By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

WHILE MEETINGS, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) is a booming section in the tourism industry, a hotel property in Palawan recognizes that executives, too, need their me-time. To marry work and play, Astoria Palawan, plays on the word “workplace” to come up with a marketing strategy called “Workplays.”

“We want to be a venue for work, seminars, but it is also much wiser if you can combine work and play,” said Astoria Palawan general manager Liza D. Arbis when asked on the strategy during the sidelines of the media introduction of its newest attraction, a waterpark, on Oct. 18.

The two-year-old Astoria Palawan resort is the latest addition to Astoria Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio of luxury properties, including Astoria hotels in Ortigas, Boracay, and Bohol. Situated 62 kilometers away from Puerto Princesa City proper, this five-hectare getaway is in the middle of a mango orchard in San Rafael.


An hectare of the property is dedicated to its newest attraction, the WaterPark, which offers a variety of water activities like a “surf’s up” pool with six levels of simulated waves, giant slides, and kid zones — smaller versions of slides and tunnels.

The beach resort’s target market is MICE travellers, “but at the same time, it is perfect for staycations for the young families and those who want to chill out,” said Ms. Arbis of its newest facility’s lure.

The waterpark opened in July. “It opened after summer. There was a lot of clamor to open it last summer but Palawan had water scarcity. The water situation was bad so we weren’t able to open it,” she said, and added that since opening the park “has become a bragging rights for Palawan” because it is the first of its kind in the region.

It is open to the public aside from hotel guests, she said, and so far, many people have been enjoying the attraction. Does that mean that people would rather frolic in the pool than enjoy Palawan’s natural waters? It seems it is all a matter of weather. Ms. Arbis said: “If you notice, the local government would say all the attraction is natural, and they are subject to weather conditions, like the Puerto Princesa Underground River. If the weather is bad, kahit walang ulan, you cannot visit it.

“There are some people who want to experience both: the swimming pool and the ocean front,” she added.

The beach resort also offers other free entertainment activities like kayaking and karaoke. “We want to see that [guests] won’t go out unless they want to see the other sites like the Underground River,” she said.

Majority of its customers are the Filipinos, with a few Australians and Europeans. “Our market is mixed,” said Ms. Arbis. In July, 80% of its guests were Filipinos, and in the run-up to until December it is expected that this proportion would grow to 90% Filipinos and the remaining 10% foreigners.