July 31, 2017

Les Maisons d'Itac, Ronda, Cebu

A home is never lonely where a loving dog waits.

Les Maisons d’Itac (a French term for “The Houses of Itac”) is a charming seaside resort in Ronda, Southern Cebu. It is a former private French resthouse named after the owner’s loving dog, Itac.

The original man of the house is already gone and his two children Marion and Tom fondly share how their father built the house “Once upon a time, our dad, a spirited traveller, chose to go across the boundaries. With only luggage, dreams and a spirit of adventure for company, he sailed along, far from his home, towards a remote and mysterious sea. His ship stumbled upon the welcoming and generous lands of the Philippine Islands. He found a simple hut for home, and transformed it into a paradise now known as Les Maisons d’Itac.”

About two to three hours away from Cebu City, the resort isn’t well known among the locals of Ronda. I bet that if I didn’t have Google maps installed on my phone, it might have taken me forever to find this gem of a place as it is located in a fishing community a little bit far from the main highway and without any signage going to the resort. The tricycle driver that I hired from the town proper didn’t know such place exists even if it was already operational since 2013. A previous foreigner guest even commented that the resort is extremely difficult to find. So truly and quite literally, it is a hidden paradise.

After getting a warm welcome from the co-owner and resort manager Bryan, his super-friendly and doting dog Stacy took over and toured me around the place (I actually got to spend more quality time with Stacy than with Itac). Bryan assumed I was a photographer and told me that I could explore the whole property since other guests would be arriving come nightime.

The resort offers five types of accommodations, named after Greek mythology characters. 

The Maison Ulysse is a traditional bamboo house good for couple. It is also, I think the most romantic, given that it has an open lounge overlooking the sea on the ground floor, and a native room with a lovely bamboo bed and two rocking chairs on the upper floor. I was originally booked here but I was offered an option to stay at their duplex.

Eventually, I picked Studio Poseidon, an air-conditioned room with king size four-poster bed, private bathroom, and a porch with sea view. The room looks immaculately white and clean. It also has a decorative native-made hamper at the foot of the bed. The adjoining Studio Calypso looks almost the same except that it is furnished with an intriguing wooden chest. I was also surprised to find out that at night Itac sleeps on the bamboo daybed just outside the room. How nice na may taga-bantay pala ako.

Families and big groups could choose to stay at either of the two villas - Suite Pénélope or Suite Télémac - located at the elevated portion of the resort. These villas have two to three rooms with their own terrace, dining area and private swimming pool. I was fascinated with the pool surrounded by real Christmas trees.

The resort has a common lounge and dining area, recreation and play room. Guests could play the billiard, board games or read books from their mini-library. If there’s a trademark decoration at Les Maisons, it would be the countless framed shells that are prominently displayed everywhere. They were products of a livelihood project made by the locals and were supposed to be exported abroad. However, due to a policy restricting exportation of rare shells, the beautiful display ornaments never made it out of the country, but eventually found a new home at the resort.

Apart from the complimentary breakfast, guests may also avail full-board meals, which is kinda expensive but still sulit in taste and in serving. I particularly enjoyed the tasty and big garlic shrimps.    

I would have loved to take a dip in the dipping pool or take a swim in the sea but the weather wasn’t cooperative most of the time. But I get to appreciate more the serenity and solitude of the place from the comforts of the hammock or native hut. Good thing too that there is free wifi; I got to read some articles about positive psychology and learned a few insights like “Becoming is better than being”; “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”; “Happiness is not out there for us to find. The reason that it's not out there is that it's inside us”; and “The purpose of life is to discover your gifts and the meaning of life is to give them away.”

I also got the chance to take a glimpse of the adjacent posh two-storey Balinese-inspired villa (owned by a Norwegian), which Bryan is also managing. It is smaller than Les Maisons but its amenities are more luxurious. Rooms have nice bed and bathtub, and are overlooking the sea. It also has a watchtower and a gorgeous infinity pool.

Far across the cream-sand beach fronting Les Maisons is the island of Negros. The beach is swimmable during hightide. But during lowtide, it exposes corals and rocks as the beachfront is actually a marine sanctuary. On the rear right side of the resort are picturesque rock formations, mangroves, a cliff and a hill.   

I had a lovely and relaxing time at Les Maisons. I love the architectural design of the houses and their rustic appeal, the refreshing greenery and the pine trees, and the quiet and peaceful surroundings only slightly disrupted by the sound of wind, rain, and waves. The staff were helpful and friendly. And Stacy, well that girl left paw prints all over my heart. 

From the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City, take a bus bound for Moalboal or Bato (via Barili). Get off at Kasadya Rd. just before Ronda town proper. Landmark would be the signage "Kasadya Aqua Park”. Then take a habal-habal going to Les Maisons (I think habal-habal drivers in Kasadya know the resort than those in the town proper). Or better call the resort to pick you up from the highway or the town proper.

Les Maisons d'Itac
Santa Cruz, Ronda, Cebu
Tel. No.: 0917-6245774
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