Celebrating with the When In Rizal Family at Balconahe Resort

The When In Rizal family had been planning for a get-together since 2020, but circumstances had the event postponed. But last March 2021, Ms. Richelle Perez-Ragay, founder of When in Rizal, finally got the team a venue for the event—Balconahe in Baras, Rizal.

What to Expect in Balconahe

Balconahe is a private resort in Baras, Rizal, that is perfect for family gatherings. If you plan to stay overnight, you can choose from their villas and cabanas, depending on the number of guests. The nature surrounding the whole venue gives off this homey and serene vibe that relieves stress.

They have one large pool free to use for all the guests, a jacuzzi located in their villa, and outdoor lounges. Board games are also available. I love the vibe at night, especially when they opened the hanging lanterns. As you can see, our team was able to enjoy these perks.

This wasn’t all for nothing, however. As soon as we arrived, we started shooting to help promote the resort in our Facebook page. More details about Balconahe can be watched in our virtual tour video.

They also have a thirty-minute trail, if my memory serves me right, wherein you can view a majestic scene at the top. Sunrise goers would probably love this. We just didn’t have the time (and energy) to continue with it.

The When In Rizal Team

When In Rizal was founded by Ms. Richelle Perez, and our first ever meetup happened in 2019 with only less than thirty people. Most of them are already knowledgeable on travel and tours as well as advertising and marketing—careers I wanted to explore—so I learned a lot from them and enjoyed their company.

When In Rizal promotes tourist spots, local products, and local businesses in Rizal through informative and engaging posts. Visit our Facebook page and join our online community to get to know more about the latest and renowned travel destinations in Rizal.

A Day Tour at a Relaxing Resort in Antipolo: Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa

Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa is a resort that has been showing up in my ads feed every time I try to look for instagrammable spots near me or whenever I redownload Klook, Agoda, and other online travel agencies. Finally, I had the opportunity to go during my birthday month. The package available for us was Hanging Gardens Retreat, which is inclusive of the following:

  • Access to spa’s facilities (locker, sauna, jacuzzi, hydro-massage pool, infinity pools, Dr. Fish spa, mediation lounges)
  • Traditional bathrobe and towel
  • Antipolo’s best suman

This package is originally worth 1,150 pesos, but you can avail of it for 895 pesos when you get a voucher from Klook. You need to, however, email them at least three days in advance for reservations, as they limit the number of visitors per day.

If you want to try a dish for your lunch at Luljetta’s, I recommend that you get their Hanging Gardens Getaway. Originally, this costs 1,750 pesos, but you can get it for 1,575 pesos on Klook. Both packages are not inclusive of the massage. They also have suites available for overnight stays, but these are more expensive than the day passes.

How to Go to Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa

The best option from my place was to ride a jeepney to Antipolo with a “Tanay” signage—basically, jeepneys going to Shopwise Antipolo. You can even tell the driver to drop you off at Unciano Medical Center, which is the closest landmark to the road leading to the venue.

There is a tricycle terminal there. I suggest that you grab the tricycles parked at the terminal as they charge less than the tricycles randomly asking you to ride theirs. Then, have them drop you off at Loreland Farm Resort. Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa is just inside. It is advised to be there an hour before your scheduled time.

What to Expect in Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa

You will have to get your data ready to sign up for different health and safety protocols before entering. As we had extra time, we took pictures in their outdoor lounge. Then, a van delivered us and all other guests to the hanging gardens and spa, even though I estimated that it was just a ten-minute walk.

Upon arriving, you will be given a key to your locker and a basket containing a towel and a bathrobe.

If you want to take your time when taking pictures and enjoying the spa perks, then you need more than a day pass. There are plentiful of interesting and worthwhile locations and experiences that you need to choose wisely which ones you want to try for a longer time, as you only have, say, four hours (if, for example, eating and dressing up takes an hour).

There were hammocks, massage rooms, and saunas (which we opted not to enter). The pictures below also show two of their jacuzzis, one of their many fish spas, and their hydro massage pool.

They also have meditation lounges and areas where you can play billiards, sungka, and chess. Below are pictures of two of them.

There are two infinite pools, from what I remember, but the larger one offers a more scenic view of the other side of Antipolo.

Since Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa is located inside Loreland Farm Resort, you may also want to tour around but not too far from the spa area itself.

Where to Eat in Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa

The first place you will see aside from the outdoor lounge is Luljetta’s cafe. Though since we only availed of the day pass, we weren’t able to eat there. Here is the menu, in case you’re interested.

This is the extension of the cafe in the spa area. The design changes every season. If you availed of the Getaway package, you can eat your chosen lunch here.

Here is a picture of Antipolo’s suman ala Luljetta. The nuts and the rice cake blended well with the sweetness of the caramel sauce. Definitely a must-try. This merienda came with an iced tea, though it had an unusual flavor so I was not able to finish it. I suggest that you bring your own water.

Favorite Picture


Luljetta Hanging Gardens and Spa
Sitio Loreland, Barangay, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal
https://luljettas.com/

Birthday Staycation at Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast

My birthday celebration did not end at eating delicious food at a local cafe. I also planned to spend a night alone at Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast in Bolinao, Pangasinan, and give myself time to write (expect this around June, maybe). I expected that it was near the sandy part of Patar beach, as the advertisement in Agoda said so, but it was, I think, a boat ride away. Either that, or I had to go outside and travel via tricycle. 

How to Go to Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast

Five Star in Cubao has buses going to Bolinao, Pangasinan (fare is Php 500). I was already there at 5:00 a.m. because I was afraid to miss the trip, but the bus waited for an hour before it left. The travel time from Cubao to Five Star Bolinao terminal took six hours (seven going back).

There are tricycles going to Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast, and they are also available to hire if you’re interested in touring around the area. I convinced one to reduce the fare to Php 200 (some charge Php 300), but going back from the resort to the terminal, the receptionist got me a tricycle driver who fined Php 120.

What to Expect at Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast

No sand separates the resort to the body of water. If you’re there for beach swimming, I suggest you reconsider your options, unless you are willing to find transportation to the sandy part of Patar Beach. The water only reached up to my knees, and the ground was rocky (I recommend wearing swimming shoes).

Room

I got their Queen Sea View on Agoda for Php 3,066.88. Even though the room was for two people, I grabbed the offer because it was the only available room with a terrace and I wanted to have a scenic view while writing. It had hot-cold water shower, air conditioner, and TV with cable, which I didn’t use. The room was so cold when I entered that I had to turn it off and didn’t need to turn it on again, even as I left.

I had two bottles of 500 mL water, which I used to drink coffee. Speaking of coffee, since I was not often fond of resort coffee mixes, I bought Kopiko Cappucino (my go-to instant coffee) from a sari-sari store nearby. I find this convenient.

Food

I love, love their tortang talong (and I am craving it as I write this). From what I remember, they have a partnership with a nearby eatery, and this one was of their dishes. It was freshly cooked, probably because the eatery only cooks a dish as it is ordered—the reason I had to wait for an hour. But it was worth the wait, so it’s fine. Sobrang sarap.

I can’t say the same for their buffet. It was a general mix of scrambled egg, white rice, lumpia, corned beef (I call it the universal resort breakfast), Milo or Nescafe, watermelon, and dried fish (my favorite among what was provided).

Other Amenities

Casa Almarenzo is one of the resorts in Bolinao that offers an infinity pool. You can safely place your belongings on their colorful beach chairs as you swim, or even quietly walk and enjoy the vastness of the sea.

Experience

My stay was okay, though not as memorable as my last year’s trip to Lilom. But I learned one thing during my stay: fishermen would go out late at night to catch squids.

It was a funny experience. I was writing at around 11:00 p.m. on the terrace when I heard movement in the waters. I turned around and found one man walking. When I raised my chin, I found other people standing almost in the middle of the sea! (Doon ko nalaman na mababaw lang talaga yung tubig.) They looked like a cult because they held flashlights as well, like those in the movies who come after you with a candle on their hand (hahaha, oo na matatakutin na ako). I left my laptop and walked toward a resort staff (kunwari hindi nagpa-panic) and asked what it was about. He told me that some locals walk by the sea to catch squids at night because they were easily caught. Hahaha!

Favorite Picture


Casa Almarenzo Bed and Breakfast
Bolinao, Pangasinan
https://new.casaalmarenzo.com/