Family Year-end Holiday at Cana Retreat
Cana Retreat is a quaint seaside resort with the Santorini feels in Amlan, Negros Oriental, Philippines–just 21.2 kilometers away from the capital, Dumaguete City, or about a 30-45-minute drive. Here, we spent our 3-night family reunion and year-end getaway.
Cana Retreat Location
On December 30, the entire clan from my husband’s father’s side from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao converged in Negros Oriental for the fourth Lo Kong Ka family reunion. We held the main events and we stayed at Cana Retreat. Our family drove from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental to Negros Oriental.
Located just along the highway of the municipality of Amlan, Cana Retreat is easily accessible by private vehicle or by the Ceres bus plying the area (Bacolod-Mabinay-Dumaguete). It’s hard to miss. Our cousin Mia found out about this place through Facebook posts and just inquired by phone.
Cana Retreat may be small in land area at 2,600 square meters, but it is compact and has made the most of the available space. The following are the amenities for a wonderful family vacation or a group activity, like a church retreat or company outing.
- Standard rooms and Dorm-type rooms
- Function Room
- Swimming Pools
- Heated pool
- Lap pool
- 2 KTV Rooms
- Grill Area
- Outdoor dining areas
- Sun beds
- Ample parking space
While Cana is a seaside resort, the beach is not good for swimming because of the natural rock formations. But to compensate, the resort has made four pools, including an infinity lap pool, placed side by side so that you get the open, breezy feels like you are still bathing by the beach.
If you wake up early, you get a lovely view of the sunrise.
Like what I said earlier, Cana Retreat is compact. It is located by the roadside, but you will not really be bothered by the noise of the passing vehicles because the parking area provides several meters of distance between the fence and the rooms.
The lodging areas are located on either side of the place, leaving the grassy lawn in the middle as free space or courtyard that is wonderful for group activities and as venue for gatherings or special occasions. Near the café is a tent area for lounging. It is also equipped with tables and chairs where guests can dine anytime of the day.
The resort is gated and has a guard on duty at night. Upon entering, everyone has to go through the reception area with a narrow way. That’s the only way in, so the kids are safe.
It also helped that the clan occupied the entire resort for three nights. We even just let the kids stay on the pool and play with cousins while we took a nap or did some packing in the room. You may call us irresponsible parents but that’s how secure we felt. We didn’t even lock our rooms during the day. It’s one of the fine family-friendly resorts we have stayed in.
By the way, Cana Retreat does not have a lifeguard on duty.
Cana Retreat has a homey café with country chic décor. It looks so nice. But they really haven’t set up their F&B department yet, so all you can have here is the complimentary breakfast for registered guests that comes with your stay. They do not serve other meals yet but beer, coffee (3 in 1 and brewed), juices, and soda are available.
We had several choices, like danggit (dried fish), daing na bangus (milkfish), luncheon meat, sausages, and tocino.
They also gave us some complimentary but-ong (glutinous rice pack) with chocolate.
But as for our lunches and dinners, we brought our own Bacolod chicken inasal, marinated pork, fresh fruits that we bought along the road, and other snack items.
For our New Year ’s Eve dinner, we just ordered lechon (roast pork) from a local supplier as well as some other dishes from a local caterer that were all referred by the resort management. They are also working with a nearby restaurant that can deliver dishes to Cana Retreat. Delivery is free for a minimum order of P500.
The following day, leftover lechon became lechon paksiw, courtesy of cousin Mike who took care of kitchen duties. He is one good home cook. Cooking charges supposedly apply for use of the kitchen but I think they accommodated a lot of things for us, probably because we had the place to ourselves.
Cana Retreat Room Rates
Here are the Cana Retreat room rates and event rentals, if you want to book the entire place for your large group.
- Standard Rooms – P3000 per night
- Deluxe rooms – P5000 per night
- Cvan Rooms – P10000 per night (good for 9, 10, or 12 pax)
- P40,000 with 1 free room
- P50,000 with 3 free rooms
- P74,000 comes with all 12 rooms for 63 pax
Those of us with little kids opted to stay in the standard or deluxe rooms so that they can have privacy.
The CVan Rooms
Our family stayed in the CVan room that’s good for 10 pax. Mama and Shawna each got a bed while our ballet Dad shared a space with Shane. I stayed on the lower bunk because my back pain constrains me from going up.
Meanwhile, Shawna got the top bunk because she always wanted to have one like that. Since both girls like sleep in top bunks, I think we will have to construct a customized bed for them at home.
Economical or Not?
The CVan Room may be quite economical, as the cost of the room may be shared between 10 persons. But since we did not reach 10, the occupants shared the cost of the entire room. And also, we paid for three heads, which is like the cost of a standard room, so we didn’t really get to save money plus we didn’t have privacy. That’s fine in our case though, since we were with family anyway. It just wouldn’t be too comfortable if you are with other people.
Anyway, the room is very nice and clean. The ONLY downside is that, it features just one shared toilet and bath. Only one person can use the T&B at a time and on full capacity, this room is shared by 10 people. We had to use the public toilets, showers, or lavatories downstairs from time to time. While they were quite near our room, it is cumbersome to keep going up and down whenever nature calls and the toilet is occupied.
Our Family’s Experience
Cana Retreat is a family-owned boutique resort that was sort of thrust into the commercial tourism industry because of their picturesque place. While it was still closed to the public, many people would stop over and have a look-see or to have photos taken because it’s just so scenic out there. They have been running the resort for less than two years, adding an amenity at a time. So you can say, this is relatively new.
While the view is spectacular and the place is clean, there are some things still amiss, especially in terms of service. For example, I asked for a bathroom rug in our CVan and a cousin echoed that all rooms didn’t have rugs. The receptionist then radioed somebody, but the rugs never came. One of our party also ranted that their room wasn’t made up. They went out all afternoon and still came back to a messy room.
But you can cut them some slack, especially in our case that we stayed there as a big group composed of different age groups for three whole nights on a year-end holiday. I think our number was close to 50, from age 0 to above 80 years old.
The management and staff really tried to accommodate us and all our needs, so kudos to the owners and their employees. After all, they called this Cana Retreat and not a “resort” so that people would not associate the place to a five-star commercial resort, though it sure looks like it. I am still glad that our officers headed by aunt Helen Go of Hannah’s Party Needs decided to hold our reunion here.
Here’s a short video of our family stay at Cana Retreat.
Just like its name, Cana Retreat is a lovely place for a retreat and a family vacation. It also provides for a romantic wedding backdrop. If we are going to get married again, I want to hold it here! Or maybe just a couple’s pictorial complete with wedding paraphernalia will do. Haha
Plus, it has lots of Instagram-worthy spaces for grammers. This place is total love. Glad we got to celebrate our year-end family holiday here. We surely created a lot of happy family memories at Cana Retreat, especially during our New Year’s eve reunion party where we got to wear Christmas costumes. It was so adorable!
We went home really tired after the long road trip, but our hearts are full.
- Related: Creating Happy Family Traditions
Tandayag, Amlan, Negros Oriental, Philippines
For reservations, Call 0917 314 0532 | Or message their FB page: CanaRetreat
Getting to Amlan
From Bacolod: We were a convoy of six cars from Bacolod City going to Amlan. We took the Mabinay route, which is shorter than the Negros coastal road. Including four stopovers –twice to buy fruits, once to buy food at Mila’s in Hinigaran, and a CR break in Bais, Negros Oriental — our entire road trip took 4.5 hours.
From Manila: Our relatives from Manila flew in through Dumaguete via Philippine Airlines. They were just picked up from the airport, which is about 30 minutes away from Cana Retreat.
From Mindanao: Meanwhile, the party from Iligan City in Mindanao also brought a car. They drove to the port in Dapitan and took the RORO straight to Dumaguete. They drove further going to Amlan.
From Cebu: On the other hand, some relatives from Cebu also brought their own car and took the barge going straight to Dumaguete.
Even without personal vehicles, the same shipping lines may be taken going to Amlan.
While at Cana Retreat, we took a short drive to nearby Bais City where we took off on a 30-minute boat ride to Manjuyod Sandbar. It is also known as the Maldives of the Philippines. And it truly lives up to its name. Will write about this on another post. We are glad that we did this side trip with the kids. They can’t bear to part from here when it was time to go back to Amlan.
We also had a couple of meals in Dumaguete City, namely at Lantaw Restaurant and The Royal Suite.
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