Like emeralds strewn across an azure ocean blanket, the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,641 islands, meaning that exploring them all would likely take a lifetime. Nevertheless, there’s something here to suit the desires of every kind of traveler, whether they’re looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant and culturally rich urban centers, pampering with a wellness break to escape the wear and tear of everyday life, or adventurously heading off the beaten track to marvel at the natural wonders of this tropical location.
Luxury and variety can be key
As part of an impressive new development in the Manila Bay area of the capital, the ambitious plans of Entertainment City are to provide a Philippine resort that can genuinely rival Las Vegas and Macau, geared to attract thrill-seeking tourists from around the world, within an area spanning some 5 square miles. Already established is the Manila branch of the City of Dreams, with entertainment options abound to ensure visitors can pack every day of their vacation itinerary. This includes an expansive casino floor packed with slots and table games from roulette and baccarat, to Texas hold ‘em poker and pontoon. This expansive casino resort complex has quickly established itself in the last couple of years, making Manila one of the go-to casino gambling destinations of 2018 according to Betway. For those who visit the City of Dreams, one of the signature options is the Nüwa Manila hotel, which prides itself on luxury and sophistication. Indeed, the quality of service and facilities offered by the hotel has earned it the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for 2018, which is a little bit like the Oscars of the travel industry.
For guests who wish to soak away all their troubles, the Nüwa Spa offers relaxation therapies and award-winning treatments, aimed at lifting the mind and body away from the bustle of city life; at least for a little while. Otherwise, the location itself also makes for an excellent springboard to visit everything that sprawling Metro Manila has to offer, whether it’s stepping back in time to explore the walled Spanish colonial center of Intramuros and Fort Santiago, shopping until you drop in the many huge shopping malls such as the SM Megamall in the Mandaluyong district, or delving into the side streets of Quezon City to sample a vast array of culinary treats. In each one of these options, luxury and variety in their offering seems to be the key to success.
Five-star wellness retreats
For visitors seeking complete peace and tranquility away from urban chaos and the stresses of life, the epitome of luxurious wellness retreats according to The Culture Trip is The Farm at San Benito, which is around a ninety-minute drive north of the sprawling Manila Metro urban center, hidden amidst the natural beauty of the Batangas hinterland. When reviewing this most exclusive of retreats, Woody Harrelson was mentioned by Traveller.com as just one of the many regular celebrity guests, who are all keen to detox mind and body within the idyllic surroundings. Such celebrities are an advertisement in itself, creating a buzz around the location on social and traditional media.
Proud of having received over forty prestigious international awards, The Farm offers a wide range of holistic healing programs, with the word “sanctuary” very much at the heart of each, appealing to anyone who wishes to take a total break from the burdens of their normal life routines. However, just because visitors want to detox and de-stress, doesn’t mean they want to be completely devoid of luxury, which is the secret to the success of this exclusive retreat.
Each of the suites and villas nestled within the abundant surrounding greenery provides the utmost comfort, with 62% “excellent” and 28% “very good” reviews on TripAdvisor, while the signature Alive! Restaurant manages to make vegan-only dishes appeal to even the most carnivorous palates, with coconut featuring prominently from the surrounding plantation. Nevertheless, fine wines are available to accompany every platter, in moderation, of course.
Wellness tourism continues to grow
2017 was a record year for tourism in the Philippines, attracting over 6.6 million foreign visitors, while also seeing the highest percentage growth throughout the Asia and Pacific zones, according to United Nations World Tourism Organization information. The global wellness economy has been valued at over US$3.4 trillion, so with lifestyle choices and healthy living becoming increasingly important, such focused vacations are playing an increasingly important role in the continually developing and evolving tourism industry, particularly throughout Asia.
In the Philippines, luxury wellness resorts such as The Farm at San Benito are recognised as having adapted to shifting client demands. Guests want much more than just spa sessions and massages during their vacation, and throughout the country, wellness resorts now offer professional medical support to accompany healthy living advice and replenishing treatments, greatly enhancing the overall experience on offer and providing a more holistic experience.
Indeed, with more and more wellness retreats opening successfully throughout the Philippines, they have been increasingly identified as being an important attraction within the local tourism industry, leading to calls for improved gathering of statistical data, to show how positively they have impacted the economy and job creation. In the health and wellness sector, revenues rose by 36.1% between 2003 and 2005, and although this area of tourism has continued to flourish, the data has been mostly anecdotal and difficult to isolate.
Nevertheless, there is enough supporting evidence to suggest that thanks to such a broad range of retreats and resorts, wellness tourism is attracting visitors to the Philippines in great numbers, as more people focus on taking international vacations that not only keep them entertained, but also help boost their physical and emotional wellbeing.