Batangas luxury wellness resort The Farm launches new restaurant

Jan Yumul, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2019 05:17 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2019 11:31 PM

Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa (in white) graces the launch of the Pesce restaurant at The Farm at San Benito. Jan Yumul, ABS-CBN News

For 15 years, multi-awarded Filipino eco-luxury wellness resort The Farm at San Benito in Lipa, Batangas has been attracting visitors for its immersive therapeutic and detoxification programs and its vegan-only restaurant, Alive.

But with the launch of its latest restaurant, Pesce (Italian word for fish), guests may expect some tweaking as the resort continues with its $5- to $10-million (roughly P500 million) expansion plan in its 50-hectare land, adding 18 villas and a residential space in the pipeline. 

The Farm executive chef Francis Tugnao said Alive "used to be a cancer patient restaurant," but all that is changing with the dawn of the more health-conscious. 

Tugnao hopes Pesce's wild caught fish and crustacean offerings, all locally sourced, will capture both longer-staying guests and those who stay overnight.

"Pesce is open to give an option for the protein side of their diet," Tugnao told ABS-CBN News. 

"Organic meat might come in the future as an additional substitute for protein. But again, it will still be connected with guilt-free and good health," he added.

Pesce has a seating capacity of 40 guests. Jan Yumul, ABS-CBN News

The Farm medical chief Dr. Marian Alonzo, who has been with the resort since 2002, said they came up with the expanded food offerings because not all are ready to embrace the vegan diet.

"So this (Pesce) is more of an option. We're not saying one is better than the other. Blood type O people will really need their protein. Type A will really go more with vegan, same with what we've been offering. So, there's this factor to consider. That's the biological factor," she said. 

"Then when we say Blue Zone diet, hindi lang longest living. Quality of life is important. There are those who live more than 100, but bed-ridden. So we're talking about functional living," she added.

A welcome sight: The view of Mount Malarayat peers through the luscious greens upon entering The Farm's amphitheater. Jan Yumul, ABS-CBN News

Kathmandu-based CG Hospitality Holdings Group took over The Farm from Avalon Holiday Resorts in September last year and has since been enjoying a steady rise of locals, notably a growing younger population who flock to the resort for a weekend stay. 

The Farm director Raj Uttamchandani said overall, the occupancy rate at the resort plays between 80% and 90%. 

Currently, there are 34 villas that are operational. 

Pesce executive chef Francis Joseph Tugnao (fourth from left), The Farm director Raj Uttamchandani (next to Chef Tugnao), and The Farm general manager Preet Singh pose for a souvenir photo with restaurant staff members. Jan Yumul, ABS-CBN News

"If you look at the more short-term guests, they're the younger ones that come in for 2 or 3 days. They spend a weekend here, either a bachelorette trip or a few friends... as couples spending the weekend here. But if you look at our longer-staying guests, the guys that are using it for longer periods that come here are really to heal. Their age profile would be slightly lower," he said.

For Uttamchandani, Pesce's addition is an opportunity for the group to cater to what he calls "a larger taste palate," given that traditional Filipino cuisine is prominently heavy on meats. 

He also hailed the current business climate in the Philippines as "fantastic," citing its population growth and its GDP growth.

"I believe hospitality is just about to take off in the Philippines," he said.

Here's a look at some of the dishes served at The Farm's Pesce: