Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lovely new villas at The Farm at San Benito

On Friday afternoon at The Farm at San Benito, living a detox version of a Travelife, I bumped into Jennifer Hazen, The Farm's resident manager, who was on her way to check on the new villas they're constructing at The Farm, ready for occupancy sometime in November.

"Would you like to see the new villas?" She asked, on the spur-of-the-moment. They're still in the middle of construction, you see, but the bones are all there so you can definitely get an idea of how the whole set-up will look.


So from the Master Villa, we turned off a dirt road and walked down towards the ridge of the property that previously was nothing but trees and bushes. There was once a walking path here that began by the restaurant and ended somewhere after the lobby. People used to do this 15-minute walk through the shrubbery as part of their exercise routine at The Farm.

My first view of the area of the villas under construction was a wide and curvy stone path with wooden gates leading to each of the 10 enclosed villas on the left side. Each villa faces a ridge and there are lots of shrubbery in between each villa, so there's lots of privacy, reminding me of the villas of The Datai in Langkawi, Malaysia.

But if you really, really want privacy, apparently it's Villa #10 at the very end.


Anyway, when I saw these, I don't know why, but Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) kept ringing in my head. It had that kind of feel.

I'm a big fan of SLH, by the way, because I find many of the properties are boutique hotels and resorts with lots of style and no compromises on comforts in the room, and many of them are more interesting than the grand hotels because they're usually run by individuals or small hotel groups.

The other plus is that they're not as pricey as the famous hotels, so they offer good value especially in Europe.

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They're not cheap, mind you; but they're not terribly expensive either. So when I don't want to burn the credit card on a trip, I usually check out hotels affiliated with this group. Last year I stayed at SLH properties in Istanbul and Lisbon (Tomtom Suites in Istanbul and Da Estrella in Lisbon), and I liked both very much -- enough to write about my stays in Travelife Magazine.


So, for some reason, I was walking around the new villas at The Farm thinking about the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The villas themselves are beautiful. They're going to be perfect for single use -- a lot of people do come to The Farm by themselves, especially if they're on a detox program or some kind of personal retreat -- and they're certainly going to be very nice for romantic holidays.


Right now, the Master Villa is still the best place to stay on the property. Then, you have the Garden Villas, the Anahaw Terrace and the Palmera Suites -- in that order. The new villas will be in between the Master Villa and the Garden Villas. They're bigger and more contemporary than the Garden Villas, and the views are just dramatic.

The bedrooms are massive, and they open up to a very large terrace that I can imagine staying in all day. This is basically your open-air living room.

And on the other side, is a beautiful bathroom with enclosed showers and a tub (most of the old facilities have open-air showers and no soaking tubs), and enough space for this bathroom to turn into a mini-living room, complete with desk space and electric sockets so that you can go online if you wake up in the middle of the night and you don't want to wake someone you're sharing a room with.

How very practical.


Each villa too has its own heated swimming pool. It's not large, but it's a decent size for exercise and for lounging around. And, finally, the whole property is on WiFi. The last time I was here, which was a few months ago, only the lobby area and the Master Villa had WiFi, and this was one of the incentives for me to take the Master Villa -- aside from the fact that it's really a beautiful villa with lots of space.

But now, there's WiFi everywhere -- so you can detox and work at the same time from Paradise, and, yes, update your Facebook status about how you've lost a kilo in two days, if you feel like it.


On the way out of The Farm and back to Manila, I saw Jennifer again at the reception area.

She said teasingly to me: "You're always here on these 24-hour things. I'm so not okay with that." She meant that I should really stay longer for a proper detox. Three days is minimum and seven days or more is the ideal number. I know that, too, but I have enough trouble as it is finding an extra five minutes in my day right now.

But I certainly will have all the incentive I need to stay longer once the new villas are done. I'm determined to be among the first to try these out. It'll be perfect after all that wining and dining in South Africa.

From all of us at Travelife Magazine, have a wonderful week ahead, wherever in the world you happen to be.


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