Franny Mommy Travels : Family Trip to Pico de Loro, Batangas
Finally, after so long I'm back blogging and I'm ready to share our latest travel adventure with all of you!
You all know how much Paul and I love to travel and it's been a bummer that we've been stuck at home for the past year and a half due to the pandemic so when restrictions finally eased up a bit, we thought long and hard and just decided to go with our gut feel as we took the #AngTwins on their first ever birthday beach trip.
Our destination: Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas.
We've been there before, 9 years ago to be exact, but back then, we went without kids and so my perspective and point of view then were totally different. This time, I'm wearing my mommy hat and I'll share with you our experience traveling with toddlers during a pandemic. The first step was choosing our destination. It was quite a challenge to convince Paul as he was very cautious and slightly paranoid (can't blame him) about the virus. More so, when I brought up the idea of taking the twins along. After mulling over several destination options, I suddenly remembered Pico de Loro and how nice it was when we went there. Of course, it's been 9 years so a lot may have changed since then. I did my research and found out that it was pretty much the same except for the fact that they have renovated a couple of rooms and have added in more amenities and services. In other words, the resort and hotel were maintained very very well. I also liked the fact that they have very strict safety procedures so while others may view it to be such a hassle, I welcomed the idea as it gave me that much needed peace of mind that it is totally safe to bring my family there.
Pre-Trip Game Plan : What to prepare
The procedure wasn't difficult, actually. During our stay, we were required to take a Nasal Antigen Swab Test 72 hours prior to our arrival, secure an S Pass from the LGU via their online website and that's it! Timing is key. We ensured to take the swab test on time and as soon as I got the negative results, I scanned it and submitted my applications for our S Passes to the designated website. You have to apply ONE S Pass per visitor. They have also indicated the time when they would review the applications so I was so lucky as I did it a little past 11am and by 12nn our S Passes were all approved. We were cleared to go! As of today though, I believe that the restrictions have eased up further so swab testing is no longer required. Do make sure to check with the resort and rest assured that they will give you all the list of required documents together with your hotel booking confirmation.
Packing was another challenge as we just wanted to be prepared all the time. We went for 3 days but our luggage and the amount of things we brought with us felt like we're staying for roughly 2 weeks. Well are still mindful that the virus is still there so we brought with us packs of disposable masks both for adults and kids, tubes of sunblocks (we had 3, don't me why haha), alcohol, sanitizers, face shields and a lot more. I will share with you some of my packing tips in a separate blog post.
The drive to Pico de Loro was relatively quick and easy. I was somehow expecting that we would pass SLEX but Waze led us to go through Cavite's town proper so it was quite unfamiliar to us. Anyway, the drive from Metro Manila to Pico de Loro took exactly 2 hours on a weekday. The J fell asleep during the ride but L was happily looking out the window and narrating every single thing that came into view. She started to get sleepy as we got closer to Pico de Loro but her sleepy state was immediately replaced with so much excitement as soon as we got to Pico Sands Hotel. Nakawala sa hawla was exactly the perfect term to describe them. They obediently wore their masks and would ask that we spray sanitizer on their hands but from the moment we entered the hotel and while I was checking in, they ran around the lobby, screaming and laughing. It was crazy and chaotic yet I'm overjoyed to see them this happy.
We got to our room and for this trip we got a Premiere Lagoon Room with 2 Queen Beds. The room was so spacious. Another perfect place to let the twins run around. They checked every cabinets, every nook and cranny of the room. I literally had to ask Paul to restrain them as I took that photo above. We love that our room had a balcony that overlooks the beautiful lagoon. It was such a nice view especially in the morning.
Look what was waiting for them as well in the room! Pico Sands Hotel has prepared special gifts for our little ones. It was perfect as they really wanted to go to the beach and build sandcastles! While we brought some beach toys, now they got more toys and shovel to make their sandcastles. Were they successful in doing so? I'll let you know soon. The hotel also so thoughtfully prepared hygiene kits for us which was filled with disposable masks and sanitizers.
One thing that I liked about the hotel is that they would disinfect every room prior to use. To prove it, you get this sticker on your door to assure you that the disinfection was done. For the next 3 days, we spent most of our time at the beach, swimming in the pool and eating! It was indeed that much awaited quality time that I've been wanting to have with my little family and it was just me, Paul and the twins. Since we went on a weekday, there was hardly any crowd so we felt safe being in our own bubble. All the staff and servers were fully vaccinated and were wearing masks. Also they were all so mindful to keep a safe distance from us.
Since we really wanted to relax and not even think of our meals or itinerary, we got the Break Free Package which is perfectly good for 4. It's complete with all meals, all beach activities, massage for 2 and your room charge too. It's perfect for groups or families of 4 who just wants to get away from it all and to relax and enjoy for 3 full days.
We also felt like VIPs as we were well-taken cared of all the time. From our meals to that fun sunset cocktail cruise to our visit to Santelmo Cove which, for me, was the main highlight of our trip. They thoughtful created our menu and activities with everyone in mind. Prior to the trip, they asked us about any dietary restrictions and since J has bad allergies towards nuts and seafood, they made sure to prepare a set for the kids that's totally safe for him. Needless to say, we didn't had to deal with any allergy attacks throughout the trip. I'll tell you more about the specific activities that we did during our 3 day stay in my next post.
Now some heart to heart talk
I've been extremely busy at work and taking a 3 day vacation was actually not part of my immediate plan. Throughout this year, I've been taking 1 day leaves here and there to accompany my kids or my parents to the doctor. Either that or to take a day off to celebrate our birthdays. Since I've been staying home since the start of the pandemic, our last family trip was back in December 2019 when we all went to Pangasinan. I hesitated to take such a relatively long leave because I hate for work to pile up. Seriously, seeing my inbox having more than 20 unread emails gets me all jumpy already. However, I knew that I had to do this not only for my kids and for Paul but more importantly for myself.
I guess I'm lucky to have a good support system at home that whenever I'm feeling a tad anxious, I have my kids who showers me with unli-hugs and kisses. I also have Paul, my parents and even my sister to talk to when something doesn't feel right. Last September, I had a cancer scare and that got me thinking -- what really should matter in life? Do I really want my columbarium to say that I've been working till midnight or that I've been a good GM? I realized that all I want is for my kids to remember me as a good mom. To be the kind of mom who has been present in all stages of their lives, to be that mommy who celebrates all their milestones with them. I'm working for the largest parenting community after all who has been supporting and guiding parents in raising their families and I gotta walk the talk, right?
So yes, this trip was what I'd call a reset trip. I just wanted 3 days to literally breathe freely, spend as much time with my family, have meaningful and not rushed conversations with Paul and to just be present physically, mentally and emotionally. Was I successful in doing that? Well, I'd say it wasn't 100% but perhaps I'd give it a 75% which I think was good enough for our first try.
I came back feeling much rejuvenated, a bit sunburned but I realized that more than ever, it allowed us to feel a bit of normalcy amidst the pandemic. Pico de Loro became our peaceful sanctuary for just 3 days but it has impacted our perspective and lives in a greater way. Life must go on but this is not saying you just throw your masks away and forget about the safety precautions. The virus is here to stay so we need to be able to make careful choices and to just live life in the new normal. Now, here I am daydreaming again about our next trip back at Pico de Loro. ❤️
Take a break and book your beach getaway at Pico de Loro.