By Liwliwa Malabed
One realization from the pandemic is how interconnected our everyday life is with the vital work that our farmers do. Filipino families are learning how to be sustainable by growing their own vegetables in pots or for the lucky ones, in their backyards. Even in the tourism aspect, it pays to get your hands dirty in making things grow.
Lotuspod Bed and Breakfast in Laguna is a resort that makes good use of the rich soil in the area. Here, the bananas, rice, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms they grow end up on the guests’ plates.
The owner, multi-awarded journalist Cheche Lazaro, talks about the perks of organic farming. “I think knowing where your vegetables come from, it makes you feel confident that you are feeding your guests what you consider is the best, what is good because you can truthfully tell them we only use organic fertilizer.”
The guests can also go beyond “tasting” the benefits of organic farming by participating in Lotuspod’s Agritour. In the specialized tour, agriculture scientists will teach guests how to nurture their plants without artificial fertilizers or harmful pesticides.
“We want our guests to visit the farm. We want them to see the vegetables. In fact, we sell the vegetables when we have extra. The guests are encouraged to harvest them themselves,” Cheche adds.
This is an enriching activity for families, one that introduces children to the fruits of the earth and how their little hands can cultivate the soil.
Cheche shares, “It would be nice for the children to learn where vegetables come from so that they will appreciate vegetables. Most children don’t like vegetables but if they see that where it comes from, from the earth, they will appreciate nature more, I hope.”
Aside from the Agritour, Lotuspod also offers an array of activities that will encourage your adventurous or meditative side. You can swim laps at the infinity pool or lounge with a cool drink from the bar. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, you can try the zipline or the trampoline. If you prefer some peace and quiet, you can relax at the spa or chill at the open restaurant. You can explore the property and bike around the man-made lake where the lotus plants thrive.
You can also just stay in and enjoy your luxurious accommodation. Each Bali-inspired Casita has its own terrace, pocket garden and hot-spring dipping pool. Every structure is an architectural delight, with handpicked furnishings and distinctive Southeast Asian accents complementing the lush, serene surroundings. However you choose to spend your time at Lotuspod, the place itself assures a fruitful day.
Cheche likens the resort experience to the pod of the lotus flower, “Nestled in each pod are seeds and in every seed is another lotus. You can plant the seed and it will become a lotus flower.” The seeds represent the possibilities for pleasure and relaxation.
“In Lotuspod, you can do many things. You can dine under the stars, you can go ziplining, you can have yoga classes, you can have cooking classes. That’s why we called the place Lotuspod,” Cheche explains.
The resort also caters to events such as intimate gatherings, garden weddings, and camping trips.
Cheche relates, “We have camping for children. We once held a father and son camping event where we supplied the tents. The guests can camp, the place is wide open and they can have campfire, they can cook barbeque but they also have the convenience of a real bathroom.”
In the countryside, the grass and earth under your feet, the sun on your skin, and the gentle breeze brings the smell of the mountains calm and rejuvenates the soul. “I wanted the open space, the feeling of being in the province with all the conveniences of being in your own home. You have all the amenities but you also have the open space and you don’t feel cramped,” she emphasizes.
And sure enough, when you look out from the window of your Casita, you can see rice stalks peacefully swaying in the breeze, soaking up the morning sun. Cheche proudly states that even though they only practice small-scale farming, Lotuspod is self-sufficient. And what they cannot grow themselves, they source from nearby local farms and stores.
The resort was closed for seven months because of the Coronavirus disease pandemic but Lotuspod opened it gates in September 2020 with health protocols in place.
“The personnel takes a temperature check and oxygen count everyday, we have disinfecting machines in the reception area, in the pavilion. After the guests leave, we disinfect the rooms.
We have alcohol pump bottles in every room. We installed acrylic barrier in front of the receptionist. We also have online registration and implement half-occupancy.”
It is difficult to run a resort and equally daunting to keep a farm but Cheche Lazaro, with the help of trusted staff, rises to the challenge.
Photos courtesy of Lotuspod
for more information visit https://www.lotuspodbedandbreakfast.com/
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s March to April 2021 issue.