When going far from Manila or flying out is out of the question, or when there are budget concerns to consider, or it’s just too darn boring to go to the mall I say, say hello to Laguna!
I found it funny when a TripAdvisor reviewer found this resort ‘sleazy-looking’ on the outside, but was assured it was nothing but, inside. It made me research more on this place, and that’s how we ended up spending the day in 88 Hotspring Resort in Calamba, Laguna.
The reviewer wasn’t kidding about the facade. I agree with her observation as a general first impression.
Hot spring resorts are a dime a dozen in this area, and the day tour fee – although it’s the same for adults and children – is a steal at Php600 (US$12.03 according to the Bangko Sentral as of time of writing).
The fee includes access to all of its pools, free use of shower and changing room facilities, lounge sets and nipa huts, and a locker for valuables. They also lend you a towel that’s basically the size of a hand towel, but hey, it’s great for drying hair.
88 Hotspring Resort is designed and owned by a Korean national. It has 10 pools scattered across 7 hectares of land right on the base of Mount Makiling. 8 of these are the hot spring/therapeutic kind.
Our little one was so excited, so we tried the first pool we saw, the one directly ahead of the women’s shower and changing area. It’s also right beside their Korean restaurant.
This one is a normal kind of pool, and it’s great that they lend those lifesaver donuts out, just ask for one from the staff.
This pool is too close to the live band area though. The band was more like loud videoke, and it can be bothersome if you have young kids with you or if you just want to relax.
Other swimming pools
Yay for other swimming pools!
Majority of the kids and other guests were right here, but the pool was big enough for everyone. I also loved the water’s warm temperature, it was very inviting.
This area is in between the villas and bamboo deluxe rooms, and it’s also peppered with open air huts for hanging out and leaving stuff. There’s also a mini bar for refreshments.
Lunch was at their Korean restaurant. J and I were still full, but the little one was hungry already. We ordered the short rib stew (galbi jjim?) and some plain rice. It already comes with side dishes, like my favorite sweet dilis, and mandatory kimchi.
The beef stew is a bit pricey at around Php800 (around US$16) but the serving is good for 2 to 3 persons. We would have gone for the Korean barbecue if we weren’t still full. The beef was tender but too sweet for my taste.
Our little one happily devoured her longsilog – one of her favorite meals. The restaurant offers some Filipino dishes like pork and chicken adobo, sinigang, and bulalo for sharing, as well as some solo rice meals like beef tapa. The longsilog was around Php200.
A swimming excursion (just had to use the word, haha) wouldn’t be complete without some sweets like halo-halo or ice cream. In this case, my daughter and I had our Korean favorites.
Chocolate Samanco for her, strawberry for me. Nomnomnom.
Given the size of the place, 88 Hotspring has a lot to offer. It has a shooting range, tent sites for camping, a volleyball court, a lake that you can go boating in, and a spa. There is plenty of open space.
Too bad we didn’t have enough time to go boating, or to check out the vegetable garden. Korean barbecue isn’t complete without lettuce, and it’s great that they decided to plant their own, in addition to other vegetables.
The massage at the spa was great, too, it’s Php800 for one hour of Swedish massage.
We capped off the day with our Samanco ice cream, and with Akira taking pictures with her dad’s heavy, bulky DSLR. Truly a day well spent.
So that you would have an even better time when you visit, here are some tips:
Check out their Facebook page before visiting: https://www.facebook.com/88HotspringResortOfficial/
This is not a paid post. Their Facebook page is more updated, and loads faster than their website. It also has important details like their phone numbers and map to their location on hand. You also get to see urgent announcements straight away, such as when they are not available for walk-in visitors.
We just looked up the resort in Waze also, super convenient.
Bring your own towels and toiletries
I can only vouch for the women’s shower room, and it’s clean and air conditioned in spite of being a bit rundown (except for the shower and locker area near the big pool). There is hot shower, but like I mentioned, the complimentary towel is just enough for wrapping your head with.
Bring water and small snacks
I’m not sure what you can or can’t bring inside, to be honest. So if you’re planning to bring liquor, they might charge corkage. I’m guessing you can’t bring packed meals so you only order from the restaurants. We had some small snack with us, like some chips and bottles of Sola iced tea, and I guess they’re ok to bring in.
The most important thing is to bring your own bottled water because it’s Php60 for a regular sized bottle in the resort. If like us, you forgot to bring water, then get the big bottle at Php80. It’s more economical, at least.
Meals are on the expensive side, so if budget is a concern, best to have heavy meals like lunch elsewhere before entering the resort. Also, the resort has two restaurants only – a Korean and an Italian one.
88 Hotspring is an odd little discovery that’s perfect for when you just want to get out of the city, cool off, and enjoy some down time with friends or family. I say ‘odd’ because of these slightly suggestive sculptures all over the premises.
They’re mostly in one area, and away from the pools with slides, but I mean, wow. So just in case you’re planning to visit with conservative in-laws or curious kids that tend to ask a lot of questions, at least now you’re aware!
While I find the sculptures mildly amusing, what I do find disappointing is how loud music blares across the resort. I thought the loudness would be limited to the live band area since it’s where the partygoers are, but in the vast field where the Italian restaurant is located, the videoke sounds like it’s on loud speakers too.
I overheard other people joke about how the videoke singers must be drunk already, so you know it’s hard on the ears. By late afternoon, the videoke was replaced by loud club music. It really ruins the ambience, especially when the place is so green and peaceful looking, what with a beautiful mountain as a backdrop.
As a resort that was once voted as ‘best resort in Laguna’ by the Department of Tourism, and is recommended as a place ‘free of noise’, I hope the management can be stricter when it comes to this.
Other than that, I have no hesitations in visiting again. I mean, just look at how happy my daughter was.