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MONTEMAR: Where the mountain meets the sea
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Arlene Dabu-Foz
Date: 2001-04-30
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

breathtaking Cordillera.

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

the property.

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

big families.

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

ferry out.

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

guests, classroom-style.

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.

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