Gone are the days when you have to travel for long hours and inconvenient distances just to get to a heavenly destination away from the noise in the metro. Now, with the comfort of transportation and hype of vacation tours in the Philippines, people are more ingrained to travel and see the beauty of the different parts of their own country. The next question posted thus is WHERE TO GO NEXT? given the bounty selections hither and tither.
Last week, I didn’t have any agenda set for my weekend other than wushu practice and blogging. So when an invitation to visit a new haven came, I didn’t hesitate to say yes right away.
Know where we drove to?
It’s here. Here at The Puzzle Mansion!
Thanks to Gina Gil-Lacuna, owner of The Puzzle Mansion and also holder of the Guinness World Records certificate of recognition for having the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle collection in shape, size and number, this humble mansion/hotel/resort/museum opened its doors to the public in late 2012.
Located about five kilometers away from the primary road of Tagaytay, The Puzzle Mansion can be easily found when you’re armed with a map for direction and when your eyes are good enough to follow and track about 10 stand posts with signages left and right guiding the way there. The Puzzle Mansion also offers free shuttle service to fetch guests from the main road of Tagaytay.
The hotel has 11 rooms now, a museum, outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, relaxing massage services and many more facilities.
May this post serve as my first ever hotel/museum review, with personal recommendations and comments not found in their website. 🙂
Review of The Puzzle Mansion (Tagaytay City)
Upon entrance, we felt freshness of air going into our nostrils. I could vividly smell the fragrant flowers and herbs sold in the reception area.
Mommy Gina told us that sellers park at the entrance and do business without having to pay rental space. This is part of the community service she is fulfilling to give back to society. These vendors sell freshly squeezed pineapple juice; fruits like mangosteen, pineapples, etc.; plants in pots like gotu cola, basil, aloe vera, mint, stevia, etc. and other souvenir items.
From there, we proceeded to the garden to see the wishing well and various types of plants for sale as well. I love plants and being in a solemn garden where I can stay peaceful and take my time without worrying about anything else. So this setting is definitely a winner for me! 🙂
Out from the kitchen, Mommy Gina called us bloggers and asked us to pronounce our names one by one. Seeing her for the first time, I was a bit struck that the lady talking lively in front of us is already Gina Gil-Lacuna herself!
She led us to the kitchen where all food are cooked and prepared. The kitchen was indeed spacious, with minimalistic design and clean counters. The view was stunning! We could see the vast plantation also owned by her from inside.
Next was our puzzle museum tour. Ambiance of the museum plaza can instantly provide visual interest for guests. Each passage and wall was filled with hanged frames of finished puzzles in different sizes and forms. I didn’t know that jigsaw puzzles can take shape not only in the regular flat surface but also in 3D and 4D!
The Puzzle Museum contains a lot of interesting collectibles and conversation-starter pieces that are realistically designed.
Most puzzles consist in the paintings of famous artists, pictures of landscapes, famous places all around the world, personal photos converted to puzzles, Coca-cola products, Disney characters and animals. Each indicates the completion time (number of hours it took Mommy Gina to finish), the number of pieces, and the name, dimension and origin of the jigsaw puzzle.
We didn’t intend to go for an overnight stay, but we were still given a twin room where we can relax and put our belongings. The rooms were charming and homey, with a queen-sized bed, wall-mounted flat-screen TV, chairs and tables, ceiling fan and aircon. Each has a personal toilet which was not miserly in space; it was nearly the same size as my room in Singapore back then. The mattress was soft and bouncy though, which is not exactly my type.
Allow me to divide “service” into three parts: transportation, museum tour and dining.
We were fetched by Mommy Gina’s company driver and rode in a Ford E-150 from Shangri-la Mall in Shaw to the Puzzle Mansion in Tagaytay at 8AM-10AM without cost. The same driver took us back to Shangri-la afterwards. Everything was well provided!
In normal occasions, there’s a tour guide in the Puzzle Museum who tells mini stories behind each puzzle to the guests. But we were lucky to have Mommy Gina take the lead in touring us. I look up to her as unlike other masters and business owners, she went up ahead and volunteered to provide service with consistent vibrancy and high energy. We can totally feel her presence throughout while she told us anecdotes regarding the origins of the puzzles and reasons why she chose such puzzles to bring into their collection.
She showed us those puzzles which are highly remarkable like her first ever one, the 5000-piece Disney puzzle she bought for her son 27 years ago. It was her first masterpiece and from then on she thought she could start putting pieces of jigsaw puzzles together.
Mommy Gina is friendly, very eloquent and gracious. At the age of 61, her memory is still very much alive and intact. She happily shared with us that the Puzzle Mansion has been featured in the Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin, two of the leading broadsheet national newspapers published in Manila. Without the use of a microphone, her voice is loud enough for everyone’s attention to be captured without losing it. 😛
After the tour, she proudly presented the certificate she received from the Guinness Book of World Records. Her ending statement moved me the most as she introduced herself as a wife, a mother, a friend, a retired business woman (owner of Buntis, retailer of maternity wears), and a high-school graduate. WHOA! 😯 Shocking leh! I am so inspired. Her brief speech was breath-taking. She said if she can do it, then so can we (in aspiring and going for our dreams in life). 😀
Before lunch time, we were reminded to visit the souvenir shop where puzzles in boxes, Puzzle Mansion memorabilia items such as shirts, caps, and towels, and stuff from Buntis are sold. Mommy Gina gave us a shirt of our choice and a blue/white cap as giveaways. 😛
For late breakfast, the helpers in kitchen sent us plates, utensils and food quickly, as instructed by Mommy Gina. For lunch, we had a self-service encounter with buffet-style food from the kitchen. Desserts were placed at our table later on. And it didn’t end there.
We were also given snacks (early dinner) before we left the Puzzle Museum. Saying we were pampered would be an understatement. The staff goes above and beyond their call of duty. Their service is everything that you can expect, and more!
We have been graced with so much food! Let’s start with the highlights, though. The Puzzle Mansions’ fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream pie literally were FRESH and CREAMY. These must-tries deserve the special mention.
We enjoyed three meals in the Puzzle Mansion:
1. Late Breakfast – sausages, hotdogs, butter, toasted white bread and THE pineapple juice
2. Lunch – mung bean (mongo) soup with crispy pork rinds (fried chicharon), mixed adobo chicken and pork, tinolang manok (nilagang manok), rice, mangoes and THE coconut cream pies
3. Snack – crunchy turon with thinly sliced bananas and jack fruit (langka), pan de carne (recipe from Mommy Gina’s mother) and iced tea
Flavor-wise, all the dishes were simple, the lutong-bahay type of food. Proportions were big to share, but not large enough to make you question your life choices. 🙂 The ingredients were fresh and divine. Taken from their plantation, some fruits and vegetables used are organic.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Prices of the rooms range from PHp 1,500 per person to the most exquisite ones that cost up to PHp 9,880 per night for the whole family, depending on the size of the room. You can check their price list here for more details.
Yes, they are quite costly, considering that this hotel has not earned any star appended to its title. But maybe the things that count most here are the “matchless-ness” of the hotel’s background (I mean, you can’t find any place like it), the exclusivity of the entire space, the convenience and the quality experience.
The lunch and dinner buffet would dent your wallet a little, with PHp 450 per head at the least. But that’s enough to make your stomach super full for the day from the appetizers, main courses to desserts.
Visiting the Puzzle Museum is like a session on record. There’s an entrance fee of PHp 100 pax, by the way, to go touring in the museum. They also have a village horse which you can lease for only PHp 50 to go around the considerably big area.
To wrap up, the Puzzle Mansion is a good place to spend a company team building event or an excursion with family and friends this summer. It is pure seclusion and relaxation. It can be your go-to place when you want to clear your mind and get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
– THE BLOGGERS –
I have more pictures you can view here in my Facebook album.
The Puzzle Mansion
Cuadra St. Brgy. Asisan Tagaytay City
For inquiries, contact 6610019, 09052250229/09178547322
Monday to Friday: 7AM – 7PM
Saturday and Sunday: 7AM – 8PM