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.
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.