Nurture Wellness Village. Hearing the name of the place we would visit, I could imagine just how nurtured I would probably feel, as its name seems to promise. Little did I know that I was in for more than just a weekend of relaxation.
Nurture Wellness Village is a spa and farm resort in Tagaytay, Cavite and is just a short drive or tricycle ride from Tagaytay’s main road.
Riding the van that would take me and my travel companions to Nurture, we were welcomed with cookies and citrus-herbal iced tea. The cookies were not ordinary cookies, though – they had kale, a superfood vegetable, in them. I wouldn’t have noticed the vegetables otherwise had they not been pointed out to us – the cookies tasted delicious! I would later find out that Nurture puts kale in many of its drinks and food, as kale is packed in nutrients, which rival that of our native malunggay (moringa).
Arriving at Nurture Wellness Village, we were welcomed with smiles, song, flowers, cool towels and more relaxing herbal tea – this time hot.
Beauty and wellness everywhere
Upon entering, we saw “Nurture Farmacy,” a store that sells Nurture’s fresh harvest of fruits and vegetables and other wellness products, and a restaurant that opens up to Nurture’s sprawling lush gardens.
I breathed in the cool Tagaytay air as I took in the green all around me. Trees and shrubs rising from the ground, wide expanses of grass, and winding pathways through the green filled my vision.
I drank this all in and played with a friendly tabby cat – who seemed to be friendly to all guests – for a bit before I went back to eat merienda (snack) of suman mangga at tsokolate (sticky rice with mango and hot chocolate), with refreshing tarragon iced tea.
After the snack, we were toured around the grounds of Nurture and saw more greenery, interspersed with colorful flowers, a pool, massage huts, and white cottages that were the rooms for overnight accommodation.
We also saw people getting a massage, among them indigenous Filipino massages like the Dagdagay, a Cordillera foot massage. They also have Filipino body massages like hilot and nilaib, which is a variation on stone massage but using hot pouches of native medicinal herbs. One of Nurture’s signatures is its authentic, well-researched Filipino spa treatments. The founder and co-owner, Ms. Cathy Turvill, herself a Filipina, wanted to bring Filipino spa the spotlight it deserves as spas are generally focused on massages and treatments from other countries like China and Thailand.
Nurturing and fun activities
After the tour, smiling male staff in Filipiniana attire presented us with hats as we would be walking for around ten minutes to Nurture Wellness Village’s farm, where we would be staying overnight. Trivia: The farm is already part of Amadeo municipality, not Tagaytay, and we passed by the boundary of Tagaytay and Amadeo during our walk.
When we got there, we were again welcomed by beautiful smiles and refreshing herbal tea.
Ms. Cathy further welcomed us and then took us on a walk through the farm. But first, she explained that the plants there are grouped according to the body organs and systems that they help heal.
So we walked through the farm and found herbs like basil, thyme, and oregano (good for the brain) mint, lemongrass, and celery (good for the stomach). We passed under fruit-bearing trees and bowers arching with thick vines, some heavy with passion fruit. And then Ate Lina Bay, the resident herbalist of Nurture, showed us the powerhouse plot of Filipino medicinal herbs often taken for granted.
After the walk, we cooled ourselves down with Nurture’s signature kale juice before checking in in our tents for our glamping (glamorous camping) experience. Glamping is camping with creature comforts like a mattress, toiletries, as well as lights, fans, plugs for gadgets, a nearby nice toilet and shower, and in our case, a butler. As a first-time glamper, I personally loved the “picture windows” which gave a generous view of the greenery outside, and which can be rolled up when sleeping at night.
Our lunch was served boodle-style, with a colorful assortment of Pinoy food like adobo, ensaladang mangga, and sapin-sapin. Far from the healthy but intimidating – and even to some, “boring” – meals other wellness resorts may serve, Ms. Cathy believes that wellness should be fun, especially for first-timers, before they go deeper into the practice.
After lunch, Ms. Cathy taught us different and surprisingly easy massage techniques and principles. We practiced what we learned on one another.
What followed was to me the exciting part of the day – we watched and helped make coffee, healthy fruit and vegetable juices, and natural medicine from herbs.
Amadeo is famous as a coffee country in Luzon. In fact, Nurture was once a full coffee plantation before it became a farm resort. So it was quite fitting to have coffee making as an activity. We ground the coffee with huge mortars and pestles similar to the one used for rice grains, and the people from Nurture boiled and strained it for us.
Next was the session on juices, where we were taught how to make Nurture’s delicious kale-based juices and how each juice is perfect for particular organs like the heart and liver.
My favorite is the session with Ate Lina, Nurture’s herbalist we met earlier. From her we learned traditional and effective remedies made from local herbs – and even from weeds people normally just pull out from farms or gardens! We learned cures for cough, stomach ache, dysmenorrhea, asthma, diabetes, and more. This session is something every guest at Nurture should experience.
After the fun activities, we were served hearty arroz caldo, a breakfast and snack staple at Nurture.
As it was Global Wellness Day during our visit, its Filipino ambassador Ms. Vicky Aquino gave a talk on wellness during our visit and some habits people could practice daily, like walking, eating healthy, and more.
And, as the sun dipped to the sky and the heat started to recede, we went out into the grassy expanse, and many of us danced.
Afterwards, Nurture staff wowed us with their towel-folding techniques, making different animals, from swans to elephants! They also tried to teach us how to make a swan.
The climax for the day was the Salad Wars, where we were divided into two teams, given fresh ingredients, as well as freedom to gather additional ingredients from the farm. Each team would then explain their creation. It sounded like the perfect teambuilding activity, and it was. Though our team lost, it was fun!
As night fell and the lights went on, Nurture’s colors, especially greens, were illuminated vividly and beautifully. Later, before sleeping, I walked around the area to see how the lights brightened the trees and farm plots.
For dinner we had vegetable kebabs, fish fillet, and bulalo. We sat together around the bonfire, drinking beer and roasting marshmallows. Long after the fire turned to ashes, conversations in small groups flowed until midnight, this time with wine.
I slept a short but restful sleep, hardly needing any electric fan, as the night air entering our tent flap was cool.
Then it was morning. To gently wake up and energize our bodies, Ms. Anabel led us through a tai chi routine.
Breakfast, as with any other Nurture meal, was wonderful. It was mostly a Filipino spread of food like pancit and daing na bangus, and breakfast staples like eggs and bread. The champorado was the most memorable for me, with its sharp cocoa taste.
And then we went on Part 2 of our farm walk yesterday. This time, aside from seeing more plants, we saw their organic chickens (they feed on kale!), their vermiculture facilities for nourishing the soil, and more.
Afterwards, we had a relaxing back, shoulder, and head massage. Ms. Cathy then guided us through a relaxing meditation. I ended up falling asleep.
And then it was Part 2 of the Salad Wars, judged no less by Nurture’s Executive Chef Chris Carangian and Nurture’s team of chefs! But before the judging, we ate a lunch of Filipino and Asian food personally served to us by Nurture’s talented chefs. Then Chef Chris began to make dessert in front of us – it was a blend of Filipino ingredients like cacao, peanut spread, bananas, milk, and cheese from different provinces. He made us plate our own desserts using the same ingredients.
We lost spectacularly on the Salad Wars, our team’s pride taking another beating after we were gently told that we should have focused only on one dressing instead of two. Nevertheless, that showdown was an exciting end to our Nurture weekend. And still, I was pumped up by our salad, which I explained was the product of our experience on how we felt truly nurtured by the place and the people.
A story of nurturing
And that is exactly what makes Nurture Wellness Village special – that it truly nurtures. And, that it was built on nurturing. Sitting down with Ms. Cathy and some friends sometime after dinner the night before, I impulsively asked her to share Nurture’s story, which turned out to be her own story.
Years ago, sad and broken partly because of the end of her marriage, Ms. Cathy sought a place of sanctuary and found it in Tagaytay. She decided to start Nurture more for herself than for anyone, as a place for her to be nurtured. Falling in love with the land, she kept the old trees there, like the avocado tree which bent over but survived Typhoon Glenda a few years ago. According to a local healer Nurture works with, the avocado tree is sacred and is quoted to have said that “sometimes Jesus sits there.” And yes, the glamping area’s outdoor seats are below this avocado tree.
Though Ms. Cathy already started the resort then, her plans were halted when she encountered technical issues like problems with the landscaper. She then met a man who became the perfect business partner, someone who, in her words, “put structure to my creativity.” That man is Mike Turvill, who is now her husband. Of course, he also proposed marriage to Ms. Cathy on Nurture’s grounds, and my travel companions and I were excited upon hearing this. Now, their home is at Nurture.
With her husband’s help, Ms. Cathy was able to expand Nurture from a spa to a farm resort and also an events venue. Still, it remains a place of nurturing. Ms. Cathy shares how not only stressed-out people but also those who came from breakups or dissolved marriages or who have experienced upheavals come to find sanctuary in Nurture.
The nurturing comes not only from the natural beauty of the place, but also from the people – a nurturing simple and true, as Ms. Cathy herself nurtured their personal and professional growth. Her staff are locals, and some of them had been “tambays” before she employed them. She challenged them with new tasks they thought they could not do, gradually building them up into the confident people they are now. She even sent some for further training in other countries. This is a place where a driver can be a manager, and that indeed happened to one of Nurture’s staff.
“So that’s why they look so dignified,” one of my friends realized. He noticed Nurture employees’ dignified bearing from the start.
It is not just the place, but the community behind it that makes the place deeply nurturing. Perhaps that is where the “village” from Nurture’s name comes.
I knew I was going to have a relaxing weekend at Nurture. What I wasn’t prepared for was for my senses to be relaxed yet beautifully overwhelmed at the same time, and for my heart to be filled to overflowing many times over upon meeting Nurture’s people and hearing Ms. Cathy’s story. That weekend, I truly felt nurtured.
How to get there: If you are driving, take the South Expressway to Batangas, then exit Sta. Rosa or Greenfields City. Follow the signs to Tagaytay. When you reach Tagaytay City Rotonda, go towards the direction of Nasugbu. After you see the cafes and restaurants Starbucks, Leslie’s, Dencio’s, Carlos Pizza on your left, turn right at Magallanes Square, and follow the signs leading to Nurture Spa Village, around three kilometers away. If you are commuting, take a bus to Tagaytay. Get off at Magallanes Square and take a tricycle to Nurture Wellness Village.