When we were looking for a place to spend our anniversary as a couple this year, Sonya’s Garden in Alfonso, Cavite was the shoo-in among the spots we were considering: it’s essentially situated in a forest with all the trees and other greenery that ring it in; the rooms, as we had seen in the reviews, were a proper throwback to the olden, unsophisticated days, which is especially inviting if you’re going on a vacation to wind down rather than get an adrenaline rush; and with Alfonso being located in upland Cavite, the air was bound to be pleasingly crisp and cold. The only thing that would have made us decide against picking the place was the rate for the accommodation. Php7,500 for an overnight stay plus complimentary breakfast and lunch or dinner for two borders on the realm of luxury for us. In the end, the YOLO spirit prevailed.
How do you get to Sonya’s Garden?
Sonya’s Garden is located in Barangay Buck Estate. If you’re going on a weekend or a holiday and get stuck in Tagaytay traffic on your way as you most certainly will, rest assured that the location of your destination will have you sheltered from the cacophony of your fellow tourists. The garden is about 2 kilometers from the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road, tucked away from the busy streets and overfilled restaurants. But perhaps hope that not many other people have the same plan as you when you go; otherwise, there probably won’t be as much peace as you’d prefer. When we went there, in early December, finding a parking spot was easy enough, which should be an indication that we would not be sharing the place with so many other people. True enough, that was the case, much to our delight.
From the parking area, we rode one of the garden’s repurposed golf carts to get to the registration desk. It wouldn’t have been really far a trek, but with our luggage, riding the cart did help. Except when we had registered and claimed the key to our cottage, the cart had gone to pick up other guests, so we had to walk our way back to where we came from, while hauling all our stuff at that, as apparently our accommodation was near the parking area. I’d have appreciated the exercise necessitated by the ascending pathway if we’d been made to do it under more appropriate circumstances. The saving grace was that we were able to get a glimpse of the property’s gardens and the beautiful heritage-inspired villas while dragging ourselves to our cottage.
Our Sonya’s Garden room
Our accommodation, the Daffodil cottage, was the lower unit of a two-storey structure. I distinctly remember being pleased as soon as we stepped in seeing that it was furnished and designed so that it was almost like a room you’d see in a museum depicting Filipino life in bygone days. Everything from the beds (there were two in our room; the bigger one had a drapery), the cabinet, the vanity table, the bedside tables, the lights, the ceiling fan, the capiz and stained-glass windows, down to the curtains and draperies called to mind our ideas of the past, if different points of it. The paintings on the wall, which belong to the personal collection of the garden’s owner, Sonya Garcia, add a depth to the vibe of the expansive room. At night, the soothing silence is broken only by the sounds of forest dwellers and the flowing body of water nearby, and in the morning, the birds do their thing.
The food at Sonya’s Garden
There’s but one unpleasant thing about our stay at Sonya’s Garden: the complimentary dinner. Apart from the salad, which was a medley of fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruits topped with Sonya’s “secret” dressing and probably one of the best salads we’ve ever tried, everything they served for dinner was bland and uninspiring.
This was particularly true about the pasta, which came with a variety of sauces you could try it with and some sides, none of which could save the dish from the waste that it was unfortunately destined to be. Our initial positive assessment of the bread they had given us earlier was overshadowed by the bad feeling we had about the poor pasta. We tried to finish it, but it was so unpalatable we decided to skip dessert. However, one of the staff saw us get up from our table and told us about the sweets we’d be missing out on if we left. We obliged and half-heartedly sat back down. Sadly, the turon, camote cue and chocolate did not bring any redemption.
The breakfast, fortunately, did. It was a really heavy and diverse meal composed of champorado with danggit, the same salad and bread as the night before, fried rice, chicken and pork adobo, mushroom omelette, fried bangus belly, and coffee. It was so good we thought we’d have loved to have gorged on the same for dinner instead of what we’d had.
Sonya’s Garden is a place you’d appreciate fully if you could stay for more than one night. It’s a well-maintained and conscientiously designed resort located in a serene locality, after all. The people delivering services there are very nice too. But at Php7,500 a night and with the quality of the dinner served, the overall experience doesn’t really inspire one to stay longer or return.