Just an hour’s drive away from Manila, Discovery Country Suites introduces a host of ways to make travelers feel right at home

Living in Manila definitely has its perks. I’ve always likened it to New York, because it has everything a restless individual needs, and that is ample distraction. From fast-paced corporate power-jobs to the nights-out that come immediately after, spent at the myriad of venues serving a variety of food, culture and entertainment options that ultimately serve one purpose, and one purpose only: to kill time. Yes, Manila will definitely keep you preoccupied. But too much preoccupation can take its toll on most, leading to burnout, confusion, and, eventually, loss of inspiration.

Luckily, one more benefit of living in Manila is that, just an hour’s drive away, we can find the sweet escape we need. You would never guess that, judging from its simple façade, the Discovery Country Suites in scenic Tagaytay holds the key to seven relaxing and, sigh, indulgent experiences. It looks quite similar to the usual country manors dotting the Tagaytay landscape, which isn’t surprising because I’m told it used to be a family home that was acquired and, eventually, developed by the Discovery Leisure Company into the quaint B&B it is today.

What I love about the growing bed and breakfast scene is that it will take your travel experience up a notch. And no B&B realizes this better than Discovery Country Suites. More than the regular service I get in hotels, I felt that my personal needs were really prioritized by the forthcoming hotel staff. Surprising little details, like finding a plate of freshly-baked almond cookies and warm milk before turning in for the night, evoked that warm feeling of being at home, while having that sense of escape at the same time.

More than just excellent service, the cozy Discovery manor is famous for its seven luxurious and (more notable) uniquely-themed suites. The moment I learned that each room is inspired by travel destinations around the world, I knew I was going to enjoy our two-day stay. Our room, the aptly-named Siam, is an experience all on its own. Stepping into the room felt like being transported into an entirely different world—ah, sweet respite. With its deep purples and zesty lime greens, and Thai-inspired furniture, antiques, and accents, this room led me to forget the very concept of stress.

The other rooms are just as revitalizing.

The vibrant earthen toned walls and warm terracotta beddings of the Andalucia evokes images of the luscious Spanish countryside, while the cheery yellows and blues of the Mediterranean coastline are wonderfully reflected in the artistic décor of the Saint-Tropez. The Oxford master suite, with its high ceiling, luxurious bed, and spacious bath, lets guests experience the Victorian charm of England. The very laidback Cape Cod feel of the Nantucket makes it the ideal family retreat. And, competing for the second spot on my favorite list, are the more exotically designed Ceylon and Nara. The Sri Lankan inspired Ceylon is the ideal romantic getaway for couples, as it’s the only room in the hotel with a private entrance, giving it the most secluded feel. The Nara, on the other hand, is a welcome treat for someone who’s always been fascinated with everything Japanese. Its wooden Soji sliding doors, pebbled floors, Japanese dolls, and tatami mats call to mind images of geishas and cherry blossoms.

The pleasures do not end there. Discovery Country Suites is also home to the culinary delights of the Restaurant Verbena, whose menu of contemporary country cuisine was crafted by Chef David Pardo de Ayala. Our first bite into what I now declare as culinary heaven came in the form of Creamy Oysters Fricassee, aphrodisiacs on a bed of homemade spaghettini with lemongrass and caviar sauce, guaranteed to seduce. We also tried their Organic Mozzarella Cheese Pot, which was served fondue style with spiced tomato sugo, fresh Tagaytay herbs, and warm focaccia bread.

Did I mention that everything in Restaurant Verbena is organic? The greens that came in our Herb-Marinated Mushrooms and Organic Arugula Salad were all freshly-picked from the farm such that I didn’t feel bad at all for having eaten so much. One could really get used to eating this way. Their selection of pastas and risottos are also must-tries—their Herb Risotto with Mushroom Fricassee and Parmesan will make you want to turn vegan, but only for about a second because a serving of the Verbena Sampler Plate will reunite you with your meat-loving self. You get thrice the variety in one platter—BBQ Lamb Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Norwegian Salmon with Arugula Mushroom Salad, and US Beef Short Ribs Goulash.

Finally, the sweetest of endings. Restaurant Verbena, for all its entrees’ worth, need only bait me with their impossibly sinful desserts to get me coming back for more. Chef David’s Famous Chocolate Souffle Cake, with caramel bananas and Chantilly cream, will render you speechless the entire time you’re eating, if only to savor every single bite. The Bouchon’s Chocolate Marquise—chocolate terrine drizzled with vanilla custard sauce—is pure indulgence. And, my absolute favorite, Panna Cotta Heaven. A trio of panna cotta creations—Saffron & Caramel Oranges, Black Pepper & Raspberries, and the addictive Lemon Balm & Pistachio. There simply are no words.

Indeed, Discovery Country Suites has all the key ingredients needed in that much sought-after recipe for success—excellent service at its finest, invigorating experiences for all the senses, and, more significantly, the knack (which I think most hotels lack) to make its guests forget, the whole length of our stay, all of life’s complexities, giving us that sudden boost of inspiration, as we catch a glimpse of what it feels like, to find one’s bliss.

Discovery Country Suites is located at 300 Calamba Road, San Jose, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservation, visit http://www.discoverycountrysuites.com.

This article was published in Manila Bulletin Travel and HIPP Magazine