Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day Tour at Stilts Calatagan plus Budget Guide

On Mother's Day, we went to Stilts in Calatagan, Batangas. I have been looking to have some beach time over the past weeks and it was a last minute decision to pick Stilts.

I was looking for a nice resort in Batangas for months and I am really eyeing the Aquaria Beach and Waterpark resort. I found an all day pass on a discounted price but still find it expensive for a day tour. I am looking for a place where we could enjoy the beach and lounge on swimming pools at some point too.

As far as I can remember, Stilts offers a wonderful place to stay but with a very stiff price. I have read blogs about it and it looked really nice. It's on my radar for quite some time but can't afford to stay overnight.

As I said, on last minute, I came across Stilts Calatagan and their day tour rates when I searched for cheap day tours in Batangas. I was so glad to see that it's affordable despite of their expensive nightly rates. I immediately texted them and asked about their day tours. The person whom I exchange text message with (didn't get the chance to know his/her name and he/she didn't bother to introduce his/herself too) was every accommodating. He/She answered all my questions and was very prompt specially during the booking process.

I want to schedule our day tour on a Saturday, May 13, but was told they are fully booked. Good thing, they could still accommodate us the next day which was on Mother's Day! Yehey!! =) The only thing is that they no longer have huts available except their cozy nook.

I took it so we could push through with it. It was very timely to have a celebration anyway. =)

I was sent an email to reserve my slots and was asked to deposit 50% downpayment. Since it was on a Friday and I can't go to the nearest bank, I asked if I could just fund transfer which they agreed. I sent the screen shot of the deposit and immediately received a confirmation email of my booking.

We don't have a private car so we decided to commute our way to Calatagan.


How to Commute to Stilts Calatagan

We came from Pasay so from Mcdonalds in MRT Taft station, a terminal of buses to some parts of Luzon and Visayas are available. I asked about a bus going straight to Calatagan but was told there were no available buses to take us there. They offered to ride Nasugbu bound instead.

From MRT Taft Station, our bus took the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite. The bus got so crowded in some part of Cavite up to Tagaytay so better to go on their terminals to secure seats. Bus fare from Pasay to Lian is Php150+ pesos. After 2 and a half hours of bus ride, we dropped off at 711 in Lian, Batangas. We walked on a street before it and saw the jeepney and tricycle terminal. We rode a jeep going to Calatagan Market that took about an hour. Jeepney fare was Php38.When we arrived in Calatagan Market, we bought mineral water and looked for a tricycle to take us to Stilts. Tricycle ride is Php40/head.

Tip: There are other bus terminal around metro manila that you can go to. There are van in Metropoint in MRT Taft too that could take you to Calatagan for a higher price. You could also choose to go to Buendia since bus from Calatagan to Manila have terminal there or go to bus terminal in Coastal Mall (update - Macapagal terminal). In that way. you can avoid the hassle of commuting longer and save time and energy for your day tour. Alabang also has a terminal in South Station for buses bound to Batangas.

Start of Day Tour

We arrived at Stilts around 9:30am. The guard asked us for our name and checked the reservations. There was another guard shortly after and it was our tricycle driver who advised them of our booking. The driver dropped us off on the resort's make-shift place for reception. There are probably a lot of visitors that day so they decided to have a tent to accommodate groups of people conveniently. They offered a welcome drink and made us pay the Environmental fee of Php30/pax. We also paid the remaining amount due, gave us a map and directed us to Harmony Beach where day tours mostly stay. They offer a free van ride to any point in the beach for you to conveniently bring your bags. I am surprised though that they didn't inspect our bags to check if we brought cooked food. The receptionist only asked if we have cooked meals with us.



We looked for the cozy nook which can be pretty easy to find because of the big trees that served as a shade from the scorching heat of the sun.

Cozy Nook 1
Sorry I don't have a much nicer photo of their cozy nook as we put all of our things immediately when we arrived. Here's how it looked like from their website.

source
 This is exactly how it looked like except that tire-swing which was on the other side of the tree. It was the perfect spot since it was close to the beach, we could watch Jami while he's swimming plus that big tree that shields us from direct sunlight. I would say that it was really worth the amount we paid for that spot. I prefer this rather than the nipa hut as it can get a little humid dahil magsisiksikan kayo sa loob. The cozy nook offered us what we need - the beach, the sand, a little of the sun and the fresh breeze of the air.

When we finally settled down, Jami wanted to swim agad so off he went with his playmate, Kuya Angelo. We were starving so we went to their restaurant to check the menu. Food ranges from Php250-450 good for sharing (2-3 persons). They would allow day tours to bring food but with a corkage of Php 200 per head for any cooked/heavy meal food. Breads, chips, spread etc won't be charged. We were considering of just bringing in food but since we will be commuting, we decided to buy from their restaurant instead. I would say that the prices are comparable to Max's restaurant however, I didn't enjoy the food that much. Although it tastes okay but nothing spectacular.


 They delivered our food to our nook earlier than lunch time which was fine because we were starving at that point. It took probably around 30-45 minutes earlier than what we expected it to be. We thought it will be delivered to us around 12noon.


After lunch, we immediately went to swim in their pool. I wasn't surprise to see that there were a lot of people during our visit, it's Summer months and Mother's Day too.


The deepest pool height was around 6ft. The farthest pool on this photo was the kiddie pool. I would say that Jami enjoyed the pool so much. As long as he's wearing his borrowed vest from his cousin, he can be left alone. But then, we're not taking any risk so we have either Daryl or his cousin and Kuya Angelo to look after Jami. By the way, their restaurant is located on your right in the photo above. We stayed in their pool for good 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After some photo session with the gang, we decided to eat snacks and enjoy the beach. We were blessed with a weather that's cloudy so it wasn't that harsh to our skins. Just before we decided to head back to our nook, we saw the opportunity for some photo ops.





This was a view deck of their cottages. There were wooden tables and chairs for day tours. It's across their restaurant.

We suddenly wish to go near the cottages. On our way down, we saw a sign that day tours are not allowed to go there but everyone's so busy, we went anyway. Talk about matitigas ang ulo! hahaha.

The farthest cottage

The view
We didn't get the chance to see the cottages inside but some of them have hammocks outside perfect to lounge and watch the horizon. Wow! May ganun?

After our photo op, we went back to our nook to eat merienda. I couldn't believe that Jami's enjoying the place so much. He doesn't want to leave the water. I was kinda worried since he's skipping snacks already so we asked him to sit down for a while and eat. Pahirapan pa talaga. Haha!


I loved how calm and shallow their beach was. It's perfect for families so as not to worry about the safety of the kids. Although please keep in mind to look after them at all times. You don't want to risk their safety right?

They also have this part of the beach where beach weddings could be facilitated.During our stay, a group of men were preparing the venue so we took the chance to take some pictures.

You take nice pictures of them, when it's their time to take your photo.. never mind. =D
By the way, Stilts is well maintained. You can see it in their restroom. It's clean and has a separate shower area and restroom. It has a good supply of water and have place to put your things inside the shower area.

Restrooms/Shower Areas are on the right side of the photo
We ordered plenty of food for our lunch and brought breads, chips and bottled water with no corkage fee. It lasted us for merienda so we didn't order food from their restaurant anymore.

Jami wants to go back to the beach
 It was a sad thing that this is the only photo of the three of us here in Stilts. Mostly, it's me with Daryl or me and Jami. Eto ang nag iisang photo, hindi pa maayos. Haha!

At around 3pm, we decided to swim in the beach to get the feel of it and I would say that I enjoyed it too. The sand was white and fine while the water is clear.  I was hoping we have plenty of time to roam around, enjoy the beach and the place. I know that Stilts is a really big property and has a lot of picture perfect place to visit.

Last photo before going home
We left Stilts before 4pm so we could catch the bus from Calatagan to Manila. For summer months, Bus terminal in Calatagan extends up to 6pm for their last trip due to the amount of people going there versus their usual trip of 4pm.

Pros

1. Affordable. For the price of Php385/head, the place is more than it's worth. Kids 6 and below are free of charge.
2. Resort and Beach area are well maintained. They offer a lot of accommodation for a day tour, you just need to reserve upon booking.
3. Free use of pool and beach area included in the entrance fee.
4. Free ride from your cottage to the entrance of the resort. Although you can opt to walk if you still have the energy to do so.
5. Staff are accommodating. From booking process to the actual day of our tour. There were securities roaming around and staff that cleans the beach from time to time.
6. Very close to Manila, perfect for short vacations.
7. You can ask the tricycle driver to pick you up when you are ready to leave the resort. They would usually offer since there were no ways of commuting around the area. The kuya who drove us to Stilts left his mobile number to text him when we are ready to be picked up.

Cons

1. Food tastes okay.Nothing spectacular though for it's price. I hope they could improve on their Sinigang. =)
2. For commuters, you have to cut your day tour short on non Summer months due to buses last trip is at 4pm. If you have a private car then you could stay until 6pm and wait for sunset. 

I can't think of anything else that needs to improve on. I just hope they maintain the service they give at all times as Stilts is a wonderful place to stay. 

Budget



You will be able to save some if you ride the bus that goes straight to Calatagan instead of riding the Nasugbu bound. Also, I put Php500 for the food but it is adjustable depending on how many food you order. I would say that it would only be for lunch since you could bring light food and water inside the resort without corkage. Bring bread, spread and snacks to save some money as resort prices could be thrice the regular price. If you wish to bring your own cooked food or grill them in the resort, you could do so by paying Php200/head corkage fee.Charge for Cozy Nook or Nipa hut can be divided with your group so it will be a lot cheaper.

Do I recommend Stilts?

Definitely a big Yes! It was a very nice place and day tour doesn't even catch everything that the place has to offer. I hope we could stay longer but we have to go back to Manila for work. I say this is a place we could always come back for some short vacation.


Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort
Calatagan, 4215 Batangas, Philippines
+639175863343

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