Since it’s already the last quarter of the year and the mid of -ber months, my family, boyfriend and I were excited to feel the natural cool breeze of Baguio, escape Manila for three days/two nights on a weekend, and experience a simply luxurious way of a perfect staycation in the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” It has been almost a decade since our last visit, and my mom had terribly missed this travel destination located in the province of Benguet in northern Luzon island of the country.
To recall, we’ve had four trips to Baguio before and we’ve stayed in a different hotel every time (but always near Session Road) to experience something new. So when the question “Where is a good hotel to stay at the quiet side of Baguio City?” is placed, consensuses gather around two choice areas: either The Manor or The Forest Lodge—both situated at Camp John Hay, away from the busy streets downtown.
Note: We intended to book a stay at The Manor, but unfortunately it was fully booked on our chosen dates. While searching for an alternative, we chanced upon Forest Lodge’s website and decided to reserve for two rooms in advance. So, Forest Lodge it was! 😉
We traveled on a Thursday night via Genesis Transport – Philippine Rabbit and reached Baguio City in about six hours. From the bus terminal, we took a ten-minute taxicab ride to the hotel. Temperature was very nice, a lot colder than Manila! Everywhere was like air-conditioned.
From Manila, I called the hotel front desk prior going to reconfirm our reservation. It was a good move for us to feel rest assured that we would not end up not having a place to stay upon arrival. And thank goodness, we didn’t experience any problem in checking in.
The Forest Lodge’s lobby has a rustic and elegant feel. Several sets of sofas, handsome furniture and tribal décor provided dashes of color bringing a warm and cozy environment. The space was also decorated with Christmas-themed accents, Filipino paintings, arts and crafts.
We were welcomed by the front desk hotel staff who asked for my name and identification card. It didn’t take more than 20 minutes for us to get to our room. Our luggage and carry-on bags were delivered to our room quickly.
Here are the top five activities we covered, plus a review of The Forest Lodge:
Top 5 Activities We Did in Forest Lodge (Hotel in Camp John Hay, Baguio City)
1. Sleep and Relax
We got two Superior Rooms—each fitted with two double-sized beds with clean sheets, comforters and comfy pillows good for four people, cable television, furnishings, bar area complete with a mini fridge, water heater, mugs and bottled water, dressing area, large cabinets, and a decent bathroom.
Weather in Baguio is normally cold, so hotel rooms don’t have an air-conditioner unit. Compared to the previous hotels we’ve stayed in, The Forest Lodge has a ceiling fan to make sure that guests can be pretty much satisfied with coolness and ventilation, if air from the outside isn’t sufficient.
Superior Room 1
Our sleep quality was great, with the consideration that this hotel is inside Camp John Hay and our rooms were facing the parking lot side (thus less traffic noise from the front side of the hotel). The Superior Room didn’t have a veranda but view outside the window can be seen vividly. It was of beautiful and tall trees and lush greens.
Superior Room 2
In the bathroom, the rain-head shower with easily controllable water temperature was also a treat. Of course, the last thing we wanted was to bathe in cold water when in Baguio. 😛 Amenities included were The Forest Lodge shampoo, lotion, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. Clean bath towels, hangers and a hair dryer were also provided for convenience.
I should also mention that there’s free and fast Wi-Fi connection everywhere in the hotel. It was definitely a plus for me so I could regularly update my followers/friends on Twitter and Instagram. #SocialMediaAddict
2. Dine and Indulge with Food
We had breakfast and lunch at the only restaurant inside The Forest Lodge: The Twist Café by Chef Billy King. If you’re interested to learn about their Asian fusion dishes and breakfast offerings (available 6:30am to 10am) we’ve tried, click here. We also dined in Le Chef at The Manor. You can read about the food and restaurant review here. 🙂
3. Stay in Music Room
My dad has a wide collection of records, as he’s a large enthusiast of bands and songwriters of his era. We used to have a turntable at home, but then the needle is really hard to find and replace in this modern day. Being in charge of disposing stuff that are not usable, my mom sold the old music player out but still kept the records at my grandfather’s house.
So… you can just imagine how a large smile was plastered on my dad’s face the entire time we were in The Forest Lodge’s music room. 😛 He was completely astounded upon learning that records of classic artists mostly from the ’60s to the ’80s can be played through a turntable. We just had to ask permission from the hotel manager and staff to play and sound-test some of the records.
The sound that came out from the Polk Audio surround speakers was very clear, and there was absolutely no detectable vibration noise. The more records played, the more you’ll find yourself appreciating it. 😉
The music room was also filled with books, so I guess book lovers may spend a lot of time here.
4. Unwind with Live Music
At the Forest Lodge, entertainment does not end at the music room. Guests may also unwind by listening to live music at night in the lounge area. I’m not sure of the nightly schedule but just to share, when we were there on a Friday night, entertainment started at around 6PM when a pianist sat down and did a virtuoso performance.
At 8PM on a Saturday night, conversely, we were serenaded by the jazz music presented by a band composed of doctors. They were really great singers! No wonder there were some audiences who rose to their feet and felt compelled to even dance at the back. The crowd here had a way of showing their appreciation. 🙂
5. Explore Camp John Hay via Shuttle Service
Camp John Hay hotels offer shuttle service operated by Camp John Hay Leisure, Inc. for guests to go around the camp and explore its facilities and tour the city. As I was not at all familiar with developments inside CJH, I humbly asked the front desk personnel for recommendations. She made the arrangement for us and the shuttle driver took us to five stops:
Known as “The King of Chocolate,” Choco-late de Batirol is the most awarded and recognized garden-restaurant in Igorot Park, Camp John Hay, Baguio City serving home-cooked meals and specialty drinks. The ambiance was very lovely as it looked like a paradise for nature lovers. The furnishings, including the roofing material, tables and chairs, were made from recycled materials.
We tried a short order of their hot chocolate that everyone was raving about. It was thick and rich with the perfect amount of sweetness, worthy of being famous for.
For reservations and bookings, contact 0916-375-6510 (Socorro) or 0915-933-3474 (Michelle) or email email@example.com
We’re nowhere close to being experienced golfers but just the sight of a par-69 golf course following the Nicklaus design of Golden Bear International impressed us. The Camp John Hay Golf Club is said to be one of the best in the Philippines.
It’s located 5,000 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by rolling hills, crystal clear lakes and tall pine trees. Because we’re non-members, we could not get any further than the space near the veranda restaurant. Anyway, we enjoyed picture-taking and wandering around the scenic area.
To book a golfing holiday, contact +(63-74) 444-2131
Tree Top Adventure (Beside Bell House Museum)
The Tree Top Adventure in Camp John Hay, Baguio features unspoiled nature and a breathtaking view 100 feet above the ground. This is an ideal tripping experience with jungle trails comprised of platforms nestled on branches, suspension bridges and the world’s first motorized canopy tour.
In Tree Top Adventure, you may choose up to five adventures to embark on: Canopy Ride and Funicular (PhP 350/person), Superman (PhP 300/person), Tree Drop (PhP 150/person), Silver Surfer (PhP 200/person) and Trekking and Skywalk Adventure (PhP 100/person). We just went there to know what the place offers (almost same as those in Subic) and didn’t continue taking any of the packages since we’re all afraid of heights! 😯 Haha.
For inquiries, contact Mr. Donald Estrada at 0932 7449594 or Mr. Jim Bocanog at 0932783 2137
Shalan ti Kabadjo
Translated to “Way of the Horse,” Shalan ti Kabadjo has a bridle path and riding circle for pony rides amidst the lush Kabadjo Pine Forest. We all rode the pony and posed for the camera. Only Mom was brave enough to ride the pony, feeling like a true cowboy up in the saddle. With some guidance, she learned how to handle the pony well by her own. She had so much fun in half an hour.
Offering a rare close encounter with the forest’s winged creature, the Butterfly Sanctuary in Camp John Hay a lush garden home to different butterfly species. Staffs here are known to be friendly and accommodating. They allow guests to hold the colorful butterflies with their bare hands.
We would have wanted to take a look at the colorful butterflies in the Butterfly Sanctuary, but the weather battled against the plan. It was already drizzling! 🙁
True to the word of Heinrich L. Maulbecker, its managing director, the Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay gave us the best of both worlds last weekend: comfortable living spaces at reasonable rates (see below) and an outdoor environment with plenty of views and grounds for the wanderlust.
I believe there will be more improvements in the coming years, and these can be made further possible when amicable settlements between the developer of Camp John Hay in Baguio City, CJHDevCo, and BCDA will be reached. In any case, I recommend this hotel as it’s huge, inviting and overall great. Also worth to mention is that staffs were gracious and hospitable all throughout our stay. Kudos to the team! 😀
The Forest Lodge: “The Best Deal in Baguio!”
Room availability can be checked through their website. Room rates are as follows: