By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, Special Features Writer

Sonya’s Secret Garden (Sonya’s Garden) is a breath of fresh air. Not only because of the greeneries and flowers that decorated the place. Its spaces let guests have a unique idyllic experiences which focus on health and wellness.

Nestled in the Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, Sonya’s Garden can be one’s ideal (and hidden) destination to go to when yearning to escape from the city and seek refuge in nature. With the woods in the backdrop, the country cottages designed distinctively, the fresh organic foods, and an array of relaxing activities to do within and beyond the garden, being at Sonya’s is a break away from a lifestyle of hustles and bustles to embracing the ‘art of doing nothing’.

“I want everyone to enjoy the kind of lifestyle I have,” said Sonya Garcia, owner of Sonya’s Garden.

Sonya’s Garden blossomed from Ms. Garcia’s desire to have a garden akin to her grandmother’s, where she said she was “most happy” growing up.

“There was no business plan,” she said. “I just wanted to build a small cottage with a swing outside and flowers.” It was initially made to be a personal sanctuary, where she also invite friends over for a visit.

Then, whispers about her secret garden began to travel around, enticing others’ curiosity. Eventually, in 1998, Ms. Garcia opened the doors of her home, which many people have now also considered a sanctuary to sojourn.

Since then, Sonya’s Garden grew. The garden is around 2.5 hectares, but Sonya’s has more spaces for guests to visit and relax outside the garden itself.

From its first cottage, Lavender, Sonya’s now has 25 cottages. All are named after flowers and herbs such as Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Chamomile, Basil, Dandelion, and the like.

Guests can have their much-needed break and get cozy at Sonya’s cottages. They do not have televisions and air-conditioners, but the surrounding windows displaying the view of the woods make the room comfortable enough, if not better.

The cottages also have different capacities, with Lavender being the largest one, which can accommodate up to 13 guests.

Near the Lavender cottage is the restaurant. At Sonya’s, the concept of farm-to-plate is put into practice. The components of its signature salad, for instance, are freshly harvested from its greenhouses. This makes the garden its pantry as well.

Guests can also experience the healing power of acupuncture and various spa services offered at Sonya’s, helping them to recuperate in addition to having their respite in the garden.

Beyond the main garden, Sonya’s also offers more activities for its Bed and Breakfast guests to practice the art of doing nothing in its other properties.

Sonya’s champions farm tourism, as guests can visit its farm where they grow their vegetables and fruits.

They can also get closer to nature as they explore Sonya’s Secret Haven and Healing Haven.

Five kilometers away from the main garden, guests can find a pool to wind down. At Sonya’s Secret Haven lies a river with running spring water, where guests can take a dip.

Farther from the Secret Haven, guests can also travel by car to Sonya’s Healing Haven.

A walk at the Healing Haven leads guests to various activities such as fishing and capturing photos of the rescued horses and goats at the place, or just chilling out while sipping a buko juice from the shell. There is also a healing pool, where guests can have a quick soak in and enjoy the spring water.

But people do not only look forward to visiting Sonya’s Secret Garden for an escape from city life to get closer to nature, some also come there to create indelible memories.

Through the years, Sonya’s has been a favorite setting for marriage proposals and tying the knot, making the garden a famous romantic destination as well.

Asking for a special someone’s hand to be wed can be more fairytale-like as couples share a table for two surrounded by colorful flowers and lights at Sonya’s Proposal Garden.

Wedding ceremonies or receptions can also take place at Sonya’s. It has three main venues for such gatherings, named Morning Glory, which can accommodate up to 300 guests; Sunflower for 200 guests; and Conservatory for 80 guests.

The Proposal Garden and the three events places are located within the garden.

There are also shops in the garden, such as the Panaderia and the Apothecary, so guests can surprise their loved ones or treat themselves with delights or gifts from Sonya’s Garden to bring back home.