk/hike, explore the property and catch up on deep conversations with your travel partner. There is no TV or DVD Player in the rooms, and wifi is only available in the lobby area. So be prepared to unwind from the everyday pace of a hurried life, and be present with your own thoughts or the person/people you are with.

Special Mention
What I love most about this place is its level of cleanliness. For a 5-star vacation stay at The Farm, you can also expect to pay out of your nose because this sanctuary does not come cheap. You get what you pay for.

But having said that, this place is nothing short of magical.

A seriously perfect getaway.

For more information on The Farm at San Benito and their award-winning wellness and detoxification treatments, go to their website.

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