|MONTEMAR: Where the mountain meets the sea
|Source: Manila Bulletin
|Author: Arlene Dabu-Foz
If there's a name to best describe an ideal hideaway where the
mountains meet the sea, Montemar is very apt.
The 12-hectare private cove, with a terrain richly covered
with creamy fine sand that keeps the tossing teal blue
water at bay, is also blessed with a striking panorama of a
Tucked away in the tranquil landscape in Bagac, Bataan,
southwest of Central Luzon, Montemar has been a byword in
beach lingo since the upsurge of beach resorts in the late ’70s, the
sunshine years of Philippine domestic tourism.
From Manila, Montemar may be reached by driving some
two-and-a-half hours on a good day. It may also be reached by an
hour’s ferry ride to the port of Orion, plus a 35-minute drive from
the port to the beach. It is accessible in half an hour from Metro
Manila by chopper or plane.
During the day, the Mt. Samat ferry, with the speed and efficiency
of Hong Kong jetfoils, makes several trips from Manila to Orion
starting at 9 a.m. Docking point is at the Cultural Center of the
Philippines (CCP) complex.
Recently, Montemar hosted a two-day familiarization trip for a
small group of media members to reintroduce the spruced-up
property that still has a steady stream of loyal clientele.
A handful of young celebrity guests, sometimes with their families,
would frequent the resort for a couple of days, especially on
weekdays when they can have the beach mostly to themselves,
said Christine Urbanozo Ibaretta, sales and marketing manager of
One of the property’s come-ons is its finely furnished rooms of
various sizes. They are neither too stuffy nor too bare – with
enough space for movement and storing things. From single to
double occupancy, some rooms can even accommodate small or
The triple “A” property has 70 Mediterranean designed spacious
guest rooms with private verandah housed within its palm-fringed
and lush green setting.
Of Montemar’s 70 rooms, two are premiere suites, two are
two-bedroom executive suites, 18 gallery rooms with a spacious
loft for two beds, 44 deluxe rooms and four garden rooms.
Delectable but well-presented home cooking is how to describe
the style of serving food at Montemar. Its several outlets offer a
wide variety of fares from local to international favorites. The best
that we had during our stay there was fresh seafood. Meaty
cuttlefish on sizzling plate, crispy calamares and shrimps for
pica-pica, fresh and dried but not salty kapak (a local delicacy)
with achara (pickled papaya shreds), to name a few.
For specialty outlets that can whip up meals according to
the guests’ mood are El Meson Restaurant for all-day
dining, the Talisay terrace outdoor spread, the Balconaje
roof deck diner, the El Patio for al fresco meals, the
poolside bar and the picnic area for a more fun and
adventurous way of enjoying a feast.
The sun and the sea are what we enjoyed most at Montemar.
Fresh sea breeze and some idyllic moments on your own helped
so much to clear our fuzzy minds — away from deadlines, away
from the rush and humdrum of city life.
At Montemar, you can indulge in the sun and sea to no end – or to
your heart’s content — that’s why when they asked us to go
island-hopping, we felt like we’d been shortchanged because we
would rather stay and swim until it was really time to go. The last
Manila-bound ferry was at 3 p.m. So imagine the jitters of wanting
to stay and swim some more, then rush to the port for the last
For a more active recreation, the property has facilities for water
sports activities such as kayaking, aqua cycling and snorkeling.
There are also two swimming pools, two shell surface tennis
courts and pony rides within its vast riding range.
A nine-hole pitch-and-putt executive course will surely appeal to
swingers or golf lovers, while indoor buffs can request for the
setting up of karaoke, videoke and ballroom dancing. A beach
bonfire can also be made if guests want to stay by the beach at
Ibaretta said Montemar is a favorite among businesses and
corporations especially those in Luzon. Beefed-up with
audio-visual equipment, the property has several function rooms
that can serve various events at any given time.
For conferences, seminars, business meetings, banquets and
team-building activities, the property’s conference rooms can hold
as much as 300 guests, theater-style; about 150 guests, for
cocktail reception; up to about 150, banquet-style; and about 144
After looking at the various assets of the property, we’re taken by
the Montemar staff led by Christine and Paolo for some side trips.
We did an energy-charging hike to Bisay Falls, then on to the
historic Mt. Samat, a well-known landmark in Bataan which pays
tribute to the heroism of Filipino and American soldiers who fought
the invading Japanese forces at the outbreak of World War II.
And the local feel will not be complete unless you go to the market
for some take home goodies. Most of us bought half to a kilo of
different kinds of dried fish that are so cheap. A colleague even
thought of buying fresh seafood if it were not for the hassle of
tugging along a bulky styro box with her luggage because the
prices are unbelievably low.
And before you go, check out the souvenir shop for some
aqua-themed shirts and other keepsakes. This will help you
remind your memorable stay in a place called Montemar, where
the mountain meets the sea.