Baguio is named the summer capital of the Philippines because of the relatively cool climate that the city is blessed with. People drive roughly 250 km further north of Manila to take a vacation away from the summer heat in the metropolis. Discounting the traffic and the potholes on the road, the GPS that we brought indicated 3 hours and 30 minutes as our total travel time but it took us 6+ hours to get to Baguio. Not bad considering that we left Manila at 10+ a.m. and that we had a 1-hour pit stop for lunch. The last time we went, it was Holy Week and it was a literal 10-hour, 1-inch per minute, pain-in-the-behind drive up the mountains. The rainy season is really the best time to go (we went during the first 3 days of July). Accommodations were 50% off in The Manor, traffic was light and there were no crowds. The pace was more leisurely, people were happier and the services were a tad better.
On the downside, it was a scary climb. We were in Marcos Highway by late afternoon and some areas had almost zero visibility because of the fog. The road was wet and zig-zaggy. I’ve experienced sitting through blinding fog and snow while Bongo was driving in Zermatt 3 years ago but this was scarier because of the people we were with – my Mom was reciting the rosary at the back and my 7-yr. old nephew just had to let his emotions out, “Hala, mamamatay na tayong lahat!” (”We are all gonna die!”).
The pine-scented air in Camp John Hay and the green vista that greeted us in The Manor more than made up for the long and arduous climb. We booked the two-bedroom suite for 5 adults and 1 kid, while my brother and his family booked a de luxe room (as I said, rainy season rates rock). Service is always five-star there for us but the furniture needs some serious re-upholstering (or a good washing and scrubbing!). Plus, I wish they’d get rid of the carpeting – my imagination goes wild (bugs, snot and other unidentified follicular objects) whenever I see carpets in hotel rooms. The living/dining/kitchenette areas were tiled but the rooms were still carpeted *shudder*. But hey, we got a great non-peak season deal, plenty of space, a great view and service totally wowed us!