Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel in Mactan Island, Cebu, is one of the pioneer resorts to open in Lapu-Lapu City. It has attracted an ever increasing number of local and international tourists for almost four decades.
Its 38th year was a good cause for celebration, an occasion to honor its founders, the late Don Luis Alvarez and his wife Merceditas Borromeo Alvarez. Theme of the anniversary bash was Arabian, as in 1,001 nights, held at the resort’s ballroom.
Haunting Middle Eastern music played all night as a bevy of lovelies in diaphanous costumes danced, some of them shaking their belly buttons to the beat of drums, flutes and cymbals.
“Worthy of the Sheik of Araby,” said Marilou Gica, she herself attired as Scheherazade. She is Costabella’s sales manager, and with her team of pretty girls, set the tone for the evening.
Welcoming all were the members of a family who, by dint of hard work and dedication, have made Costabella the success story that it is. There is constant upgrading, improvement of the surroundings and future expansion after the acquisition of additional real estate adjacent to the present structures.
At the forefront was Marita Alvarez-Arambulo, Costabella’s general manager. With her were her husband, ace photographer Raul Arambulo, their daughter Ricca with son Andoni, and their son Miko, who works as Costabella’s marketing manager.
Present were Costabella president Luis Martin Alvarez Jr. with his pretty wife Hazel; corporate secretary Marisse Alvarez-Sy with her husband Francis Sy and their children Ria, Reesha and chef Izzy with his girlfriend Andi Lim. Add to them Mariles Alvarez-Nable with her children Enzo and Andrea.
This was the perfect occasion to honor the top producers, who received Aladdin lamps, which may have a genie to emerge and grant wishes. The awardees were Hirofumi Kawashima of Philippine Travel Factory; Kentaro Kurita of HIS Travel; Kirk Quijano of Bookings.com; Stephanie Grace Trocio of HotelBeds; and Shally Kim of Hi Light Cebu Travel & Tours.
The buffet table was loaded with exquisite food. Costabella is well known for its excellent cuisine, based on traditional Spanish and Filipino recipes treasured by the Alvarez and Borromeo families.
Speaking of Spanish food from treasured recipes, here comes the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu with its annual “Sabores de España” food festival starting Sept. 14 at the hotel’s Café Marco for lunch and dinner.
As usual, the consultant for the food fest is Gema Luisa Pido, who has lent her family’s recipes and prepared them herself. For one thing, she is curing eight or 10 large legs of ham which she will glaze.
Going back to Marita Arambulo, on Sept. 1, she is scheduled to leave for Spain with her daughter Ricca, who will have and extended stay there. “I expect to be back after two weeks,” said Marita. “Is there anything you want? Jamon serrano in packs? Maybe queso manchego?”
Since we are close I ventured a request. “Could you get me the book ‘Alfonso y Ena’?” Marita looked it up and said it was available.
The book was recently launched and has become a bestseller, telling the story of King Juan Carlos of Spain’s paternal grandparents—King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia, familiarly called Ena.
It was written by Ricardo Mateos Sainz de Medrano, in Spanish, of course. The book must be rich in detail, since the author is very thorough in his research. History tells us that the marriage of Alfonso and Ena was rocked by the king’s blatant infidelity.
About 50 years ago, a Spanish newspaper assigned a reporter to interview Queen Ena in Switzerland where she lived in exile. The result was a long biographical serial.
On the last day of the interviews, the reporter told Queen Ena that in her remembrances she had never spoken about her unhappiness nor her problems. As a matter of fact, she had filled the reporter with very positive information.
To the reporter’s question, she replied that in this life there may not be happiness, but that there are many happy occasions which, when strung together, make for a list of happy experiences. “Besides,” she concluded, “I was Queen. And there is much you can do as one.”