Grecian-inspired statues watch over the hotel's Olympic-size infinity pool.
So was it worth all the longing? Here's the rundown:
Booking, welcome, and check-in
I had no problems with reservation and booking, which were done over the phone and confirmed via email. They have an online booking facility, though, but I didn't go through that because I was using a voucher.
Upon arrival we were shuttled in a huge van to the hotel, which was a good 20-30 minutes from the airport. Our driver didn't talk much. Well, he was a driver, not a tour guide, just so people are aware and would adjust their expectations accordingly. Nevertheless, we received a more appropriate and warmer welcome from the hotel staff once we got there. As a welcome drink, we were given piñakwan, a tropical concoction of piña (pineapple) and pakwan (watermelon).
That's the door where we entered. Adorned with dark wood furniture and various memorabilia, including those of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, the foyer alone speaks volumes of old-world opulence. Behind the cordoned area is a set of lounge chairs where Rizal reportedly once sat when he was in Germany.
We passed through the restaurant and were ushered into this small lobby while we were being processed for check-in.
Check-in was unfortunately slow. There was only one computer, so guests could only be processed one at a time. And it doesn't help if the party before you is already inquiring about tours and other such stuff, which means a longer wait for you. I'm pretty sure there's a more efficient way of dealing with this even with only once computer because I can't imagine how it is if it were multiple guests who arrived at the same time. A Php 2,000 refundable deposit is required to cover for incidentals.
The "front desk." Despite the slow processing, they were really nice, though.
The hotel staff who led us to our room was warm and friendly, orienting us on some of the features and facilities along the way.
Architecture and ambiance
The Peacock Garden sits on a fairly huge property of vast open spaces and lots of greenery. There are about four adjacent buildings and a lower-level structure, all of which overlook the Bohol Sea and Pamilacan Island in the distance.
The buildings speak of an old-world charm that take after Grecian inspiration characterized by huge columns, archs, balconies, balustrades, and other details. There are also a few concrete statues and fountains around. Unfortunately, they've put up this huge tent in the terrace area that to me, while providing a roof for functions in any weather, just betrays the architectural beauty of the place.
The hotel facade, with water-spouting lion heads on guard.
Just to give you an idea of how vast the property is here.
Two adjacent buildings house most of the accommodation. All rooms have balconies or porches that overlook the distant sea down below.
Each of the two aforementioned buildings have a concierge and sitting area. However, there's mostly no one behind the counters.
Lovely murals, don't you think?
A view of the pool and surrounding area from our balcony.
While the tent looks good when you're inside it, when viewed from the outside, it's just an utter eyesore.
The interiors, on the other hand, are adorned with dark wood furniture, intricate lamps and chandeliers, thick curtains and valances, and various memorabilia from old Germany and of Dr. Jose Rizal. It might sound like a confused mess, especially when you think of the Grecian-inspired architecture of the structures, but to me it affords the place a warm and cozy ambiance.
Our Deluxe Sea View room sure had a fantastic and unobstructed view of the sea courtesy of a sliding glass door that opened up to a small balcony. Although it's the smallest of the hotel's three accommodation types, it was spacious enough for us. I mean, 270 sq. ft. ain't so bad, right?
I sure miss waking up to views like this from our room.
The room comes with a king-size bed (two single beds in some), a hardwood cabinet, a writing desk, a coffee table and accompanying chairs, a 40" flatscreen TV, DVD player, personal fridge, safe, and a coffee-making facility. My Bibe and I enjoyed two of the best nights of sleep we've had in a long time. I guess the memory foam that sat on top of the mattress did the trick. I also appreciate the hardwood bed frame and the intricate carvings on it. However, the height of the bed was a tad too much for comfort, which could be a problem for kids and shorter people.
Nothing comes plain here. There's always some amount of detail in nearly everything. Just look at the bed!
Consistent with the hotel's aesthetic, the room has that same old-world charm without feeling tired.
The marble bathroom is just about fine in terms of space. There's no bathtub but the shower has a rain shower head and an alternative handheld one. Toiletries were L'Occitane.
A peek into the marble bathroom.
The other two room types are the Premier Infinity & Sea View and the Peacock Suite. Added features on top of those available in the Deluxe Sea View include a larger floor area, larger TV (and an extra TV for the suite), double sink, bathtub, and lounge/living area.
There's only one restaurant here, the Old Heidelberg, which primarily serves German cuisine along with a few Filipino dishes and snack items. Although it's supposedly a fine dining restaurant, they're tolerant with guests in shorts and tank tops.
There's also a bar inside if you're just in for some alcohol, and a separate dining section called the Peacock Room. The interiors and decor are likewise consistent with the hotel's old-world charm. And while waiting for your order, try perusing the dark wood cabinets and the wall decor. That was something I quite enjoyed myself, so to speak.
The Old Heidelberg, with the bar in view.
As regards the food, I loved it so much. Yes, it was a bit expensive for us but the price was justified by the huge servings and the satisfying flavors. Word of caution to guests staying longer, however: you might be tired of the menu after a while because the choices are rather limited. Furthermore, the flavors are mostly rich.
A sampling of what we had throughout our stay: (Clockwise from top-left) Jaegerschnitzel with veggies and spaetzle (Php 540); Schnitzel "Vienna Style" with traditional garnish, veggies, and french fries (Php 480); Chocolate spaghetti with strawberry ice cream (part of a Php 750 three-course set meal); Grilled homemade Bratwurst with German potato salad (Php 290, ordered room service).
Their schnitzel was really good, especially the Jaegerschnitzel, which was so full of flavor. Ditto with their sausages. The owner's German, so I trust him when it comes to sausages. I also loved their variety of freshly baked bread that I ate quite a lot of them throughout our short stay there. The chocolate spaghetti was a miss, though, which was ordered out of sheer curiosity. It looked like chocolate but the taste was just not there.
Our accommodation already came with breakfast. Apart from the two buffet tables containing a variety of bread, cheese, cold cuts, jams, spreads (love the grilled salmon and cheese spread!), Filipino delicacies, fresh fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, cereals, nuts, and fruit juices, there was an ala carte menu for your choice of porridge, hot dish, two side dishes, eggs, and hot beverage. Breakfast was so heavy, and because we also had it late in the morning, we always had no more room for lunch.
The two buffet tables. The main breakfast items, however, are ordered from an ala carte menu.
Guests can also opt to dine or enjoy drinks al fresco at the tented area of the Laya Pool Bar and Patio, or poolside when sunbathing. Room service is also available.
A section of the Laya Pool Bar and Patio.
Just to be clear, the hotel is far from the beach, but The Peacock Garden boasts of an Olympic-size infinity pool with arguably one of the best unobstructed views available. The pool's depth ranges from 4 to 6 feet but there's an adjacent kiddie pool and an outdoor jacuzzi available. Standing guard are two Grecian-inspired concrete statues.
To infinity and beyond: the kiddie pool in the forefront and the main pool next to it.
The pool at night.
Birds love to join in the fun here, especially in the afternoon. Personally, it's quite entertaining to just watch them make a splash.
One lovely gesture here is that once you've propped yourself on one of the sun beds, they offer you a complimentary shot of smoothie. And that wasn't just a one-time deal but a consistent thing throughout our stay.
Open from 2pm to 11pm, the Fontana Aurelia Spa has that same Mediterranean feel both inside and out with columns, vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, and paintings; very different from all the Asian zen-type spas I'm accustomed to. There's a wet room, a couple of massage rooms, a swanky couple's room with its own shower, indoor and outdoor bathtub, and a spacious common area where after-treatment tea is served.
The entrance to the spa.
The front desk. Look at that gargantuan painting on the wall!
Using only Pevonia Botanica products, a world leader in signature spa treatments, Fontana Aurelia's services range from the usual fare of massages, scrubs, baths, wraps, and facials, to a few more extravagant ones like their Rejuvenating Red Wine Bath. It's also worth noting that it's the only Philippine spa that made it to Condé Nast Johansens Luxury Spas 2012 edition.
A view of the wet room.
Save for the jacuzzi itself, this section just harks back to those opulent baths of old Europe.
One of the private treatment rooms.
Our booking came with a pair of complimentary 30-minute massages, so we just upgraded to one of their regular 90-minute treatments that start at around Php 1,560. My Bibe and I both picked a deep-tissue massage. It began with a foot bath and scrub, and then I slept and snored through the entire time. Disposable underwear is provided, by the way.
The entrance to the couple's room.
A view of the couple's room showing the toilet and shower cubicles. Reflected in the mirror is the indoor bathtub.
The outdoor bathtub. The upper section of the terrace is covered with glass.
The area where we were served tea following our treatment.
Gratuities are shared among all the staff, and there's a tip box at the counter for that.
The spa also houses a small gym. There's nothing much really but a handful of exercise equipment. The hotel, however, has an open-air game room where guests can play billiards, table tennis, and foosball. This one's located in the lower-level area of the hotel, which is right below the tented patio.
The gym, or more like, exercise room.
Also in the lower-level are the Wine Cellar and Pim's Private Disco, both of which I haven't checked. The hotel, by the way, has an extensive collection of wines, hence the wine cellar, but unfortunately I really can't drink anymore. As for the club, I don't think anyone bothered since there were only a few of us guests at the time. There's also the Hemingway Lounge, a private meeting room for up to 35 guests. It's primarily a cigar room, though.
The hotel also offers a buggy trail ride within Baclayon. Tours can likewise be arranged with the front desk. Please note that the hotel does not operate the tours but instead contracts legit tour operators.
Because our flight was late in the afternoon, it was nice of the hotel to allow us a late check-out at no extra charge. Checking out was also a lot faster this time although I already asked them to prepare the bill in advance while we're grabbing a quick bite at the restaurant.
Leave them a tip in one of the tip boxes around the hotel. Tips are shared among all the hotel staff, and they sure deserve a little reward.
And yes, they do have a peacock here! This one's named Argus and there's supposedly another one named Io but I haven't seen her come out of their enclosure.
The Peacock Garden is a highly recommended place to visit, especially for couples. It offers a quiet and wonderful escape with an old-world charm. It's a beautiful place, picturesque at any angle. The food and service are both great, and the spa is definitely world-class.
Words of caution, though: this is not a place for those craving a loud vacation. It's quite far from the highway, so guests wanting to go out may have a problem. Also, with all the rich flavors, the food can potentially get tired if you're staying long here. They also need to speed things up a bit during check-in, and maybe lose that tent.
Bohol is serviced by multiple daily flights from Manila and by ferry and fast craft services from Cebu. Hotel booking already includes transfers, so getting from the airport or pier to the resort is not a problem.