Vanguard of Filipino Heritage: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

The only resort in the Philippines inducted into the Historic Hotels Worldwide; the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar gives you an actual glimpse of what it was like to live in a Spanish-Filipino mansion and community in the 18th century.

Located by the sea in Bagac, Bataan, about a 3-hour drive from the country’s capital of Manila, the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a unique complex of about 30 ancestral homes with rich histories and cultural integrity.

A 400-hectare property, and continuing development, this literal open-air museum of sorts and luxury resort mimic that of an 18th century Spanish-Filipino town.  Cobble-stone streets, canals, a tram, and horse-drawn carriages are just some of the charming details found at the complex, aside from the beautifully restored historic mansions that fill the property.

The complex is the brainchild of Jose “Gerry” Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, and an avid art collector.  Scouring the cities and towns of Luzon (the biggest island group in the country), he bought historic mansions and ancestral homes which were in dilapidated conditions, had them carefully dismantled, brought to the site in Bagac, and meticulously reassembled and restored.

One of the main mansions, which is the Casa Bizantina, hosts the main hotel, while other mansions such as Paseo Escolta features studio rooms which cost less than the suites offered at the former building.

Each room or suite at the resort features Spanish-Filipino-inspired furniture, en-suite bathrooms with separate bathtubs, as well as modern amenities such as a satellite TV, water heaters, and a mini bar.

For your dining pleasures, there are 4 restaurants in the complex, where guests can enjoy a range of different cuisines, from Filipino food to an International selection, as well as two Italian restaurants.  A café is also available at the complex, as well as a bakery which serves up hot bread in the afternoons.  Breakfasts, which are included in your stay, are served each morning at the Marivent Café.

Facing the Bagac Bay, the resort features its own private beach, a swimming pool, and plenty of beach area to frolic, play water sports, and to simply enjoy the warm tropical weather and the cool breezes that come from the sea.

Among other activities to enjoy at the resort include a heritage tour. A knowing tour guide will take you throughout the complex, narrating the funny, interesting, and sometimes gory histories of each mansion; a riverside cruise where you can explore the entire complex from the Umagol River that embraces the buildings of the resort;  a tram ride;  a calesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride;  bicycle rentals;  and simply exploring the resort on foot through its beautiful plazas, ancestral homes, fountains, and on-site workshops.

By sundown, a mini fiesta occurs at the front of the Paseo Escolta building, where some locals of Bagac don traditional Filipino garb and entertain guests with Filipino folk songs and dances.  For the perfect way to end a day of outdoor activities and exploration, the Napiya Spa offers traditional Filipino massages for your pleasure.

The Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a dream for those who love history, but even if you’re not a history fan, you will surely appreciate and enjoy the intricacy and beauty of Spanish-Filipino architecture once you set foot in the resort.

And with luxury accommodations, exquisite cuisine, top-notch service, and many activities not to be missed, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is your perfect destination for luxury travel with a little bit, or a ton, of Philippine history, all rolled into one.

Photo courtesy: Las Casas Filipinas