By NIKA ROQUE
March 29, 2019
MANY companies continue to hold their conventions and events in tourist areas outside Metro Manila, even as business trips would likely consist of all-day meetings with only little time left for visitors to enjoy what a beautiful destination has to offer.
Iloilo, for one, is a popular choice for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Coverages, and Exhibitions) activities as a mix of historical and modern culture. And following a visit from The Manila Times last week, it is guaranteed that this Visayan city is a place where guests will not run out of things to see and experience.
Thankfully, top developer Megaworld was quick to identify the quandary of businessmen visiting Iloilo — whether repeatedly but most especially for first timers — that they heavily invested in the Iloilo Business Park, and successfully established the township as a one-stop shop for business and leisure. To see it is to believe that the property is so much more than a business district, but a travel destination in itself.
With accommodations, a convention center, as well as the Festive Walk retail strip and lifestyle mall just being a few steps away, guests and those from the workforce have easy access to a large spread of shops and picturesque views without going too far.
However, it is also worth noting that historical spots, unique restaurants, and nearby islands would only take a maximum of thirty minutes from the township (see sidebar).
“For the past few years, di namin alam kung paano i-market ang tourism. Wala kaming natural wonders, wala kaming white-sand beaches. Ang pinaka-asset talaga ng Iloilo ay ang very rich culture and history,” shared Junel Ann Divinagracia, head of the Iloilo City Tourism and Development Office in a media round-table interview.
“Iba talaga ang mga tao dito. Yung hosting namin before sa international conventions, we gained friends na until now ang ganda ng relationships,” Divinagracia said happily. “Everyone says that Iloilo is where the past is always present. Iloilo is — and should be — your preferred destination when it comes to conventions, gastronomy, and heritage for all ages.”
For a great balance between work and play, the comfort and location of where to stay at should be kept in mind. There are currently two hotel choices at the Iloilo Business Park with more to be built in the near future.
The first international hotel brand in Western Visayas is Courtyard by Marriott.
The Iloilo kindness and hospitality is very evident and without sacrificing luxurious services. Though the comfortable beds and relaxing ambiance would want to make guests stay indoors all day, there is still so much to do.
Apart from visiting the pool, sauna, and gym, Courtyard also continues to hold a number of themed activities like an international streetfood festival held recently.
Another option would be Richmonde Hotel, right at the center of the business park, plus a stone’s throw away from the Courtyard and convention center. With interiors inspired by the Ilonggo culture, the comfort is continued with the kind staff and promising amenities.
Housing the most spacious hotel rooms in the city, guests can transition from working on the desk to relaxation on the bed or reading chair with no bother.
Another part of the relaxation is how the pool deck provides a whole view of Iloilo and it’s nearby islands from every angle.
Since the township used to be the Mandurriao Airport, naming the Courtyard’s restaurant Runway Kitchen was fitting and matched with the view of the airport’s surviving control tower.
Runway Kitchen has daily buffets with local and international dishes, including special themes where a dish or ingredient is highlighted. The Deconstructed Batchoy has been a crowd-favorite mainly due to how diners can have the interactive food experience by adding broth and toppings.
Continuing the homage to Ilonggo culture and food present through the hotels and township, The Granary at the Richmonde promotes local ingredients harvested from nearby towns.
Despite the buffet spread from different cuisines, The Granary’s pride comes from their interpretations of Ilonggo cuisine, especially with their molo soup. The hotel is also home to the mouthwatering, biggest, and cheesiest ensaymada. Originally available upon request, the ensaymada ended up selling out on the daily, therefore becoming a mainstay and Richmonde’s signature dessert.
A few steps away from the Richmonde is Farm to Table, a restaurant that serves comfort food using only organic ingredients.
Started by Chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, she was inspired by her childhood memories in the farms of her father who was an agriculturalist and farmer. The chef grew up eating hearty dishes that did not have any processed ingredients or trans fats. This in mind, Gorriceta-Banusing dedicated the menu to her father and small-time farmers. The menu at Farm to Table continues to change depending on the season of the fresh produce.
Conveniently placed in between the Courtyard and Richmonde hotels, the iconic Iloilo Convention Center is the perfect area for big-time events, having been built just in time for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015.
Designed by Ilonggo architect William Coscolluela, the view and every angle of the facade is already enough for a visit and photo-ops. The state-of-the-art look was inspired by Iloilo’s Dinagyang and Paraw Regatta festivals.
The outside is inspired by paraw or native Visayan sailboats, whereas the glass windows are decorated with stencils of Dinagyang warriors.
A little farther away from the convention center — at the township’s Casa Emperador Building — is the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as Ilomoca.
The first of its kind in Visayas and Mindanao, the three-story area holds modern and contemporary pieces from all over the world. Though the exhibits are changed from time to time, Ilomoca currently houses a 1973-piece by Salvador Dali, called “Il Perduto Paradiso” or “Paradise Lost.”
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net