A PLACE IN THE SUN

The Ranch Re­sort in Toledo of­fers guests am­ple room to sad­dle up, take in the sun­set, or sim­ply slow down.

Sun Star Cebu Yearbook - - CEBU VISITORS GUIDE - BY RO­GE­LIO R. MUR­CIA, JR. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY JOJO ABCEDE

THE city is where hur­ried move­ment never ceases to flow; its denizens blur by in the tax­ing time- lapse that is ur­ban liv­ing. Its ris­ing sky­lines daily eclipse the sun; the fast lane of­fers only the sight of gran­ite, not of greens. Now and then, ur­ban denizens need to slow down.

Tucked in Toledo, The Ranch Re­sort is a place that af­fords re­fresh­ing con­trast, pro­vid­ing as much a change of pace as of scene. In this seven- hectare sanc­tum, one gets away from the city, though thank­fully, not away from it all; while it of­fers a ru­ral am­bi­ence at its ver­dant best, it also ex­tends ur­ban ameni­ties.

The re­sort has for its main draw the ranch af­ter which it is named. If in the city, one can only hear the deaf­en­ing car horns, at the sta­ble, one can rel­ish the rhythm of the horses’ gal­lops. If one hasn’t been on horse­back be­fore the visit, he would be loath to leave the sad­dle af­ter a cou­ple of rounds with an Ara­bian steed.

Be­yond its equestrian are­nas, the re­sort is one vast and var­ied play­ground for kids from one to 92. The se­ri­ous swim­mer look­ing to per­fect his strokes can head to the wa­ter­park along with the ca­sual kid con­tent with his freestyle; there, both can avail them­selves of seven cus­tom­ized pools that range from stan­dard to kid­die.

The re­sort’s zi­pline, while of­fer­ing a kind of stand­alone high, forms part of a four- cor­nered rope course; with all sta­tions bear­ing dif­fer­ent de­grees of dif­fi­culty, the course pro­vides enough train­ing for “ninja war­riors” to land a spot in Mt. Mi­doriyama. Those who would like to prac­tice for the Iron­man in­stead can use the re­sort’s bi­cy­cles af­ter their swim.

From one point of in­ter­est to an­other, the guest has four modes of trans­port to choose from. For mod­er­ate dis­tances, one may reach his des­ti­na­tion by foot; for longer dis­tances, one may use the bikes; for the tour, golf carts; if one likes to ratchet up the ride some more, he may use an all- ter­rain ve­hi­cle.

The re­sort’s ad­vo­cacy for eco­tourism is ev­i­dent in its wide stretches of veg­e­ta­tion and mod­est sam­pling of bio­di­ver­sity.

Wel­com­ing its guests with a ver­i­ta­ble “green car­pet”, the re­sort pro­vides rooms with win­dows that give onto a mango or­chard. Guests with a green thumb would be drawn to the or­ganic gar­den un­der it. While arm­chair or­nithol­o­gists would flock to the bird sanc­tu­ary. There has al­ways been a buzz about the bee farm, and visi­tors who have heard of it promptly swarm their way to it.

This last was cru­cial in the own­ers’ de­ci­sion to ex­pand op­er­a­tions on a for­merly ex­clu­sive es­tate. Ini­tially, the Gaites had two sep­a­rate prop­er­ties; on one lay the ranch where the sta­ble is, and on the other lived the bee farm. Fam­ily and friends would gather there, but soon, the num­ber of guests mak­ing a bee­line for the bee farm steadily in­creased.

For the ad­di­tional accommodation, the Gaites even­tu­ally de­cided to build a guest­house. Then the pools. With the prop­er­ties con­sol­i­dated into one ex­panse, the Gaites made fur­ther ad­di­tions. Be­fore long, they re­al­ized their ranch had evolved into a re­sort. And in 2012, with much pub­lic an­tic­i­pa­tion, the Ranch Re­sort fi­nally put up the wel­come sign. In grate­ful ac­knowl­edg­ment, the Gaites set up a foun­da­tion that seeks to give back to the com­mu­nity of which the re­sort is part, un­der­tak­ing liveli­hood train­ings and pre- school­ing free of charge.

Its creative team con­tin­ues to think out­side the box, com­ing up with events that draw guests with com­mon in­ter­ests. November of its open­ing year saw the re­sort hold­ing The West Fest, a two- day coun­try event that had a mar­ket fair and a car­ni­val by day, and sto­ry­telling and film screen­ing by night. Suf­fer the chil­dren if sto­ry­telling by a bon­fire didn’t get their rapt at­ten­tion; they also en­joyed roasted marsh­mal­lows.

An­other event with rave re­views was the rodeo show. Ex­hibit­ing dex­ter­ity with the horse, own­ers and rid­ers from all over the coun­try con­verged at the are­nas and flashed their form be­fore the au­di­ence. Planned to be held ev­ery year, it fig­ures to be a defin­ing event for the re­sort.

Dur­ing the week­ends, when the re­sort is full, the guests groove to a dif­fer­ent beat. Lo­cal groups come

to the ranch to play acous­tic mu­sic. Some­times, the re­sort brings in bands from Cebu City to re­gale guests.

If you are fi­nally see­ing the sun­set in high def­i­ni­tion, but think qual­ity time with fam­ily would have to be cut short, you can al­ways stay for a day or two. The re­sort has 17 well- equipped rooms, and the suite has air- con­di­tion­ing, a bath­tub and a flat- screen TV. The re­sort also has a fine restau­rant, a café, a func­tion room, and an ac­com­mo­dat­ing staff ready to help.

When city dead­lines tell you it’s re­ally time to go, drop by at the re­sort’s gift shop which sells, among other or­ganic prod­ucts, honey from the bee farm.

Shortly on your way out, you will pass by the Capilla Santa Ana. There, you can say a lit­tle prayer for a safe trip home. There­after, you can take a closer look at the Euro­pean re­li­gious col­lec­tion in this chapel- cum­mu­seum man­aged by the Gaites.

Fifty- eight kilo­me­ters west of Cebu City, the Ranch Re­sort may be a lit­tle dis­tant, but not un­bear­ably far; on av­er­age, one will reach it in an hour, which is even quicker than a city com­mute dur­ing heavy traf­fic. Then again, with what is on of­fer here, dis­tance is rel­a­tive.

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