In 2021, multi-sectoral partners and stakeholders together with the Department of Tourism Region VI, Tourism Promotion Board and the local government of Malay came together to form the Boracay MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) Alliance.
The establishment of the alliance will allow focused efforts in creating sustainable tourism development projects while synergizing stakeholders to create long-term solutions and opportunities for all partners.
One of the establishments that joined the alliance last year was Villa Caemilla Boutique Hotel, the hotel that offers award-winning luxury on White Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Villa Caemilla is a 10-minute transfer from the jetty port and a 15-minute walk along the beach path from Station 2.
However, when discussing MICE, what comes to mind are big hotels and venues that can accommodate up to 1,000 delegates. Where does a boutique hotel like Villa Caemilla fit in?
“There are other small companies that need to do their strategic planning for the year and they decide to do it in a hotel. We here at Villa Camaella can cater to these small companies because they know that they will have their privacy and a working area,” said Wesley van der Voort, Villa Caemilla’s Resort Manager.
Van der Voort said he decided to join the MICE Alliance because he strongly believes that by working together with other establishments and institutions to come up with an action plan, they will be able to achieve their goals.
“I think it is really great to be part of a creative organization like the MICE Alliance. It is similar to the partnerships that we have in the chamber where we have projects where we can work cohesively together,” he noted.
Originally from the Netherlands, van der Voort came to Boracay about 14 years ago to spend a vacation and to see some friends. He enjoyed his stay in Boracay so much that he kept extending his stay. Eventually he decided to return to Boracay and became Villa Caemilla’s resort manager. He also became the President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. – Boracay.
“I care most about Boracay’s beaches and its people. Throughout the years, we all became part of something like the Boracay closure and then the pandemic. It has built a very strong community. The local residents and the resident expats have all gone through the same thing and have experienced how strong a community we actually are,” Van der Voort said.
Beneficial for Boracay
WHILE Villa Caemilla will not be able to attract the big conventions and events, van der Voort said overall, the Boracay MICE Alliance with be good for the island.
“For the island, the alliance will be great because it will get in more groups, more corporate events and it will benefit everyone at the end of the day. While Villa Caemilla cannot compete with the bigger hotels, we will be able to cater to the smaller groups. The main goal of this alliance is to continue business, see if there are changes that need to be made and to make sure that we succeed after the pandemic,” he said.
Boracay has experienced a great deal of challenges over the past three years. First there was the closure of the island to enable its rehabilitation. Since there closure was for six months, van der Voort related that he and his team were able to budget their expenses accordingly.
The minute Boracay opened, business picked up immediately and the tourists started to pour into Boracay. However, the pandemic happened and everything ground to a halt. van der Voort started to give back what they could to the local residents by giving out food packs.
Stay or go?
DURING those times, van der Voort allowed his employees to decide whether they would stay on at the resort or go home to their families.
“I told them to look for part time jobs that would be a source of stable income. For those who decided to stay, the only thing I could promise was food and that they would have a roof over their head,” he related.
With everything slowly returning to some level of normalcy, van der Voort said Villa Caemilla can go back to providing the full VC or Villa Caemilla experience.
“We lowered our rates a little in order to be competitive. We want to go back to providing our guests their memorable experiences, whether it be a birthday or a wedding proposal. We want to be the place where we create memories for you,” he said.
“One good thing that came out from this pandemic is that we got to know each other well. You never know what the universe is going to bring us. We have come out of these challenge strong and we hope to go back to our usual routine soon,” van der Voort said.