A resort in southern Cebu has slowly evolved from a mango plantation to one of the best destinations for team buildings, family bondings or a place to get reconnected with nature.
The place is a pleasant change from the usual “sun, sand, and water” treat that Cebu’s beaches offer.
Owner Norma Reynaldo, who used to be in the export business, bought the 6.7 hectare property in 1995 for P200,000. She initially wanted to have a mango plantation there.
“My friend then advised against buying the property because she sees it as just a waste because this place is really secluded. I decided to buy it though and planned to convert it into a mango plantation to help the people living here,” said Reynaldo of the property where her resort called the Hidden Paradise Mountain Resort is located.
The place in barangay Libo, Ilaya in San Fernando town in southern Cebu, has slopes with a natural flowing spring, which is ideal for the mango plantation.
Reynaldo then hired an agriculturist as consultant to help her set up the place.
In 2002, they built a 300 square meters pool as catchment for the spring water that they will be using to water the mango seedlings only to become the first swimming pool for their first guests that year.
“People from nearby areas soon started visiting after discovering the pool and asked if they could bathe in it. At first, we just allowed them to come and bathe for free but as more people came, my brother Sensei Dong and I decided to charge them P20 for each person to use the pool,” she said.
As more people continued to visit the place even as far as Cebu City, the siblings saw a better opportunity to help more people in the neighborhood by giving them jobs.
“We thought that if we make the place as a mountain resort we can hire more people from around the property so in 2003 we built the second pool. Now we have four pools in the resort,” she said.
Soon people from other cities and municipalities came and asked for rooms to stay for the night. And so they started to build rooms.
They now have 48 rooms for those who want to stay overnight in the resort.
They also have function rooms for meetings and other events which can accommodate from 20 to 300 persons and a 60-seater restaurant offering authentic Filipino and Cebuano cuisine.
In 2007, the Reynaldos decided to go full blast in developing the resort.
“We want the property to be a place where people find total relaxation and fun with the family because we have also other adventure treats like the river and mountain trekking which Dong offers,” she said.
A black-belter in martial arts, Sensei Dong used to bring in his trainees from the Philippine National Police in the property to train where he set up some facilities for the trainees rigid physical training.
Also an Aeronautics Engineer, Sensei Dong, designed some of the mechanical components that they use in their adventure facilities like the Zip Splash.
“This is the only one in the country because I designed it myself. You go through the zipline and then fall on the pool water for the Zip Splash which most of our guests here find really exciting,” said Sensei Dong.
The resort also has the monkey bridge, water slides, fishing, campfire, boulder climbing, wall climbing, rappelling, basketball court, volleyball court, Zorb ball and water ball for everyone’s enjoyment.
Room rates vary from P600 a night to P3,500.
“We have a very affordable package for a group of at least ten people at only P1,800 each,” said marketing manager Helen Tillor.
San Fernando is just an hour drive from Cebu City or a single bus ride from the South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Avenue in Cebu City with bus fares only at P30 per person on week days and P35 on weekends.
Signage were setup along the highway for people to easily know where to get down.
Upon arrival, guests can take a 10 minutes motorcycle ride to the resort at P30 each person.
“We can arrange a shuttle service for them if they want. The resort is only about five kilometres from the highway,” said Reynaldo.
At present, the siblings own 20 hectares of property in the area, with only five hectares being developed yet. /Aileen Garcia-Yap, Reporter