Have you ever experienced a weekend when you had everything perfectly planned? Then out of the blue, here comes a suggestion, an event, or a circumstance that makes that bulb in your head switch on. Then you’d think, Why didn’t I think of that before?
Well, that happened to us last Sunday, March 20. Sweetie and I had been trekking, climbing mountains, trying out new restaurants, and visiting adventure camps and resorts. We haven’t climbed the all-natural, clean limestone cliffs of Cantabaco for two weekends in a row (yes, it’s amazing we didn’t go crazy). We were desperate to punish ourselves, pull up our sinews, strain our muscles, drain our fluids, and scream in frustration so we can reach those anchors high above the ground. So, during the week, we promised ourselves to faithfully devote an entire Sunday of climbing cliffs and, perhaps, start new projects (project is a term for an attempt to reach the top of a new route).
One more special thing: this was the first time we tested our brand-new Nikon Coolpix AW100 Waterproof digicam, which was given by Sir Fred, a very kind-hearted supporter of our passion. The photos, as you can see, turned our very, very well. Thank you so much for this gift, Sir!
We reached the crag around 8 AM, still pretty early, which is actually a good thing. Then we heard soft laughter and conversation in Area 3. It was the group of Sirs Done Tan, Jude, Nino, and Ma’am Maria Iza. Sir Enie was their guide.
Wasting no time, we climbed several routes. Everyone in this group is a born climber, and all of them did a great job in ascending the crag. And that’s considering that most of them are first-time rock climbers. Bravo! Rock on, guys and gal! We salute you.
A couple of hours before noon, we asked Sir Don if they’re going to climb the entire day. He told us they aren’t. They planned to freshen up at the nearby Spring Park Mountain Resort. Sweetie and I looked at each other and smiled. Yes, we ditched our afternoon climbs to visit a resort which is just a few minutes away from the crag. And visiting Spring Park will also give us a subject for our blog.
Spring Park is just right beside the main road to Lutopan if you come from Manipis. Yes, we goofed around as if the road belonged to us.
The first things we noticed at the Spring Park Mountain Resort entrance were the dilapidated sign, the crudely written job ad, and the overgrown vegetation. Hmmm . . . those are not good signs.
These are the signs around the resort. Posted right outside the resort are the fees. Okay, we don’t really have anything against posting prices outside the establishment. However, we believe that slapping the numbers right in at the face will potentially turn off customers, especially those who have constrained budgets. I mean, how would you feel if you go inside a restaurant, and before you could even ask someone, the maitre d shoves the prices of their meals? Of course, putting up the “special promo” announcement outside is a good marketing scheme.
Check out the decrepit and hastily made signs. Tsk tsk!
For most of us, it was our first time in Spring Park. We waited for a little while for a member of the staff to approach us. Well, how would you know if there’s a staff manning the resort when no one is in uniform?
That’s the parking area. It’s quite big and clean and can park several vehicles at one time. We think there are a few other parking areas a bit farther down the resort, towards the main rooms.
We paid for our use of the pool here at P75 per person. Not bad, really. The main office of Spring Park, we believe, is Café Servillano. But check out the photos. No one is there, and the dining area is almost devoid of tables. I also checked out their kitchen (not pictured here), and it was almost empty. That little bar at the bottom left is more akin to a sari-sari store than a bar.
This is a very nice place to have an afternoon coffee or tea. Just imagine sipping your favorite afternoon drink in the midst of a lush garden. The big question is: do they serve THAT favorite afternoon drink?
The resort’s game room is pitifully decrepit. It’s almost crumbling, with a single, seemingly non-functional karaoke machine, an old and dirty ping-pong table, and a billiard table that has seen better days.
After paying our entrance fee, we proceeded to Pool 3; yes, the resort has 3 swimming pools. Typical to any resort, the paths are well paved and marked.
That’s a nice and shady pathway. The palm trees and overgrown shrubbery provide a satisfying relief from the hot sun. We especially like the contrast between the green and red leaves.
Everywhere, you can see bushes, trees, grass, and lawns. The resort is relatively well maintained even though we could see the signs of Nature trying to take over. The gardens are actually really pretty and verdant without conveying an overwhelming sense of being too manicured.
Spring Park has a few features that make the place quite interesting and serene. For instance, a bridge allows you to cross a leaf-strewn pond. There are functional swings which you can sit down on. And in Pool 2, there’s a nice-looking statue of a fish which you can ride so you can imagine yourself being Ariel, the Little Mermaid.
The pools of Spring Park. On a hot day like this, it’s impossible to resist jumping in the cool waters. Spring Park has three swimming pools.
Pool 3 is the largest one with a kiddie pool and slide. This is where we’re going to dip and refresh ourselves after a hot morning of climbing.
To avoid paying for a cottage, we decided to simply place our groundsheet and earth pad and sit down on the ground, picnic style. No one complained; after all, all of us are outdoorsmen. Eating like this is our way of life, and we love it.
Each pool is surrounded by cottages for rent like this. They are not uniform in design. Some cottages look like these while others, especially those that surround Pool 3, that look nothing more than tables with roofs.
Unable to resist the water, Sweetie and I frolicked in the pool. The water in the large pool is only chest high, but it was still fun. Sweetie and I also had fun at the water slide that’s supposed to be intended for kids!
The children didn’t mind. In fact, they posed for us.
After seeing the grownups abandon the kiddie pool for the larger “adult” pool, the kids took turns on the water slide. Apparently, we stole their fun. Hehe!
This was also a great opportunity to try out the new waterproof camera that we got from a very supportive sponsor. Thanks for the camera, Sir Fred. We know what you’re thinking; why is the background blurry? Well, the water is that murky; they over-chlorinated the pool. There’s nothing wrong with the camera lens.
After a few hours of swimming, we took our lunch of bola-bola, monggo bean soup, lechon manok, and puso (hanging rice). Oh, in case you’re wondering, we were able to use the cottage for free. Why? Well, no one was watching.
A few hours later, we were ready to go home. But we know that Spring Park offers more than just the pools. Here is the pathway towards the campsite. Yes, you can pitch your tent here.
Near the entrance is a rudimentary children’s playground which consists of a seesaw, a couple of swings, and a playhouse. It’s not what we really consider a playground, and we guess even kids would skip it.
For big events, they have a function hall. Yes, the inside is dilapidated and full of junk. It’s like they made their function hall into a stockroom when no one is booking it. We wonder if anything works in there.
These are Spring Park’s rooms. They look outdated, dirty, and in a dire need of repair. We haven’t seen the interior, but we heard horror stories about rats scurrying around the place, moldy beds, dirty bathrooms with no running water, etc.
Visit Spring Park Mountain Resort to refresh yourself after a hot day of crimping up the crag.
1. For prices, check out the 7th photo in this blog post.
2. For inquiries, contact Spring Park Mountain Resort at (032) 261-9511 or (032) 262-3851. You can visit them in their office at 157 R. Duterte Street, Banawa, Cebu City. If you’re already in Cantabaco, you can call them at (032) 325-2044. For reservations (especially if you’re outside the country and you wish to visit the Cantabaco crag), it is best to e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org then follow them up through e-mail or phone.
3. Sadly, Spring Park is in dire need of improvement. Everywhere we see are structures that have seen better days but are unattended. Bathrooms are dirty, the pools are over-chlorinated, the gardens are not cleaned and trimmed regularly, and unused rooms have become stockrooms. Stray dogs and neighborhood kids roam around, entering the resort from secret paths. You can also see garbage everywhere.
4. Judging from its looks, Spring Park seems to be aimed in catering tourists who want to relax in the mountains rather than in crowded hotels and resorts in the lowlands. Unfortunately, poor marketing, abandonment of responsibility, a lackluster management, and the lack of maintenance took their toll. Now, the main “market” of the resort is only the locals who visit there every weekend to have a swim.
5. We haven’t seen anyone ordering food from their café or using their other facilities. This says a lot about the quality of service and facilities of the resort.
6. If you are a rock climber and you plan to stay for the weekend or several days, we recommend staying at Ma’am Glenda’s bed-and-breakfast rather than booking an expensive room in Spring Park. At Ma’am Glenda’s, you’ll get cheaper, cleaner rooms. Just go to Spring Park to have a dip in their pool. You’ll only pay P75, and you can swim all day. Indeed, we recommend going to Spring Park for day use only.
7. There’s no corkage fee if you bring food inside the resort. We recommend bringing your own meal and drinks; when we went inside their café, their kitchen was empty! Yummy picnic food can be bought in Lutopan, which is just a 5-minute habal-habal ride.
8. You could go glamping here for a minimal fee. There’s a large campsite near Pool 3. So, you can pitch a tent, camp, then swim at one of their pools in the morning. That is pretty cool!
9. Don’t expect staff to show up when you need them to. The resort is severely undermanned, and you can’t tell the staff from regular customers because they don’t wear uniforms. Expect a “serve yourself” scheme after you pay the entrance fee.