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Friday, April 13, 2018

Damires Hills Tierra Verde Farm Resort: Commune with Nature, Indulge in Adventure


We were having a great time in Iloilo City that at some point I questioned my decision to move North to Janiuay on our 3rd day. This is actually a little sketchy, Tripadvisor, the world's most popular travel review site ranks Damires Hills Resort #4 among B&B in Iloilo city, but Damires Hills is located 45 minutes from Iloilo City and already within the municipality of Janiuay. If you know how far the airport is from downtown, Janiuay is 2x farther North.

But getting here was a breezy 45 minutes. In a large city, 45 minutes could be hellish but here, it hardly felt like 45 minutes at all. Thanks to the good central terminals in Iloilo city and good flow of traffic in and out of the city. Last thing we know, we were already at the cozy lobby of Damires Hills.

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About Damires Hills 
Tierra Verde Farm Resort
Nothing much could be found online in terms of information about this resort as their official website www.damireshills.com seems to be broken.

What we found out during our stay is that this is a huge property, if I can remember, 72 hectares. And it used to be the retreat house of the owners to escape the city on weekends and holidays until they finally decided to develop the property so that others could also enjoy its beauty.


Resort Features
3-star resort with2 outdoor pools, a restaurant, and a coffee shop/café are available at this resort. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Additionally, a business center, meeting rooms, and a children's pool are onsite.


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Enter the Tori-like gate (except that this one is made of kugon grass) and you see how big the place is. The expansive view of rice fields and hills of thick forest cover  is so pleasing on the eyes and soothing to the soul.

HOW TO GET TO DAMIRES HILLS

Via Private Car - Take Cabatuan-Janiuay Road that connects to the road that leads to the airport until Janiuay town. Past town center of janiuay after the bridge, turn right on the 1st intersection and read the signs leading to Damires Hills. It's only around 5 minutes from the main road.

Via Public Transportation - One can take the taxi from Iloilo City but could cost around 800 pesos on the meter as the airport to downtown Iloilo is already around 250 pesos.
The cheaper way is to take the bus  (Ceres) bound Lambunao-Calinog from Robinson's Pavia  Bus and Jeepney Terminal and tell the driver to drop you at the intersection after town center and bridge then take a tricycle or motorbike  from there to Damires Hills

There are also vans North bound at Northern Iloilo Jeepney and bus terminal if you want a more convenient ride.
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Kubo Accommodation
The hill where you stand hosts the resort's amenities. On your right you will find the cottages scattered around the two big pools (one infinity pool) and the rolling slopes. On your left are where most accommodations are located -- the original kubo houses that could hold big families/ groups of up to 13 pax. These are large hut accommodations embedded in a section with many big trees so it is very shady and the air is always cool. Talk about being immersed in nature indeed.

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Modern Accommodation by the Forest
Our room is farther left towards the foresty section of the resort where a new modern 2-storey building is built overlooking the vast ricefields below and the hillls on the opposite side that is rich in vegetation. This is the kind of view that you wake up to in Damires Hills.

The comforts of modern living in one room -- flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and free bottled water. hot and cold showers, desks, and toiletries that are one of the most fragrant I tried. It is nice that all rooms offer furnished balconies or patios, which I really appreciate given the beauty of the surrounding that one can appreciate more in a veranda than through glass windows.


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Bali-inspired Two-level Huts
After having rested in the room for a few hours, we went for a leisurely walk around the resort. The pool area with its prominent hut cottages is visible from our room and very inviting even from that distance. It was during golden hour so it was a perfect time. The resort  was brimming with vibrance.

I was particularly impressed with the huts at the resort. It is a signature of the place ---Bali-inspired two-level huts that are so striking both in person and in photos. All Instagram-worthy. And there is a consistency with all the huts around the pool and above the hill. Not only that they are beautiful, they are airy as well. One can rent one of these huts on a day trip and could fit a whole family or barkada.

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Damires Hills Tierra Verde Farm Resort

Best Summer Dinner
We had here one of the most intimate dinner this summer. It helped that we had it in one of the spacious hut cottages above one of the pools. I actually though having it at Norma's Coffee Shop is better but I appreciated the place more for its serenity. And it was pretty airy at night so we felt so fresh and relaxed while enjoying the delicious food. We had tinola (native chicken) which was very tasty. I find the spicy sisig really craving and the fish fillet with fresh mangoes on top complimented the whole dish. The food presentation is commendable. They made an effort to separate the soup of the tinola on a porcelain kettle so as to keep it warm all throughout the meal and bits of fresh fruits were added to the juice.

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The Resort Transform 
Into One Big Intimate Place at Night
We decided to spend a few minutes lounging next to the main pool. At night, the resort transform into one big intimate place thanks to strategic lighting of huts and key sections including trees. It was a clear sky so the stars were so visible. Imagine the place being so quiet and relaxed and beautifully lit and you are staring at the night sky with all the star saying hi to you --  all your worries will fade away.
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Breakfast  at Norma's Coffee Shop

Breakfast is served at Norma's Coffee shop. I actually have mixed feelings about the place, because being the restaurant of the resort, this one doesn't really appear to be a restaurant but more of a souvenir shop with dining tables at the center where you can have a meal. These is a whole range of products you can buy here including shirts and accessories, cakes and pastries, even fresh farm produce. That is a good thing as it gives a different vibe, but maybe it's just me, I prefer a restaurant with the kitchen actually in the restaurant. I feel more safe and comfortable knowing where they prepare my food. So it seems they have the kitchen hidden behind the conference hall so you have to order your breakfast the day before so as they can have it prepared on time.

Still, that didn't stop us from enjoying our breakfast. Simple set meals of bangus for me  and tocino for my partner. Nice that there is ensalada as additional side and banana too. Normas has an al-fresco section where you can enjoy a very good view while dining.

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Adventure
Zipline and Atv Ride

Swimming is not the only activity one could look forward to at Damires Hills. They have added a whole range of fun advantures like Zipine and Atv ride, not to mention the Canopy Walk which I will discuss below. We didn't have time to try both atv and zipline because we were out of time, but it looks fun. Lot's of people especially youngsters go here on a day trip to enjoy these activities. I find the zipline really cheap at 200 pesos 1-way. There is also a photo booth to capture all your fun moments in the resort.

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Team Building and Conventions
Damires Hills has a Convention Room that can accommodate up to 100 pax so no wonder why it has become a go-to place for team building activities. This the perfect place for such because it offers big spaces for outdoor activities.

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Canopy Walk 
and Hanging Bridge
This by far was my most enjoyable canopy walk ever. It was already almost 10:00 am when we started hiking but it helped that the trees along the trail are full grown that it was shady 90% of the way. They really made an effort to clear and pave the trail to make a pleasurable hike. Other than the chirping of the birds and the calming fresh air by the the shade of trees, one will be fond of the one-sentence poems dotting the trail.

As a bonus, there is a very long hanging bridge at the highest part of the trail. It is so far one of the longest I have seen. Add to the excitement of crossing the bridge is the deep drop. I find it fascinating too that the trees below it are so tall they extend past the hanging bridge. 

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Lolo Nikoy's Aquaphonics and Organic Farm

One of the surprise of our stay is this, an Aquaphonics and Organic farm. I am not very familiar with what aquaphonics is and twas my first time to visit one so it was some sort of a field trip for me.  It helped that the manager of the farm was around at that time she was able to tour us around and guide us through with how aquaphonics farming is done. This according to her is one of the largest in the country, if not the largest. The vegetable they produce here they use in the resort but most go on sale on other resorts and small groceries in the area. They produce quite a lot an sell at a lower price than that of big groceries so their produce is really in demand.

Tour Schedule
Saturday and Sunday
10:30 am and 3:00 pm

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There are so many awesome accommodations to try in Iloilo City but going North to experience what Damires Hills has to offer was a breath of fresh air both literally and figuratively. It's location is not too far for a commute or drive and at the same time the property where the resort is nestled is perfect for a nature retreat and adventure like no other. Iloilo province deserves a resort this good and it sure is a good compliment to the growing and strong hospitality sector of the province. It was good decision for us to try this place mid-way in our week-long trip because it gave us time to recharge our energy and set the pace for the remaining days of exploring the province.

Indeed, Damires Hills Tierra Verde Farm Resort is where you commune with nature and indulge in advanture. 
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Damires Hills Tierra Verde Farm Resort
is located atJaniuay Iloilo Province, Philippines

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