Anya Resort Tagaytay Celebrates 2nd Year With A Special Four-Hands Dinner
A couple of hours away from Manila, Tagaytay is a quick getaway for families and adventure-seekers alike. The sights and experiences that Tagaytay offers—not to mention its cool breeze of air—make it a favourite destination of many to escape from the metro’s hustle and bustle. Crowded it may be for most people, its hidden gems never fail to surprise and topping them off is Anya Resort.
Situated at the heart of a village away from the famed ridge, this charming seven-hectare estate offers privacy and a relaxing atmosphere. Warm smiles from security staff welcome guests as soon as they enter the gates that is a few more metres drive to the main hall of the property. Reclusive it may be, Anya Resort is definitely a home away from home.
At first, I thought that it would just be a simple anniversary dinner with two of today’s amazing chefs in the country. But an invitation to stay for the weekend at Anya Resort is hard to decline, especially when you are welcomed with the warmest hospitality.
“Time is of luxury,” as General Manager Mikel Arriet puts into words the philosophy behind the resort’s lauded hospitality service. “Our focus is to serve the most efficient, personalised, and non-invasive service, creating memorable moments to our guests.”
The spacious open-layout lobby has a sala set with a faux fireplace and reception desks, giving guests a familiar, homey vibe. The drive from Manila can definitely wear out guests, so a glass of the property’s signature drink, Anisha or a Spanish-style hot chocolate, is cheerfully offered by staff in traditional Filipino wear.
But what truly blew me away was the personalised villa experience the management crafts for each guest. As soon as I entered my assigned villa, there was a lettering of “Welcome Home” on the bed made of leaves and flowers, on the table is a bottle of red wine, cake, and fruits—all compliments of the resort. But what took me by surprise was the personalised welcome letter and my framed photo on the bedside table that gave me an experience of coming home.
“'Welcome Home' is our motto and so our service is directed to make you feel at home. Every guest who books by our webpage receives a link redirecting them to our Anya Experience Menu,” Arriet explained. “In the menu, you have the opportunity to inform us how would you like to find your suite upon arrival. If you wish to relax with a warm bath ready with candles and bubbles to dip into or request a bottle of your preferred wine with a cold cuts platter, we will be more than happy to make this happen.”
Before I took an afternoon nap to recharge before the bountiful feast that awaits us, I roamed around to check the amenities. The adult-sized heated pool and kiddie pool behind the lobby seemed like the property’s centrepiece. Its guests and those of the Anila poolside restobar facing it were well attended by the staff.
“Our management style is focused on the details, making personalised and bespoke experiences done naturally,” Arriet said. “What we try to infuse in our team is ‘do more than what is expected’ attitude. We’d like to develop individuals who understand what is servicing from the heart truly means and not just follow policies and procedures.”
Guests may also pamper themselves with a selection of face and body treatments either in their rooms or in Niyama Spa, which is open from 1:30 PM to 8:00 PM. There is also a fully-equipped gym where guests could still do their regular workout routine. Another option is jogging around or outside the resort as it is surrounded by a small forest. Lastly, there is a quaint library for guests who prefer a slower pace of the weekend.
Tagaytay's lush environment and organic farm produce paved the rise of restaurants promoting sustainable dining. But Anya Resort puts sustainability a step further with holistic approach making the property to earn such respect and develop the reputation of being a strong promoter of sustainable luxury in the south. Besides having modern Filipino interior design for its villas as well as wooden crafts and furnishings sourced from the Anya community, its three dining establishments helmed by the executive chef Jonathan Bouthiaux highlight fresh, locally-sourced produce and products.
"In Samira Grill, we serve Mediterranean and fresh-from-the-farm products. Our bestseller is the paellas with the prime rib steak. And you can also be delighted with our Cafe Anya, which is an aromatised coffee with liquor, flamed in front of the guest. Meanwhile at Anila Poolside Bar, diners can eat healthy light salads, thin-crust pizza cooked from our stone oven, and Italian pastas or choose any local dishes like Sinigang, Bulalo, or Tagalog Beefsteak, among many. Lastly in Amra, we offer Spanish tapas, cold cuts, and wines which guests could also enjoy with some Latin music whenever we have "Social at Amra" night every Friday. Speaking of wines, there are more than 100 varieties in our wine room for guests to choose from, not to mention several homemade cocktails that would be perfect for any occasion."
Indeed, the food and beverage staff did not disappoint to deliver well during the much-anticipated anniversary event. Refreshing mixes of Gin and Tonics courtesy of The Botanist were served as guests start to come in during cocktails. But the main highlight of the evening is the collaboration of chef Bouthiaux and chef Carlos Garcia (Pig Pen and Black Pig). The seven-course dinner prepared at Samira was complemented with a curated selection of red and white wines from the Aboitiz Wine Company (AWC), presented by Diego Virata.
We started with a refreshing and appetising local crab salad with apple, coriander, and lemon purée paired with a Bodegas Zarate Albariño 2017. The Spanish white wine has concentrated aromas of stone fruits, citrus, and floral notes and has pronounced acidity that complements the salad. We then moved to the crispy organic egg yolk with grilled chorizo, green asparagus, sweet onions and smoked paprika sauce. This interesting dish was complemented by a wonderfully sweet Château Roubine La Vie en Rosé 2018.
The amazing feast for the senses was indeed a delight to our gustatory and olfactory receptors. The virtuoso began with a duo of marinated tiger prawns and prawn ravioli with a basil and pumpkin condiment, topped with lobster sauce. Ferraton Pere & Fils' Samorëns Cote-du-Rhône Rouge surprisingly matched this dish, which is usually paired with beef, lamb, and game. A plate of Iberian pork jowl with morcilla with peach and carrot purée followed altogether with a serving of the spicy classic Vina Pomal Reserva 2013.
Anya Resort Tagaytay's Food and Beverage Manager, Alejandro Lorences, prepared beautifully done intermezzo: the sorbet with goat cheese and the signature cognac and coffee combo, Cafe Anya. Decadent desserts capped off the feast, including luscious macarons and chocolates.
At the start of the year, the Anya Hospitality Group was clear that the company's thrust will be on food and beverage at the moment, providing more sumptuous dishes on the table for a dinner experience like no other. Gearing up for the latter part of 2019, Arriet is striving to attract more new guests. To mention a few, this includes initiatives such as promoting more intensively its dining establishments as well as Chef Bouthiaux through more "Chef Tables", adding more billboards along Tagaytay, and being part of Zomato Gold.
The evening did not just end with the sumptuous dinner but in meaningful conversations enjoyed with more wines and G&Ts until the wee hours. "We feel extremely humble and proud with the positive reviews that we receive, especially when it is in response to the service we provide," Arriet said. "Rest assured that we'll keep working on the same direction to achieve being a primary destination for high-end market who are looking for a quiet, relaxed, and private environment. As part of the opening team, I can attest that the whole team has been able to consolidate unique service culture. However, we still need to go deeper." Besides celebrating its 2nd anniversary, Anya is also proud to be the only Small Luxury Hotel (SLH)-accredited resort that is within a 90-minute drive from Metro Manila.
"We have plans to open Anya Club Lounge, an executive lounge that offers Anya hospitality services to our Elite Members under our recently launched loyalty program. We will also add one more villa, which will have eight more suites. More than this, we are working in strengthening our staff trainings to provide better services," Arriet concluded.
Leaving Anya Resort Tagaytay the following morning was a bittersweet experience. The quality service and impressive gastronomic experience rejuvenated my senses after a tiring week from work. Indeed, there is no other way to best spend the weekend than a stay in a home away from home, that is Anya.