Economic changes and health restrictions during the peak of the pandemic pushed the temporary closure of establishments in the city, and Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel was not an exemption.
In March 2020, the hotel’s management took a break like most others and temporarily suspended operations. The three-year hiatus was not wasted but rather used to maintain the hotel until it reopened in March 2023.
The steady recovery of the local economy and tourist sector, according to general manager Rene Suarez, presented a chance to reopen the hotel for visitors and residents.
“We took the chance this March, I think it’s very timely, pabalik na talaga ang mga turista, revenge travel na tinatawag. Marami na mga bagong events planned ang city so it’s about time na mag-open ang Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel,” he said.
As the tourism industry started showing signs of improvement, the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel decided not to reopen immediately. The company delayed its relaunch to ensure that all of its services and infrastructure are prepared for its return.
According to DataLand, Inc. chair Engr. Danilo Tamayo, it is also a chance to welcome the anticipated inflow of foreign and local tourists in the province.
Tamayo believes that the beauty of Palawan and the spirit of the residents are the factors that keep visitors coming back.
“We decided na i-open this March kasi there will be an influx of foreign tourists as well as domestic tourists. Considering na summer ngayon. Palawan known for its beautiful beaches, virgin forests. The best time to open is really this summer,” Tamayo said.
The hotel had the grand reopening on March 29 and was personally attended by Governor Dennis Socrates, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, and 3rd District Palawan Rep. Edward Hagedorn.
One of the lessons that Suarez kept in mind during the height of the pandemic was the need to enhance hygiene and sanitation, particularly in cleaning rooms, restaurants, and public areas.
Aside from these, he noted that another significant lesson was the significance of hotel staff who had played a vital role in Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel’s recovery journey. When there were no guests, the facility was maintained by a handful of dedicated employees.
The hotel’s previous workforce’s support made it simpler for it to attract guests when it reopened to the public.
There are also young hospitality professionals who have recently begun working in hotel operations.
“Kasi mahirap maiwanan ang hotel na hindi natatauhan, it has to be maintained properly para hindi masyadong maluma ang facilities, and equipment especially,” he said.
“What was really very endearing was when we decided to open, hindi na kami nahirapan to get people. A lot of the previous employees, especially department heads were on hand,” he said.
Suarez appreciated that the owners continued to support the operations, including restorations and upkeep, during the pandemic.
Tamayo believes that tourism in Palawan is among the most lucrative around and that Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel would be back in business in no time.
Prior to COVID-19, the four-star hotel was constantly packed. It is a popular choice for businesspeople and government figures, he continued.
The accommodations are of a five-star standard yet come at a price that is more reasonable.
“Tourism talaga is the best here in Palawan. This place has been 100 percent occupied in pre-pandemic. It is the jumping point of tourists going to Coron or El Nido—above four-star—even the room is equivalent to a five-star na mura ang rate,” Tamayo said.
Based on the local administration, the reopening will not only provide job opportunities for hospitality professionals but will also contribute to the economic growth of Puerto Princesa.
Coming back to the market
First opened in 2016, the Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel became an ideal place to host business and leisure travelers. The modern mid-scale hotel also features a contemporary Filipino style with 120 rooms classified as deluxe, premier, and family.
Suarez noted that the patronized breakfast buffet is also now back at P799, with the quality they established before the closure.
“I am happy to announce that we will again be offering the breakfast buffet. Although because of the inflation, there will be an increase a little bit. Alam naman natin na nagmahalan ang mga ingredients, but we will try our best to maintain the consistency and quality nong natatanggap na nila previously,” he said.
There are also promos for domestic travelers coming up in bundled tours that will be offered soon.
As a form of gratitude to locals, Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel is offering a Palaweño rate of P3,500 for an overnight stay in a deluxe room with breakfast buffet for 2 and complete access to all amenities, including use of the gym and pool.
The rate may run until August 2023, or until further notice, Suarez said.
“That’s to give thanks for the support we got from the local community and also to give locals a chance to experience the Best Western Plus Ivywall Hotel’s service and facilities,” he said.
Suarez commits that the same quality and facilities will be experienced by those who are already familiar with the service of the Best Western Plus Ivywall Hotel as they come back.
“Of course, we will be continuously improving. We have improved a lot of the services and facilities that we offer,” he added.