Now, prepare to drop your jaw. The Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort is located in a special economic zone in the northernmost tip of Luzon island. It is also known for its casino, the main attraction for the Chinese who came in droves in the past years.
Located across the private airstrip from the resort, you need a golf cart to take you there. At first glance, the imposing structure seemed so out of place. There were even cows grazing in front. As you enter the complex, you are immediately transported to a new world.
I think the pictures here speak for themselves. The grand facade of the main casino building was a little intimidating. There were giant sculptures of beasts and even gargoyles facing the building.
It felt more like I was in Macau, but the absence of people made it a bit eerie. There was no one in sight, no cars, no staff. I arrived in a place that looked abandoned and had a feeling I was in an Indiana Jones movie of the future.
We entered the lobby and finally saw some signs of life. But I didn't care about the people who seemingly came out of nowhere. This was one of the grandest lobbies I have seen in the Philippines. There was a massive glass chandelier that resembled a diamond rain. There were two staircases leading up to the second floor. Everything was just grand and plush.
It was prohibited to take pictures inside the casino, but I couldn't help steal a shot. We went up straight to the second floor, skipping the casino first. We toured the marbled floor building, visitng the ballrooms and function rooms (doing a bit of work).
There were two bars in the complex. This one was located in the ground floor. It was more of a videoke room.
The other one was more of a club. Called the Sky Lounge, it was indeed a club that rivals even the best of Manila. The bar was made of marble accentuated with an organic glass lighting fixture.
There was no dance floor, as it was made generally for videoke again. There are also 10 VIP rooms in the lounge, which were probably the most decadent rooms I have seen in a club in the country. Manila's social set will definitely fit in here. I can't really get over how posh this place is.
The Chinese restaurant was also one of the most fashionable I have seen. It fits perfectly in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The interiors were luxurious without going overboard. And the food was also notable. Their sweet and sour pork was amazing, one of the best I had. The chefs are all still Chinese, hence, the food was authentic.
The casino at the Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort gave me the greatest shock this year. I couldn't stop nodding my head in disbelief. I kept on taking pictures and posting them in Facebook, making people guess where I was. Of course, no one knew where I was. I was in the middle of nowhere, in the northernmost part of Luzon, in a place that was once trodden by wealthy Chinese visitors. I just couldn't get it up to now, but I have been back twice ever since.