Sunday, April 7, 2013

TRAVEL | The vastness of Pico de Loro Cove

I mentioned in a previous post that we've recently been to Pico de Loro Cove in Batangas, the first phase of development on the sprawling 5,900-hectare Hamilo Coast by SM Land. Pico de Loro is but one of 13 different coves along this property, so more construction can be expected. However, only 1/3 of the total land area is developable and the rest will be left to nature, at least according to their representation.

The lagoon area
Development on Pico de Loro involved construction of condo units spread among several buildings around a (presumably) man-made lagoon. And with the surrounding mountains that somehow serve as a perimeter around the structures, it's a beautiful and picturesque layout.

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Picturesque, I kid you not. Buildings are reflected on the placid waters of the lagoon.

People could either own a unit or simply become a club member to enjoy access to the place and its facilities. But since they've added a hotel into the fold, the Pico Sands Hotel (read my Pico Sands Hotel review), that air of exclusivity has dissipated. Yes, non-unit owners and non-members like me can come here now.

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The Pico Sands Hotel building.

Apart from offering a fantastic view, the lagoon area also affords people a lot of space to move around, including a pathway that's perfect for jogging, biking, or simply strolling. There are lots of places to sit, well-maintained foliage, trees that offer shade, and a mini-island on the far end of the lagoon accessible via a hanging bridge.

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With this pathway around the lagoon, you can still train for your marathon even while on vacation here.

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You can always pick your own spot here, be it under the shade of a tree or under these sheds.

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The lagoon is cut at the center, with a wooden bridge for crossing.

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The hanging bridge connecting the mni-island to the mainland.

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If you're lucky, you can spot some birds here, like this one I saw along the banks of the lagoon. I just dunno what it's called.

The country club
Pico de Loro's facilities are composed of two main clusters: the country club and the beach club. The country club sits behind the mountains and overlooks the lagoon and all the other buildings, and houses a lot of Pico de Loro's facilities.

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The view of the country club from our balcony at Pico Sands Hotel.

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The country club lobby.

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Nice high ceiling but weird hanging installation IMO.

There's a huge pool here that's divided into different sections. There's the main 5-foot deep area, two shallower sections for the kids, an even shallower spot with partially submerged sun beds, and a jacuzzi-like section. It's a nice pool actually.

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A view of the pool from the club house's balcony.

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The sun beds here are really wide, though personally I'd prefer something a bit more elevated.

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At night the pool is lit up changing electric-colored lights, which I find kinda tacky. But maybe it's just me.

Country club facilities
With its ballrooms and function rooms, Pico de Loro can host conventions, seminars, parties, and wedding receptions. The club likewise affords its guests an array of options for entertainment and recreation. However, be forewarned that everything here has a price (check out the Pico de Loro Country Club tariff rates). Nothing here is free, except for the pool maybe, so don't be surprised. It's just the way things are here.

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Huge playroom for the kids (top) and an equally spacious playroom for the grownups (bottom). There's also a dance studio adjacent to the gym, while the kids can opt to take their play outside where there's also a playground.

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This room here houses a 6-lane bowling alley and 3 pool tables, where food can also be ordered. The charges are pretty much the same as in SM malls. But if your prefer belting out tunes, there are videoke rooms available.

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Guests can book the indoor basketball court and either of six badminton courts. Huge place, I tell you.

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Play tennis in a covered court or indoors on a table. But those twin indoor courts are really for squash.

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Locker rooms and shower facilities here are aplenty with room after room of showers and toilets. Lots of sinks and urinals, too.

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A sampling of the club's locker room (top). Mind you, there's even more behind the wall. And who says men aren't vain? Why do you think they set up a vanity corner (bottom)?

The beach club
The beach is quite far from where the hotel and condo units are but there's a free ride to shuttle guests to anywhere within the property. Just ask the guard to call one for you.

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The beach club facade. That's the free shuttle on the left.

Unlike the airconditioned comforts of the country club, the beach club is mostly open-air. We're in the beach after all. There's also a pool here, although it's a lot smaller than the country club's.

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The beach club lobby.

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The beach club pool. There's an adjacent kiddie pool but altogether it's still easily dwarfed by the country club pool.

The beach
As with all other beaches in Batangas, it's not a white-sand beach. The sand's a bit brownish with a few specks of white mixed in and which can get unbearably hot around noon. It's not a rocky beach, however, so it's still good for swimming. The cove has a nice view and sun beds are available for lounging, from which guests can order food and drinks without having to get up by simply waving a flag. However, there were very few beach umbrellas in relation to the number of beds.

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Even if it doesn't have white sand, it's still a nice beach.

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Baywatch: life guards are stationed here to look after guests swimming. This is the other side of the cove, by the way.

Beach club facilities and activities
Sun beds and cabanas are available along the beach and pool areas. While these are free for guest use, getting a beach towel is not. There's a Php50 whole day rental fee for every one towel. If not returned by closing time, they'll treat it as a lost towel and charge you Php500. I only got to return ours the following day, so I was charged for three towels but thankfully, they reversed it.

As with the country club, there's also a restaurant here. There's also at least two bars but they're just mere extensions of the restaurant, and they aren't always open. An oh, there's a Kultura store.

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You know you're in SM territory when there's a Kultura boutique around.

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One of the beachside bars, closed at the time. Didn't have a chance to check it out around sundown, though.

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These white cabanas on the right side of the beach (if facing the sea). They're pushed back a bit farther from the sea than the sun beds.

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It's brown cabanas on the opposite end of the beach.

The club has facilities for beach volleyball and soccer, for a fee of course (check Pico de Loro Beach Club tariff rates). Other activities include the usual kayak, banana boat, jet ski, windsurfing, boat ride, snorkeling, and diving. This is also where guests can rent bicycles and ATVs, and book hiking tours and even a pony ride.

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Soccer goal on the beach. Lots of things to do here but nothing is free.

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Remnants of World War II.

Dining
There are a few dining options here at Pico de Loro, with basically one restaurant each at the country club, beach club, and at Pico Sands Hotel. However, the bowling and billiards area at the country club also serves as a dining space, as do the music (videoke) rooms.

Lagoa. The country club restaurant is called Lagoa (I kept on saying it as luh-GO-wa but at least one staff pronounced it luh-GA-wa). However, not once did it open in our three days there. I don't know if they only open once a certain number of guests are around because it was always closed. I did take a peak inside, though.

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The Lagoa facade, which overlooks the country club pool and the lagoon area down below.

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Inside the restaurant's circular interiors. Any one of those window-side tables would have been a nice dining spot at night. Too bad.

Bb (Billiards and Bowling). We ordered bowling staples like pizza and nachos, which were not bad, just not wow. Service was pretty fast, though. (You can check out their full Pico de Loro Bb menu.)

Pico Restaurant and Bar. At Pico Sands Hotel. (Please refer to my Pico Sands Hotel review.)

Sun Coral Cafe. The beach club restaurant, with a less than spectacular view; one side is facing the beach but the longer side is facing the pool and lots of people. Nonetheless, it provides a welcome respite from the sweltering heat on the beach with its airconditioned interiors.

We tried their sinigang na liempo and chicken inasal, which, while not bad, weren't outstanding either. I also tried their mango peach smoothie but was rather disappointed. On the plus side, service was good and fast. Price-wise, it's not grossly overpriced as some would have you believe. It's just like dining in any restaurant in Metro Manila (You can check out their full Pico de Loro Sun Coral Cafe menu.).

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The Sun Coral Cafe exterior.

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Inside the Sun Coral Cafe.

The chapel
Pico de Loro has a glass-paneled chapel that overlooks the cove down below. It sits far enough from the condo units and other facilities to afford that sense of serenity. Mass is heard every Sunday and the chapel also plays host to weddings. It's airconditioned.

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The St. Therese of the Child Jesus chapel.

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Inside the chapel. It's really small actually.

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The chapel offers nice views of the cove and of the nearby mountains.

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There's this space underneath the chapel; just dunno what it's for.

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In hindsight
Pico de Loro Cove is not a resort and as such, operates as a club, which it is. People coming here -- non-members especially -- should understand what the place is and set their expectations accordingly. Even if nearly everything here comes with a fee, towels included, I still like it here because once you get past that, you'll see that it's a beautiful place with a lot spaces to explore at a leisurely pace. Besides, the staff are generally nice. Sure, the food ain't great but it's tolerable.

For non-members like me, is it worth the buck? I have no straight answer because while I didn't like the Pico Sands Hotel that much (see my review of Pico Sands Hotel), I enjoyed Pico de Loro as a whole. A night at the hotel may cost you but that rate shouldn't be constrained to the hotel alone because it already affords guests access to anywhere around the property. Yes, you pay for certain stuff but even club members pay too. Now if that doesn't sit well with you, then don't come. Personally, though, I wouldn't mind visiting again.

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GETTING THERE:

By car
From the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), take the Sta. Rosa exit (or any of those alternate exits) and head for Tagaytay. Drive way past Tagaytay proper and onto Nasugbu, Batangas.

Once you reach the Balayan Junction, there's a Caltex gas station at the right. Turn right going to Nasugbu.

Once you pass by the Central Azucarera de Don Pedro to your left, it won't be long before you see a Shell gas station, also to your left. Turn right to go the Nasugbu town proper. There are roadside signs available, so don't worry about getting lost.

Just drive straight through Nasugbu, where slow-moving tricycles will test your patience.

You'll have to drive 40-plus kilometers more and you'll pass by a "Welcome to Bgy. Wawa" arc and all those other resorts from Canyon Cove to Peninsula de Punta Fuego. Just follow the yellow Hamilo Coast signs along the way.

Once you reach the main Hamilo Coast gate, it's 2.7 kilometers more to Pico de Loro. At the third rotunda from the main gate, turn right. Pico Sands Hotel is the 5th building along that strip.

(Driving to Tagaytay may take anywhere between 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic. Pico de Loro will entail another 1 to 2 hours, so I suggest you make a short stop at Tagaytay before proceeding.)

By ferry 
Schedules are not definite, so it's best to check their website.

picodeloroclub.com

30 comments:

  1. Oh boy, this is way to good to be true. I am this place is fantastic. The only thing i don't like is the one from World War II.......
    Best Regards
    Miss Margaret Cruzemark
    http://margaretcruzemark.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the WWII gun has never been removed since the war. quite the irony actually between the beauty of the place and the ugly memories of war.

      Delete
  2. I love the quality of these pictures... Not to mention the place looks amazing :)

    -Kim
    www.KimKardashnguyen.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. It looks stunning I have no words ! Great pics !
    http://www.melolimparfaite.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. These pics are amazing! Following you on GFC and bloglovin lets follow eachother!:D

    xx

    Pirate Hart
    www.piratehart.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. i so wanna be there

    NEW OUTFIT POST: SUMMERLOOK
    www.mirfashion.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. These photographs are soooo beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

    nialangleyspeaks.blogspot.com
    www.facebook.com/NiaLangleyOfficial

    ReplyDelete
  7. looks gorgeous. nice photography skills you got there

    www.mkstyleramblings.blogspot.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  8. whoa!!! It's damn beautiful!!! It's like some kind of dream...
    Really nice post

    Tania
    www.glamourmaniacs.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, beautiful! And here around is not even one green leaf yet... I really need such a place and weather! I can't wait to go to Spain in one month!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry to hear that. spring's gonna come there soon, don't worry.

      Delete
  10. have you been to canyon cove? which is better pico de loro or canyon cove?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haven't been to Canyon Cove, so I can't say in terms of experience. Pico de Loro's got nice views, though.

      Delete
  11. Hi,
    I have fully furnished condo units for rent in Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club, for further inquiries you may call me at 0922-8855552 or 0935-7979636 or you may send me an email at maryjean_ner@yahoo.com

    Please visit my post at Tripadvisor
    www.flipkey.com/nasugbu-resort-rentals/p404419/

    Thanks : )

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. for lifetime membership and condo inquiries, please call 0917-5750623 or email cjilliankate@yahoo.com Thanks and God bless :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Even non-members get access to all club facilities? As long as you stay in the hotel? And anyone can book a room in the hotel?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Check my adventure at pico deloro, ang ganda talaga siyan super

    http://www.odysseyawaits.com/2015/06/mt-palay-palay-also-known-as-pico-de.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for this :) Very helpful.

    ReplyDelete

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