Monday, March 4, 2013

TRAVEL | Moon Garden / Lily's Pond: A nice and quiet alternative in Tagaytay

Over the weekend, we tried Moon Garden for a quick overnight stay in Tagaytay. We had a little trouble finding it, though, because apparently, it's now called Lily's Pond. I don't know the reason for the name change but I didn't bother asking.

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Me enjoying a quiet moment by the lily pond. Wait, so that's why it's called Lily's pond!

Moon Garden, or Lily's Pond, is a bed and breakfast tucked away not far from the main Tagaytay-Calamba Road. Here's a rundown of our experience:

Reservation and check-in
As with most Tagaytay accommodations, full payment via bank deposit is required to confirm booking, which was just done via phone. It was quick and straightforward, with no added touches or spiels. I really don't have a problem with that except that there was no mention of the change in name. It's like they expect you to know the place already. We were looking for a Moon Garden sign throughout the whole stretch of the SVD Road and of course, found nothing because the sign was "Lily's Pond."

There's no front desk here, and there isn't really any formal check-in procedure either -- no forms to fill up or anything. We were, however, already asked what we wanted for breakfast the next day. And then we were led to our room.

The room
Our room was a standalone stone and concrete structure with a curve on one end. There's a lot of space to move around and I actually like the layout. The walls and floor are all stone and concrete, the bed on which the mattress lay is concrete, and the ceiling is covered with thin bamboo. The room is furnished with hardwood furniture and there's a really huge painting that adorned one side of the wall. However, with all that stone and concrete, I don't think this is a place suitable for children.

The king-sized bed faces a huge screen-covered window that spans the entire width of the room. The room isn't air-conditioned, but this setup makes up for that as it allows the cool Tagaytay breeze inside. I haven't checked if there's WiFi because Smart's 3G signal (sometimes HSPA) was good, but there's a TV if things get a little too quiet for you.

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Happy with the generous space, huge bed, and high ceiling. Bathroom can be accessed from either of two curtained opeings.

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Let the cool breeze in...

Behind the bed is the bathroom, accessible through openings by both sides. Also spacious, it's equipped with a hot and cold shower and a his and hers sink. There are no tiles; it's the same stone floor throughout. They need to scrub the depressed area below the shower, however, as it was a tad slippery already.

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The curved wall adds a nice touch to this spacious toilet and bathroom.

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His and hers.

I don't know if there are other room types available because during reservation, I was never asked about any room preference and was just quoted Php 2,990, which already came with breakfast for two.

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UFOs. These are the exteriors of the accommodation available at Moon Garden.

Service and amenities
Guests staying here must remember that this is a bed and breakfast, and that therefore, five-star service must not be unreasonably expected of them, especially for the price paid. Here they just let their guests be, and at times, there might not be a staff in sight. But if you need anything, I don't think it's much of a hassle to check the kitchen for them.

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The open and very airy main common area.

As for amenities, there's not much going around here, save for the garden, a few common areas, and ample parking space. Nonetheless, they provide just the right setting for relaxation and some quiet time. We enjoyed the ambiance but wondered if it would still be as serene if the place were packed, especially with noisy guests, and more so since it's not a really huge place. I wish they had a spa, though.

At the main common area, which is an elevated open-air structure overlooking the lily pond and garden, guests can lounge in couches and chairs while flipping through books and magazines. Meanwhile, long dining tables occupy the other half of the space.

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Just the perfect lounge area.

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The lounge area at dusk. Better go to your room because mosquitoes and other insects are abuzz at this time.

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Long hardwood dining tables. With lots of cool, fresh air, it's hard not to feel sleepy after a good meal here.

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At the back of the main common area. There just seems to be paintings everywhere!

Adjacent to the main lounge and dining area is another thatched-roof structure that's also used as dining space. It also doubles as a multi-purpose hall where, before we arrived, an intimate private wedding was held. On the other side there's a cabana that can also be used for romantic private meal setups.

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Another covered area where there's a fireplace at the rear. Also, there's still a wooden frame sculpture of nothing but round moon faces, a reminder that this is (or was, whatever) Moon Garden.

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A romantic dinner setup in one of the cabanas.

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This simple fountain topped by a birds of paradise floral arrangement served as backdrop for a wedding held here earlier.

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My beautiful Bibe sits perfectly in place amid all this lush greenery.

At night, however, one must be careful when walking around because the whole place is dimly lit and the stone pathways going to the rooms are quite narrow. As with the rooms, this isn't such a safe place to bring children along. Curiously, there's no security guard and there are no gates either. So it's best to keep your valuables in check.

Food
Room rates come with free breakfast already, which you get to choose from a limited menu. However limited, the food isn't your typical cheap breakfast fare of rice, egg and choice of tocino or longganisa.

My Bibe tried their homemade corned beef (just okay, lacked salt and pepper according to her) that came with rice and scrambled egg while I opted for omelette with smoked ham, which came with ciabatta bread, butter and homemade marmalade. The bread was really good I ordered an extra one. I also liked the marmalade that I deduced consisted of mango, pineapple, and jack fruit.

All breakfast offerings come with some fruit, coffee or tea, and juice. The juice served to us was fresh pineapple juice mixed with turnip, which I welcomed because it balanced out the sourness of the pineapple.

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This was one really filling breakfast for us.

We also tried some items on their menu when we first arrived. I had fish and chips while My Bibe ordered omelette with bleu cheese. They had a different take on the fish and chips. Instead of the usual fries, they served potato wedges, which were perfectly seasoned, by the way. The fish was also flavorful but the crust leaned a bit more towards salty. Meanwhile, the bleu cheese was really blue cheese and not some cheap substitute. Both dishes were served with some delicious fresh garden salad.

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Fish and chips with a twist.

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Bleu cheese omelette.

We hadn't had the chance to try their osso bucco pasta anymore, though, which the server recommended. But from what we've had, I can definitely say that the food is good here. Guests planning to have dinner here should be forewarned, though, because they serve really early at six, which means ordering in advance or just before that time. We were suddenly flaking on going some place for dinner but when I asked  at around 6:30 if we can still order dinner, I was told the cook already left.

The garden
The garden is not the predictable perfectly-manicured type. Much like Sonya's Garden (albeit still different), I love the randomness of the shrubs, the flowers, the vines, and even the lilies. The scenery is likewise punctuated by cute little touches like colored glass orbs in the lily pond, a rabbit figurine hiding under the bush, a frog sculpture that seemingly just jumped out of the pond, and more.

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Lovely lillies, of which there's no shortage. It's quite relaxing to just sit by the pond and do nothing.

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Everything is just so lush here.

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Beauty everywhere. That flowering plant in the bottom left corner had me thinking of eyeballs, however.

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From straight-up beautiful to bordering on weird, I enjoyed taking pictures of plants and flowers here. And a few others, too.

In hindsight
We tried Moon Garden / Lily's Pond as an alternative to Sonya's Garden, which was unfortunately fully booked when I called. However, the place proved to be more than just a cheaper alternative. It's a great place to simply savor some downtime, be among lush greenery and flowers, and enjoy good food.

The rather impersonal service may be a turnoff for some but it's really no big issue to me because I just want to be left alone. Management, however, should also think about security, especially since there's nothing but screen to protect the windows.

Overall, it's a place I'd love to come back to and recommend others trying, except that it's just not for little children.

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GETTING THERE:
This is assuming you already know how to get to Tagaytay. It's a relatively short drive from the Metro and public transport (buses and jeepneys) are also available from Baclaran.

If coming from the Sta. Rosa - Tagaytay Road, turn right along the Calamba-Tagaytay Road. If from Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, head left after circling the rotunda. Turn right to SVD Road (left if coming from Emilio Aguinaldo). The road is barely noticeable but it's just right between Discovery Country Suites and Estancia Resort on the opposite side. Proceed until you see a small "Lily's Pond" sign on the left side. Turn left towards a narrow dirt road, then left again to enter the property.

If commuting, get off right at the corner of SVD Road. It's a relatively short walk from there (I don't see any tricycles around). If from Emilio Aguinaldo, you can hire a tricycle to take you there directly.

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For reservations, you can call Bhong at 0939-913-9097.
They don't have any website but they're on Facebook.

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hi, the number you provided does not respond to my inquiries. How can I book there? I am planning to visit it on Friday. Thanks for you reply!

      Delete
  2. Nice Very nice outfit! And i Love The Black jumper!!!!

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just like Paradise!!! xxx

    www.stylentonic.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love how close the place to nature..do they offer a massage service?

    ReplyDelete
  5. You always in those paradisal places!! I'm getting jealous!! ;P

    http://thegoldenpaillettes.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely review Sir.

    The place was very beautiful indeed with all the green vegetation.
    Hope I'll get the chance to stay here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh come on man, I mean....seriously, every week you visit places close to Heaven!! So so jealous.
    Best Regards
    Miss Margaret Cruzemark
    http://margaretcruzemark.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha! and there's another one coming up this weekend :)

      Delete
  8. WOW what a wonderful place XXO Jeff

    www.jeffreyherrero.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks like you had a great time! Everything's so beautiful:)

    http://theprintedsea.blogspot.de/

    ReplyDelete
  10. a very good read and sincerely enticing :)
    just ran into ur blog and i will definitely suggest this t o my hubby for our 5th wedding anniv this may26th..been planning for a tagaytay getaway :)
    >hope u dont mind i shared this on my fb, couldnt resist so excited and helpful<

    cheers sir!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry for the super late reply. but thanks anyway :)

      Delete
  11. Hi,

    You take really nice photos. May I know what camera you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. These were from a Nikon D7000.

      Delete
  12. Hi Armel,
    This is my "happy place" in Tagaytay with Bob (until he passed away 3 yrs ago and I haven't been back since). Moon Garden - think this is a more apt name than "Lily Pond" - is just quaint. I also don't mind that guests are pretty much left alone once they have checked-in. Love the gardens, furniture and the art all around the place. :)

    Love your photos, btw. :)

    Mar Rivera

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww... sorry about that. I agree that they should retain the name Moon Garden. Lily's Pond or whatever just sucks.

      Delete
  13. Had my wedding reception here 2 years ago. This place is lush with greens all around. I loved their wooden tables and mismatched chairs. Really beautiful and peaceful. Felt like we were the only guests even if the place was fully booked. Good food and great staff too. It's nice to read more good reviews about this place. It's really worth sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, the number you provided does not respond to my inquiries. How can I book there? I am planning to visit it on Friday. Thanks for you reply!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry, i didn't see this right away. it's the only number i have. also checked their fb now and it's still the same number. maybe message them on fb?

      Delete
  15. Hi,

    Just want to invite you to come and visit our place here in Tagaytay for an overnight free stay. This is the link of our property:
    Casa minerva

    https://www.facebook.com/CasaMinervaTagaytay?ref=hl

    ReplyDelete

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