Apr 25
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Ricky Reyes' paradise with a Golden Sunset

Author: Nickie Wang
Column: Life & Entertainment

Poets get inspired whenever they see the famous sunset of Manila Bay, tourists feel awestricken as the sun and sand of Boracay complement each other, and many people feel delighted by the soft sunlight that envelopes the streets of Puerto Princesa. But little do they know, there is another spectacular sunset that can even make people fall in love and perhaps write a poem. The good news, it's just a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Metro Manila.

The Golden Sunset Village Resort and Spa is a small paradise located in Calatagan, Batangas. Someone needs to see it for himself to know why the resort owner Ricky Reyes, a businessman and beauty expert, christened the resort with such name.

"Fifteen to 30 minutes before six o'clock, you've got to see how the sun kisses the horizon. I've seen, people have seen different kinds of sunsets but the one we have here is just spectacular that the color of the sky and the water really justifies the name of the resort," Ricky, who is mother to all his friends, told us over a late afternoon snack after personally giving us a tour in his verdant and lively paradise.

Staring at the breathtaking sunset off the South China Sea, Mother Ricky told us a little story that inspired him to convert the eight-hectare land into a leisure place, where everyone, most especially family members, can enjoy and have a great experience.

The resort is a complete package. After swimming, visitors can enjoy singing to their hearts' delight in the floating videoke room, they can stroll around and buy some Golden Sunset signature merchandise in a souvenir shop, or flex some muscles and play volleyball on a beach setting. In the middle of the resort, there are two fishponds where one could fish at a fee or simply just go boating and enjoy the breeze.

"We started with only three cottages, and we decided that this place would serve as a bakasyunan for the family," the beauty guru started. "But when someone approached me and asked to lease the place for a few days for a company retreat, I started to realize how resort business could be so profitable."

Mother Ricky was also convinced by the local government of Calatagan to develop the place into a resort complex. Hesitant Mother Ricky, who didn't have any experience in managing and running a resort, considered the idea.

"Who would have thought that this place that used to be an almost barren piece of land is now a tourist destination," Mother Ricky enthused.

Aside from being a major tourist drawer to Calatagan, Golden Sunset employs local folks in the municipality. From 10 rooms, when it was initially opened for the public in 2006, the resort now has 80 rooms with different amenities. It can also accommodate 1,000 people on a day tour basis and can house more 300 people to stay overnight.

"You will not feel the presence of 500 people, but if 1,000 people checked in, that's the only time you will see people walking around the complex," the beauty expert said pointing out the privacy each guest can get in the seaside resort.

Not a beach

"Maybe a thousand trucks of soil were used to level this place, I didn't know where did they get the soil and what mountain did they destroy to get the soil we needed to build this place," Mother Ricky quipped.

Golden Sunset is a seafront resort but the water or the beach itself is not conducive for swimming. However, four Olympic-sized swimming pools and an extraordinarily long kiddie pool have enough water for frolic and pleasure, and these wading pools are just waiting to be enjoyed by anyone who wants to plunge into them. There's a slide that kids can enjoy while their parents are having a great time under man-made waterfalls connected to the kiddie pool. A spa pool also welcomes those who want to have a relaxing massage from the water that squirts from overhead tubes. Two jacuzzis, which are exclusive for Garden Cove and Junior Suite guests, can be tried out by those who seek for a more private space.

Every Saturday, most especially during peak season, visitors are entertained by a live band. They can also watch a grand parade that features different sea creatures or watch performers dancing to Polynesian tunes. Adding to the spectacle, the baywalk has a giant screen on which movies are projected when there are no bands performing or other groups for cultural presentations.

"I want my guests to hear sound and experience action almost every minute. I don't want them to feel any dull moment while inside the resort," Mother Ricky stated while continuously checking on the music being played around the complex.

Aside from those activities, visitors can also visit the Butterfly sanctuary that houses different species of the colorful insect. For relic lovers, an outdoor museum, probably the only museum of its kind in the Philippines, can visit the unearthed artifacts that tell something more about the rich history of Calatagan.

One of the most awaited and important events in the Golden Sunset Resort is the opening of an archeological site right beside the resort anytime between now and end of the year.

"We bought an addition six hectares of land beside the resort and we were surprised upon knowing the amount of treasure that can be excavated from the area. When we were still just bulldozing this place, there was only one Sampaloc tree that we could see; we found some broken plates, and jars. We threw them because we didn't know their importance," Mother narrated, "Malay ba namin, kaya when I told that to the officials of the National Museum, para silang iiyak."

Calatagan was an extremely important port back 10,000 years ago. The previously excavated objects were significant proofs that the area used to be a maritime trade port where neigHBOring countries exchanged their goods and merchandise.

Summer sorties

Golden Sunset has four different restaurants that offer a variety of Filipino, Asian and Continental cuisine and tasty tropical treats flavored with local ingredients.

Take for instance Oriental Latô salad, which is made from simple ingredients such as locally-grown latô (seaweed), salted eggs and ripe mango drizzled with honey mustard dressing; or Thai Beef salad, juicy grilled beef laid on a bed of greens, garnished with cherry tomatoes.

Light main courses are great for filling up without getting weighed down for swimming, waters sports, and other summer activities. Oriental delights hit the spot: Hainanese Chicken--tender chicken boiled in coconut milk topped with chopped ginger and dipped in oyster sauce or chili sauce; Bulgogi--thin slices of prime cut beef marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil; and Hoisin-glazed pork belly, salted slices of pork topped with sweet Hoisin sauce.

For sweet endings, Mother Ricky's paradise offers golden fried banana balls paired with rich mango syrup; tropical panna cotta topped with mangoes and maraschino cherries; and crisp mango fritters rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Hassle free

Going to Mother Ricky's paradise is such a relief for people who just want to break away from the busy life in the metro. After more than two hours of driving from SLEX, visitors can indulge in relaxing spa service and beauty treatments offered by Serendipity Spa. The spa has different facilities that can truly relax all the senses. The spa has floating cottages if the guest wants to have a massage while communing with the environment.

That is not just the only thing that makes someone's stay at the resort a hassle-free one. The resort utilizes a cashless payment scheme called "Passport." It is a debit card that guests can use to avail of the products and services of the resort. It is available in P100 and P500 denominations. For added convenience, guests can have their bills prepaid in any booking offices in Manila.

For inquiries and reservations, call the Manila booking office at 636-1687 or 634-3109.

Source: Manila Standard Today