LIPA, Batangas – For many, a luxurious vacation means spending time in a posh hotel with scintillating views and top amenities such as infinity pools, well-equipped gyms and spas, high-end boutiques, and top-rated restaurants.
Spending a hefty amount of money for a vacation must be tantamount to an almost perfect relaxation escapade – an opportunity to recharge, reflect, and heal.
A resort in Lipa, Batangas has taken all of these into account while also taking the term “luxurious” a notch higher – as described by many of their guests, most especially foreigners, who did not hesitate to travel to the Philippines just to visit the property.
The Farm at San Benito – a member of CG Hospitality, an arm of CG Corp Global – is an eco-luxury holistic medical wellness resort located in Lipa, Batangas, a 90-minute drive away from Manila airport.
It sits on 51 hectares of lush green environment with life-sustaining microbiome ecology, fresh air and strong positive life-giving energy radiating around the property.
And while the resort is a popular destination for many celebrities for being extremely private and secluded, The Farm at San Benito offers more than the usual posh vacation.
In fact, the wellness resort has been honored with over 80 prestigious international awards including “Best Medical Wellness Resort in the World” from SENSES Germany which made its mark as one of the leading medical wellness destinations in the world.
So how does The Farm separate itself from other top hotels and resorts in the country?
The property is campaigning for “transformative healing holidays,” rooted in its mission to provide science-based, evidence-guided holistic healing and transformative lifestyle retreats.
The Farm offers medically-supervised health programs that are carefully planned and conducted by internationally trained integrative medical doctors and licensed health professions in addressing and treating chronic illnesses and lifestyle diseases, naturally and holistically – making it unique from other luxurious resort brands in the country.
“We are so advanced and normally this is done in a clinic but ours it's in a resort setting because we don't want our guests to feel that they're in a clinic. That’s why we call it healing holidays -- the life transformative healing holidays – kasi it’s your vacation,” Jennifer Sanvictores, The Farm at San Benito’s Global Head of Sales, Marketing and Communications, told ABS-CBN News.
The wellness property also has 60 exclusive and spacious suites and villas which feature pieces of furniture that highlights artisan expertise with Filipino creativity.
Each suite and villa showcases indigenous materials such as bamboo, abaca, coconut shells, rattan and capiz shells. The space even blends tradition with modern elements and the diversity of nature.
Accented and detailed with local fabrics, the interior also proudly presents the local artisan community and Filipino culture such as the use of Binetwagan fabric, the Tagolwanen weave and basketry patterns.
But most importantly, it has healing facilities that boast of Filipino wellness practices, as it sets out to create a distinctly Philippine brand in terms of wellness and healing for the global market.
Championing Filipino brand of wellness
The Farm has a Holistic Medical Sanctuary, Healing Sanctuary Spa, Acqua Hydrotherapy Sanctuary, Spa Infinity Pool, Amphitheater and Yoga Sala, Meditation Lounges, Pure Energy Gym, Secret Garden, Meditation Labyrinth, and Organic Farm.
But all of it are anchored to the Filipino definition of wellness such as the traditional hilot. The Farm uses virgin coconut oil (VCO) to champion the Filipino art of healing while blending it to other herbal remedies.
Dubbed as farm to skin, the use of VCO and production of it have become a corporate social responsibility for the resort that has campaigned the product since its establishment 20 years ago.
“So, 20 years ago The Farm launched this as a five-star property. Everyone started [and] it was like a big boom in the VCO industry. Because for the first time, there's like a 5-star world-class resort that uses VCO, from the food, to the medical aspect and also the spa,” Sanvictores continued.
Back then, the concept of farm-to-skin was not yet popular, except in small communities that use plants to treat diseases and wounds.
“So even at the spa you will notice we have our own plantation. We don't use any commercial products. Before 'yung mga high-end spas would only use imported French oil. Sabi ko why not coconut oil? And because of that, it became the brand of Filipino wellness hilot because we also introduced that,” The Farm executive added.
And true enough, the Department of Tourism capitalized on that chance to market VCO as part of the wellness industry in the Philippines – keeping coconut oil as staple to “hilot.”
Aside from its natural products, The Farm at San Benito banked on the image of Filipinos as “fantastic healers.”
This also made its “healing holidays” concept a success, knowing that foreign guests trust the kind of service Filipino can give in terms of hospitality.
“You're in a beautiful forest-bathing and then you have nurses and Filipinos are known to be really hospitable we’re fantastic healers. You heal faster,” she said.
Healing through the integrative medicine
The Farm allowed ABS-CBN News to experience some of its medically-supervised programs. Guests are given a health questionnaire when they reserve a suite or villa in the property.
Since most of the clients visit the wellness resort for healing, The Farm at San Benito has an extensive list of programs – which can also be personalized based on the guest’s need – that catering to various health issues such as detox, sleep improvement, strengthening immune system, pain management, mental health checkup, and even cancer care.
For an intro to detox program, for example, guests will undergo a cleansing program which may last three to four days. Included in the elaborate process are vegan diet, colon cleansing using coffee which Batangas is known for, kidney cleansing, psycho-emotional clearing, and other functional fitness activities such as yoga and Mandala flower arrangement.
Guests should commit to drinking fruits and vegetables in order to rest the digestive organs which will allow the body to focus on regaining or sustaining vitality.
Sanvictores also proudly promoted its cancer care program which has been an integral part of The Farm. The eco-friendly resort offers a comprehensive and non-invasive monitoring system aside from the emotional and physical support through all stages of cancer survivorship.
“We have doctors here and what our doctors practice is integrative medicine meaning modalities that are already accepted all over the world and whether it's functional medicine, lifestyle medicine, alternative complementary like traditional Chinese medicine, Reiki, energy healing – that’s already accepted,” she explained.
The Farm also introduced modalities, including Gerson Therapy, that would prevent having cancer through cleansing (hydrotherapy).
“The first thing is you need to cleanse first, of course. That's basic for all. It's like going to the doctor or your dentist. About once or twice a year you go there for preventive healthcare,” Sanvictores said.
They also take care of the psycho-emotional part of the clients which, according to the executive, is sometimes overlooked by the conventional doctors such as phobia or trauma from childhood that may build up into a disease or chronic pain.
Healing through food
But Sanvictores stressed that the initial purpose of The Farm before is to promote the rich local produce of the Philippines which our neighboring countries have been capitalizing for a long time already.
The Farm has three restaurants: the Alive!, Prana, and Pesce – which all offer wellness cuisine coming from the property itself.
None of the restaurants offer the usual animal meat and by-products as they support vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian diets. Dishes from the property’s food concepts are plant-based, locally-sourced, and organically-grown, while celebrating the farm-to-table.
According to Sanvictores, healing through food avoids problems in gut health which at least 80% of diseases come from.
“It's kind of like in our country we have so much produce. We have the same landscape as any rich Asian country but what we want to do is to educate that was the initial purpose of The Farm,” she said.
“There's now scientific proof that gut health equates to mental health. If your gut is not healthy you're depressed; you have anxiety; you don't think straight; you don't have your mental fog. You have to protect your gut by eating the right food with full of probiotics, prebiotics.”
They also do not overcook food and sometimes some are served raw to retain their nutrient value.
And she took pride in producing their own “super foods” since they have a huge farm in the resort where they plant their own vegetables and trees, especially those endemic to Lipa, Batangas.
“It gives you energy and that’s what we want, the sensation of fullness…Even our corporate we educate like why do you need this food? Number one is preventive health care. You may be eating vegetables but it may be overcooked or a lot of pesticide was used to grow those plants,” Sanvictores furthered.
“Ours is completely organic. It’s harder to grow organic to kasi. You have to tediously take care of it. Walang pesticide. Again going back to basics and it's the basics of healing through food.”
This enabled The Farm to etch its name in the resort and tourism industry in the country as a five-star resort that is using local herbs, local produce and practices that have been recognized globally.
The Farm at San Benito's intensive healing programs are redefining the idea of a luxury vacation – putting more importance on health and wellness. After all, health is indeed wealth.