Celebrating at Casa Laiya: A hidden gem in San Juan, Batangas:

by - 11:55 PM




This is so fitting for our wedding anniversary weekend.

I haven't been writing for a while now because I've been busy with work.

I've been contemplating how to merge my thoughts best because I have marriage and this really beautiful place to talk about in one go. But here it is.

Well, Gab and I had some rough patch a while back, so we thought of spending our 5th wedding anniversary somewhere special. We usually just do budget accommodations (like RedDoorz) on spur of the moment decisions to spend the night out of town or if we're staying longer than 2 nights.

Our anniversary fell on a Thursday, and because our living setup is far from ideal plus Popy has school, we had to celebrate it on the weekend. With just a little over the week, we searched for the perfect place.

Just one thing: The Beach

Our first option was in Unisan, Quezon. Man, Quezon Province is so huge, I honestly have never been to that town. Unfortunately, my cousin told me his friend went there and water was scarce. I checked in with the resort and they admitted that their water supply is low when there are a lot of people there. I don't want to stress myself over water for our anniversary.

The second option was a resort in Mabini, Batangas and I really wanted to go there, but the reviews made me skeptical, saying it was pretty in pictures, but rooms were dusty, way to the parking was a challenge, the pool was slimy, food was expensive but not worth it... So there. We had to cross that out as well.

Then came Casa Laiya...

First of all, my mind is fighting whether to share this or not. It's a hidden gem. We were so taken by it and I loved the peace and quiet and relaxation we experienced there. I don't want it getting so commercialized and noisy... and well you know how it is when tourists flock. But then it's so beautiful. It deserves a shoutout!

Here's a photo walk:

This is what welcomes you past the big iron gates.

Lovely trellis

The sitting room beside the dining hall

Lagoon

6 out of 7 rooms are on the second floor. Our room is that one on the far right.

Grand staircase

A beautiful chandelier on top of the reception

Main house


It was our very own hacienda for the weekend. Okay, we had to share it with another family but the place was so big for us anyway. It boasts 7 well-appointed rooms named after characters from Jose Rizal's Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. My heart fluttered because unbeknownst to many (except my sister, maybe), I love those two novels. The rates start at P10,000 per night and though it's a bit hefty, think full board meals, lovely place plus awesome staff, it's all worth it. Not to mention, just 7 rooms feel so exclusive. You'll definitely get the "away from the hustle and bustle" that you deserve.

Booking was definitely not a hassle. I just emailed them and paid via bank deposit. Getting there was a bit tricky since it's inside Porto Laiya and one of the turns was on a rough road (we didn't realize we need to enter that so we had to turn back), but I was in contact with Raffy, the Resort Supervisor, all throughout our drive in case we get confused.

I'm a sucker for ancestral homes and this was the home taken out of my dreams. The staff welcomed us by the front door, all smiles, cold towels and welcome refreshments in hand. We chose the Kapitan Tiago room, lots of glass windows and walls. Even the T&B was open, but of course, there were blinds for privacy. 😉

Look at that gorgeous T&B!





Glass walls! 💗



View from Kapitan Tiago

Gab went to play basketball with Popy in the half-court, right by the gate while I fixed our things. I followed them after and played a bit too. My husband's the sort of person who says yes to accommodations with basketball courts.



The rate includes PM snack upon arrival, dinner, breakfast, and lunch. We brought some munchies with us, though. Kiddo gets hungry randomly. They do offer an a la carte menu too, in case you need some extra, but the servings were big anyway. We had big bowls of lomi for our snack. Coffee was freshly brewed and free-flowing in the restaurant which I loved because the ones in the room are just those in sachet.



We had a swim in their enormous saltwater pool with the perfect temperature. A big part of it is shallow, so it's great for those with little kids. They don't need to be confined to really small jacuzzi-like pools. But there's a slope in the middle and can be as deep as 6ft, I think. It would be good to watch out for the kids still. My boys don't know how to swim, so our toddler stayed in the shallow area and my husband... well, good thing he's tall. But I prepared myself in case I need to save one of them or both. 😂







They also have an activity area with billiards, board games and hear hear! Endless videoke, anyone? My husband and I had a blast!



So, while we were singing our hearts out, I have secretly asked the staff to set up a romantic dinner outside the chapel (yes, they have a chapel) and scored a bottle of wine from their kitchen. There was happy hour from 5-6PM but we didn't get to try that because we're weak with alcohol. LOL!

After videoke, I asked Gab and Popy to come with me to the chapel so we can pray. Gab led a beautiful prayer for us. He's our go-to person for impromptu prayers which I love about him.

The chapel

The staff welcomed us to a beautiful garden set up. Gab was surprised! I planned this one but the staff surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that looked like they were picked straight from the garden. I loved that! We had a 3-course meal that ended with white wine. We would have stayed to hold hands some more, but Popy kept running around so we decided to go back to the room early.





The next day, we had a heavy breakfast before we went to the beach. Casa Laiya doesn't have one but they partnered with a small resort, about a 3min walk from the property, and they take care of the entrance. A staff comes with you if you want to go there. It was white sand and they had floating bamboo cottages, but the tide was high so we didn't stay long there as well. Popy was just excited to dig some sand.

A full table



You know what's the best thing?

The staff.

They're like genies.

While we were walking back to the resort, Gab asked our companion if it's allowed to pick mangoes from the trees in the garden. He said he will ask. We went to the pool for a quick dip and voila! Elsa (the lovely lady who took care of our mealtimes) came out with a bowl of indian mango and bagoong. Gab was so happy!

Just a recap on how amazing their service was:

They guided us on our way there.
There was a warm welcome.
They were the ones who offered the dinner set up. (I only asked if there's anything special we can do.)
They surprised me with flowers.
We didn't have a ball and Gab wanted to play when he found out there was a court. They lent us one.
They even looked after Popy when he ran around while we were eating.

We had lunch before we left the place, and had some pictures taken with the team.

It was a paid stay. I raved about the service and got one comment that "it should be good because it's expensive" but we've stayed in other places that were really not worth what we were paying for. There are numerous lodgings that have high rates but can't get as personal as what we experienced in Casa Laiya.

In Gab's own words, "We paid. We are guests. But it feels like we are visiting family. It feels like home." Imagine your tito and tita or grandparents prepping meals for you and giving you a warm blanket for the night. Think of sharing stories with your cousins while at the dining table. It was like that.

It had the warmth of home.

We left with a really heavy heart, especially Popy who wanted to stay with Elsa and kept crying in the car. A week after, he still tells us to go back. This is definitely one for the books.

We'll be back for sure.



Love,
The Perezes



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For bookings and inquiries:

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Or you may check out their website or email them at casalaiya.reservation@yahoo.com

I promise. It's worth it.

Special thanks to the Casa Laiya staff! You're all amazing!

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