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Cat Friendly Resort with Pilgrimage Hike

Calamba, Laguna seems endless when it comes to options for resorts, including public and private pools. I'm glad to have found one that's pet friendly! It's the place called Doña Jovita Garden Resort. They have resident cats that are neutered/spayed so they're quite safe. But even for cat lovers, caution is still needed and the resort at least not lacking when it comes to reminders. Numerous sign boards about the cats are all over the place. 

Doña Jovita Garden Resort

Friendly Reminders before Getting Friendly with the Cats


Here's one of those sign boards, placed near Tita Lettie's restaurant, which is also close to the information desk and the cashier area. 



This one's elsewhere within the resort, almost at the back; heading towards the team building activity area and a nearby hill. 


Tita Lettie's Grill


The signboard about cats roaming around while you're dining is placed somewhere around these dining sheds. There are more seats inside the restaurant if you prefer the AC'd room instead. 

Tita Lettie's Grill


Tita Lettie's serve Asian and European dishes including boodle fight for a large group of diners with either seafood or meat platters. I had breakfast since we got there early. 



Here's the menu, lifted from the resort's Facebook page. 

Tita Lettie's Grill Menu

Tita Lettie's is open for resort guests as well as walk-in customers from 7 AM to 10 PM daily. 

And Now the Cats 🐱


A white cat named Steph was sleeping on one of the benches just outside the resort's restaurant. While she's friendly, she doesn't like belly rubs. 

Cat Friendly Resort


These boys guard the information desk. 

Pet Friendly Resort


I found this ginger, also guarding a door, to I suppose an off limits room at the back. 


And there were plenty of other characters but they were shy for the camera. One is close to the ginger cat and appears to be the designated guard at the garden stairs, leading towards the back. 

Other Resident Animals


There were other resident animals. Some dogs were in their cage at the back. There's this majestic looking peacock as well. 



The colorful fowl never opened its wings for us to marvel upon though. 


Up on the upper right, a foreign looking chicken (?) is trying to pose for a pic too. 



Pigeons, in a typical elevated cage you'll also find in provinces. 



Horses grazing... 


Garden


Since those resort resident animals are at the back anyway, let's continue exploring all the way behind the resort. 


They have a garden with flowers and some greens. I assume that's why the place has "garden" to its name. 

Activity Area


An empty area close to the garden can host team building activities. 



There's an obstacle course from the garden leading to those camels. 


The entire empty section in both photos above and below covers the activity area. 


The latter is a snapshot from midway up a nearby hill. 

Mount Makiling


Mt. Makiling, a dormant volcano is a bit visible behind that hill.


Mt. Makiling is located between Laguna and Batangas; hence, it supplies spring water for most resorts in these two provinces. 



I saw a hose right at the foot of this hill. I assume this is where Doña Jovita collects their spring water. 

Pilgrimage Hike with Stations of the Cross 


Speaking of hills, resort guests can hike the trail for a panoramic view on top. 


The hike itself can be considered a pilgrimage since a grotto is located at the hilltop. To reach it, just follow the pathway starting from the garden, then the rosary prayers (above) translated in various dialects, and the Stations of the Cross. 



Jesus was condemned to die (first station) 



Jesus is nailed to the cross (11th)



Jesus dies on the cross (12th) 



The rest of the stations are not photographed here but you'll find them along the pathway. 



From the last station, continue the pilgrim journey up the hill. Climb by following the trail until you reach the area where the grotto stands. You can bring candles and say a little prayer because a candle stand is behind the Mary statue. Be careful with fire though. Avoid starting a forest fire. 😬 

Pilgrimage Hike

Hiking 


The trail is relatively safe. Most of the man-made path is lined with concrete or at least on sturdy soil. There are railings to hold on to as well.


A full hiking gear is therefore not necessary. I climbed while wearing flip flops. However, the trail can become slippery due to mud build up if it rains. You still need to be careful. 



Anyway, climbing on your own is not allowed. You need a staff from the resort to guide you. Additional rules need to be followed as well such as not climbing when drunk and hiking only during specific hours. No climbing when the midday sun is up or at night when it's too dark. You can only climb during the morning before lunch and in the late afternoon. 

Panoramic View


Apart from the completing a pilgrim hike, the view from above is worth the climb. 



I stopped midway up the hill to take a look at the surroundings. Aside from Mt. Makiling behind the hill, I stared at communities below the mountains. 



Also visible from afar is the Laguna de Bay. The resort looks too small from up here. 



Inching in closer to the grotto (on the upper left) 



This is highest we can go. I found a trail leading towards the actual summit but I think it's off limits for climbers. There is no railing anymore going up there. Plus, I saw a gecko passing by so no thank you. 🤪



From up here, the cool mountain breeze makes you sweat less. Bring water and a face towel nonetheless. 



There are benches where the statue stands so you can rest a while before heading back to the resort below. 


Museum


On the way back to the resort, I chanced upon a private museum just beside Doña Jovita. It's off limits. 


Pools, Amenities, and Accommodation


Back to the resort, here are some of the pools. 


A cove design kiddie pool is one of the first to greet you upon entering the official resort premises. There's another kiddie pool just beside the information desk. 

An interesting bell is on display close by. They say you should ring the bell if you are a satisfied customer. 



A gigantic old tree infront of the staff office. A glimpse of the Philippine flag is visible from the glass office walls. 🇵🇭



Wishing well beside a tree house. 


If I'm not mistaken, the tree house is also available for groups, apart from the usual nooks - tables with chairs, picnic huts, gazebo and nipa huts. 

The tree house right in the middle of the resort lets you have a 360-degree overview of the place, including all other available pools. If my counting is right, there should be six? 



One of which is a hot spring. Not completely photographed but this gigantic jar sculpture is where it is. Apparently, all pool waters here were from Mt. Makiling's hot spring, though not all are hot. 



This pool is on the opposite side of the sauna-like hot one has rooms for overnight accommodation. I've seen more rooms beside the first pool. 



Aside from the pools, there's a billiard table close to the kiddie cove pool. 



Plus, a football field where you can enjoy other sports activities, i.e. volleyball, badminton and more. 


Puzakals 


I assume their football team practices here. Puzakals, from what I've read is a project of Doña Jovita Garden Resort, supported by JCI Makati. Players are local boys from the resort's neighborhood barangay

Puzakals


Pony ride and kalesa ride (horse driven local carriage) are also available for guest; which is why there were horses at the back and at the open field in front. 

Video


Just a slideshow of the same images here with short video clips in between.



Rates and More Information


Here's a breakdown of the fees. Since it is a pet friendly resort, you can bring your pets for a ₱100 fee.

Doña Jovita Garden Resort rates


The rest of the rates including events, seminars, team building, weddings, debut, photoshoot and more are all listed at their official website, http://www.jovitaresort.com/home/rates as well as through their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/DonaJovitaGardenResort

Contact Numbers


Mobile: 
Globe 0917-584-8441
Smart 0999-995-3053
Sun 0932-864-1249

Telephone: 

Laguna
049-545-3740 
049-545-7517
049-545-6657

Metro Manila
02-664-9877 
02-925-5459

Location and Directions


Doña Jovita Garden Resort is located at Km. 57 National Highway, Bagong Kalsada, Calamba, Laguna. 

It takes about an hour drive from Metro Manila via SLEX, Exit 50 (Calamba), to Sto. Tomas, and then Bucal Bypass Road/Milagrosa-Bucal Bypass Road to Manila South Road. The resort is on the right. 

Like I always say though (since I'm bad at directions 😂), please download Waze or refer to Google Maps before and during the travel. Do mind that Waze may sometimes lead you to secondary roads to avoid traffic in main roads. 

When commuting, there are buses in several Metro Manila terminals that are bound for Calamba, Laguna.

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