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From a one-cottage shack and three-hole golf course, Baguio Country Club has evolved into the biggest and most exclusive resort in the City of Pines

VIP’s, Presidents and dignitaries frequent the place,sometimes incognito, yet the Baguio Country Club remains one of, if not the most popular members-only lodge in the city. Perhaps not everyone who has been to the so-called “City Within a City” is aware that this spectacular Country Club began as only a small  hostel.

Governor William Cameron Forbes founded the Baguio Country Club in 1905 with the goal of providing an area for sports and recreation for Baguio residents. He also had the intention of promoting the mountain area as a pleasurable and restful summer respite and destination.

“We will be celebrating our 110th Anniversary next year, in February,” reveals Mr. Andrew Pinero, the Corporate Communications and Customer Service Manager of Baguio Country Club. “We started in 1905, and back then it was only a one-room shack and a three-hole golf setup.”

In February 1906, exactly a year after it was constructed, the Country Club had a hastily built clubhouse, a staff of one, two tennis courts, three croquet grounds, and the same three-hole golf course. However, Gov. Forbes promised a much grander clubhouse, one which he said should be “with fine dining facilities, a bar,  locker rooms, showers, reading rooms, great open fireplaces in which pine logs will crackle merrily night and day, a few bedrooms and a billiard room.” Little did Forbes know that his dream for the Country Club would grow and turn into a much bigger, more spectacular institution.

It was in the year 1907 that the Baguio Country Club Corporation was organized, paving the way for nine holes to be laid in the golf course and tennis courts that were smoothened out. Then in 1908, the clubhouse was finally completed, additional cottages were constructed, and the club began serving meals to its patrons.

In the decades that followed, the Baguio Country Club still continued to expand and restructure. “We’ve experienced everything from earthquakes to fires, so  there were times when reconstruction was really necessary,” says Pinero. Even after continuous transformation, the Baguio Country Club has been rated one of the Triple A (AAA) Hotels and Resorts of the Philippines by the Department of Tourism. In addition, the National Historical Institute officially named it one of the country’s national heritages during its centennial year in 2005. Most recently, Baguio Country Club was awarded the prestigious Asean Green Hotel Award for  2014-2015 because of its environmental and energy conservation programs.

The Baguio Country Club combines the chic luxury of the past with the warmth and hospitality of a modern private home, giving it a distinct charm that appeals to all its visitors. While the countryinspired interiors and structures of the Country Club are undoubtedly topnotch, it also boasts of another popular bestseller  from their kitchen: the famous Baguio Country Club Raisin Bread.

“There is just something about our raisin bread,” promises Pinero. “You have to try it. We use special seeds that produce better quality raisins. The taste and  texture of the raisins are different from the usual ones.” The raisins are California Raisins imported directly from the United States, which the former US  Ambassador Harry Thomas and the current US Ambassador Philip Goldberg took note of during their visit to the Raisin Bread production area. These plump, sweet and slightly tangy dried fruits are all generously tucked inside freshlybaked bread with just the right hint of glaze, and a bite of it is testament enough of why it is one of the most purchased baked goods in the Country Club’s bake shop. Other breads, pastries, cakes and chocolates are also offered in their café, where a slow afternoon is best passed with a cup of their hot coffee and a view of the Club’s marvelous landscape.

The Country Club facilities such as the golf course, swimming pools, nature trails, rooms and restaurants are exclusively for members only, as well as a few honorary members such as the President, Vice President and Mayor of Baguio City. Other non-members may be allowed to use the facilities if they are sponsored guests, or if they have been screened and approved for specific events or functions.

“The privacy of our guests is of utmost importance,” stresses Pinero. “That is why we follow very strict policies with the guests we allow in the Country Club.”  However, non-members can still enjoy certain areas of the Country Club, and purchases from the restaurant and coffee shop can be made as long as they are accompanied by a Baguio Country Club member.

It is hard not to fall in love with the Baguio Country Club’s old-fashioned country appeal, one that will immediately transport you to a simpler, yet fascinating time. Perhaps aside from providing a temporary retreat and home away from home, it also promises a private sanctuary of nature’s wonders. Whether you prefer to eat, drink, rest or play, Baguio Country Club assures a rewarding getaway from your everyday routine.

The good news is, non-members can also purchase the coveted Raisin Bread at a stall in SM Baguio (and, in Makati, at the Heaven and Egg in Glorietta). The unforgettable Baguio Country Club Experience, however, would be impossible to recreate.

 

The Country Club Over a Century

• The Baguio Country Club was founded in 1905, and will be celebrating its 110th anniversary in February2015.
• What is now known as the biggest hotel in Baguio started out with only one cottage and a three-hole golf course.
• By 1906, the Country Club had a hastily built clubhouse, a staff of one, two tennis courts, three croquet grounds and the same three-hole golf course.
• The Baguio Country Club Corporation was organized in 1908, paving the way for nine holes to be laid in the golf course and tennis courts that were smoothened out.
• The clubhouse was finally completed in 1908; additional cottages were constructed, and the club began serving meals to itspatrons.