How was one of Puerto Princesa’s staple hotels able to survive, thrive, and celebrate its 10th anniversary on the same day the country shut off its borders to all sorts of tourists?

What keeps Hotel Centro standing tall and proud amidst a global pandemic?

According to operations manager Arthur Cayanan, the secret lies in have close connection with their partners. Yes, it was the hotel’s most trusted partners – travel agencies, mostly – repeat guests, and staff family members that kept the lights on. Also, plenty of garage sales.

“We had to cut costs and get rid of things we no longer needed, like old TVs, other equipment. So we had to sell them. And with the money, we used to buy healthy and safety materials and front office acrylic barriers to be the safest staycation hotel for locals,” said Cayanan in an interview Monday.

But a year-long lockdown can’t keep a good hotel down.

When quarantine measures began to relax in the middle of the year, Cayanan asked upper management if they could slowly open their doors with strict health protocols in place.

Management only asked that as long as there is no big loss or break-even at least and the hotel still standing and our staff are healthy that will be a profit by end of 2020.

“We decided to open on August 18, 2020. We worked closely with partner travel agencies, regular guests, and even friends and family members. We also offered private events with less than 80 people, and opened up the front facade for the Banchetto, a sort of street-food style setup,” said Cayanan.

To celebrate 10 years in the industry, management decided to get together with other accommodations, mostly members of the Association of Accredited Tourist Accommodation in Puerto Princesa (AATAPPP) and promote each other in a motorcade.

The event symbolized the solidarity and camaraderie between leisure establishments, all of whom suffered great losses during the pandemic. Nearly 20 establishments were at the motorcade.

“Hindi na ito ang panahon kasi na magkanya-kanya. Dapat may cooperation and unity pra lahat tayo maka survive and recover,” said Cayanan.

Also at the event were Miss Palawan winners Jennifer Linda (2020), Klaidel Hope Concepcion (2021), Jamaica Venturillo (Miss Palawan Earth 2021), Xena Bunio (Miss Palawan World 2021), and first-runner up Daena Yapparcon.

A short program was held in the ballroom, where eight employees were given their loyalty awards.

“Some of them have even been with the hotel for 10 years. One of them was a construction worker who was taken in as a regular employee. He was around even when the hotel wasn’t even built,” Cayanan added.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.