Travel and Tourism

Why you should pick Pico de Loro

FROM THE HEART - Gina Lopez - The Philippine Star

I just had a three-day and two-night stay in Pico de Loro. I decided to take advantage of the long weekend of my youngest son Benj. I was in the US for Holy Week. I take every possible chance I have to immerse them in nature. It’s good for the mind and good for the soul.

I first heard about Pico de Loro Cove when the head of my conservation efforts sent me an e-mail. I viewed the link and I was impressed by their environmental efforts. Intrigued, I called up and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Buda Nubla, who used to head property management at ABS-CBN, was now in charge of the hotel and club operations of the place. And that in fact the place belonged to SM Investment Corporation.  I was impressed that they were doing something so green.  The place is only for members so I was grateful that they allowed me to visit the place.

My rating for service —  A+. The people are sooo nice. I can feel if someone is plastic or is just doing it because it’s a job. I felt a sincere concern for our welfare.

The location — A+! Hamilo Coast has 13 coves, 31 kilometers of coastline and 5,000+ hectares! The place is breathtaking. I experienced two of the coves: Pico de Loro which is the maiden development and where the beach club is, and Santelmo Cove just a few minutes beside. The first impression on my mind was the immaculateness of the water. Realllllly clean! I wondered: How did that happen when it’s so near Manila? It even felt cleaner than some of the waters that I felt in our islands. I was told that they were able to stop dynamite fishing. At Pico de Loro Cove, I went on the banana boat and fell about four times. That’s how I knew the water was so clean. In the other cove, I snorkeled because I wanted to see the corals. I saw giant clams, which I was told weighed four kilos when they were brought there but have now grown to 20 kilos! Nice! At Papaya Cove, I was surprised to see the yacht of Willie Revillame. It was great to see him so well.  I saw Tessa Prieto-Valdez and her husband Dennis.  I didn’t know Dennis was such a fish. A piece of my snorkel fell — and he ably picked it up from the sea bed in a few seconds!  Tessa aptly deserves the title Sea Princess — swimming back from the beach to the yacht with ease.  They were there for the Pico tri-invitational. Later on I saw Ria Mackay who teaches total immersion, a very effective swimming technique — classes my whole family had taken. 

The specialness of the place is that it is nestled and surrounded by mountains which make for really good meditation. Mountains imbibe and exude strength and stability. Resting on the energy of the mountains is a really good way to get peaceful. I hope that SM will one day develop a cove just for that: quiet retreat ... feeling nature.  The potential is so superb there. It would be what the people in the city need.

Right now their mid-rise residential condominiums, the Pico de Loro Country Club and the Pico Sands Hotel, are all set up around a pristine man-made lake so whenever you look out from any of the condo units, you see water. Clean water. The Beach Club is on a beautiful cove. 

My kids were really happy with the bowling, the billiards, the basketball, the jet skiing. I am so busy during the week. This was a welcome opportunity for me to bond with them. I noted they also have many badminton courts, a roofed tennis court, two squash courts, a pingpong area, a great kiddie place, and conference rooms for the corporate sector.

Because Pico Sands Hotel was so full, they put me up in one of their lofts. It was well-appointed and very comfortable. Going there I chatted with the people in the shuttle, and I found out they were Filipinos from Chicago 

Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club is a proprietary membership club.  I was impressed with the number of people there!  It’s proof of the vibrant Philippine economy.

The place was FULL.  There was a Pico tri-invitational the day before I got there.  The day before I left, Unilab had a doctors’ convention, getting almost all the hotel rooms. It was sooo full! — which backs up my conviction that taking care of the environment is good business.

SM has to be credited for going the right way. The first thing they did when they started was to get the services of World Wide Fund (WWF) to make sure that they do things right. Rona Tan, who is in charge of development operations of Hamilo Coast, has a really good heart. She said helping the community around is totally part of the agenda. Apart from working with WWF with the vision to develop Hamilo Coast into a coastal resort town in a sustainable way, Costa del Hamilo, Inc. has been working very closely with SM Foundation, which has been implementing various livelihood and skills training programs for the nearby Nasugbu barangays. The entire development is exciting because it is environmental and the development includes the community.

On the way back, I looked at the scenery and thought, “Wow, I didn’t know Batangas was sooooo beautiful!!! Like gorgeously beautiful!! And it’s so near Manila! They have all these coves, mountains, the sea ...”

* * *

For more info on Pico de Loro Cove in Hamilo Coast. call Robert Cruz at 945-8000, visit the website at www.hamilocoast.com or drop by the Hamilo Coast Gallery at the ground floor of 3 Salcedo Place, Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati.

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

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