TAGAYTAY -- Before crowded theme parks, trendy coffee shops, and high-rise hotels, there's this small motorist hotel in Tagaytay frequent weekenders are very familiar with.
With its familiar fountain in front of a two-story building that housed a restaurant, this hotel became a favorite place to stay in the city famous for its weather and view of Taal lake. Featuring rooms above carports, guests would just drive in the property upon check-in.
Today, that fountain and personal carports are gone. The new Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay, located along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, now features a more striking and modern, concrete, steel, and glass design.
“Royale Parc was a place where my family stayed. When my son and daughter was just five and seven years old, we would come up to Tagaytay for a vacation weekend and we always stayed at Royale Parc,” recalled Royale Parc Hotels and Resorts president and chief executive officer Gerald Chan.
Chan acquired the property in 2016 along with the brand, Royale Parc. His company has since used the brand in their other properties like in Cubao in Quezon City and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
“In 2016, I was looking for an opportunity to invest. My broker looked around for properties for sale. Royale Parc had no sign it was for sale but the property was closed and we dropped by and asked the caretaker if this property is being sold. By chance it was. We competed with three other developers and luckily we got the property,” he said.
It took the company three years to renovate the property. According to its architect and interior designer Robert Ramos, they had to tear down most of the structures leaving only the foundations. They reinforced the foundations and built from there.
“Some of the structural supports needed reinforcement. It was a major renovation. We also built a new building,” Ramos said.
The layout of the property is still the same. Individual villa-like structures surround a pool (before it was just a garden with a pond). A new three-story building sits on one side of the compound. The carports or where guests used to park their cars have been converted into rooms.
This doubled the room count. Now the hotel offers a total of 44 rooms, still small compared to bigger hotels. What the hotel offers is a more quiet space.
SAVING THE PINE TREE
The designers also renovated the property consciously. They didn't cut down trees like an old pine tree and instead built around it. It now sits in the atrium of the new building that houses the suites and meeting rooms.
“For the new building, we built around the pine tree and when you see the pool, the cut is a bit irregular because the intention is to preserve the trees,” Ramos explained.
The whole design of the hotel follows a ranch and country style concept. Corrugated iron sheets framed by dark-stained wood line a portion of the walls in the lobby. Barn-like wooden beams and braces add a more rustic feel to the common spaces, like the ballroom.
The rooms have the same feel but a bit more updated. The colors are muted, white dominates the room space with pops of teal and gold, the colors of the hotel. The bathroom is more rustic, starting with the sliding barn door, concrete sink counter, subway tiles, and mason jar light fixtures. Pipes are purposely installed as hooks and towel racks.
Some of the materials used in the design are re-purposed like reclaimed wood. The hotel tries to be as sustainable as possible. It operates its own sewage treatment plant and the management has consciously removed plastic water bottles in rooms.
“We don't give free water bottles, we provide filtered water in rooms. We're tying up with a company for sustainable packaging because I want this to be a sustainable hotel. The problem here in Tagaytay, aside from the water, is they don't have their own landfill. It's a challenge for us. We have to pay garbage collectors and the landfill in Sta. Rosa,” said Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay resident manager Nilda Diaz-Serrano.
The other facilities include the pool, ballroom, meeting rooms, and the hotel will soon open a fitness gym and a game room soon. The MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) market is big in Tagaytay that's why the hotel allotted spaces for this.
DEKADA, SEA GAMES, AND THE FUTURE
The hotel franchised Filipino restaurant Dekada as its food and beverage provider. It occupies most of the ground floor of the main, front building. A brand of the SumoSam group, the restaurant specializes in historical Filipino cuisine, food based on tradition and playfully named after heroes and historical events.
“We franchised Dekada restaurant and we follow the standards of the brand. When we were building this hotel, the owners were not yet confident to operate our own F&B, but when he saw what we can do here, he's now confident to put up our own concept,” Serrano said.
Dekada serves buffet breakfast for guests and opens to the public at 10 a.m. Some of its signature dishes include the Lumpiang Palabok, pancit palabok with grilled mahi-mahi wrapped in rice paper; Duweto ng Kinilaw or kinilaw na tanigue with coconut milk; and La Solidaridad, it's own version of the classic bulalo, among others.
The hotel will also be one of the official hotels for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and Dekada will also be catering food for some of the events of the sporting event.
And in the coming years, Royale Parc Hotel and Resorts is expected to open new properties around the Philippines. According to Serrano, the company has already acquired properties in El Nido, Coron, Cebu, and Boracay.
“This is the biggest Royale Parc Hotel to date. As for the plans, next year we're opening El Nido, a beachfront property. Our vision is to be the hotel with the best value and unique experiences, from the design down to the service,” she said.
According to Chan, sales has been increasing steadily.
“We had our soft opening last July and for the past few months, it has been pretty good. Since August we have continuous increase in sales. This November we are fully booked for the SEA Games. Royale Parc is very memorable, we have fond memories with my family here so we're very blessed to buy, beautify, and share it to everyone,” Chan said.