It was almost twilight when I hefted my backpack from our Lakbay Norte bus. Like the rest of the day, it was drizzling. Totally bushed from visiting the churches of Cagayan and with rumbling tummies from helpings of Tuguegarao’s scrumptious pancit batil patong, it was finally time to rest. Or so I thought.
Coming from an all-night bus travel from the province of Nueva Ecija, it was with immense pleasure that we’re again sleeping on a real bed. And Balai Carmela’s fitted our needs perfectly.
|BALAI CARMELA’S LOBBY|
The hotel, which has been operating for almost three years now, hit the sweet spot when it comes to location. It is far enough from the bustle of Tuguegarao City, for a bit of peace and quiet, and is within striking distance from Penablanca’s Callao Cave, which, unfortunately due to inclement weather condition, we were unable to visit that day.
|ONE OF THE ROOMS AT THE GROUND FLOOR|
Balai Carmela has a total of fourteen well-appointed rooms, each one uniquely designed. These are set on their two-storey structure and garden villas dotting the property. The interiors are decorated with colorful paintings, quirky sculptures and warm furnishing to offset the flatly painted walls; modern without being totally ascetic and cold.
|THE BOYS’ ROOM, WE MESSED IT UP PRETTY QUICK|
Since we were quite a big group, most of the boys were billeted on the dorm room at the second floor. It isn’t as glamorous as the single and double rooms I saw on the ground floor, but it was clean, spacious, has an en suite toilet and bath, and an extra lavatory outside to ease toilet queues. It would definitely do.
|TROY’S BAR, THE RESORT’S IN HOUSE CAFE AND RESTAURANT|
|FUNCTION HALL, USUALLY USED FOR WEEDING RECEPTIONS|
A few steps away from the lobby, the resort has its in-house restaurant, Troy’s Bar, which offers native Tuguegarao dishes and snacks (wonder if they offer pancit batil patong, lol). Right beside it, a function hall used primarily for wedding receptions. Apparently, this place is a popular events place for local weddings.
|THE BALINESE INSPIRED OUTDOOR LOUNGE|
After a quick wash, we went back down to Balai Carmela’s al fresco Balinese lounge where we were welcomed with superb northern dishes. The meal was quickly followed by bottles of alcohol, reinvigorating our spirits. A slew of games soon commenced. And as with the previous Lakbay Norte trip I joined, everyone was superlatively competitive, as if their lives depended on winning. Laughter and obnoxious trash talking soon rebounded throughout the resort. Good thing we were the only group checked in at the time, I think.
|LAKBAY NORTE REVERSE CHARADES ~ PHOTO BY MARTIN SAN DIEGO FOR NPVB|
The night wound on to the wee hours of the morning—me, table-hopping from one group to the next, taking in as much stories and alcohol as I could. A few went down to the pool to swim while others retired for the night.
|SHOT!!! ~ PHOTO BY MARTIN SAN DIEGO FOR NPVB|
Time indeed flies when you’re having fun. I didn’t quite notice that it was almost four in the morning and there were only four of us left. There were more stories to be told and there were still a few bottles of beer left (I think), but we simply have to hit the bed. One suggested we pass off sleeping, to which another vehemently protested that she was way past that stage in her life. “We have to sleep!!!” She screeched. So sleep we shall.
Call time was at six. Two hours left. There goes the fitful sleep I was hoping for.
~ THIS TRIP IS PART OF NORTH PHILIPPINE VISITOR’S BUREAU’S (NPVB)LAKBAY NORTE 6 TOUR, A FOUR-DAY MEDIA FAMILIARIZATION TRIP AIMED AT PROMOTING NORTHERN DESTINATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Balai Carmela Resort & Hotel
Address: 8 Dunkin Drive, Capitol Hills,
Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
Contact Number: (078) 377-0032 | (0917) 553-5955
Rates: Starts at PHP1,300.00, good for two
GPS Coordinates Map: 17.649279, 121.758273