By Maripet L. Poso, Staff Writer
As if lifted straight off a page from Stephen King’s The Mist, the fog that envelops the Tagaytay horizon is so thick it’s barely a cliché to say “You can almost slice it.” The chill bite s through whatever piece of clothing you are wearing. But before the scene gives you a different kind of shiver, a breeze comes, clearing the view. At last, you see the Taal volcano and the lake that surrounds it. You reach out for the glass of wine near you, nibble on cheese and snuggle closer to the person beside you.
You are at the veranda of Sky Lounge, an intimate banquet room at the topmost level of the newly opened nine-storey Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay. This is the kind of weekend getaway you don’t think you’d find just an hour and 15-minute drive from Manila, away from unbearable heat and the city’s hubbub.
“The big dream here is to make people appreciate Tagaytay as a serious vacation destination,” enthuses Frederick Go, president and chief operating officer of Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC). “The problem with Tagaytay now is people come here in the morning then ride back home at night, or just stay overnight.”
But with the launch of Summit Ridge, RLC has just upped the weekend getaway ante, literally.
It’s all about the view
The building is hard to miss. After all, it’s by far the tallest in Tagaytay. Designed by architect Felino A. Palafox Jr., who is known for his master planning and environmental protection and conservation, Summit Ridge, despite its massive structure, blends beautifully with the environs’ lush greens and amazing furrows. The structure is designed to take advantage of the nippy weather. Balconies and verandas almost outline the whole building, affording each room with a view of the volcano and the lake.
“It’s undoubtedly the view. We have the best view in the whole of Tagaytay,” Go enthuses when asked what he thinks is the best thing the hotel can offer. “I don’t think there’s any other place that can claim to have a better view than we do. On a fair day you can see so clearly across the ridge, down to the boats in Taal Lake. Second, we have the best climate in Tagaytay; this is the highest point in all of Tagaytay. And you can see that. If you step out of the hotel and into the driveway, you can see everything. That’s why even at 12 noon you can see fog all over. We are in the coldest part of Tagaytay. We have the best view. And you’ve seen the facilities and amenities, I think they’re up to world-class resort standards.”
The hotel boasts of an Asian Tropical design, with its use of custom-made furniture and interior design details that are all locally made. The lobby opens to the reception, dividing the ballroom to the left and the Truffles Bar and Café to the right. The play with the rustic stones and use of running water as accessories set the Zen mood. The high ceilings, furnishings in pure shapes, various pieces of accessories and sculpture and the use of mix materials, such as stones, glass, intense colors create a relaxing atmosphere.
Outside is no different. Designed by renowned landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren of PGAA Design International, the garden definitely holds charms all its own. The infinity pool cascades beautifully, overlooking the ridge, and opens to the elegant garden, making it the ideal venue for special celebrations like weddings, debuts and anniversaries.
Of MICE and men
The hotel, Go explains, wants to chase after two markets. “Because of the facilities and the auditorium, on weekends we are running after the conferences, seminars or what you call the MICE (meeting, incentive, conference, events) market. And then on weekends we’re chasing the retail and family market.”
Hence, it is equipped with facilities for the enjoyment of both markets. For business functions, it is complete with a state-of-the-art-auditorium, which amazes even Go himself. “I think it’s the most beautiful learning facility in the country. That’s similar to what you see in the Harvard business school,” he mumbles.
The hotel also boasts of conference halls for conventions and corporate events. It has a ballroom, function room, training room in addition to the auditorium. Rooms can be adapted to the requirements whether it is a theater, classroom, open- or closed-style setup, and all are complete with AVT technology/equipment, Internet and wi-fi access, surround sound, sound-proofed rooms, etc.
Fully operational since its official launch recently, Summit Ridge offers standard rooms overlooking the Taal Lake. Also available are apartelles/two bedroom suites, with masters and standard bedrooms, living area, dining and kitchen and boasting of two balconies, to boot!
And unlike the rest of the hotel industry which go out of their way to develop facilities that would impress the foreign market, Summit Ridge is built solely with the local market in mind. “I don’t think we have a deliberate marketing effort for the foreign market,” confirms Go. “That’s a tough market to penetrate. It has to be a concerted effort with the tourism industry. But our intentions here though is to have tie-ups with the lake operators and golf courses so our guests can avail of such tour packages. And it would be what you call ala carte, they get to pick and choose what activities they like.”
To complete the experience, a mall, The Promenade, was strategically built beside the hotel. “I think I haven’t heard one negative comment about it. Everyone is happy that wow, there’s a mall next to it. It’s very convenient. If you want to have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in the middle of the night or you forgot your shampoo and toothbrush, walk for just five minutes and you’re inside the mall.”
Unlike what others might think, Robinsons had no hassles whatsoever with securing building permits.
“Simply because we’re on this side of the ridge eh,” explains Go.
“That’s why we chose this side of the property. Kasi most people, they want a property on that side of the ridge because they think that’s where the view is,” he adds pointing to the side where the volcano and the lake are.
Go explained that there’s a restriction on that side of the ridge. But on the side where the hotel is located, however, there’s none. “Our building lang kasi is so beautiful and quite massive that maybe there are comments that sometimes come out. But actually it’s always been allowed on this side of the ridge. ‘Di lang nila naisip.”
And just like any premium products and services out there, this, too costs a little bit more.
“We’re quite premium price. But maybe on the first few months we’re gonna give discounts for everybody to try it. Were really positioning it as a premium hotel,” says Go.
Sure the hotel needs some more tweaking here and there — like providing a toaster at the breakfast buffet for example — but when it comes to details that actually matter — like having real cotton towels, toothbrushes and toiletries, huge and soft pillows, Wi-Fi and amazing rain shower apart from state-of-the-art facilities, Summit Ridge does not disappoint.
Summit Ridge Tagaytay is on Km. 58, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations, call 02-240-6888, 0922-8526800 or visit www.summitridgehotel.com.?