IF you happen to find yourself in the southernmost parts of Cebu and decide to stay longer, chances are the locals will point you to Samboan’s famed Fantasy Lodge Cebu Resort & Spa for accommodations.
And why not? Fantasy Lodge is just a short drive away from the south’s beautiful natural attractions. The resort spa makes for the perfect place to rejuvinate after a long drive and doing hours of outdoor activities.
“This place is good for families and couples who want to relax. It’s peaceful, quiet, and we have very good food in our restaurant. We can provide different kinds of activities from dolphin watching to canyoneering,” said Fenchman Patrice Gerard, who runs Fantasy Lodge with his Filipino wife Neelam, owner of the place.
Community and nature
Patrice has been in the country for 20 years, although he travels often to France for his trading business. He decided to open Fantasy Lodge in 2004 after finding much potential in this natural haven in Dahalikan, Samboan.
“We noticed that since the Municipality of Samboan really developed all these tourist spots, we have more Filipino tourists coming. Before the guests coming here were foreigners, mostly French,” says Patrice. He added that the resort can be booked online through sites like Agoda and Expedia, as well as through their website.
After more than a decade of operations, the resort has become an integral part of the community. Aside from hiring staff from the locals, the resort also sources food from local farmers for fresh produce. “We get some supply from Alegria and we go every week to the markets in Ginatilan and Samboan,” Patrice says, adding that they also tap the community for the various outdoor activities for their guests.
Haven of peace
Described as a “haven of peace between beach and mountain,” Fantasy Lodge offers plenty of reasons to spend a secluded night or two here.
One can laze in the wood terrace, waiting for the sun to set in the protected seascape of Tañon Strait, if not enjoy a couple of hours at the spa in an open-air hut. A kawa hot bath, a cool dip in the pool or a quick nap in the hammocks beside the restobar can be tempting. The gentle lapping of waves from the beach down below and birdsongs from the lush surrounding trees complete an unforgettable relaxing experience with nature.
And in this homey place with a laid back tropical vibe, one can retreat to any of the seven stylish artisan-inspired rooms for families and couples. The resort’s centerpiece room, though, is the new Geodesic Dome, which is made of natural materials: nipa and bamboo for the roof structure, hardwood for the floors and columns, and wooden doors with capiz shells to allow natural light. Soft mesh nettings let the sea breeze circulate freely and give an ethereal feel to the room.
“This kind of architecture is probably the first one here. Made of local materials like bamboo and nipa, it’s one of our more beautiful rooms with a private terrace facing the sea,” Patrice said.
For now, Fantasy Lodge can receive a maximum of 20 persons for the seven rooms. However, Patrice said they are developing three more apartment-type rooms that can accommodate six persons per room. Apart from the spa, the resort will build a sauna facing the sea, which will be ready in a month’s time. Despite the developments, Patrice intends to keep the place homey and make improvements based on the natural landscape, which is home to various flora and fauna, especially birds.
“It’s very important for us to limit our impact on the environment, so from the landscaping to managing trash, we take good care of everything,” Patrice said. (Text & Photos by Noel S. Villaflor)
* For inquiries, contact Fantasy Lodge Resort & Spa at firstname.lastname@example.org, (+63)9177006027 or (+63)9278833932. Check out their website at fantasylodgecebu.com.