It was a breezy afternoon at the immense ballroom of the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel in Cebu, filled with mostly young people whiling away a Saturday. The occasion was to celebrate the hotel’s 13th year by way of focusing on its services and special features.
“13 going 30” was the catchphrase, delineating the 30-percent discounts offered, ranging from fun-filled coffee breaks to relaxing massages and beautifying facials.
Welcoming the guests at the foyer were resident manager Michaela Priesner and Lara Scarrow, director of sales and marketing.
General manager Brian Connelly was on stage to deliver his keynote address, for which he was very much applauded for its eloquent brevity and content.
From there he went straight to greet Amparito Lhuillier, among the first to arrive. She held court from a velvet sofa surrounded by Flor Ynclino, Cookie Newman, Nelia Neri, Anne Marie Conejero and later Teresin Mendezona, who got the whole group giggling. Just like her.
Julie Najar took us down memory lane, as she had been with the Marco Polo practically since Day One. The grand opening of the Cebu Marco Polo in April 2006 was attended by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Hans Hauri was the general manager, a post he held for many years, which allowed him to know and evaluate the fables and foibles of Cebu, until he was posted to the Grand Hyatt in Manila.
Julie then became general manager of the Cebu Marco Polo, a position she left to head the Marco Polo Residences so close to the hotel. That’s where she is now, happy as ever.
Spanish food fest
Gema Luisa Pido opted to avail of the facial service and emerged prettier than ever. She has been the Cebu Marco Polo’s consultant on Spanish cuisine, as every year they have the “Sabores de España” Spanish food festival. No date has been set for the 2019 edition.
We met Gregory Aaron, who shared that the 2019 Summer Spectacular is underway at Ballet Center, of which he is co-artistic director with Nicolas Pacaña.
Next year Ballet Center will mark 70 years since it was established by the late Fe Sala Villarica. She also founded the Arts Council of Cebu in 1960. There should also be a celebration of that.
Going back to the breezy afternoon, present was the hotel’s communications director, Manna Alcaraz, with Febe Compañon and Barbie Burchards among her team.
On the sales team were Yvonne Silva, Gemma Baz, Chino Quintana, Kayzel Alfante and Jane Cambangay. Executive chef Juanito Abangan was also there along with events manager Joward Tongco.
Joward says that La Chaine des Rotisseurs’ activity at Michel Lhuillier’s Cebu Safari and Adventure on May 18 will be catered by the Marco Polo. “We’re going to be there since the night before,” he assures. The menu is being finalized.
There is a branch of Hai Shin Lou at the Cebu Marco Polo. Brian Connelly would like to have a fellowship of La Chaine there, featuring the Chinese food of the restaurant at its best. The specialty in Cebu is Cantonese cuisine, since that is popular with the Cebuano Chinese community.
La Chaine plans its events with a wide time frame, and its two annual galas come at a time when there are many celebrations. The next gala is to mark the anniversary in December. “We’re open to any proposals,” says Brian, adding, “remember that is the Christmas season.”
Maybe they can take the theme from there, like white, gold or silver, or all three combined. The Cebu Marco Polo is up to it, or whatever. As the song goes, “Que sera, sera.” One thing is sure, though. As soon as a date is announced there’s a rush of reservations, and all seats (at times 129) are eagerly taken.
It is evident people like to dress up occasionally.