And so it begins.
During the weekend, J and I decided to drive to Tagaytay for the night to make up for a failed trip to China, and get some desperately needed R&R. While our experience of Tagaytay was limited to spontaneous road trips and drinking sessions (never during the day), I had made my research and plotted an itinerary to make the most out of the weekend. On top of it of course, were potential wedding reception venues. Let me give you a quick look at the three major ones on our list. Please note that when we went to these venues we did not have an appointment. We may have been lucky, so just in case, you may want to give them a call before you do a site visit.
Hill Creek Gardens, Alfonso-Tagaytay
Hill Creek Gardens is a beautiful private garden venue not overlooking Taal. The place is extremely well-kept. Mang Eugene, their very pleasant caretaker, was happy to show us around. Here's a view of the main event area from right to left.
|Notice that the area slopes a bit downward.|
|The Chapel. Not available for wedding rites.|
And here's a farther view of the main area.
Besides the main garden, Hill Creek also has 3-4 smaller areas for you and your guests, if I remember correctly. There's a smaller garden for cocktails, a covered (but open air) gazebo that can be used as a lounge, another small garden behind that, and a patio by the guest restrooms. The guest restrooms were pretty and again very well-maintained. There's a guest bedroom that the bride can use during the event as well.
Reserving the venue would mean reserving the entire place, which can accommodate about 400 people. Since it's a garden venue, you'll have to rent tents if you're anticipating rain. Only one event is allowed at a time so you get full privacy, and you and your guests can stay til 12 midnight. Ample parking is available for your guests as well. And yes, you can bring your own caterer.
To get there, take the road to Batangas from the Tagaytay Rotunda. After the Residence Inn on your left, go past the archway between Tagaytay City and Alfonso, Cavite. Look for Garden Hills Subdivision on your right. You'll probably see the huge water tank in the distance with the Garden Hills name on it first. The next right turn is hard to miss. It has a blue and white arch that says "Alfonso" and has a co-op of pasalubong stores. Turn right there and just go straight past a little creek. You'll see the high walls and brown gate of Hill Creek Gardens on your right.
Hill Creek Gardens
+63 917-849-5413; +63 922-849-5413
134 Tagaytay-Alfonso Road, Barangay Sikat, Alfonso, Cavite
ChilLine T, Tagaytay
Also known as the Greek Balearic Suites to some, Chilline T is a private venue perfect for small gatherings. Designed by Antonio "Budji" Layug, the place can accommodate about 70-80 guests comfortably. One can probably squeeze everyone in at a maximum of 100. The house has one master suite and 3 bedrooms with a lot of bathrooms (five I think), and a sauna and steam room. The view of Taal is just awesome. Besides for private parties and intimate weddings, the place is also a popular venue for movie tapings. We fell in love with the photos online and just had to go see the place for ourselves.
|Roofdeck by the main entrance|
|View from the roofdeck|
|Main living area|
The ambiance was wonderful. The garden was pretty well-kept, which complimented that spectacular view.
However. While the house was indeed beautiful, I felt it was not as well-maintained. I did not feel that the house delivered the same excitement as did the photos I found on the internet. The furnishings seemed overused and worn, and the rooms were not as inviting. Their caretaker had mentioned that some renovations are in place, but they're doing it step by step. Since the charm of Chilline lies not only in the place's amazing view but also on the idea of an intimate gathering with a place to stay for the night, I hope they improve the accommodations. Then again, we came a day after a film was supposedly shot in the venue (the crew left an ugly hole in the floor of the master's bedroom), so we might have just caught Chilline at a bad time. All in all, it would be a great place to maybe spend a few days with friends and family. At this point I wouldn't recommend it for a wedding. Parking may also be a concern depending on how many guests you'll be expecting.
To get there, at the Tagaytay Rotunda, take the road along the Police Outpost beside BPI. There's a big PULIS sign so you can't miss it. Ignore the boat ride offers, go down that road and just follow it. Further down, you'll see the bamboo gate with the number 132 on the left side.
132 Talisay Road, Tagaytay City
Suite 8, Ground Floor, LPL Condominium, 17 Eishenhower St., Greenhills, San Juan City
Balai Taal, Tagaytay
And yet another private venue. From the moment we saw the place's photos on the internet, it was our first choice. The place is a-mazing. Again, very private. A guard greets you at the gate and escorts you down the road to the venue. When we got there, we were welcomed by the very good-natured Mang Nelson, Balai Taal's Site Coordinator. First he showed us the ongoing construction for a new parking area that will accommodate about 80 cars. Yay for parking! Then he led us down to the garden reception areas. There are two houses available for rent with one garden each, separated by a few steps of stairs and a big tree with hanging lights.
According to Mang Nelson, both gardens can accommodate up to 300 people, depending on the set-up.
|Proposed area for couple's table for a better view of guests from both sides of the garden|
|Couple's view of the right side|
|Couple's view of the left|
Now to see the inside. Identical not only on the outside, the houses in Balai Taal are identical on the inside as well. There are 3 floors and 5 rooms. On the first floor you'll find spacious living and dining areas. Mang Nelson says to accommodate more people, the living area can be used for the buffet, and the dining area can be set up to house the "oldies." The maids' quarters, the main kitchen, and the roomy "dirty" kitchen can also be found on the first floor. On the second floor you'll find two bedrooms with their own awesome bathrooms and one kids' room with two single beds, as well as a lounge area and balcony. The third floor has the exact same look and layout as the second, but it's much roomier with only 2 bedrooms. Everything was so clean and well-maintained! Like you could check in right then and there.
|The lounge area on the second floor. |
The one on the third floor is exactly the same except for the bigger space.
|Daybeds on each floor!|
That's a view of the gazebo.
|Exquisite rooms! Again, identical. Which means everyone staying over will feel equally special.|
|View of Taal from the third floor balcony|
|View of 3 gardens from the third floor balcony|
You can see the House 1 garden and gazebo on the upper right.
Balai Taal is as flexible as it is beautiful. They also offer the garden and gazebo of House 1 (for an additional fee of course) for cocktails or even wedding ceremonies.
|View of the garden in House 1 from the gazebo|
|The gazebo in House 1|
For intimate weddings, Balai Taal has a few options.
House 2 - Night before the event
Houses 2&3 - Night of the event
2 Gardens on the day of the event
Houses 2&3 on the day of the event
2 Gardens on the day of the event
House 2 for two nights
One garden on the day of the event
House 2 - for one night
One garden on the day of the event
Rates for all packages are all in. No extra charges or corkage fees which means you can cook and bring your own caterer at no extra cost. Check in and check out time is as flexible as it can get. They're also pretty lenient about how many people can stay over as long as it doesn't get overcrowded. They also have an accredited tent supplier just in case you may want to get tents. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
Balai Taal also has packages for family use, corporate seminars, or team building.
To get there, follow the road to People's Park/Picnic Grove. From Manila via the Sta. Rosa Exit, just turn left on the Tagaytay-Calamba road (the one with the Tagaytay Econo Inn). Ligaya Drive is a short drive from the Econo Inn, on the right side.
Mr. Nelson Blanco
Ligaya Drive, Brgy. Sungay, Tagaytay City
Telefax: +632 633-2838
6/F RFM Bldg., Pioneer cor. Sheridan Sts., Mandaluyong City
Please know that I am not a representative of any of these venues. If you're interested in any of them you can reach them through the contact information provided. Happy hunting!