As a country with 7,641 islands, it’s no surprise that the tourism industry is a significant sector of the Philippine economy.
In a Philippine Statistics Authority report, as of 2019, tourism accounts for 12.7% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) or the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year. It has also provided jobs to almost six million Filipinos.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that followed put a halt to this booming industry and practically left people in tourism jobless.
In CALABARZON, tourist revenues dropped from Php 93 million in 2019 to Php 11 million in 2020. Batangas, one of the region’s most well-known tourist destinations, thanks to its beaches and its proximity to the Metro, saw its tourists drop down by 92% from 2019 to 2020.
A Fateful Encounter—with Goats
But like a light cutting through the darkness, resiliency tides us through any crisis. The same is true for Yvonne Jean Dalanon, a former flight attendant for Cebu Pacific.
Dalanon has always dreamt of becoming a flight attendant, so she persevered to turn it into reality. Among 1,600 applicants, she became one of the few chosen to work at 30,000 feet in the air. When the pandemic hit, however, she was one of the many airline crew to be laid off.
“I thought my career would stop after being a flight attendant,” she shares.
In her effort to move forward, Dalanon began a small online business. When she realized her need for a job with a more stable income, she came across an opportunity to work at La Chevrerie Resorts and Spa in Anilao.
She now manages the resort and enjoys the job she considers “a blessing for me.”
A New Home
Dalanon’s new workplace, a boutique resort located in Batangas, is a paradise for divers.
La Chevrerie, she says, means “The Goat’s Place” in French. The name came to be because its owner is a foreign diver who wished for a simple life by the beach where his pet goats can roam freely.
Today, the resort is teeming with goats and beach lovers who seek a private sanctuary.
With only 13 rooms, the resort staff only accommodates a limited number of guests.
As a beachfront property, it offers a round the clock view of the sea, the relaxing sound of the ocean waves, a cool breeze, serene sunsets, and the goat’s company.
This environment, according to Dalanon, makes her job as a manager not feel like work, which involves spending the whole day attending to guests, and responding to their needs and wants.
“My day would usually start with checking emails and reports,” she says. “I would take calls and reply to inquiries from guests, and work on more files.”
She often assists when guests are keen to try out the resort’s plentiful amenities. That includes kayaking, snorkeling, and a barbeque lunch at a nearby island as these are some of its most famous activities.
Dalanon is also hands-on in accommodating tourists who come to their resort for what it is known for—diving.
Anilao, after all, is known for its rich marine biodiversity. For those with no previous diving experience, fret not. La Chevrerie is fully equipped with diving gear and SSI-certified instructors who can guide and ensure everyone’s safety.
If guests fancy relaxing massages after a full day of outdoor activities, Dalanon also helps them book a session at the resort’s spa, La Brise. Here, trained massage therapists can help guests relax. For those who are bringing their children, the flight attendant-turned-manager says the resort has babysitting services that can work to parents’ convenience.
Dalanon also makes sure that guests can fill up their tummy at L’Atelier, the resort’s restaurant. In it, in-house chefs only pick fresh and organic ingredients for their dishes. Comfort food like pasta and pizza, as well as fresh fruit juices, are popular menu items.
The restaurant also has its own wine cellar, so diners can cap off their gastronomic experience with a glass of wine.
This round-the-clock work, according to Dalanon, is what she would consider the biggest difference between her role at La Chevrerie and Cebu Pacific.
“Back when I was still flying, the longest time I usually spent with the passengers was not longer than 10 hours on our long haul flights,” she says. “Meanwhile here, I spend around 24 hours or more with the guests.”
She now works with the same group of staff, too, unlike in the airline where she flies with a different crew everyday. “That’s what makes it interesting,” she says. “As a resort manager, I have the opportunity to know them more than just who they are while on duty.”
But her experience as a flight attendant has also helped her understand what often leads to success in the hospitality industry—customer satisfaction.
“Just like with passengers, everyday it is needed for us to adjust to the comfort, as well as wants or needs of hotel guests,” she adds. “The team and I work together to give the best possible customer service.”
On whether she misses being a flight attendant, Dalanon says she would be lying if she said no. The profession, after all, is what she worked hard to achieve as a tourism student.
But she’s thankful and enjoying her new journey as a hotelier.
“The responsibility of a manager is not easy as I always need to focus on the simplest details,” she says. “But I have a wonderful view in the office and I get the chance to watch a different sunset everyday so who am I to complain right?”
Road to Paradise
To enjoy your little goat-filled world, Dalanon says you can book your reservation through email at [email protected] or via phone at 0917 703 3320.
The deluxe room rate is Php 11,088 per night for two adults and one child below 12 years old, inclusive of breakfast. A special 10-20% discount is offered to individuals who book directly and pay full in advance.
La Chevrerie is a 2.5-hour drive away from Metro Manila. If you’re going to commute, take a bus to the Batangas City Public Terminal, then ride a jeepney to Mabini and get off at the Mabini Public Market. Take a tricycle toward Anilao via the Bauan-Mabini Roa, turn right at the Mabini Tourism Triangle and keep going until you see La Chevrerie.
But if you’re taking a car, take SLEX until the Batangas Port exit. Continue on the road to Batangas Port until you see the Bauan Overpass then turn right towards Mabini. Go straight and make another right to the Bauan-Batangas Provincial Road, then take a left from the main road when you see the Bauan Doctors’ Hospital.
From there keep going until you turn right at the Mabini Tourism Triangle, from which La Chevrerie is straight ahead.
The resort also offers a one-way or roundtrip shuttle service from NAIA. A one to four-person trip would cost Php 8,000 and Php 12,000. But for five to eight people, it’s Php 10,000 and Php 15,000.
Not only would you be able to enjoy a unique vacation experience, but you’d also help contribute to sustaining livelihood during the pandemic, just like Dalanon’s. Who says doing your part can’t be fun?
La Chevrerie has health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.