Less than three hours from Manila, serene luxury awaits at this resort in Lian, Batangas

Tana Beach Villas is a beachfront resort with only nine villas for a quiet, relaxing weekend—without the drama of planning too far ahead. Just choose a date and drive south.

I never thought it would happen for the third time. But one Sunday in May, when I reached luxury resort Tana Beach Villas, operations manager Allan Dollesin met me and said, “You have the whole staff at your service for two days. You’re the only guest at our villas.”

Apparently, I had just missed the families that were booked for the weekend. Some stayed for a night, others had arrived on Friday and drove back to Manila on Sunday.

A little back story. I lived and worked from Boracay for almost two years during the pandemic (my original plan was just a month). In August 2021, when Manila announced a three-week lockdown, Manila guests hurriedly left the island, and only the locals and long-staying guests were left once again.

Located on the beach and surrounded by nature in Lian, Tana Beach Villas is a private luxury resort for a quick getaway.

At the time I was booked at Discovery Suites Boracay, possibly the only time I could afford to stay there about 12 days because of pandemic rates. For more than a week, I was the only guest in the 99-room resort at Station 1. Most hotels shuttered that month but not DSB. They maintained a skeleton staff whose life stories I got to know because, well, we were the only ones in the resort and that part of White Beach.   

Incredibly, that was the second time I found myself the only guest in a hotel. The first time was in Santorini, Greece because I traveled in January, the off season when shop and hotel owners went on their own holidays in tropical islands. For three days out of five, I was the only guest in a boutique hotel in Thira that was located on a cliff facing the caldera.

Both solo experiences had me spoiled. So when Allan told me this, I laughed and said, “I really didn’t think it would happen again.”

(Above and below) All nine spacious villas have one bedroom with either a king-sized bed or two double beds, and a living room/dining room.

Tana Beach Villas is an amazing place to be the only guest—or to book the whole property with your family and friends. You have the beach to yourself and explore the shoreline at one’s pleasure and schedule, surrounded by mountains and an island across the water. You can eat anytime you want at Trese Clubhouse, whose chef worked in Scotland for over a decade, and ask him to cook off the menu for you.

You have a villa that’s so large with a king-size bed and a living room with a dining table, Bluetooth speakers, a sink, Nespresso machine, and a mini fridge. You can book a massage and they bring a proper massage bed to your villa. And you can ask them to make you drinks during sunset without having to wait.

(Above and below) The open restaurant Trese Clubhouse serves local and international favorites.

Tana has only nine villas; the tenth suite is for the exclusive use of the owners—the Tan family who have always loved the beach and luxury resorts. Even with the family traveling to the best destinations around the country and abroad, they had always wanted a resort of their own that was quick to get to—no huge planning involved but a place where you can go on a lark.

Tana Beach Villas is really for relaxing—there are no clubs nearby, no night markets to explore—and no one would want to leave the resort once they’re there anyway. For the Tan family, the province of Batangas offered many beachfront properties but none as private as Tana, and none with as fine as the sand in its shoreline. Under the light of the sun, the sand is gray; at night it looks black like the beaches of Canggu in Bali.

Private luxury

The infinity pool of Tana Beach Villas that kids (and adults) love to frolic in

“There are many beautiful towns in Batangas, but Lian captured our hearts and minds. As the first luxury beach villas in the area, we envision promoting local tourism through a luxurious getaway experience,” said Justin Tan, owner of Tana Beach Villas, which operates under Approche Hospitality. This is the family’s first resort—and it won’t be their last.

Tana is derived from his father’s name, for whom the family built the resort. Drawing from their own travel experiences, the Tans had a specific modern design and feel in mind. They sought the expertise of Tayo Architecture and RBSayno Interior Design to design the resort.

Though they have floor-to-ceiling glass doors, the villas are positioned at an angle that faces the beach and not each other. By Monday, when families began arriving for their weekday getaway, it still felt like I was the only guest around.

You have the perfect view of the sunset from your villa terrace.
Or views of the garden on the other side

Luxury, of course, is in the details, from the natural stone exterior of the villas to the carefully selected furnishings inside. Each villa continues the theme of modern luxury and natural aesthetics of the architecture. Exposed stone walls add texture and warmth, juxtaposed with modern amenities and sleek, contemporary fittings. Glass doors let you work in the living room with an abundance of natural light and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Each villa has either a king-sized bed or two double beds with 400-thread count cotton beddings plus premium bathroom essentials made from natural ingredients. They also boast a polished white concrete finish and spacious, open layouts complemented by soft neutral color palette interiors that create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.

“We wanted the villas to be spacious to allow our guests a sense of freedom, hence the high ceilings. We also chose top quality interior finishing that would reflect the overall minimalist design of the property and still be durable against the elements as we are located on the beach,” Justin said.

Exploring Batangas

Tana provides paddleboards and kayaks for guests to use.

Batangas has always been popular for its coastal areas and marine life. In the ‘90s, places like Matabungkay were the go-to getaways of the doñas of Manila in their fabulous resort wear, while Nasugbu to this day attracts divers and underwater photographers.

Nasugbu, in fact, is where the Tourism Department holds its underwater shootout with more than a hundred divers and underwater photographers flying in from around the world. These famous underwater photographers take amazing photos of the smallest and the strangest sea creatures for bragging rights (because while the prizes are substantial, so are their expenses to get here).

Nights at Tana Beach Villas are for swimming.

The beaches of Nasugbu like other towns in Batangas, however, are pebbled. Lian’s beaches, meanwhile, have fine sand that you can walk without your slippers as long as it’s not too hot.

Tana can help you make arrangements if you want to go island hopping, snorkeling or diving, horseback riding or explore on a jetski. If you want to have s’mores with the kids, well, they have bonfire on the beach too. If you’re lucky enough, you can witness the releasing of baby turtles into the sea.

Trese is a lucky number

(Above and below) Specialty cocktails and dishes at Trese Clubhouse

Tana’s restaurant has a rather curious name: Trese (13) Clubhouse, named after Justin’s mom who earned the moniker for being the 13th child in her family. I felt (if a bit shy) when they told me the chef would make anything I wanted, even off the menu.

Trese features a selection of Chinese and Filipino favorites, as well as international dishes. Have a cocktail (or two) with a pizza (or two) at sunset. But what I loved best was chef’s French onion soup—neither the onion nor the cheese was overwhelming—and his fish and chips (of course I had to try this Brit favorite). He also made me classic Caesar salad with chicken that was so filling I had to bring back half to my villa; and for breakfast, he cooked perfectly poached eggs and Angus beef tapa on the side.

Eating alone at Trese was a delight because of the cool breeze from the sea in the afternoon. And because I was alone, the staff would come to chat with me (shyly at first). I found out that the operations manager, for instance, got most of his hospitality experience on luxury cruise ships, while the chef had his in the Scottish Highlands where he learned to cater to all sorts of palates.

Tana has only nine villas and one owner’s suite.

In Tana, he said, guests stick to comforting classics like Batangas’ signature liempo bulalo, as well as pork sinigang, grilled salmon, and pasta. “There are some dishes that you should not change too much because people love them for what they are,” he said. “People come here to relax, they don’t want to think too much about what food to order. We make it simple but really good for them.”

Most of the staff are locals, of course. Before Tana, they told me, there had never been a resort this luxurious in Lian. Hospitality also seems to run in Batangueños’ blood: they always anticipate your needs and ask how else can they make your stay perfect.

You find yourself saying: in this place, with this view, there’s nothing else that comes to mind except to enjoy the breeze and a swim in the sea.

For more information, visit Tana’s official website or official Facebook page; contact 0915 089 4811 or send email to tanabeachvilla@gmail.com

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