By Rosemarie Reyes – SouthTrip Editor-in-Chief
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of cocooning at home, but sometimes we need to change up our routine. Do a bit of traveling for a fun but relaxing staycation. Stay away from extreme adventures or a mega-packed itinerary of places to visit (too exhausting!). The Inn at Cliffhouse Tagaytay may just be the routine shaker you need.
Easily accessible from the metro, The Inn offers a tranquil sanctuary created by lush greenery and a spectacular view of Taal Lake. Come to think of it, not many of us can boast of a home with a view, right?
We have stayed a few times at The Inn since it opened 10 years ago and nothing has changed. It remains the same serene, luxurious place with spectacular views and exceptional service. The sense of peace and comfort is not just evident inside our excellently appointed and huge suite (which fits our entire house, ha!), but in the entire Cliffhouse Tagaytay compound as well.
Innkeeper Johnny Pagdato very warmly welcomed us with coffee, fresh fruit juices and cookies. He escorted us to our suite with the best view of the Lake, The Minot’s Ledge. We loved the hushed tones of elegant black, cream and gray. Even better, our suite leads directly to a spacious balcony with its own jaccuzi. Interestingly, the louvre dividers sandwiching each suite can be opened up to reveal a long and spacious balcony. Perfect if you’re traveling with extended family; you can occupy all four suites and create an extra outdoor space for lounging and playing cards or board games. We discovered that it was the perfect vantage point to witness a rather large monkey suddenly perch on the railing. It obligingly stayed for a short video capture before swinging away.
Cliffhouse is owned by a family corporation and one of the many owners, Ms. Jennifer Dee, was quite delighted to know that we were able to see a monkey from the balcony. This elusive visitor is part of a troop of large monkeys residing in the protected sanctuary forest beside The Inn. They have also entertained guests since opening in 2009.
Ms. Jen was happy to say that Cliffhouse has become a very multigenerational space for the past 10 years. “Every week, large families visit and dine together. We always have Lolos and Lolas. We are very handicap friendly. Inside, it’s very quiet and traffic is not heard down here. People come for peace and quiet — there is no loud music. They can take in the view and appreciate the beauty of nature.” This singleminded dedication to keep the peaceful atmosphere also means that there are no fireworks during New Year and whenever celebrations are held at the View Deck, an events place added just last year for intimate gatherings of up to 80 people. This strict rule ensures that there will be no accidental fire, thus protecting the wildlife, monkeys included, in the sanctuary.
There are so many details we appreciated at The Inn, especially in our suite, so let me list a few: the soothing and subdued colors, nautical themed décor; cool fragrant towels that were heavenly after a hot drive; a welcome platter of coffee, juice and heart-shaped cookies; a thoughtful handwritten note from the Innkeeper; the complimentary mini bar stocked with a variety of cookies, snacks, chocolates (including popcorn!), sodas, tea, coffee and more.
Wait, this list is getting long, but how can I not include the other things that made our stay perfect? These are things that are not available in other hotels in the area, even those in the same class, like a yoga mat, extra pillows (no need to request more!) even when there were already numerous pillows on the bed, delicately fragrant room and bath (including the outdoor veranda), hard hats in case of emergency, very spacious bedroom and bath areas, double sinks with a magnifying mirror for effortless makeup application, plentiful towels in varying sizes — all freshly scented and so white. The lovely pots of pastel colored hydrangeas were thoughtful touches, as well.
We were spoiled for choice at the numerous dining options available a few steps away — UCC Cafe for fantastic coffees and breakfast, Buon Giorno for well priced Italian favorites, elegant Firelake Grill when you want intimate dinner dates, Concha’s for its heirloom Filipino dishes and Rowena’s for its multitude of snacks, treats and cakes. However, breakfast at The Inn is a three-course experience that’s worth getting up early for. Think Handcrafted Strawberry Yogurt with Muscovado — creamy, crunchy, light, sweet and tart, a play of textures and balanced flavors in a goblet. The main attraction is The Inn’s specialty, Baked Potato with Egg, fabulous Maple-glazed Canadian Ham, Baked Beans with smoky Roasted Tomato and Butter Fried Whole Wheat Toast — substantial and delicious. Their newest breakfast creation is the Danish-style Nutella-flavored Potcakes, a sweet note to end our breakfast. We suspect this will be a hit with The Inn’s youngest guests given the rich chocolatey flavor. Anchoring our first meal of the day is a cup of good, strong artisanal coffee sourced from their partner coffee farmer all the way in the Cordillera Mountain.
Other things we liked about our indulgent breakfast at The Inn? The softly lit and cozy breakfast nook, tasteful instrumental Christmas music and the very attentive service. We had no sooner looked up from our plates to request something when they were already right beside us. The comforting ambiance is further heightened by the serene atmosphere just outside, where only the glow of the rising sun played with the leaves moving with the gentle breeze. Innkeeper Johnny and his team were serious about preserving the morning calm, a sudden burst of conversation between the garden keepers were quickly squelched. Ah yes, nothing like a peaceful morning at The Inn to set our minds steadily on the day ahead.
It is obvious from the logo and the nautical themed rooms that Ms. Jen was inspired by lighthouses, the charm of Nantucket and aesthetics of the North American life. “Our concept is Nantucket. I was trying to complete an illusion so that when guests are here, they are transported to somewhere else. We want to take them away from their problems and daily stresses to a big space — a luxury nowadays — where it is quiet, calm and peaceful. As far as the imagination can go, we want to take them away from those things that depress or tire them,” Ms Jen shared, warming up about a concept that is obviously close to her heart. She named the suites after four legendary lighthouses. A lighthouse guides ships to a safe harbor, a powerful symbol of safety and light. At The Inn, each suite cocoons the weary traveler seeking peace and quiet, offering a brief respite from the rigors of life.
Our cocoon for the night, Minot’s Ledge, is one of the oldest lighthouses in Boston. It is also known as The Lover’s Lighthouse because its identifying code is 143. This suite is the most popular perhaps due to the fact that it has the most impressive view of the Lake.
“We’re a very small place which is why we like the little details. Part of our edge, because we are small, is that we can change and adapt anytime so people get very personalized service. We also like to maintain what we have and keep our standards. We’re just trying to continually improve, to maintain the place so that when people come, it’s very nice. We attract an exclusive niche market and we are happy with that. Soon, we will launch a Privilege Card which will have special benefits, like discounts in the other restaurants at Cliffhouse,” shared Ms. Jen with her infectious smile and energy.
Being inside Cliffhouse felt like stepping into a private oasis where there is no room for whatever is worrying you and depleting your energy. Knowing that Cliffhouse is protected with 24-hour security, CCTV cameras and a secure parking space for many cars all add to the guest’s peace of mind. “You know, this is like a secret place. It is intriguing, deliberately subdued. No loud music or noisy dogs. I just don’t want anything that screams,” Ms. Jen laughed softly. Even more amazing is that she has kept the serene vibe intact for 10 long years.
Looking at the lake from front row balcony seats, we witnessed the fog gently roll in, transforming the mood and lighting. The scene was nothing short of spectacular — it is The Inn’s private theatre of nature. This is the same view that hundreds of thousands of people have marveled at for 10 years.
I whisper, “Here’s to the next 10.”
Take a break from the daily hustle and bustle: book a suite at The Inn at Cliffhouse Tagaytay at Km 58, General E. Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika East, Tagaytay City. Call (63-46)483.2093 or email info@