A little peace and quiet

On its fifth year, Anya Hospitality Group is agile, resilient, and ready to offer new delights

AWAY FROM IT ALL Poolside of Anya Resort Tagaytay

“Imagine—first there was the Taal Volcano eruption in January 2022 and then, come March, the lockdown happened. It was terrible,” recalls AHG (Anya Hospitality Group) and Roxaco Land president and CEO Santi Elizalde. We were chatting on how AHG and, in particular, Anya Resort Tagaytay, fared during these twin disasters.

“We’re celebrating our fifth year, but for two years of those five years we were closed. Since the lockdown eased off and the reopening of Anya, we have been doing good. But now, it’s getting even better,” says Elizalde.

One might think that Anya Resort Tagaytay’s shaky entry into the luxury resort playing field would deter the hopes of AHG group. To the contrary, Anya Resort is back and stronger than ever. With adaptability and a deep understanding of the local property and tourism industry, the group is ready to face the new challenges in this post-pandemic “new normal.”

We have always thought of how unconventional Anya Resort Tagaytay was, when it opened five years ago. It was a topnotch hotel, to be sure, but unlike many of the properties in Tagaytay, it was not located in the coveted ridge area, overlooking the iconic volcano.

Instead, the property is located in a secluded area of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of touristy Tagaytay. The choice of the location was intentional, according to Elizalde.

“Anya does not have the noise and chaos from the ridge,” he says. “And we also don’t have a view of the volcano. But that’s fine with us, because the people who come here want the peace and the quiet you don’t have in Manila. If you want to see the ridge area, it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Anya. After exploring Tagaytay, you can go back to the resort, relax, and have peace and quiet.”

The 7.3 hectare Anya property was formerly farmland. It is now a fully developed luxury resort destination. It has rooms aplenty, a spa, and a restaurant, Samira by Chele Gonzales, of Gallery by Chele fame.

The new Samira by Chele has created a new avenue for Anya Resort. Apart from being a luxury resort destination, Anya in Tagaytay is now a dining destination as well.

“Before (the lockdown), the contributions of the rooms in the revenue of the property was 70/30, with the rooms being 70, and the in-house restaurant being 30 percent. The spa, nothing as yet,” says Elizalde. “But now, since we launched Samira by Chele, it’s been 55 F&B percent (food and beverage), and 45, rooms.”

Elizalde then described how the playing field in the industry has shifted, wth a portion of the market desiring new experiences and dining destinations, a need that Samira by Chele fortuitously fulfills.

DINING DESTINATION Friendly staff at Samira by Chele, serving food from the new menu

We were able to sample Chef Chele’s new culinary delights at Samira as well, during an earlier event. At Samira, one can easily spend an entire afternoon breathing in the fresh air and cool breeze of Tagaytay, all while drinking wine and cocktails, paired with Chele’s latest culinary creations, of course. Guests have a choice of going for a four-course set menu, going the a la carte route, or choosing the six-course Samira tasting menu.

Notable dishes include bechamel croquetas, variouspaellacreations, a signature staple creation of Chele, and burnt Basque cheesecake, another signature dish of Chef Chele. Items on the a la carte menu also include Chele’s take on the iconic Tagaytay bulalo, as well as various items off the grill, along with a wide selection of tapas. Most notable is Gonzales’ take on the Spanish cocido, a heady stew of beef, pork, chicken, garbanzos, chorizo, and spicy morcilla.

Anya does not have the noise and chaos from the ridge. And we also don’t have a view of the volcano. But that’s fine with us, because the people who come here want the peace and the quiet you don’t have in Manila. —Santi Elizalde

“It’s a dining destination. You travel to the south, breathe in the fresh air, wanting to dine on delicious food. Your luxury experience starts the moment you enter our property. You’re welcomed by our great staff, you dine at Samira for two, three hours, sipping wine or a cocktail, all while breathing in the fresh air. That’s what we offer our guests at Anya,” says Elizalde.

The resiliency and adaptability of Anya Resort can be attributed to the expertise and local know-how of property management and hospitality solutions provider AHG, which has 20 years of experience in the Philippines under its belt.

Juan Roca, managing director, Anya Hospitality Group (Roxaco Land Corporation), describes the company as “a boutique management company, a company that aims to elevate the Filipino hospitality industry, and to provide bespoke quality services for their clients.”

According to Roca, the company’s deep knowledge of the Filipino market and its more than 20 years of track record in the industry are the main reason for Anya’s resilience and adaptability in these trying times.

“Knowing what the market wants, and what our client wants from us is essential for our success,” he says. “As we all know, the tourism industry is one of the major sectors in the country, contributing a big percent of the GDP. This will keep on increasing. With this trend, we believe that the company will keep growing in the near future. Right now, we are evaluating to go into other businesses, particularly with food service.”

With the continuous easing down of Covid restrictions in the country and with the increasing demand for new and exciting experiences, it’s exciting to see how companies like AHG, and Anya Resort, will reinvent and revitalize service, food, and tourism.

We can’t wait to see and experience what’s next!