Story & Photos by Bernard L. Supetran
SEASONED travelers, almost always, would look for three things when looking for a place to settle when on the road—a comfy room, good food and a warm service by the staff. Throw in a room with a view, which will serve as the clincher in the search for the proverbial home away from home.
Down south in Davao City, a 70-year-old hotel has been providing the jet-setting class these qualities, plus a little bit more since it opened its doors shortly after the end of World War II.
Established in 1948 by the Pamintuan family as a humble inn for the weary traveler, Apo View Hotel is the first of its kind in the city of durian, and the second oldest existing in the Philippines.
Located downtown, it is so-called because of the unobstructed view of Mount Apo, the country’s tallest peak, plus a soothing panorama of the tranquil Davao Gulf, Samal Island and Mount Talomo.
But aside from the view to a thrill, Apo View has endeared itself to locals and visitors alike with its touch of elegance, the luscious cuisine and the warm welcome accorded to every soul who walks into its doors.
“Apo View isn’t just a hotel. It’s your second home where you will be treated well. We’ve housed families, companies, big and small groups for events, and gatherings and they have come back time and again because we offer them security, privacy and excellent service,” said hotel General Manager Cesar Canabal.
Now managed by the Global Comfort Group Corp. (GCGC), one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing hotel chains, Apo View aims to cater to the changing needs of a wide array of guests, which includes millennials, who travel to Davao to discover the diverse experiences it offers.
But beyond waxing nostalgia and basking on its past glory, Canabal said the new management has embarked on a P140-million facelift to reinvent the landmark hotel with the unique mix of the old and the new. This includes upgrade of facilities, enhancement of service, and infusing international and indigenous flair to the cuisine, while preserving the time-honored values which have been Apo View’s unique trademark of hospitality.
The hotel recently added 25 new rooms for its growing occupancy rate, while its 36 old rooms are due for renovation as themed rooms to lure millennials. With an inventory of 182 well-appointed rooms, it is eyeing to add more rooms in the next two years as Davao positions itself as a MICE (meetings, incentives, convention and exhibit) destination in the south.
To meet the expected surge of business and leisure travelers, as well as retirees, the GCGC group will be building two residential condominiums under the Euro Towers brand within the city, which will also have that unique Apo View touch.
He revealed that the management is aiming to shoot for a five-star classification from the Department of Tourism, and halal accreditation from certifying bodies in order to cater to the vast Muslim market.
Sun worshippers will be delighted with the planned P15-million facelift of the hotel pool and bar at the third floor, which was once the watering hole of the city’s who’s who. The podium-level pool offers a sweeping view of downtown and patches of green in the heart of the city.
On the food front, the hotel is attempting to recapture the old prestige of the culinary heritage it was known for. For decades, it has been the go-to place for banquets and special occasions because it of its succulent continental fare and regional specialties.
In line with this thrust, the management has brought in Australian-raised Filipino chef Ben Bernardo who envisions adding pizzazz to the food and beverage department by discovering more indigenous ingredients and delicacies, and including them in the menu or incorporating them in the existing offerings. Having spent 27 years Down Under, Chef Ben is rediscovering his Pinoy roots through cuisine by putting to use the rigid discipline he has acquired in the different culinary institutions and world-class restaurants there.
Recently, he introduced the “Sinugbang Durian” where the famed tropical exotic fruit was grilled and offered on a limited time to dine-in guests. With the unexpected encouraging response on an otherwise outrageous experiment, regular diners can expect more of the same bold steps to stretch the infinite possibilities of Davao’s rich food resources.
The hotel currently offers a wide selection of cuisine available at Entrée, the all-day dining buffet restaurant, the lobby Café Josefina, the Blue Room bar and Casino Filipino Players Club, the oldest in Davao. It also has in-house specialty boutiques and souvenir shops for guests’ utmost convenience.
In conjunction with its 70th founding year and the Kadayawan Festival, Apo View has an ongoing promo on room and food to reward its loyal patrons.
Looking forward, Canabal said, there’s a lot of surprises in store as the hotel marks its seven-decade milestone and starts the journey to a new one.
“We will certainly be around for more decades to come because at Apo View Hotel, history is made every day,” he concluded.