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A KILOMETER away from Tagaytay’s famous Taal Vista hotel sits a new entrant to the city’s growing hospitality market, one from a family who has run an aeronautics school for almost 50 years and decided that a hotel would be a good change of pace.

Hotel Monticello: the facade
Hotel Monticello: the facade

Hotel Monticello — “small mountain” in Italian — is a 41-room boutique hotel run by the Valdez family of the PATTS College of Aeronautics in Parañaque City.

“We’ve been running our hospitality courses for more than two decades and we decided it was time invest in a tourism facility,” Jose Eduardo S. Valdez, general manager of the hotel, told BusinessWorld during a visit last November.

Built following a design by the company’s Chief Financial Officer Maria Felisa Valdez, Hotel Monticello is a six-storey building with large floor-to-ceiling window and a skylight. The beige walls have hardwood details to offset the building’s “modern-ness,” said Mr. Valdez.

Unlike many boutique hotels which maximize their space with small lobbies and hallways, Monticello goes in the opposite direction, with a wide, inviting lobby, and hallways so expansive they even have sofa sets.

Mr. Valdez remarked that their use of space is them being true to their tagline of “redefining the boutique hotel experience.”

He added that this is also the reason why their 41 rooms are somewhat larger than most hotels — the smallest room is just shy of 30 square meters (sq.m.) and the largest is 112 sq.m.

Room categories are also pretty novel, with the hotel (which had its grand opening on Nov. 12) offering a “Superior Quad” containing four single beds in a 48-sq.m. room. It also has six penthouse units, each with a one-and-a-half bedroom setup with a living area.

Hotel Monticello: the Roma Piano bar
Hotel Monticello: the Roma Piano bar

“We are trying to attract families,” Mr. Valdez said, hence the distinctive homey feel of the whole building.

Another thing to note is that bathroom amenities such shampoo and body wash come in dispensers rather than individual bottles, and that instead of an extra bed, they offer futons (Mrs. Valdez said that she didn’t want extra beds hitting and scarring the furniture or the rooms as they are brought in and out).

Despite not having the million-dollar view of Taal Volcano and lake, the 6,000-sq.m. facility does offers amenities such as a temperature-controlled pool and gym. Those hankering for a view can go down to the nearby Sky Ranch park for a fee. The theme park also offers rides, again, for a fee.

The hotel also has a ballroom (with a capacity of under 300 people) and two meeting rooms, and a piano bar where anyone with or without experience can tinkle the keys.

Mr. Valdez noted that they’ve spent more on the hotel than they did when building their aeronautics school.

Currently, the hotel is consulting with the Paramount Hotel Group (of Microtel by Wyndham fame) in terms of operations as Mr. Valdez admitted that this is his first time being a hotelier — he is an aircraft mechanic by training.

“I became a hotelier first before training [to become one],” he said.

Hotel Monticello: the temperature-controlled lap pool
Hotel Monticello: the temperature-controlled lap pool

Having been in operation for half a year (they soft-opened in April), Mr. Valdez said that they currently have an occupancy rate of above 50% and are working to attract small corporate clients to fill up the weekdays — weekends are typically for families who go up to Tagaytay for a vacation.

He added that they are also banking on catching some of Taal Vista Hotel’s overflow, as the older hotel typically hosts larger corporate events.

“There’s a lot of areas where we can cooperate… we even shuttle people to and from [Taal Vista] during events,” he said.

Mr. Valdez said that they are also trying to set up local tours for small groups, mostly on weekends, so tourists can get around the city.

He added that they are looking for a 2,000-sq.m. lot where they can build a larger parking area, but are not keen on setting up another hotel just yet as he described their first months of operations as “a good period to learn.”

Visitors to Hotel Monticello also have the opportunity to try the “Bigorot” cooking style of the first MasterChef Philippines winner JR Royol (“Bigorot” is a portmanteu of Bicolano and Igorot, both local ethnic groups). — Zsarlene B. Chua

Hotel Monticello is located General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway (past kilometer 60), Barangay Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City. For details, call +63 46 413-1111 or visit www.hotelmonticello.com.ph.

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