As if we were royals waiting to be served, a loud Chinese gong echoed, hailing us, as we slowly descended down the concrete staircase of the Ming dynasty-inspired premises of Qiwellness Living in Tagaytay.
It was just right after dusk when we arrived; the famed Taal Volcano and its pristine lake were already hiding behind the thick fog and the dark night. But despite the deep, harrowing evening sky, there stood the Tea House, at the center of it all, glistening in all its glory and waiting for us to immerse in its beauty, fully.
Qiwellnes probably felt like entering Zhang Yimou’s ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ production set dating back to 14th-century China, but probably accented with an ultra-modern touch.
I was in Tagaytay, but it also felt like I wasn’t.
The surrounding fire pits lit up the outdoor dining area, and there by the Tea House, we were happily welcomed by Mr. Ken Tuazon, part-owner of this stunning exclusive spa and wellness property.
Probably the first of its kind in the Philippines, Qiwellness promises traditional Chinese wellness and culinary experience with the aim of providing luxury, style and relaxation to its highly discerning, well-heeled guests. The property opened in Tagaytay back in 2014 and now has a branch in Makati (at The Picasso).
Like eunuchs waiting to serve their masters in the comforts of their very own exclusive retreat facility, the staff’s attention were all on us from the time we arrived till we left. There were probably around eight of them waiting for our minute-by-minute requests and random queries (such as extending the pool heating hours) as we were the only guests — exclusive as they say — in the property.
They only have one private room (I believe) hence there’s a maximum number of guests they can accommodate per night.
Nonetheless, I loved our room — it wasn’t a fancy one; and yet it was cozy and habitable, except for the fact that the front glass is covered merely by a black transparent cloth. There were spaces in the corners where you can see your shadows if you try to peek from the outside.
Other than that, their dimly-lit billet carried all the necessary basics: a king-sized bed, a television set with an attached USB that hauled a list of intellectually-fatiguing films, toiletries, bathrobes, and a rain shower room (detached from the toilet) complete with sauna facilities.
I also loved our red-colored bed linens. And although they were anti-climactic with the emotions they try to evoke, it totally felt like a lovemaking bed: in a similar manner, probably our way to pay homage to all of the concubines in colonial China as they lay there in their stained deflowered linens.
Right before dinner, our feet got their well-deserved pampering by the bathhouse. The 30 minute foot reflexology was a heavenly lullaby to my aching soul, coupled by the breezy wind and the night-sky signalling an impending downpour. Sitting there by the pool loungers and having our feet massaged, I took a nap.
Back at the Tea House, it was already past 8 p.m. when the attendants served us glasses of red wine as they prepare dinner.
The plates started arriving one by one, and they were as exquisite as how I imagined them to be: a spoonful of pine tree-smoked clams with tofu and paprika and a pair of chopsticks wrapped by a half-meter long seaweed pesto soba. Everything were surprisingly savory and filling despite the small servings at the beginning.
By the time I reached the main course, I was already full.
My personal favorites were the lamb stew ravioli and the pork belly confit, whereas my friend was blown away by the dessert.
That same night, we went for a quick soak in the Yin Yang (hot & cold) hydrotherapy pools, although I stayed most of the time in the heated one as Tagaytay was rather chilly.
And by the time it was midnight, I was already in dreamland feeling totally relaxed.
9 Course ‘Yin Yang’ Degustation Menu:
Our alarms went off at 6 a.m. pulling us out of bed to see the sunrise. It proved to be an easy feat as we were enthusiastic ourselves to wake up early. But to our dismay, the rain started to pour, which sadly lasted till lunch.
We settled for another dip by the pool instead as we took a million phone selfies.
The breakfast was a visual delight.
It was deconstructed food art waiting to be devoured: dimsums, crispy cookies, sausages, anchovies, century eggs and a bowl of white congee.
We didn’t waste any more time after breakfast and we immediately went for the 90-minute Silk signature massage in the Opium Den. The massage was utterly liberating, I wake myself up every time I hear myself snoring every other few minutes.
We checked out by noon time which was just perfect as their dining hall gets slowly filled up by guests who were there for a private party.
The rain subdued by then, and it give us an opportunity to appreciate the view of Taal despite the hazy skies.
We drove back to Manila from the pleasant respite we just had, bearing a beautiful piece of story to share to everyone. The experience was fully cohesive, it lived up to all the good reviews we’ve read and heard about Qiwellness.
View of Taal Lake:
Aguinaldo Highway, Brgy. Maharlika East, Tagaytay City, Philippines
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Mobile:+63 917 522 6969