There’s lightness and joy when we arrive at dusk in our happy place called Sonya’s Garden Bed & Breakfast in Alfonso, Cavite. When darkness envelops the B&B, Christmas lights brighten the paths leading to the different cottages with their multi-colored glass panels. The yuletide season magically prevails in our favorite place.
Inside the well-appointed Thyme, one of the 22 cottages of the B&B, we are lulled to sleep as we hear the water fountain gurgling in the background. We are whisked to dreamland. The fireflies illumine the dark patch outside our window.
As the sun rises, the crisp, cold waft of morning air pervades in the atmosphere, conjuring a relaxed ambiance that we embrace with fondness. Like always, the mussaendas in peach and white are celebratory and welcoming. The flowers that bloom at night like dama de noches can’t wait for the night to perfume the surroundings with delicate, dainty fragrance. The parijata scent is reminiscent of lovers in paradise. The flowers that emit a scent of popcorn leave one asking for more. The cicadas begin to wind down their almost all-night-long concierto. The morning is joyful.
This heavenly place did not just come up from nowhere. It was lovingly created and crafted by the “royal innkeeper” herself, Sonya Garcia, with all the love and artistry one can imagine.
“You can create your own B&B,” Sonya tells us as she sits down with us at the breakfast table laden with scrambled organic eggs, champorado drizzled with kakang gata, danggit, fried rice, Angus tapa and fried bangus belly.
“Your own B&B can be yours if you dare to learn how to create it. Be creative. Be motivated. Be inspired,” adds Sonya. She goes on to tell us about the three-day Bed & Breakfast Master Class she’s conducting on Dec. 3 to 5 at Sonya’s Garden.
If you have a small piece of land, or a farm, you can have your own B&B, according to Sonya. Whether you’re from the government or private sector, you can aim to boost tourism growth, alleviate poverty and help create jobs in the country. Sonya invites everyone to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the Philippines’ pioneer of elegant bed and breakfast.
“Sonya’s Garden Restaurant and Bed & Breakfast has been in the business for more than 20 years now and I want to share my blessings and all the lessons that I have learned with others who share my passion for clean, green, organic and healthy living,” she says.
Why should you attend the upcoming master class on Filipino B&B on Dec. 3 to 5?
In this time of great disruption caused by the pandemic, people are shifting to the essentials like growing food and their own plants. Back to the basics is now the name of the game. Those who attend will learn how to convert their parcels of land into income-generating cottages, panaderia, an apothecary of scents of soaps and fragrances. They will also learn how to craft elegant dining and learn how to make sumptuous, organic meals.
The success of Sonya’s Garden Bed and Breakfast in Alfonso Cavite lies in its style, elegance, sumptuous feel and everything in between. The model can be replicated anywhere, anytime. And who better to transfer the knowledge than Sonya Garcia herself?
The highlights of the master class include the Soul of Intention, the Evolution of Sonya’s Garden, Farm Tourism Development Act and Community Empowerment. One will also learn the road mapping it takes to set up a Filipino bed and breakfast. Operations management and sustainability principles will also be discussed.
One can also learn about organic farming (a session we attended recently), income sources, sales and marketing, the rise of experiential travel, attend cooking demos for farm harvest and take a guided tour of the property.
Once you explore this paradise, you will learn how every inch of the land has been maximized for utility and functionality.
“I believe we are all transients and I want to make this world a better one than when I found it,” says Sonya. “I started this business with just a tiny piece of land and a dream of finding my own corner and creating my own garden patterned after my grandma’s. There are many people in our country who own a separate piece of land and they have yet to realize the potential of owning their own enterprise to provide off-the-beaten-track accommodation for the booming influx of foreign and local travelers similar to Sonya’s.”
She adds: “Our government is constantly finding ways to make this more inclusive. The Filipino bed and breakfast builds on the spirit of the Filipino people.”
Sonya, always generous and very giving, is ready to transfer her creative and technical know-how of the B&B that she has perfected. The master class will share the inspiration and wisdom of setting up a B&B patterned after her business model.
“This master class is for those who own idle land, a farm, or those seeking retirement options or dreaming of having and operating their B&B one day,” reiterates Sonya, who is well loved by her staff for her gentle, gracious and generous soul. (She gives housing to her staff, and scholarship to their children from grade school to college. She even encourages her staff to plant organic vegetables in their homes and buys the products from them to add to the supply produced by Sonya’s own greenhouse.)
It is an undeniable fact that Sonya Garcia is the “mother” of the comfy and classy concept of B&B in the Philippines. When she walks around Sonya’s Garden, bees and butterflies seem to follow her.
The flowers are abloom in her gardens 365 days a year. It is in itself an obra of nature.
For more information regarding the Filipino Bed & Breakfast Master Class on Dec. 3 to 5, call Christy Caimoy at 0917-5335140 or 0917-5031080. Send inquiries to [email protected]. The master class includes accommodations, full board meals and workshop materials.
Email the author at [email protected].
Photos by Bum Tenorio Jr. and Sonya’s Garden