COSTABELLA Tropical Beach Hotel this year marks its 35th anniversary. Opened in 1981 with eight spacious family rooms, it was a pioneer resort in the island of Mactan, put up by Luis “Sitoy” Alvarez and Merceditas Borromeo-Alvarez.
At that time, and for many years after, it took not more than 20 minutes to get there from Cebu City, and there was only one bridge to Mactan.
I remember it well on nights of the full moon when I used to gather a carload of girls—Sony Velez, Loretta Calderon, Monina Navarete, Caring Leyson, Esper Leyson (when she was in town), Carmen del Prado and Chinggay Utzurrum—to watch the moon rise from the sea. We’d have dinner by the poolside, have a gabfest and return home at a good hour.
Now, it took me an hour and a half of slow though flowing traffic to make it to Costabella for its anniversary celebration, highlighted by the opening of Luna tapas bar.
The tapas are delicious, reminiscent of those served in popular bars in San Sebastian, Spain. “Yes, we thought of that,” said Costabella’s general manager Marita Alvarez-Arambulo, who was with her husband, photographer Raul Arambulo, their daughter Ricca, and their son Mico who has joined the Costabella marketing team.
Very much present were the rest of the Alvarez siblings: Merche Alvarez-Castro who flew from Manila for the occasion; Mariles Alvarez-Nable with her children Gabriel, Enzo and Monica; Francis and Marisse Alvarez-Sy; and Lui Alvarez with his wife Hazel. He is the general manager of the Montebello Villa Hotel in Cebu City, which dates back to 1972.
Artist Charlie Co unveiled his sculpture titled “Los Soñadores,” meaning The Dreamers. It is one more work of art added to the impressive collection displayed all over Costabella.
Among those present were Costabella’s sales and marketing manager Marilou Gica, communications manager Malou Arriola, and the team assigned to welcome the numerous guests as they arrived—
Jareen Ararao, Grace Almonical, Keisha Conrada, Judee Duterte and Spin Sitoy.
Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel has a clientele developed through the years to fill up its now-156 rooms. By September, a new gym will open, and a renovation program of premier and deluxe rooms starts.
The cuisine is superb. Marita and Mariles see to that. They have a treasure trove of family recipes, and that is reflected on the menu.
Another day, we undertook one more adventure to Mactan, this time to the Shangri-La resort, where an elegant white-theme party was in full gear at the extensive garden of the chapel area. It’s a good thing it did not rain.
General manager Rene Egle said that the occasion was to launch the resort’s Events Collection, hence the presence of the best event planners and the people involved in this fast-developing industry.
Food and service, not to mention the mise-en-scène, are paramount if you want a successful event. Of that, the Mactan Shangri-la Resort and Spa has in very good measure.
Aside from Egle, present were resident manager Marie-Laure Fleury, sales and marketing director Albert Lafuente, communications director Cassandra Cuevas, Rowie Villacencio who heads human resources, executive chef Frank Bohdan and Natalia Zotova who handles the Russian tourism.
Cebu’s chocolate queen Raquel Choa was present. Giveaways were her homemade chocolate truffles presented in a jewel box.
The Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, meanwhile, celebrated National Day of Switzerland with a grand buffet dinner at the ballroom. Special guest was Hans Peter Fitze, the Swiss Embassy’s first secretary and consul.
In his speech, he said he was greatly honored to be in Cebu for this celebration. He reminded all that Switzerland was established in 1291, a good 725 years ago. He added that about 700,000 Swiss nationals are spread all over the world, and 3,600 of them are in the Philippines.
Marco Polo Cebu general manager Julie Najar led the toasts. She said that this celebration started in 2007, thus this was the 10th year of a Swiss food fest that extends through lunch and dinner at the hotel’s Café Marco for a whole week.
She had tremendous support from the hotel’s resident manager Xavier Masson, sales and marketing director Lara Constantino Scarrow, communications director Manna Alcaraz, rooms supervisor Jude Pangan and executive chef Stefano Verrillo, who prepared a wondrous spread of Swiss specialties.
There was a chocolate station, all of it made in Cebu, from the succulent bonbons to the cups full of made-on-the-spot chocolate by Choa’s outfit, using Cebu-grown cacao.