For a while there I thought I was in a land somewhere in China with all the facilities and style of architecture similar to the ones found in the mentioned country. It doesn’t help that the cable channels are mostly Chinese with only a couple of English speaking channels in line. If not for the, tropical climate, Filipino staffs and their hospitable vibe here, I’d be lost at this high-end Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort (Sun City) in Sta Ana Cagayan. They’ve been up here in Cagayan Valley for years now and was enjoyed exclusively by tourists from Mainland China and Hong Kong. Now they are ready to open the doors to Filipinos as well.
Opening Doors for Filipinos
Yes, the Chinese love it here, especially those who came from the landlocked areas in mainland China who doesn’t see much ocean on their sides. To them, the coastal scenery of North Cagayan resembles that of Hawaii, rugged and lined with a bunch of coconut trees for that tropical feel that the resort became really popular not only for the sights but also for gambling.
I’m guessing with the recent shaky relations with China, which started with that Bus Hostage fiasco, tourists numbers have dropped significantly which may also be one reason why Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the operator of the resort, are opening Sun City up for domestic tourists as well. I think this will be a good thing as Filipinos can experience the same luxury which used to be exclusive only to foreign guest.
With our flight delay we arrived rather late at Sun City and the rains didn’t really help much to go around and look at the facilities. In the short span we were there, we only get to scratch the surface. There’s the facade of their Casinos which at that time of our visit, there were only 4 High-Roller players inside the facility.
The streets are a repetitive pattern of neat and clean white villas which I found too plain like a townhouse to look at but then the details inside these white washed walls spells the opposite. There’s the reception and restaurant area where architecture seems simple but if you look closely, the details of the place is also astounding. Different tiles on different walls, stylish lamps, minimalist sculptures, intelligent lighting. Did I mention their food is really good too.
The Grand Villas
Despite the drab exteriors of the villa, the interiors is quite the opposite. We stayed at a Grand Villa with 2 bedrooms and a living room. One room with a queen sized bed and own bathroom and the other room has a twin bed room. The interior is definitely tasteful in its design and very spacious. It doesn’t have a wifi but they do have paid internet LAN. This Grand Villa is their cheapest at HK$680 (P3800) per day which I thought is a good value. They have VIP and Sea side view villas which costs around HK$3000.
On the neighborhood is Eastern Hawaii Resort which was also exclusive to Chinese Mainland guests until recently. It seems to be a lot cheaper and less luxurious as Sun City but it has reliable facilities and spacious rooms. We didn’t get to go around to see much of the resort because of the rains. But we did get to try their 15minute relaxing massage, complimentary for guests, good old comfort food and comfy rooms. Eastern Hawaii is also known for their Online Gambling Center, which they are one of the first in the region.
Sta Ana is 2 hours away by road from Tuguegarao.
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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.