When you only have a day to explore a city as large as Davao, there are two questions you need to answer, first is “Where do you go?” and second is “How are you going to do it?”
Davao City is a tourist gem on the southeastern seaboard of Mindanao. The 2,444-square kilometer piece of land boasts cosmopolitan comforts amid a picturesque backdrop of sprawling landscapes, diverse nature reserves, and world-class beaches. It’s for the traveler who wants to take a dip in the sea in the morning, shop at the mall at noon, pick fresh vegetables in the afternoon, and rest in a premier hotel in the evening.
But if you only have a day to get to know Davao, the key is a condensed itinerary that includes destinations within short distance from each other.
Check into your hotel
Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, located on Km. 7 Lanang, is an ideal jumping-off point for a day of exploring Davao City. It is close to the city’s commercial and business hubs as well as to some of the most stunning spots in the area.
The 56-year-old hotel, previously owned by the Ayalas of Davao before the acquisition of the Waterfront Group in 1999, served as home to guests traveling for business or pleasure; it has become one of the most popular landmarks in the city.
“When people, particularly Davaoeños, say ‘Insular,’ they know it’s this property,” said Bryan Yves Lasala, the hotel’s general manager.
Getting inside the hotel is like walking into a small piece of history. Unlike hotels built in previous years, Waterfront Insular’s 159 neo-classic designed guest rooms are well-lit, well-ventilated, and spacious—offering ample floor area to move around onto. Its lush gardens and sprawling lawns are clean and well-maintained.
Admittedly however, the hotel is already showing its age. Some facilities are worn and several furnishings are dated.
To keep up with the preferences and demands of today’s hotel guests, the Waterfront Group recently announced a P400-million budget allocation for the renovations of Waterfront Insular.
According to Lasala, the first phase of the major overhaul will focus on the three existing buildings: lobby, function rooms, restaurants, and guest rooms. They are also planning to add 500 more rooms, a convention property, eight to 10 more function rooms, and a MICE building “somewhere near the entry, by the driveway.” They are strengthening their MICE facilities to further increase their market share.
“Our target is to start renovations in mid or late this year,” said Lasala.
The renovations, as Lasala clarified, will not affect the original face of the three buildings which were designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin. “We want to keep it as is because it has its own character.”
Take a dip in the sea
Another unique feature of Waterfront Insular Hotel is its location near Samal Island, which is famous for its clear blue waters and fine white sand beaches. A five-minute boat ride from the hotel’s jetty port will bring you to the island.
Front desk personnel can connect guests to some of the resorts on Samal. If you are looking for a quiet and secluded location, there is the quaint Chema’s by the Sea. Located in a sprawling 6,000-square meter prime lot on the island, the lush resort features a Balinese-inspired rooms, with Mediterranean, Spanish, and Filipino touches.
Take a morning dip into the resort’s salt water infinity pool with a view of the Davao Gulf or frolic on the beach while enjoying a refreshing smoothie. Day tour is P300 per person. Contact 0917-814-0814 for inquiries.
But if you don’t want to move farther from your deluxe room at Waterfront Insular, the hotel also has its own beachfront—the only hotel in Davao City to have one—although the water is not swimmable. It’s 10-feet deep pool is also perfect for a few laps in the morning.
Go on a nature walk
An hour drive from the hotel will bring you to the Eden Nature Park and Resort, an 80-hectare mountain resort that offers a number of natural attractions such as flower gardens, butterfly garden, aviary, and vegetable gardens, among others; as well as thrilling adventure activities like the Skyrider, Skycycle, and Skyswing.
Enjoy the cool breeze as you tackle the 4-kilometer Eden Mountain Trail or while aboard the shuttle for the 60-minute guided tour. Day tour inclusive of buffet lunch is P600 per adult. Call (082) 286-0383 for inquiries.
Shop and dine
About 20-minutes from Waterfront Insular is Davao’s famous Aldevinco Shopiing Center, where you can score pearl jewelry, batik clothes and accessories, and brass items, among many others. But not very far from your room are a few stalls in the hotel’s garden which sell Sulu pearls, durian delicacies, and various knickknacks.
Indulge in sumptuous meals in the hotel’s in-house restaurants. Cafe Uno for breakfast and lunch buffet and all-day ala carte menu, Pizzaiolo for freshly baked pastries and pizas, and La Parilla for grilled seafood and barbecues.