The last time I was in Laiya, I was with my family and relatives. The place we stayed at was seriously appalling, while the beach was filthy. I don’t know what was up then, but I told myself I’ll never return to Laiya. Well, that is until I got to spend a great (and long) weekend at Residencia Laiya in Laiya, Batangas with a bunch of friends. Truthfully, I set my expectations low for this trip since my last trip here was completely forgettable.
We missed the road to Residencia Laiya because their tarpaulin is placed way up high this huge wooden board of resort signs. It wasn’t eye-level–you have to look up from the car to see it, as a matter of fact.
The first thing we saw when we were unloading our stuff was this—an inflatable pool outside the inn. Obviously they don’t have a real swimming pool, which could be because they’re still working on building one, but making up for it by setting up one that’s only for kids is not gonna cut it. Although it’ll get kids’ attention, it can be quite an eyesore. Maybe they should just inflate it when they have families with kids arriving? Agree?
We’ve been informed however, that a swimming pool is under construction. That poses something to look forward to for future guests. Now, I wish we were there to see that.
Inside, it looks so much like somebody’s home. You see the dining area, the kitchen, the living room and the backyard-slash-guests’-dining-area. The supposed reception desk is empty of any staff.
When we walked in, we were greeted by James, who was at the dining table, busy doing something on his laptop. Apparently, he’s the one the boyfriend has been speaking with throughout planning this trip. He stood up and shook hands with B. He was nice enough to talk to us while we were waiting for the go signal to haul our bags up the room.
We haven’t even settled yet in our rooms when we learned that bringing of food is not allowed. That sucked for us since we brought a battalion (well, not really) of food, a rice cooker, electric stove, and pots and pans. It’s not like we were in Boracay or Puerto Galera, anyway, where groups really don’t make an effort to cook their own food.
To be honest, we were confused as to what to do, but eventually they allowed us to “cook” for a certain fee–initially it was Php500 for two days but upon check-out we were charged Php1,000 because we it was actually a Php500-per-day rate—something that must have gotten lost in translation.
They want to prepare their guests’ food at a pretty steep rate. I remember they had a set meal for about 300 pesos, which includes drinks and dessert–and appetizer, I think. If I was in Manila, that would have been okay with that. But we were in Batangas. I don’t think you can expect ordinary groups of friends or big families to pay even 150 pesos (I think this is the cheapest) per meal.
Say you stay at Residencia and completely rely on them for food, you have to pay Php200 (let’s be safe and choose a price that’s between 150 and 200) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s almost a thousand already. Per person. Per day.
We didn’t bring meat with us since we decided to just have “hassle-free food” such as tuna, spam, corned beef, eggs, noodles, etc. But we wanted to try their food and we did, on our first night. They were persistent on charging us per head, which was still unrealistically expensive even if you deduct the rice, the dessert and the drinks. We tried to “haggle” by asking if they could prepare a viand that was good for 12 persons, and at a group rate. They however, kept telling us that they only charge per plate, per person.
Our efforts were left in vain, but we ordered anyway. We chose Sinigang, which was priced at 1,200 pesos. I have to give it to the cook though because the Sinigang was amazing. It was so good we forgot about the whole food fiasco. 😛
I feel so terrible that I wasn’t able to take photos, but the rooms were pretty okay. The aircon couldn’t handle the heat though, probably because the units they have in each room are more suitable for homes. Split-type aircons should be a hotel/resort standard, don’t you think? They were kind enough to inform us—and apologize—that they will be upgrading these units. Future Residencia Laiya guests, be happy!
Anyway, we were disappointed by the lack of a television unit. We paid, if I remember it correctly, about Php6,000-6,500 per room/night, which I think merits at the very least, a tiny TV or something. But they do have a TV, downstairs. The TV was attached to the wall, facing the owners’ personal dining table, which didn’t really give the impression that guests had a say on which TV show to watch. Besides that, they didn’t even have complimentary toiletries and towels.
We loved the comfortable bed and the spacious veranda in our rooms. The rooms we booked share the same veranda, which is advantageous if you’re getting the two rooms. But if you’ll be sharing the veranda with a bunch of strangers, it gets weird since there’s no divider to determine which room gets which space or whatnot.
They have lots of seating options too! Too bad these seats don’t offer a view of anything worth taking photos of. 😀
Residencia Laiya’s location is such a bummer too. Although they kept telling us that the beach was a mere 20 steps away, it wasn’t. You have to go through other beach resorts to get to the beach, and when you do reach the beach, you’d be disappointed by how crowded it is:
Since Residencia Laiya is not a beachfront property, we felt like a bunch of day trippers just trying to steal a dip at the beach–while pretending to be guests at some resort just so we could stay there. Haha. Apparently, there’s an explanation for all this. You see, Residencia Laiya’s shorter access to the beach was still under construction during our trip, which is why we had to take the longer path to the beach.
When we did go to the beach, we had to walk about 100 meters to get to a nice spot. It was a long, arduous walk. While beach trips should be all about relaxing, that wasn’t the case whenever we had the urge to swim for the thought of walking to and from this nice spot was already tiring. Then again, we were there for the beach so what was the point of sulking?
Nevertheless, we found a nice spot that was far from the crowd. I think this is near Virgin Beach Resort? Anyone here familiar with the cabanas? 😀 The sand here is way cleaner, plus the water is a lot bluer too. The long walk was definitely worth it.
A quick thought: The first time I saw Laiya was about 8-10 years ago. There were no resorts at the time, just make-shift huts made to look like houses. I remember my cousins slept on the table outside our hut pa nga eh. You feel perfectly say outside because there weren’t too many people there who may or may not steal your Havaianas or Nike slippers (valid argument since this happened to my brother before). The water was perfectly blue without a single plastic bottle floating around. You won’t even see a single cigarette butt buried in the sand. And now, looking at what Laiya has become, it’s quite sad. I really wish they took care of Laiya more.
When we were at the beach, we almost forgot about how mildly stressful our set-up was back at the inn. We actually didn’t feel like “hotel guests” or “customers” but rather some young “tenants” in a college dorm or something. I don’t know how the others felt, but that’s the vibe I was getting. It actually felt uncomfortable for it was like walking into someone’s home, hence you should be on your best behavior. Although I think that’s what they’re going for–the feeling of being “at home.” Maybe others are more comfortable with that of kind set-up (not so much for me), which is actually a promising environment for guests who want the feeling of “home” when they’re on vacation.
There was nothing wrong with the people, in fact they really try to be nice and be as accommodating as possible. Also, when we checked out, we were surprisingly—and kindly—given a discount. 😀
Would I ever recommend Residencia Laiya to friends? Hmm, probably not for now. But I do think couples looking for a getaway not too far from Manila will find Residencia Laiya quite enjoyable. Did you see the dinner set-up photo above? It’s actually pretty fancy and romantic.
I wouldn’t count out Residencia Laiya as a worthy Laiya inn though. If they improve on these things that we noted (aircon, beach access, meal rates, etc), we’d be happy to return. Given that they’re a relatively new inn, they have all the right to err and improve their services.