In Puerto Princesa: boutique hotel within a forest
By Amadís Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:53 pm | Saturday, June 1st, 2013
In a secluded forested area a few kilometers from the urban center of Puerto Princesa, capital city of Palawan, you will come upon an elegant, tastefully-designed (with a brown and white motif) boutique hotel garlanded by the multicolors of flowers, the green of leaves, and the brown of the tree trunks.
This is the Palo Alto Bed & Breakfast (www.paloal.ph), owned by entrepreneurs Guido and Lalaine Ylaya. Guido is a civil engineer who designed the hotel himself, while Lalaine heads an insurance agency in Alabang, Metro Manila.
Palo Alto has been given awards for excellence by Trip Advisor twice in a row, along with other awards.
“After working in Manila for 25 years, it has always been our dream to have something like this in Puerto Princesa,” says Guido. The dream began to be realized when they invested P600,000 in the present 1,500 square meter lot, buying it in 1995 at P400 per square meter.
“At first we just wanted a place for ourselves, a family home,” recalls Lalaine. “But then friends learned about it and they started to visit.”
And so the place built around the trees just grew and grew through the years and became a business, and a chic hotel. An events pavilion (with a swimming pool) good for 200-250 persons followed, along with a travel and tours agency.
Total investments for the inn reached P15 million.
Palo Alto’s room rates range from P3,500 for a twin deluxe to P8,500 for a “family deluxe pool view.”
The hotel is made up of acacia and mangium native wood from Australia, rattan sticks, abaca and capiz shells. “We made it as indigenous as possible,” says Guido.
The Ylayas’ daughter, Pauline, 23, a marketing graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, takes care of promoting and marketing the hotel, which also conducts tours to the Underground River, (P1,000); Honda Bay islands (P1,000); City Tour (P500); Maoyon River Cruise (P1,500); Estrella Falls (P1, 400); Tabon Cave (P1,600); and a Dos Palmas Resort day tour (P2,500) in Honda Bay.
Clientele of Palo Alto consist of domestic and foreign tourists, including families, and the hotel (operational since June 2011) has been making a name for itself, winning this and that award.
The occupancy rate, according to the Ylayas, is 60-75 percent and the ROI (return-on-investment) is being eyed within seven years.