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Sonya's Garden Bed and Breakfast

Updated on February 21, 2015

Why Sonya's Garden Bed and Breakfast is my favorite vacation place

Sonya's Garden Bed and Breakfast is not only my favorite ultimate place to relax, but it is also a world away across the Pacific. This destination defines "getting away from it all."

Tucked away close to the rolling hills of Tagaytay, Philippines, Sonya's Garden B&B is paradise found. Owned by Sonya Garcia, this country estate and garden was Sonya's personal sanctuary and haven until friends and visitors convinced her to open it to the public. The high altitude and cool climate of Tagaytay has made it a popular getaway from the noise, hustle and bustle of city life. Yet Sonya's Garden B&B stands out amongst the rest, a place so tranquil, beautiful, unique and uncrowded, where one begins to appreciate once again the simple joys in life. It is way more than a Bed and Breakfast place. It is an experience. We left the place feeling rejuvenated, healthier, fully rested with the promise to come back again someday.

All photos were taken by Bakerwoman (that's me). All rights reserved.

Half the fun was getting there.

We rented a van and a chaffeur for the seven of us (mother, siblings and brother-in-law) and made the two-hour ride from Manila to Sonya's Garden. The Bed and Breakfast is not accessible by public transportation. We traveled over bumpy roads off the beaten path, stopped to imbibe in young coconut juice along the way, enjoyed the views of the famed Taal Volcano until we came upon our sanctuary for the weekend.

Welcome to our 'Lavender' Country Cottage - all 14 cottages were named after herbs - Every nook and cranny was well-appointed

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Tagaytay City is where the famed Taal volcano lives - Still an active volcano visited by thousands every year

Beautiful but dangerous, Taal volcano still rumbles and is an active volcano. The volcano sits in the lake of another crater (Crater Lake) which makes Taal very unique.

The eruption of Taal volcano, January 30, 1911
The eruption of Taal volcano, January 30, 1911

Beautiful but dangerous, Taal volcano still rumbles and is an active volcano. The volcano sits in the lake of another crater (Crater Lake) which makes Taal very unique.

 

Attention to details makes all the difference

Decorator touches were obvious at every turn. Each item had its place and personality.

Hand beaded throw pillow

Hand beaded throw pillow
Hand beaded throw pillow

Fragrant bowls of floating petals are freshened up everyday

Fragrant bowls of floating petals are freshened up everyday
Fragrant bowls of floating petals are freshened up everyday

Create your own elegant garden oasis with a copper bowl and brass bells - Listen to the music of the tinkling bells and murmur of the water

Imagine two floating bells randomly bumping into stationary bells and playing music all day long in a copper bowl.

Woodstock Copper Water Bell Fountain- Encore Collection
Woodstock Copper Water Bell Fountain- Encore Collection

This water bell fountain can be set on a table or in your special spot in the garden. The soothing sound of the swirling bells and soft gurgling water of this 16" in diameter and 6" high fountain will drown the hum of the pump. Put it on a timer and enjoy the peace and calm in your surroundings every day.

 

Now that you have seen the living areas

Check out our charming and spacious bedrooms. Three large bedrooms with 2 queen-sized beds each easily accommodated everyone.

Our charming accommodations - Unforgettable restful night sleep for the weekend

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A replica of an ancient Chinese Imperial concubine bed was my chosen place to sleep. It  was a tad high with a stepping stool for our mother who would have enjoyed sleeping here for the night.
A replica of an ancient Chinese Imperial concubine bed was my chosen place to sleep. It  was a tad high with a stepping stool for our mother who would have enjoyed sleeping here for the night.
A replica of an ancient Chinese Imperial concubine bed was my chosen place to sleep. It was a tad high with a stepping stool for our mother who would have enjoyed sleeping here for the night.

Sheer curtains were weighed down by dangling handmade beads

Sheer curtains were weighed down by dangling handmade beads
Sheer curtains were weighed down by dangling handmade beads

So what was different about Sonya's B&B?

We had the whole house to ourselves and all our meals were prepared for us. It was our home away from home.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served in the pavilion - a sit-down affair - Just a stone's throw from our cottage

All our meals were included in the cottage rental for the weekend and cooked in the kitchen behind the pavilion. Included in our weekend special was a cooking demonstration on how to make an easy vegetarian pasta dish with herbs from the greenhouse. This was then served to everyone of my family who still had room to spare for this healthy and aromatic pasta dish.

We could feel the tropical breeze wafting through the open walls and hear the crickets and frogs singing in unison. There was no doubt that we were going to be spoiled and pampered that weekend, being waited on hand and foot, and enjoying the "art of doing nothing", a philosophy coined by Sonya herself.

Sonya's greenhouse - Fresh, aromatic, healthy and organic

Aromaric herbs, organic vegetables and fruits are grown in the greenhouse and served to guests. The chandelier that hangs in Sonya's greenhouse is functional and decorative. It is a conversation piece and seemed out-of-place in a greenhouse. It certainly makes a statement.

My sister and I were invited into the greenhouse by Sonya and after I tasted the leaf of stevia, which is a sugar substitute, we hastily left the premises after being bit by ants.

Our breakfast fare - Elegance of English high tea and more

Hand-embroidered linen, vintage bone china, silverware, homegrown greens and fruits were some of things that set aside Sonya's Garden B&B from other places. Servers waited on us hand and foot which was a welcome change for these tired and weary visitors.

We feasted on fried local fish, fresh mangoes, pineapple and herb salad, fried rice, coffee, tea and bottomless dalandan juice for breakfast. Philippine mangoes are the best in the world, in my opinion, smooth like the texture of cling peaches, non-fibrous, juicy and sweet. All the salad greens and herbs were grown in Sonya's greenhouse.

Let's take a tour of Sonya's fabled garden

It is time to breathe in the fresh air, admire and commune with nature, and work off the calories.

Sonya's English garden - A secret sanctuary

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Nature's graceful arches bowed and welcomed us - An inspiration to all gardeners

A leisurely stroll along the curvy red brick road delighted us with the the aromatic scents of flowers, the trills of songbirds, bubbling fountains, and the tranquility of a new-found paradise.

Lush foliage and flowers seemed to grow with wild abandon - Yet all the plants were masterfully designed in the landscape artwork

The entire garden is hand-watered with garden hoses. There are no timed sprinkler system. Sonya told me that she employs the villagers to come and tend her garden everyday. It is no wonder there is nary a weed in sight. You can see one of the workers in a yellow shirt (far right) working on the landscaping.

Quaint rest kiosk along the garden walk - A favorite getaway for newlyweds

Window panes and sliding doors are lined with capiz seashells, a traditional style used in cottages and provincial homes in the Philippines. Capiz is often referred to as windowpane oyster because these are used as an alternative to glass being translucent and abundant, not to mention cheaper. There is a wooden lounge inside for an afternoon siesta or just for meditating and taking in the lush greenery around. It almost could pass for a garden tea house.

I really like this charming hideaway in the garden.

The Wonders of Capiz Shells

Perfect blending of tropical trees and plants

A coconut tree laden with young green fruits stand tall in the backdrop next to a tamarind tree. Bougainvillea and other tropical plants seem so perfect next to each other.

Too tempting and inviting not to sit down - One of my favorite stopovers in the garden

This charming and elegant garden lounge is like no other I have ever seen or sat on. The coverlet is hand-crochetted with embroidered pillows to prop up and soothe tired muscles. A sheer mosquito netting canopy hangs over the lounge for protection and privacy. There is no doubt that everyone who chanced upon this seating area actually had to stop, sit and had a picture taken. We did.

Mosquito netting canopy for protection and privacy - Functional, romantic, elegant - transform your patio, camp site or bedroom

Suspend this elegant mosquito netting canopy over a setee, patio bench or hammock and protect yourself from flying bugs and create a sense of privacy. The fine polyester mesh will even keep the smallest bugs out.

The soothing sounds of water were everywhere - Simple joys are very comforting

Aquatic plants like water lilies and papyrus sedge surrounding the gurgling fountain brought on visual and mental relaxation. The simple pleasure of listening and watching water flow soothed and calmed our nerves.

Every corner along the garden pathways had the sweet sound of running water - Creates the Zen-like tranquility

This bubbling fountain is just outside our cottage on the way to the restaurant pavilion. The dining table and chairs can be seen peeking out of the lush ferns.

Soothe your nerves with the sound of calming water - Attract birds to come play in the moving water.

Smart Solar 20326R01 Umbrella Series Solar Fountain, Boy and Girl Reading on a Bench, Aged Bronze Finish, Utilizes Smart Solar Dual Solar Panel Technology
Smart Solar 20326R01 Umbrella Series Solar Fountain, Boy and Girl Reading on a Bench, Aged Bronze Finish, Utilizes Smart Solar Dual Solar Panel Technology

Conserve energy and use natural sunlight to run this solar fountain. The delightful little girl and boy under the umbrella with water trickling down like rain will guarantee to bring smiles.

 

There is always a place to sit and chat in the garden - and revive the art of conversation

One does not have to walk too far to come across an inviting bench or a place to sit. The low-impact exercise of a leisurely walk in the garden and occasional stopping to smell the flowers sometimes requires a minute or two of rest. This was true for my 85-year-old mother who walked many steps behind us and could not keep up her pace. The walk around the garden was a way to whet our appetite for the next delicious meal.

English garden bench - A place to read a favorite book, chat with a friend, drink your favorite tea

Achla designs 4-foot lutyen bench
Achla designs 4-foot lutyen bench

Made of sustainable eucalyptus, this elegant English garden bench will make a statement in your porch, deck or garden.

Sturdy, easy to assemble, great workmanship, this bench is comfortable and will last for many years.

 

The fresh smell of baked good summoned us to the Panaderia - It is the Filipino bakery with homemade breads

Who does not like freshly baked goodies from Sonya's panaderia (Spanish for bakery). We packed a few bags of cookies and buttery Spanish rolls and Chinese hopia (pastries with sweet mungbean paste) to take back to our cottage for our afternoon tea.

All-purpose natural woven baskets - Nothing can compare with what nature has provided us

Sonya's Country Store - adjacent to the panaderia

Native handicrafts, embroidered linens, beads, jewelries from local communities, treasures Sonya have collected in her travels can be found in The Country Store. Lavender soaps, essential oils and lotions were also available as souvenirs.

Our visit to the Spa

A vacation is incomplete without ironing out all the kinks in our bodies with a massage.

This was difficult to pass up

This was difficult to pass up
This was difficult to pass up

A bit of pampering won't hurt anyone - Massage away aches and pains and worries

We indulged ourselves with 90 minutes of Swedish massage, Japanese Shiatsu finger-pressure massage, Thai massage, foot reflexology, facial and foot scrubs. It was a perfect fusion of European and Asian massage techniques with the use of essential oils. After a steam bath and hot shower with homemade herbal soaps, we all felt refreshed and rejuvenated. It feels so good to be pampered.

We were now famished and ready for dinner at the pavilion.

When the sun set, the garden pathways lit up - Chirping of crickets was music to our ears

The evenings were cool and breezy but there was no need to wear any jackets. Stained-glass garden lanterns light up the winding garden paths. Trees are festooned with miniature lights. It almost seemed like the holidays were upon us in September.

This huge beetle greeted us under the moonlight

This huge beetle greeted us under the moonlight
This huge beetle greeted us under the moonlight

Thank this quick poll

Have you ever stayed in a Bed and Breakfast Inn?

See results

Would you stay in Sonya's Garden B&B if you had the chance? - Thank you for stopping by.

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    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I agree with you 100% Tipi. This was my first time here and I brought my Mom and siblings for a treat. There were 14 cottages in the entire estate and we never once saw other people walking around. Real peaceful, quiet, and so restful. I appreciate your visit and your warm comments.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh my, I am in wonder of such a majestic place the puts regular B & Bs in the background for sure. What an amazing experience at every turn and more so appreciated by you with your sense of aesthetics and artistic eye.....an absolutely amazing place for soul rest and getting filled up! Beautifully presented in every way by you!

    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @lionmom100: lionmom100, you heart will not only go pitter patter but occasionally skip a beat when step into this retreat. Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      This looks like a wonderful place to stay. My heart was going pitter pat.

    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @RinchenChodron: Thanks for stopping by RinchenChodron. You will definitely enjoy this sanctuary.

    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: You'll love the place, Papier. I guarantee it.

    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @MBurgess: RiaB, it was my first time here and I was impressed enough to want to come back someday. Definitely a destination to put in your bucket list of places to visit.

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      This looks like a very tranquil place to enjoy some much needed leisure time! Beautiful photos! I would love to visit this place! Great Lens, bakerwoman!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Oh yes, in a minute, I'd sure stay there. Luxurious in the best ways.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Yes, for sure! Looks and sounds wonderful! Maybe someday I'll get to go.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Absolutely. I can see why this would be a favorite place for a get-a-way. Thanks for sharing this unique place.

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @ecogranny: Thanks Graceonline. It was truly a welcome retreat and treat. I felt healthier and energized when we left the place.

    • jlshernandez profile image
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      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @RuthieDenise: karendd123, I am sure your sis-in-law may have heard of Sonya's Garden. If she has not been here, it is worth the while to make the trip.

    • jlshernandez profile image
      Author

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      @LiteraryMind: LiteraryMind, yes it is more than a B&B where you do not have to do anything as these are done for you. It was quite an experience. Thanks for stopping by.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Lovely place, and fresh, organic food grown on the spot? I love that. Beautifully done page, too.

    • rozalex lm profile image

      rozalex lm 4 years ago

      wow, this place looks really great. what a cool lens!!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I wish this was closer to home. It appears to be so much more than just a bed and breakfast. Beautiful and restful.

    • RuthieDenise profile image

      RuthieDenise 4 years ago

      This looks like a lovely place. I have a sister-in-law from the Philippines. I am sure she would love these photos.