By Dinna Vasquez
Destination spas aren’t really common in the Philippines—probably because we’re spoiled. Massage at home is just a text away and it’s easy to enjoy an hour’s massage at the mall.
But Qiwellness Living, which is a 90-minute drive from Makati, might change your mind.
Located in Tagaytay, the place is a dining and wellness destination co-owned by Kenneth Tuason and Rita Sanson.
Aside from getting a massage, you can enjoy a view of Taal Volcano, or even spend the night there.
You can savor a nine-course Yin-Yang degustacion meal prepared by Chef Jeff Ramirez (who studied and trained in Australia) or order a la carte.
Kenneth says they chose Tagaytay because of its proximity to Metro Manila, the climate, the view of the mountains, lake and forest.
“There are very few restaurants that offer the dining experience that we offer, and even fewer destination spas in the Philippines. Most of them can be found in hotels and resorts. We want to take you to a different place and time over a meal or a massage,” explains Ken.
Kenneth said Qiwellness Living was inspired by Chinese teahouses.
“Traditionally, a Chinese teahouse is a place where one can meditate while sipping and enjoying their tea. Historically, these are situated overlooking mountains, lakes or forests,” he added.
Just like its next-door neighbor, Domicillo bed and breakfast, the marks of Budji Layug+Royal Pineda Design Architects are everywhere.
The façade is plain except for a red wooden door. The structure is made of concrete and stone, which blends with the surroundings.
Note that the three-story spa is not child-friendly—an active child could slip on the floor or the stairs.
The healing concept of Qiwellness Living is heavily influenced by traditional Chinese medicine.
We had Qiharmony, the spa’s signature massage which combines reflexology, acupressure and tui-na techniques on the head, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, feet, legs and back, by the yin-yang pool.
In case you are iffy about getting undressed, this treatment is done while you are fully clothed.
After that, we had tea at the al fresco area, where they also serve cocktails. It rained as we were about to start with the dinner so we moved to the dining hall for the degustacion dinner.
“In our ‘yin-yang’ cuisine, we prepare our dishes in a way where not one flavor overwhelms the other, but all coexist harmoniously. The balance in colors, textures, aromas, and flavors are all inspired by the yin and the yang,” said Kenneth.
The menu, which changes according to the season, costs Php 2,880+ (inclusive of VAT, plus 10% service charge). It must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
We started our spring menu with an eel dish, miso soup with mushroom and truffle oil, salmon gravlax with citrus pearls and cream cheese and a fermented tofu soufflé with a spring salad. We also had soba noodles with sea urchin cream, egg and crab.
The menu had three main courses: flank steak, duck confit a la Peking with pancakes and plum sauce, and lamb belly.
Dessert was something out of a fairy tale. Described as “guava + mango + lemon + edible flowers + herbs +soil,” it was actually an ice cream with crispy flowers and ground chocolate cookies representing the soil.
The cuisine is described as Franco-Asian fusion, cooked using East Asian ingredients and employing modern culinary techniques.
Ken admits their rates are higher than those of other restaurants and spas in Tagaytay.
“We’d like to think we are catering to a discerning market. But we also have guests that are young, even college students, who are intrigued and would like to experience dining and massages for special occasions.”
For rates and more information, go to http://qiwellnessliving.ph/home.