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Urban Resort: Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao

Blue waters and the waft of the balmy air beckons one to a relaxing getaway right in the city of Davao at Waterfront Insular Hotel. A resort experience within the urban confines of the city.

Blue waters and the waft of the balmy air beckons one to a relaxing getaway right in the city of Davao at Waterfront Insular Hotel. A resort experience within the urban confines of the city.

Originally named Islandia Hotel by the Ayalas in September, 1961 when it opened, the hotel then consisted of only three nondescript buildings. Additional structures had to be added in 1973 and again in 1977. As it had a great location in the city, the clientele steadily grew. In1991, the Islandia Hotel was renamed the Insular Davao Hotel and underwent major renovations by the design team of GF and Partners and Chiming Lopez of Mariott Hotels in the U.S. The hotel’s modern structures were designed to blend harmoniously with the lush greenery surrounding it—including the breathtaking stretch of beachfront of the Davao Gulf and the picturesque Samal Island in the distance. Landscaping was provided by Noel Altea of PDAA, an international landscape firm; the hotel took pride in a postcard-pretty garden. In 1998, the Ayalas sold the hotel property to the Gatchalian family and the hotel was renamed the Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao.

Today, the Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao has four low-rise buildings housing 159 luxurious guest rooms and suites with modern amenities. Recently added are tribal-inspired cabanas and a sauna and jacuzzi at the Pool Aquarius area. The pool bar is open from 6 am to 8 pm, serving refreshing fruit shakes and delicious snacks.

The hotel has maintained its reputation as a premier urban destination for family and friends and businessmen.  Says Tet Fernandez, the energetic general manager, “We are also known as a heritage hotel.  We have in the lobby an antique tribal collection that has been in the hotel for years. This collection has become a sort of trademark.”

Adds Fernandez, “Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao is also doing its share in the climate change campaign through its use of solar energy to maintain the water temperature in the hotel.”

The Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao is a popular venue for conventions and special events. It has made a name in gracious service and great food. “Indeed, we make sure that our guests get good value for their money,” guarantees Tet Fernandez. “The Waterfront Insular Hotel-Davao is the right destination for fun, relaxation, business, and entertainment.

by Michael Ebro Dakudao
photography Genesis Rana


Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise


Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.

by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder

Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.

The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.


Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”

The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.

The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.

In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!

For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)

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THROWBACK THURSDAY. Our Stylish Voyage on a Boat with Loida and Richard


With hosts Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau, we take entertaining to the high seas.

by Shari Quimbo photography Steffen Billhardt

The sky was decidedly gloomy on the Sunday afternoon Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau invited a small group of us for a sail, the clouds getting darker as I make my way to Porter’s Marina, where the Blue Planet was docked.

“Richard built the boat himself in Cebu,” Loida explains, going on to share that he was the former honorary French consul in Cebu. “It was built here, and I designed the interiors.”

All that work certainly paid off—Loida and Richard would often sail the boat out to different Philippine destinations such as El Nido, Siargao, Boracay and the Gigantes Islands in Iloilo. These could mean days-long journeys that sometimes meant dealing with some rough seas. Quick day trips, much like the one we were about to embark on, were also a regular past time.

Loida gives me a quick tour of the boat then shows off her tropical spread. With its bright blue and white floral seating, the cabin’s dining area is already a pretty festive site. “I wanted to keep it simple,” she tells me, arranging her fresh fruits around on the banana leaf-covered wooden slabs she was using as serving trays. “And I wanted it to look more local, more tropical. We are on the water, after all.”

The bamboo slats of the dining table were the perfect backdrop to Loida’s spread, which featured tropical fruits alongside an entire roll of lechon belly, fresh lumpia, empanada and steamed shrimp.

The highlight of the table, though, was the chicken liver pate, a dish that Richard makes himself. “Luckily, the French love to cook,” Loida jokes conspiratorially.

Finally, it was time to take the vessel out onto the high seas, and the group makes its way above deck to enjoy the view. The cool sea breeze was a bit stronger than usual, something that had to do with the dark rain clouds looming above us—something that would have deterred any other group, but not this adventurous bunch. Armed with a glass of champagne in one hand and a biscuit smeared with pate on the other, many stand against the railing, admiring the sight of the sky turning orange above the Mactan Channel.

And then it starts to pour. No matter, though—as the rain pounds against the deck, the party finds its way down below. A bottle of wine is opened, and then another, while a second pot of pate is transferred on a plate. Our captain waits until the waves calm before he brings us back ashore.

(This story has already been published in the printed edition of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s November 2016 issue as one of the Entertaining Features on pages 82-85.)

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Experience authentic Korean Barbeque at Da-In Restaurant

Filipinos are crazy for Korean barbecue. As such, there are a lot of places that are offering Korean barbecue. But Da-In restaurant isn’t just one of those restaurants.

Located in Salinas Drive in Lahug, Cebu, Da-in restaurant is a joint project between the Creative Cuisine Group and Da-Won restaurant. With state-of-the-art grilling stations in each table and various Korean cuisines ready to be served, Da-In would surely sate your Korean barbecue cravings without any hassle.

Visit Da-In restaurant today!

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