When I was still working for an international airline, the job which occupied a good part of my professional career, I had to travel around the country, as called for by my management responsibility. Aside from that of my home city, of all the cities I had to visit, I would always look forward to my business trips to Iloilo because of the plethora of culinary specialties that are always available there to any visitor.
I also enjoyed my de luxe accommodations at Sarabia Manor, known then as the Grand Dame of the city. It was the biggest, the most elegant hotel, and the closest to the places where I would be doing business, and only 15 minutes away from the Arevalo Seafood District.
When I retired from my airline career, my Iloilo visits stopped and I became preoccupied with many other things. I had forgotten my periodic cravings for La Paz Batchoy, or Pancit Molo or the goodies from Panaderia de Molo…and how my king-size bed at a Sarabia Manor suite gave me totally restful nights after a day filled with meetings.
Recently, I learned from an Iloilo-based good friend that the hotel has rebranded and is now undergoing a beautiful makeover to keep up with the changing times, while still preserving its heritage value.
Now owned by Brightside Properties & Resorts, Inc., Iloilo’s “heritage hotel” is now called The Mansion, a fitting name for an iconic structure in a city filled with beautiful, old world, heritage mansions owned by some of the countries “old rich.” The new owners have promised that, after the renovations will be completed, the hotel will be “the mansion to see” when visiting the city.
The hotel’s 187 rooms, ranging in sizes of 40 to 104 square meters, are now being completely refurbished, for that feel and look of being new, yet maintaining its heritage charm. And, depending on the guest’s budget, he has a choice of staying either in any of the upscale corporate rooms or in the value-for-money budget-friendly rooms located in the Wing, which are ideal for those attending conventions or conferences in the hotel.
The Mansion’s advantage over the other hotels in the city is its wide selection of dining options and banquet facilities---it has seven function halls, three boardrooms that can accommodate 10 to 1500 persons at any given time.
Its international restaurants will also have new interiors but still with the same quality culinary offerings that have made these dining venues the favorite of locals and visitors alike. For the health-conscious, the refreshing and beautifully designed swimming pool, fitness center and spa beckon.
The owning company’s COO Noel Sinclaire Sy proudly announced that the hotel’s complete makeover will make it “exciting, delightful and surprising to the senses, and will make guests feel special from the moment they check-in.”
I have to say that Iloilo has succeeded in preserving its charm by remaining rooted to its Chinese-Spanish-Filipino cultural heritage, and true to its plethora of locally inspired cuisine. And now, with its iconic landmark looking even more attractive than how it used to be, I will have no excuse not to visit it again.
I can almost smell my favorite La Paz Batchoy…and Pancit Molo…and those tasty delights from Panaderia de Molo…and see myself, at the end of the day, snuggling in my comfortable king-size bed at The Mansion. Makadto ko da.
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