Delicious, dreamy massages. Fresh, crisp mountain air. Decades-old balete trees. Pools flowing into the mountains and the sky.
When I stepped into Loreland Farm Resort, I certainly did not expect a relaxing spa retreat. This resort in Antipolo has been famous for family and group outings for years. But from Loreland’s usual lively grounds lies a scenic, secret spa. A five-minute trip up and down some steps will lead you to Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa. True to its name, Luljetta’s hangs from a ridge, as this spa is meticulously carved into the mountainside.
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Secret spa on the mountainside
Just a few hours here and I was already in a relaxation-induced bliss. This spa is indeed perfect for a quick getaway to drain all the toxins and stress from your body. Here’s why:
1) It breathes relaxation everywhere. Luljetta’s is truly a different world. From natural wonders like ancient trees, lush greenery and a breathtaking view of Antipolo’s mountains to native rustic architecture and furniture in earth tones and bright, soothing whites, every inch just breathes relaxation. And the structures blend so harmoniously with nature that they look like part of the mountain. Just a short walk around Luljetta’s while breathing in the cool Antipolo air is enough to make you forget your worries.
The view from anywhere in Luljetta’s, best seen while lounging in the infinity pool
The infinity pool during my second visit. Still beautiful.
The spa facilities in themselves are relaxing to look at. Even the restaurant (right) looks like part of the spa more than a dining area.
The spa structures are built in harmony with its natural surroundings – with this old balete, for example.
And should you get distracted and revert to your problems back home, Luljetta’s has some gentle, friendly reminders like these all around:
Just in case you forget. =)
With nature and spa bliss as your companion, it’s not really that difficult.
2) It offers more than just your typical massage and pampering. While Luljetta’s has your usual spa offerings like massage and foot spa, it also has “massage pools,” a hot tub, and a fish spa. Immerse yourself in the water and let it drain every ounce of tension from your body. Afterwards, go for a relaxing massage in a bamboo room with a view of Antipolo’s mountains. I did, and I had the most deliciously restful sleep afterwards.
Water therapy + massage with a view. (Massage room photo courtesy of Luljetta’s)
3) You get your own quiet place. With the many reclining seats, beds, and native wooden chairs in Luljetta’s, it is easy to find your own spot and just drink in the scenery. Early mornings are especially tranquil. The place is asleep save for some staff getting ready and clear, distinct birdsong.
And, while Luljetta’s is technically part of Loreland, only guests availing of the spa services are allowed entry. This ensures privacy for Luljetta’s guests.
Find your own quiet spot.
4) You are served wholesome, healthy food. To keep your body relaxed but happy, healthy yet delicious food are served. My friends and I had a deliciously decadent yet light snack – suman (sticky rice), an Antipolo delicacy, with chocolate sauce and cashew nuts from the farm on the grounds. For dinner, we had a salad with homemade fruity vinaigrette (must-try!) and pesto pasta with tuna and tomatoes, which we washed down with hot herbal tea.
Healthy and delicious
Loreland, before it became a resort, is actually a cashew and mango tree farm. Now, it still keeps some of its trees and is also branching out into vegetable farming. The owners’ target is for the farm to supply majority of the restaurant food in Luljetta’s by summer of next year.
5) The place is filled with good vibes. Even the most heavenly spa experience can easily be ruined by an irate staff. At Luljetta’s, the staff are courteous and friendly. They go the extra mile, too – they made sure my friends and I all got our massages even though they had to work past their shifts.
The owners seem down-to-earth and very much hands-on, too. On any given day, you will find the general manager and the son of the owners, Ramon Mariñas, working with the staff and filling in when needed. From him I found out that Loreland was actually started by his grandparents Lolita and Rene, who the resort is named after. The couple passed on the values of hard work to their children and children’s children. Even when younger, Ramon and his siblings worked at the resort, especially during summers.
Some of the kind people behind Luljetta’s. On the right is hands-on general manager Ramon Mariñas at the resort’s lettuce farm.
Luljetta’s is actually the fruit of the hard work and creativity of Ramon and his mother, the spa’s namesake. They purposefully chose each piece of furniture, utensil and accessory for the spa from their travels. Most of these are from the Philippines, as they wanted the spa to have an indigenous feel.
More than just a product of hard work and creativity, I would say that the resort and spa are products of love. The passion is especially unmistakable in Ramon’s voice whenever he talks about Loreland and Luljetta’s.
Each furniture and accessory at Luljetta’s is handpicked with love. The tablecloth above is from Zamboanga and the carved wooden bench below is from Palawan.
As a traveler, I find myself strongly pulled in by the passion and energy, mostly from the people, in a place. And what I’ve seen – and felt – at Luljetta’s is the real thing. Go experience it yourself to know what I mean.
How to get there: From EDSA Crossing or Cubao, take a van or jeep to Antipolo Simbahan. From there, take a tricycle to Loreland Farm Resort. Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa is inside Loreland.
Contact details: Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa website