When I explored Sta. Ana in Cagayan two years ago, I knew the place was destined to delight its visitors. With unknown isolated beaches and stunning uninhabited landscapes, this Northern Luzon escape has always been on my mind since I left.
Now, I'm back and off to discover more of this special place. Sta. Ana in Cagayan is a special economic zone that once had grand plans. And one resort built here shows us the potential of this sleepy town to turn into a tourism center. Welcome to the Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort (formerly Sun City).
After traveling through rural Cagayan, you will definitely feel quite a shock as you enter the resort. You pass through a seemingly endless row of villas that resembles a modern American suburb. The van slowed down as we made our way through all the way to the lobby.
My head kept on nodding in disbelief as I entered the lobby. Where was I?? The resort looks comparable to any 5-star resort in the country, and yet, nobody knows much about it.
The reception area had marbled pillars, glossy tiles and plush interiors and furniture. There was a sports bar beside it with a huge championship sized billiard table and a glass shelf filled with bottles of alcohol.
Though it may look grand, the resort actually has parts that are bare. I was told that when the resort opened, the resort was splurging with wealthy Chinese vacationers who stayed at the resort exclusively. Now, it may have passed its glory days, and what the Chinese left is now open to the general public.
There are several types of accommodation scattered across this sprawling resort. We probably stayed in the most basic type, which are ironically two bedroom villas. The rooms were just basic and functional, so don't expect luxury. It's enough though to make you feel you have your own place in this part of the world.
We toured the other villas, such as the 5-bedroom pool villas - the largest on the resort. This two storey villa was a house all together, a spacious living and dining area, a kitchen where you can cook a feast and more luxurious bedrooms.
We moved onto the main pavilion, where the VIP rooms were located. Well, these VIP rooms were for their mot special guests, and each room cost P20,000 a night.
The room has a mix of Chinese and Filipino designs, which made it look it had a mix of the old and the new as well. It was the most luxurious accommodations in the resort with a private pool in your own garden as well. There was also an infinity pool shared by the 4 VIP rooms in the courtyard.
As we moved further down, we passed by a well equipped gym. It was calling us to work out with a view of the pool and even the sea beyond. You even get a trainer who manned the gym as well.
The main infinity pool was the highlight of the resort. Sun lounges on wooden decks lined the dark blue colored pool. A pool bar allows you to sip on cocktails over great views of the sea.
The beach may not be made of white sand, but it was fine and clean. The sand seemed to extend from end to end with no one in sight.
We waited here till the sun set with bottles of beer on hand. The sky magically transformed into a work of art and the sea was like a mirror to this dazzling view. I recommend you watch this wonderful sight on the wooden pier.
The day finally ends and the resort begins to transform itself once again. It actually looked better at night, but it can also feel more isolated and quiet. There are a lot of day trippers in this resort, which I think they should prohibit to preserve the quality of their amenities.
Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort is a welcoming surprise. I still couldn't get over why this resort was made exclusive for the Chinese. Though it may be difficult to get to (around 3 hours from Tuguegarao City), it is definitely one place you should check out when in Cagayan. And it's obviously the most luxurious accommodation in this part of the country that is just waiting to be discovered.
But wait, there's more! More shocking experiences in my next post.
Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort
Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley
+63 2 844 0888 (Manila office)
+63 918 233 0333