Spot Stays: Have a Family Sanity Break At This Beach Resort Near Manila

It's less than three hours away from Manila.

Pico Sands Hotel
PHOTO BY Pico Sands Hotel

Pico Sands Hotel
Pico De Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast, Barangay Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas
Break Free Package starts at P23,700 per person

At a Glance
Room: Picturesque lagoon view from the veranda
Food and drink: Private cabana dinners
Staff: Fully vaccinated
Why you should stay: With all the activities you could do, you’ll be tempted to extend your weekend trip.

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Pico Sands Hotel
Pico Sands Hotel is a seven-story contemporary hotel with 154 rooms that give you different views of the resort.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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(SPOT.ph) If you’re looking for a quick escape to a beach resort, Pico Sands Hotel in Hamilo Coast is just a 60- to 90-minute drive from Manila. With a multitude of activities for every member of the family, you’ll need a map (provided upon check-in) to navigate the 5,900-hectare land where the hotel is located. And with all that land to manage, the SM Group has made sure improving their sustainability management is a focus.

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Pico Sands Hotel is offering the Break Free Package at P23,700 per person (non-members) or P21,330 per person (members), a minimum of four persons (two-person rate is available upon request). You get two nights, three days in a Lagoon View Room, full course meals, a private cabana dinner at the beach, the “A Rove at the Cove” tour, a sunset cruise with cocktails, and other recreational activities. It is available until December 16, 2021. Regular room rates start at P8,500 to P10,600 per night.

Pico Sands Hotel
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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Pico Sands Hotel
The Lagoon View Room gives you a jaw-dropping view of Pico’s man-made lagoon in the center of the lush Pico De Loro Cove.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

Also read:
10 Laid-Back Beach Rentals in Batangas
10 Exciting Things to Do in Batangas
10 Best Places to Stay in Batangas

How This Resort in Batangas Keeps It Safe in the Pandemic

Each guest needs to submit a list of requirements (including a negative RT-PCR/antigen test result) to both the hotel and S-PaSS.ph, the official site that provides visitors with a travel coordination permit in QR code form. You’ll need to present this QR code upon check-in and checkpoints en route to Batangas. Pico Sands Hotel’s website is regularly updated with the travel protocols as advised by the Inter-Agency Task Force, Department of Tourism, and the local government unit of Batangas.

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Aside from the standard safety protocols (thermal scanning, disinfecting mats, etc.) that you’ll now see in every hotel in the country, hygiene kits have also become a standard welcome present for checked-in guests. Pico’s version contains an alcohol spray, small disposable alcohol pads, and surgical masks.

Housekeeping is upon request, and when you arrive at your room, there’s a tear-off door sticker that says "Disinfected for your protection," which guarantees nobody has entered the room since it was last cleaned.

Every nook and entrance has a contactless sanitizer spray. The elevators are impressively touch-free. Just wave your hand over the light-up buttons to operate. All staff members are masked and wearing pin buttons that say, "I got vaxxed!"

Pico Sands Hotel
The Spa is located in the hotel lobby. Their spa therapists are garbed in full PPE and you may even ask them to use latex gloves for extra safety.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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When you book a massage at Rain: The Spa, your therapist is garbed in PPE, and you may request that they massage you using latex gloves for extra safety. Tip: Reserve your treatment at least a day ahead. There’s only one small spa for the entire resort, so slots are filled up fast. Go for their Signature Spa Experiences, such as Awaken The Senses, P1,600 for 60 minutes; Hilot Therapy, P1900 for 90 minutes; Barako Rain Retreat, P1,800 for 90 minutes; and Herbal Poultice Massage, P1,900 for 90 minutes.

What to Do

Hotel guests will notice that certain areas around the resort are for members only—meaning they are residents of Pico De Loro’s condominiums. The Beach Club and its beachfront are exclusively for members, but non-members who’ve checked into Pico Sands Hotel have their own beach section just a stone’s throw away.

Pico Sands Hotel
The Beach Club is exclusive to members, but the non-members’ beach section is just a stone’s throw away.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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Walk further down the beach to find the view deck, which gives you a breathtaking view at whatever time of day you decide to get that Instagram or TikTok shot.

Non-members are asked to wear a waterproof paper wristband throughout their stay, and you may ask for replacement bands anytime at the front desk.

Pico Sands Hotel
Walk further down Pico Beach to find the view deck.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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Other facilities, such as the pool, indoor games, and sports grounds at the Country Club (not to be confused with the Beach Club) are accessible for both members and non-members. All guests may book water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and banana boating, and recreational activities such as table tennis, basketball, billiards, and hiking. Some activities are free, such as pool use, bird watching, beach volleyball, football, and frisbee. For the rest of the activities, rates vary.

Note for newbies: While you can spot Mt. Pico De Loro’s famous monolith from the resort, the mountain’s jump-off point is in Ternate, Cavite—not Batangas. The mountain is also temporarily closed to hikers.

For those who love to ‘gram, there are plenty of picture-perfect spots around Pico’s man-made lagoon. The hanging bridge, which is lit up at night, is the backdrop of many a pictorial, while the jogging path serves both as a calorie burner and photoshoot option.

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Pico Sands Hotel
Tucked atop the lush environs of Pico de Loro Cove is St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel, where you can take photos to your heart’s content for as long as there’s no ongoing mass.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

Tucked atop the lush environs of Pico de Loro Cove is St. Therese Chapel, where you can take photos to your heart’s content for as long as there’s no ongoing mass. But give your camera a break and stop to enjoy the spectacular view.

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Pico Sands Hotel
If you book “A Rove at the Cove,” it includes a four-hour stopover lunch at Santelmo Cove, one of the 13 coves at Hamilo Coast.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

Don’t skip "A Rove at the Cove," a private speedboat tour that takes you around five of the 13 coves on Hamilo Coast, including a stopover lunch and a four-hour stay at the Santelmo Cove. If you’re lucky, you’ll have this spot all to yourself. There, you can explore the pristine beach, climb to the deck overlooking the cove, and watch divers or snorkelers jump off their boats. You might even spot sharks emerging from the distant waters. Don’t worry; they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. The package rate starts at P9,600 for four people.

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Where to Eat

If you’re purchasing the Break Free package, all activities and meals will be arranged for you, including a seaside lunch at the beach or garden cabana, a private cabana dinner by the Spanish Steps, breakfast at the Beach Club cabana, sunset cruise cocktails, a four-course private dinner at Pico Beach’s cabana, and lunch at the Santelmo Cove as part of your speedboat tour.

Pico Sands Hotel
You can have lunch at Santelmo Cove.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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Pico Sands Hotel
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

For DIY travelers who just want to book a regular room and take it from there, you have plenty of bars, cafés, and restaurants to choose from.

Pico Restaurant in the hotel lobby is where breakfast is usually served. It can get crowded, especially on weekends, so choose the outdoor tables for your peace of mind. Right across is Pico Bar. Both are open 24 hours. Tip: Order room service for a nightcap and have it by your room’s veranda while admiring the night view of the lagoon.

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The country club is where you’ll find most of the dining options. There’s Lagoa, which serves American, Asian, and Filipino fares. Lagoa Pool Bar serves your post-swimming cravings of burgers and fries, while Billiards and Bowling serves snacks and drinks to help fuel your game.

Pico Sands Hotel
The Break Free package includes a private cabana dinner by the Spanish Steps. Guests who booked a regular room may purchase this as an add-on.
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez
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Pico Sands Hotel
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

For those lounging at Pico Beach, hop over to Reef Bar for your post-water recreation snacks, such as smoothies, barbecues, and sandwiches.

If you’ve been to Pico before the pandemic, you’ll notice a few tweaks. They phased out the resort’s reloadable card, so charges go directly to your room. Aside from the shuttle vans, they added electric golf carts as part of their green efforts. The carts take guests around the resort for free, so hop on and off as you please—with social distancing, of course. They’ve added private cabanas on the Spanish Steps in front of the hotel and on Pico Beach. They also fully shifted to paper utensils and biodegradable takeaway packs.

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Where to Shop

Forgot to pack something? There are two SM Kultura shops—one in the hotel and one in the Beach Club—where you can purchase everything from beach essentials to souvenirs, all proudly Pinoy-made.

Pico Sands Hotel
PHOTO BY Kate Alvarez

There’s also a vending machine at the hotel lobby and a Grab ‘N Go convenience store at the Country Club lobby.

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How to Get There

You can choose between two routes. The shorter way is via CAVITEX-Ternate-Nasugbu, which takes you through Cavite, Trece Martires, Naic, and Maragondon. The more scenic route is via SLEX-Santa Rosa-Tagaytay-Nasugbu, which gives you views of Mt. Makiling and Tagaytay City. It takes about two to two-and-a-half hours to get from Manila to Nasugbu.

Go on a weekday as weekends are starting to get crowded with the easing of travel restrictions. Parking is free and there are plenty of parking slots in the private property with 24-hour security.

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