Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, the country’s only heritage resort situated in Bagac, Bataan, needs no long introduction. The winner of the 2021 Historic Hotels Worldwide Best Historic Hotel in Asia and the Pacific by Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence, it has captured the fancy of culture vultures who dream of lingering or staying overnight at a place which evokes Old World charm in every nook and cranny.
But beyond its famed century-old houses which were meticulously restored from their rundown status, this bucket list getaway is also a hub for culture, cuisine, crafts, and everything in between.
Day trippers can savor the delectable dishes Las Casas is known for, which blends with Spanish, Filipino and other culinary influences.
Its main dining outlet is Cusina ni Nanay Maria which is housed at Casa Unisan, an ancestral house from Quezon, which can host 60 guests. As its name suggests, it specializes in Filipino dishes which are reminiscent of your mother’s delectable cooking which uses freshly caught seafood and locally sourced ingredients to create warm, homestyle dishes.
Diners can relish the taste of household heirloom recipes such as kare-kare, lechon carajay, and the signature adobo and tinola, as well as desserts like leche flan and gabi ice cream. It is ideal for lunch because of its proximity to the must-visit spots within the leisure enclave.
Small groups who want a more intimate meal with family and friends can bask on a bespoke dining experience at an old house, such as Casa Hagonoy, a storied heritage house from Bulacan.
Cafe del Rio, the resort’s tapas bar, is ideal for dinner because of its cozy and panoramic riverine location and al fresco dining. Located at Casa Sta. Rita, the 120-person capacity Pampanga house serves Spanish delights such as paella and the pescado ala sal (fish wrapped in salt), an assortment of tapas, and some of the most-sought after wines and spirits.
La Bella Teodora is another option for dinner, with its authentic Italian dishes such as Italian pizza and pasta. The romantic restaurant is housed at Casa Biñan, an ancestral house in Laguna and named after Dona Teodora Alonzo, the mother Dr. Jose Rizal and where the national hero once stayed.
For snacks and in-between meals, there’s La Parilla at Plaza de Castro which offers popular Filipino street food and beverages, such as puto bumbong, bibingka, native brewed coffee, and salabat (ginger ale), to name a few.
If you fancy a refreshing cold cocktail or drink, Dapitan Bar is the chill out place to be. Named after the rustic coastal town in Zamboanga del Norte where Rizal was exiled in 1892, it faces the West Philippine Sea where you can have a front seat view of a kaleidoscopic sunset. The 40-seater bar will soon reopen after being temporarily closed due to the rainy season.
Buffet breakfast is served at Hotel De Oriente, the pride and centerpiece of the heritage resort which is a recreation of the best Spanish-era lodging in Binondo. The stately and picturesque building is also a fitting venue for social and cultural events, such as the recent one-man art show of painter Neptalie “Rico” Aunzo titled Pedro Masipag which extolled the Filipino virtues of industry and perseverance.
An intriguing aspect of Las Casas which shouldn’t be missed is its workshop tour which takes guests to the huge warehouses where artisans and craftsmen painstakingly work on the various components which make the resort a class of its own.
At the walking tour of the workshops on wood mosaic, ceramic tiles, wood carvings, and brick making, you will meet and can interact with the often faceless and nameless men and women who help make the resort a quintessential work of art. For an immersive experience, you can make your own fiberglass mosaic piece to bring home and admire.
You can tour the resort in style, or do a virtual travel back in time, aboard a calesa horse-drawn carriage or a tranvia coach, the primary transportation modes until the pre-World War II years.
Making history come to life are occasional cultural shows by its in-house performers which interpret historic events such as Cry of Pugad Lawin, Execution of Dr. Jose Rizal, and the Proclamation of Philippine Independence through exciting interactive shows.
With the confluence of cuisine, culture and craft, plus a charming coastline, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar may yet be your consummate getaway.