Good morning from the Master Villa of The Farm at San Benito, a place so beautiful that it's really difficult to leave. When I arrived over the weekend, after Travelife Italy Night, a guesting on an ANC Show and a late-night planning meeting for the AIESEC Alumni gathering next month, the first person I bumped into at the entrance of The Farm was general manager Michael di Lonardo, who had driven all the way from Batangas on Thursday with his wife Jennifer to attend Travelife Italy Night, by the way.
I literally felt my stress immediately melt away just by driving through the very familiar gates of The Farm. I come here a lot, but I haven't been in about six months. "This is so lovely," I said to Michael. "It's exactly what I need right now. It's just too bad I can't stay longer."
"You can always work from here, you know," Michael replied. And that's how I ended up staying here till Tuesday, today, heading back to Manila later today, just in time to attend a cocktail party hosted by one of my favorite hotel teams and then a dinner at an ambassador's house afterwards.
WiFi IN PARADISE
The clincher to staying the extra days on the spur of the moment was the newly-installed WiFi at the Master Villa, which is a beautiful one-bedroom villa with its own pool, grounds, gardens and gazebo. It also has a very spacious living room and a proper kitchen, which I've never used as I always take advantage of the organic meals at the restaurant and try to eat as much of it as I can.
I've stayed here before but I haven't been to The Farm in a few months -- I'd be here every weekend if I could only do so -- and I don't recall that the Master Villa had WiFi before. But this time, there was WiFi! So I've been answering my emails and working in-between a million massages and treatments right by my infinity pool; or else working on my Mac in my bedroom with an amazing floor to ceiling view of a jungle and a valley. It's been a real balm for my overworked spirit. This is one of the most wonderful places in the world, as far as I'm concerned.
The added plus is the fact that I've lost weight in the short time I've been here. Jennifer Hazen, Michael's wife, is the resident manager of The Farm and she recommended that I try a diet called CGN that isn't on the menu yet but it's one that she's been on for the past few weeks.
"I've lost all the pounds I haven't managed to lose so far, and it's all been in the right places," she gushed. She always looks amazing, by the way; but moreso these days, and she credits it to the CGN diet.
Of course I had to get on one of those. Basically it's a strictly controlled set of meals that gives you only 1000 calories a day and it's managed in such a way that you don't feel hungry all day, even with just 1000 calories a day. I have a plate of lettuce and some vegetables with dressing for breakfast, more of the same for lunch, and more of the same for dinner. The only difference is that lunch and dinner come with soup.
You'd think I'd tire of it and order The Farm's super delicious pesto pasta even once; but I never tired of it as everything on the CGN menu was good. Don't expect a gourmet meal, of course; but I was never hungry or dissatisfied. And when I checked the scales today, I'd lost 2 kgs via the CGN diet and a combination of all kinds of treatments at The Spa.
SAME TIME, SIX MONTHS AGO
Yes, this long weekend was a Me Weekend. Everyone needs one of these. So over lunch on my first day, I grabbed a copy of the spa treatments menu and literally -- almost with abandon -- chose everything I wanted as if I was Gaita Fores doing the 9-course menu for Travelife Italy Night. I booked all my favorite treatments like the Yin Yang dry brushing session and the facial using coconut oil, and of course my all-time favorite Massage Under The Stars.
And how interesting that while I was having my Massage Under The Stars this time around, my old friend J and I were on BBM again. The last time I was here having a massage under the stars, which was months ago, we'd been BBM-ing as well. Except this time I didn't tell him where I was because we'd been so engrossed talking about other things. If he's reading this, well, he knows now.
The Farm also has some really interesting new treatments which I happily tried. One of them is called the Tibetan Steam Therapy, and I had it every day here. It basically involves placing herbs in a steaming wooden bucket and then placing your feet in it. You're then covered with a material that insulates the heat so that you sweat effortlessly. This is supposed to aid in detoxification.
But the real treat was just relaxing in this beautiful Master Villa, with its amazing bedroom with a view, and having breakfast and cocktails right by my pool with the stars out and the birds singing. There are a couple of places I'll happily call paradise on earth, and The Farm at San Benito, only 90 minutes away from Manila, is one of them.
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