Post and photos by Philippa Langrish
Why you’ll love the Farm at San Benito
The landscaped gardens and views over the forest from our villa were so luscious I didn’t want to ever extract myself from our private heated plunge pool. The Malarayat mountains beyond the jungle calmed my soul while huge butterflies flitted overhead. There are places I visit where time seems to speed up and places where time literally stands still, allowing you to breath, reflect, appreciate and drift off. The Farm at San Benito is firmly in the latter category.
It appeared that the spell was not just cast on me but my two children (Maya 6 and Gillan 2.5), also seemed calmer, quieter and relaxed – so much that they didn’t notice the television in the bedroom until check-out! When these two become teenagers and need time to sit, contemplate and revise before exams this is the place I would like to take them.
Persuading my carnivorous husband to stay at a vegan health farm was a minor obstacle. However, the food was pretty good and you can always treat yourself to a glass of organic wine. My body was definitely thankful for the gentle morning yoga sessions practised in the amphitheatre overlooking the lagoon. What I really loved, however, was the incredible massage and facial at the spa. This was one of the best massages I have received – adding another layer of zen to our increasingly chilled-out weekender.
Why the kids will love the Farm at San Benito
We learnt a new skill at San Benito, Mandala Flower Arranging, which I now use at home to decorate the rooms with tropical flowers. Aside from the mandala flower arrangements, geese feeding and swimming the children and I also had some very special moments together. My son Gillan and I had a magical walk through the grounds at dusk while his sister enjoyed the villas private plunge pool. We took a stroll around the 50 hectare grounds, circling the big lagoon, which surrounds an impressive central fountain. Gillan ambled up hidden steps and over little bridges with me, stopping occasionally to play with his much loved dinosaurs within the farm’s Jurassic setting of oversized palms, hanging orchids and creeping vines. On our return we were greeted by an ostentation of peacocks and peahens. These beautiful birds mesmerised my little boy as they strutted along the banks of the lagoon, trailing their gorgeous feathers. We did not return to our villa until nightfall when the jungle came alive with the sounds of tropical bird song.
I always take a sketch pad and pens away on trips so my daughter can entertain herself. At The Farm there are many secret enclaves within the grounds such as the Bali Lounge and Tea House where Maya sat and sketched. The luscious vegetation offers lots of inspiration too such as the abundance of giant pink banana flowers.
The Farm at San Benito is set within 50 hectares of landscaped and wild gardens. Ten hectares are developed with 33 rooms, an amphitheatre, Healing Sanctuary and gym, three swimming pools, man-made waterfalls and a restaurant.
You can choose to stay in either a modern or more traditional style accommodation. We stayed in a contemporary Narra Villa which featured cool cream and teak furnishings with accents of grey and purple, floor to ceiling windows, a recessed day bed, beautifully designed modern Filipino furniture, and a lofty double height ceiling. Narra Villas has an immense bathroom with 2 toilets, a shower and bath, an outdoor space, 2 sinks and a large wardrobe. The shower is stocked with The Farm’s signature lemon grass body scrub and “oil of life”.
The villas are divided into the following categories:
5 x Sulu Terraces – Resembling treehouses (or Kubo) this is the simplest accommodation offered
4 x Palmera Suite – Boasting a small garden, vanity area and connected to nature with side openings 4x Palmera Glass Villa – Bigger and newly renovated, surrounded by glass with an outdoor bath
3x Anahaw Villa – Simple, classic Philippine leaf-roofed houses with a unique loft design, the villas are nestled in the hillside overlooking a stream 4 x Garden Villa – Private garden, Open-air bathroom, and private lanai (roofed open sided veranda)
4x Garden Glass Villa – as above and with a glass encased shower room, glass walls and sliding doors, guests can enjoy a scenic view of The Farm’s picturesque natural surroundings.
10x Narra Villa – With private heated pool, huge bathroom, space for an extra bed and floor to ceiling windows
1 x Master Villa – A master bedroom with beautiful teak covered walls and ceiling with stunning views of the Villa’s gardens and the Malarayat mountain range. The living area may be converted into a second guest room, with twin daybeds and its own separate full bathroom. A fully equipped kitchen, private outdoor heated swimming pool, surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. A Guest Assistant is provided to attend to all your needs and requirements.
1 x Lakan Villa – The ultimate in luxury with two bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms including indoor shower and bathtub, central living area, walled in gardens with koi ponds, a kitchenette & bar area, maid’s quarters and a heated swimming pool with hydrojets and relaxation bale.
Best Rooms for Families
The best accommodation for families is ether the Anahaw, Lakan or Narra Villas.
Hazards: The villas are truly luxurious. However some are not suitable for very young children unless supervised due to the private pool’s steep sides and drops. The tiles are very slippery when wet so young children need to be under constant supervision.
The food at the Farm is entirely vegan. Most of the dishes have a coconut or almond base. Expect nuts, herbs, vegetables and plenty of raw options. 20% of the menu is made up from creative raw concoctions such as Pomello and Cashew Salad, Carrot Gnocci and naughty treats such as raw Chocolate Pecan Cake. There is also an extensive juice menu with traditional shakes which the kids loved such as mango and banana as well as imaginative fusions of Pineapple, mint and wheatgrass.
Our mealtime was punctuated with interjections of “Oh this is actually really nice!” from my suspicious family. I ordered a delicious lentil, mushroom and spice fritter with mash potato entitled the “T.F Steak”, while my kids and husband had vegetable carbonara with freshly made bread. There is a kids’ menu too with favourite children’s dishes.
Maya fell in love with the vegan chocolate bread. Luckily my son is a nut addict so was very happy. However, he is also a huge fan of milk and was less than impressed by the almond substitute.
For many this may be a new way of eating but it has certainly left an impression by making us more mindful of what we eat as a family. There was no lack of choice either – with pates and crackers, succulent main dishes, freshly-made ice cream and breads cookies and cakes.
The Farm prepare food by soaking, blending, dehydration, culturing and transforming vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits into absolutely delectable culinary delicacies. Impressively all the foods are produced daily on the premises: from breakfast granola, butters, and jams, dairy-free milk to chutneys, salad dressings, freshly-baked breads, pizza crusts, veggie burgers and raw-chocolate dessert treats.
- Botanical discovery walks
- Meditation Circuit training
- Aqua aerobics
- Boot camp training
- Oil of life tour
- Food preparation class
- Mandala flower arrangement
- Muay Thai Tai Chi
- Nearby Golf Course
- Duck Feeding
- Mandala flower arangement
- Air-Conditioning: In all rooms.
- Babysitting: Yes
- Cots: Yes
- Doctors & Hospitals: on site clinic. Nearest hospital 30mins away in Lipa City
- Inter-Connecting Rooms: Yes
- Kids’ Activities: as above
- Kids’ Swimming Pool: yes
- Laundry Service: Yes
- Pets Allowed: Yes
- Pushchair Friendly: yes
- Shops: yes a beautiful shop selling the Farm’s products such as body scrubs and turmeric tonics
- Spa: Yes
- Swimming pool: x3 Yes
- Wheelchair Access: Yes at certain villas
- Wifi: Yes
Location & Travel
- Address: The Farm at San Benito, 119 Barangay, Tipakan, Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines
- Air: For international travel fly to Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport and then take a private car or request the resorts transfer service
- Train: N/A
When to Go
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards. Although The Farm is situated at a slight altitude so it is typically cooler than Manila. Be careful travelling in the months from September to November as this is when the typhoon season is. Temperatures range from 27 – 40+. I would usually advise against travelling during the busy festive periods. However, the resort is also large enough with a fantastic infrastructure that it does not feel crowded even when it is full to capacity.
What to Take for the Family
- Sunglasses, cream and a hat are a must. Even if you have dark skin pack a high factor cream (50+) as the sun is very strong.
- Swim wear
- Sketch pad
- Notepad for moments of reflection
- Gym Kit Socks and Long Sleeve T-Shirt for night time (it gets chilly with air con)
- Shawl – since it gets a bit breezy at night time
- Goggles Kids water wings (arm bands)
- Flip flops
- Take the morning yoga class and indulge in a full body massage at night. Arrive 30min early for the massage so you can enjoy the tranquillity of the Spa’s fairy lit pool
- Learn how to create floating mandala flower arrangements as a whole family
- Watch the peacocks roost in the huge mango tree
Disclaimer: I received one night complimentary stay in a Narra Villa. However all opinions are, as always, entirely my own and I would happily recommend The Farm at San Benito to anyone.