Go Hotels Tacloban

A traveler's haven in Leyte
By Nico Erle Ciriaco

With more than 7,107 islands of unspoiled and paradisiacal beaches like Kalanggaman in the town of Palompon, inviting cavern systems like Sohoton in Western Samar, mystical islands like Biri in Northern Samar, and pristine reefs like Kuting in Southern Leyte, the Philippines deserves to be included in every travelers bucket list.
Like all the rest of the archipelago, Eastern Visayas, comprised of the provinces of Samar and Leyte is equally blessed with wonders, both natural and man-made, that will delight even the most jaded traveler. In Tacloban City alone, the Santo Nino Shrine and Romualdez Museum is an itinerary must-see for anyone interested in history and culture; not to mention the biggest collection of ivory Santo Ninos that seem to be diminishing in number through the years. The Santo Nino Church is considered as the main place of worship in the city as it is home to the miraculous image of the Infant Jesus.
Tacloban, coming from the word “Taklub,” a contraption device to catch fish, has evolved from the small fishing village it was, to the hustle-and-bustle city that it is today. Some might remember Tacloban for its role in the World War II liberation efforts; having been the venue for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” promise. The naval base that he used as take-off point to Australia, in the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, is still intact to this very day.
Tacloban City is often identified with the liberation of the Philippines during the Second World War. An itinerary around the city includes places which were venues of great events during that historic period. One of these sites is the beautifully-preserved pillboxes inside the sprawling beach resort grounds of Patio Victoria.
The city is a mixture of the old and new. Apart from heritage buildings like the Price Mansion, modern structures like the Astrodome can be found within its confines. It is a melting pot, the regional hub, and the only highly urbanized city in the whole of Eastern Visayas. As a major tourist services center, Tacloban has the facilities and the infrastructure to cater to the needs of its visitors. Some might also be familiar with Leyte as the home province of former first lady Imelda Marcos, and as the other island connecting Asia’s second longest bridge, the San Juanico. Also called the Bridge of Love, the 2.16-km. conduit was a present of former Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos to his lovely wife.
Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC), through its fast-growing chains of hotels, gohotels.ph, has created the perfect alternative for people who are in search of an essential service hotel. The brand has all the necessary comforts combined with great value propositions for every traveler’s hard-earned currency. It affords, foremost, any Juan with eight excellent amenities that cannot be found in other hotels of its class. These include Windsor beds that use only hundred-percent cotton sheets together with comfy duvets and pillows; modern bathroom fixtures (with hot/cold showers) and complimentary toiletry kits; free in-room Wi-Fi access; LCD cable TVs; safety deposit boxes; transport access; a fun vibe; and ‘service plus.’
The hotel’s ‘service plus’ features come in the form of toiletry kits, airport transfer and/or breakfast coupons. These items can be availed separately too if and when guests need them. The earlier the booking or reservation, the more perks are in store.
“Non-morning persons can forego breakfast in the on-line options upon booking. A bathroom kit is sold for a minimal fee and guests get to enjoy our super shower. RLC will build as many GoHotels to cater to the fast-rising number of budget-conscious travelers here and abroad,” said sales & marketing officer Adrian Ong.
“GoHotels Tacloban has 98 rooms, 50 twin and 48 wing types. We are the No. 1 provincial branch of the brand and the highest in terms of occupancy. We have more walk-ins than on-line bookings that account for about 30-40 per cent. Walk-ins fill up the bigger margin and we enjoy a hundred per cent occupancy,” informed duty manager Arrianne Junne Barreta.
“Travelers from the US, UK, South Korea and Japan comprise our foreign guests’ roster. Tacloban is fast becoming a convention hub in Eastern Visayas. June 29 commemorates the Sangyaw Festival for rediscovering the lost icon of the Infant Jesus many years ago. The lost icon was found in Basey (Samar) and the inhabitants returned the statuette to Tacloban and thus the yearly festival of thanksgiving,” she added.
Because mobility to and from destinations in any given locale is essential, Go Hotels makes it easy for their guests by providing them available transportation facilities. Meals are readily available at the Gustavian Restaurant at the ground level of Robinsons Tacloban as well as boxed toiletries that include every necessary item for bathroom use, are available for a measly P98.56 at the reception counter, or as a token from an early booking.
“RLC opened the Robinsons Mall here in June 2009 and the Gokonweis felt the welcome and hospitality of the place so GoHotel Tacloban followed suit as a result. The mall’s annex was erected in the same time as the hotel, opening in the summer of 2012. Comfort is essential and very much a part of a GoHotel room,” intoned Rose Ann Coscullela-Villegas, corporate PR director for RLC.
As the province’s capital, Tacloban is strategically located right in the heart of Eastern Visayas and the country’s nautical highway. It lies along the northeastern seaboard of Leyte island. The city is 580 kilometers southeast of Manila and is situated approximately halfway through the entire length of the Maharlika Highway, running from Northern Luzon to Southern Mindanao.
“There are lots to see, to do and write about Tacloban. We are a fast growing city and I encourage visitors to stay longer to experience all that Tacloban has to offer. Life here is easy-going and very peaceful in general. People here are very accommodating too,” declared city mayor Alfred Romualdez, during an intimate dinner with national broadsheet media.
Part of the city sits on a peninsula and adjacent bodies of water (Anibong, Panalaron and Cancabato Bays). It is also flanked by the San Juanico Strait, reputedly the narrowest navigable channel in the world. Going south, the strait connects with San Pedro Bay and further on is the Leyte Gulf, the arena of the biggest naval battle in the Pacific during WW II.
“There are no traffic jams coming in or going out of the city. We have lots of good restaurants like Cosina Don Vicente. We are also close to beaches and other sites like the Patio Victoria. If you look at the nautical highway map, you’ll find Palo (site of the Leyte Landing) smack right in the middle. We are the only city in the country where, if you travel northward, will be in Manila on the same day; and if southward, you’ll be in Gen San the same day too. In no other city can you reach your destination on the same day,: he continued.
Tacloban covers an area of 20,172 hectares characterized mainly by rolling plains, mountain and hill ranges. The city is approximately 3.05 meters above sea level. It evidently has many things in store for those who plan to visit; people & places with stories to tell, and memorable experiences to offer like the nearby beaches of Maribut as well as the islands of Kalanggaman and Caluwayan, the Babatngon River cruise, the MacArthur Park, Giuseppe’s Restaurant, the Ocho Seafood Grill and so many more sites, all waiting to be re-discovered!. It is not a surprise therefore that Tacloban was appointed the capital of Leyte, having had the ideal location for the port area, as the place is well-sheltered and adequately provisioned.
“We are the fourth region with the biggest circulation of money. We have 67 banks in the city alone. We have a population of 240,000 people that triples during the day as we are the only place here with three universities. Economic climate is rife and SMEs, like the homegrown label VJCrater Inc.’s Vino de Coco, are thriving really well,” Mayor Romualdez said in closing.
Tacloban’s robust economy is proven further when Go Hotels Tacloban opened at the center of the city’s commercial district, right along the Tabuan National Highway; showing promising results as evidenced by consistently high occupancy rates. It is also considered as one of the biggest hotels in town with 98 rooms, a conference room that can accommodate up to 50 persons; all conveniently located a walking distance away from Robinsons Place Tacloban Mall, The Annex.
As a budget hotel offering value-for-money rates, gohotels.ph follows the same ‘early booking, lower rates’ scheme that made its Manila flagship property in Pioneer (Mandaluyong) famous among constant travelers. This RLC chain’s variable pricing, aka ‘bucket pricing,’ is considered a first in the hotel industry and was inspired by the set-up commonly practiced by airlines that rewards lowest available air fares to those with the earliest and quickest mouse click.
With the aim of expanding nationwide and having Go Hotels branches for every Robinsons mall, Go Hotels is working toward this objective by adding more branches which are slated to open next month and towards the end of the year, namely Otis-Manila (June), Iloilo and Ortigas Center.
For more information and/or on-line booking, simply log-on to their Web site, www.gohotels.ph.


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