Imagine yourself in a COVID-free paradise in harmony with Mother Nature.
You see lush greenery and refreshing waters in every corner, with occasional glimpses of white ducks and peacocks showing off their feathers. Relaxing, right? Now, couple that with fresh food, satisfying massages, detox treatments, five-star service, and incomparable exclusivity. It sounds like a luxurious dream.
That’s what celebrities and A-listers get to enjoy when they’re at The Farm at San Benito. If you follow some stars on Instagram, chances are, their IG-worthy snaps taken at this 51-hectare haven in Lipa, Batangas have caught your eye. Of course, when they have time for rest and pleasure, it’s a given that they would stay somewhere as fancy and exclusive as this.
While it’s just a 90-minute ride from the metro, it stands out from other luxury destinations as it goes beyond good views and relaxation. “People come here to have the quality of life we had many, many years ago. They come here to reconnect to the real world, to themselves, which we need to do especially in times like these,” general manager Preet Singh told PhilSTAR L!fe.
The Farm, after all, is a holistic medical wellness resort. It focuses on the overall betterment of the mind, body, and spirit.
Five-star holistic medical wellness resort
The Farm takes its holistic approach to wellness seriously, and it does so with loads of extravagance and care. Such remains consistent even in treatments as simple as a combination of body scrub and massage, which involves scrubbing some Himalayan salt mixed with coconut oil and essential oils to detoxify the body.
Not a lot of people, however, know that it also has a medical facility with integrative doctors.
Included in its services is the live blood analysis, where an expert would get a drop of your blood from your finger and place it under a special microscope for a qualitative assessment of your health. It’s not conventionally diagnostic, but it shows the things your body needs more of—like water and rest—based on the movement and behavior of your blood components.
There’s also the flotation therapy, a form of sensory deprivation that lets you float on a lightless, soundproof pad filled with Epsom salt. You have the option to keep it open for the entire session or have it closed for the full experience, although let me tell you: the latter’s not ideal for the claustrophobic.
The best thing you can do to maximize this service is to “just let go.” In turn, as proven by science, you can gain your inner calm, get instant relief for joint aches and pains, improve your sleep, be in the right headspace, as well as boost your focus and creativity.
My personal favorite is the Acqua Revitalizing Therapy, which can last from 120 to 180 minutes. Highly recommended for lovers of massages and long baths, this treatment “works deep in the muscles, realigning the muscle fibers and connective tissue” in the head, neck, shoulders, back, and legs through a myriad of water pressures and flows.
Other programs and services are post-COVID recovery, holistic cancer care, yoga and raw food retreat, sleep induction therapy, pain management, mental health, beauty and anti-aging, dental detox and dental hygiene, and so much more.
Healing food concept
The Farm’s healing components are not just focused on holistic integrative medical services, nurturing spa treatments and hydrotherapy water wellness, mindful movement and functional fitness, and healing environment and heartfelt service, but also on the plant-based, whole-food vegan cuisine being offered in its restaurants. It’s something to consider when staying in this luxury resort, especially for those who can’t get enough of meat and fizzy drinks.
ALIVE! Restaurant can be quite intimidating as it only offers vegan food. Every item on the menu is free from any kind of animal exploitation, but there are still some that non-vegans would surprisingly love, like the sweet and spicy cauliflower with a soulful tang and pecan pie with a texture-y sweetness.
One of the food spot’s biggest come-ons is its breakfast buffet that features items that don’t compromise on vibrance and flavor—such as pancakes, fruits, bread, and muesli.
Vegetarians into Indian food would delight in PRANA as it carries Ayurvedic influences in each dish, “bursting with vital life energy by incorporating herbs and spices.” Up for a spicy punch? Go for the chili poppers. Something savory? Try the stir fry tofu. Something simple yet filling? Pair some red lentil soup with pita bread. All of them are centered on their advocacy for the plant-based, locally sourced, organically grown, and farm-to-table philosophy.
If you’re not one to eat vegan and vegetarian dishes alone, you’d be extremely grateful for PESCE. With health and the longevity of life as its focus, its menu features a variety of organic living foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and sustainable seafood for protein. The food lineup consists of seafood hotpot, fried rice, lumpia rolls, among many others inspired by the Mediterranean Blue Zone diet that “reflects the lifestyle and the environment of the world’s longest-lived people.”
All three restaurants share the same beverage lineup, and I mean it when I say each one is good in its own way. I decided to be adventurous and try a different drink with every meal I had, even for happy hour, and nothing disappointed me. Mind you, this bold statement is coming from someone who’s long been teased for her obsession with sugary iced tea, ice cream shakes, and soft drinks. The menu standouts are The Farm’s Superfood, True Cleanser, Electroyte Lemonade, and Berrylicious.
For happy hour, the Tequila Sunrise could serve as the perfect nightcap.
The price of peace of mind
According to Jennifer Sanvictores, director of sales and marketing, guests flocked to The Farm at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, when lockdowns were imposed in different parts of the country. “Our bookings increased by 100% during that time of allowable occupancy. Our waiting list was about three months, especially at the start of COVID-19 here in the Philippines,” she said in an interview.
Knowing that The Farm was among the first to invest in testing and other systems that guarantee the safety of their visitors, celebrities and A-listers booked their own villas for months, some even for a year. “The good thing here is we have doctors, nurses, and our activities are continuous,” explained Sanvictores.
How much does it cost to stay at this multi-awarded retreat? The villas range from P12,000 to P250,000 per night, exclusive of food, treatments, and other applicable fees. Despite the hefty sum, guests are willing to pay the price of peace of mind—and they'd be happy to do it over and over again.
For that reason, a residential development that they dubbed “wellness real estate” is currently in the works. Each of the 17 villas being built within the property will have a pool overlooking the breathtaking Mount Malarayat. “The whole idea is to live longer, healthier, with less problems in life,” said Singh.