Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hotel Tavern Surigao

Called them up the previous night and was told the cheapest I could have was an interior room at P1400 a day with free breakfast. I thought that was a bit expensive but just the same, I firmed it.

I chose this hotel due to its “central” location – relative to my intended activities. There are other even more central hotels and inns but comparing rates and reviews, Hotel Tavern was it. It is on Borromeo St. yes, but there is some driveway (parking area), thus, the tricycle noise is far. The facility has a big compound that even houses a two-level building for the hotel’s utility services and the city’s local chamber of commerce! Actually, the back of the hotel (the other front, if your point of view is the restaurant) faces what they call the boulevard. That is that newly concreted seaside road that serves as a wharf (the entire length) and becomes a promenade during late afternoons and evenings. Wi-fi is free at the lobby lounges (ground and second floor) plus at the restaurant.

My room was fine. It smelled and felt clean without the usual flowery designs or decors of small hotels. And they don’t use fancy smelling air fresheners that usually irritates my nose. Tiled floor (not carpeted) thankfully! There is a bedside phone, lampshade, fridge and that modern kind of window blinds that may be rolled up or down. Hey, at first I got alarmed about the blankets – the brown fleece material common to many hotels. Both were peppered with stains that painted a yucky feel in my lowly brain. I took a closer look, even scratched and smelled them and I knew they were clean. But it bothered me still albeit just a bit hehe. I can’t imagine though what sort of guest created dirt, droppings or drippings could make those permanent stains. Anyway, I just tried my best to forget all about it and tried to remember that I checked and smelled - they were clean. But yuck hehehe!

Hey, I like it that their “house rules” posted at the door also has an extensive reminder on how to escape the place during a fire, it’s not just the usual map.

The whole side of my room was glass windows but, as clearly stated by the clerk when I called up last night, this is an “interior room”. That means my room’s windows face a wall – all I could see was the ground floor hallway and room doors. Note, if you read on the web that they have something like “city-view” and “ocean-view”, forget about the former as that is a thing of the recent past! There is no more “city view” since everything is blocked by their big big ballroom/convention hall. What is there to see on Borromeo St. anyway? The pawnshop, the hardware or the funeraria? Gosh! Oh, during my visit, another bigger annex was under construction while other rooms in my building were being spruced up too. I did not hear much of the banging though!

Now the restaurant. Oh the restaurant! It’s not in the main building. You walk out front from the lobby about 30 meters or so. And when it rains… it pours hehe! The doorman though is always ready to flick a big umbrella open at the sight of you attempting to go over. That straight walk will lead you to Dominic’s. And that’s NOT the restaurant yet hehe. Dominic’s is an open sports bar with a pool table and darts with every kind of booze you can think of at the well-stocked bar. This is my favorite place in the hotel compound. Under the same roof just past a fine luxuriously crafted comfort room is City Garden Resto. THAT is the restaurant hehe! It is a single level building, glass on all sides and air-conditioned with a very good view of the boulevard and the sea beyond! It’s a fine place. They just probably need to visit the ceilings from time to time… unless those cobwebs are part of the d├ęcor!

Outside the restaurant, by the side of the boulevard is yet another outdoor space where you can have your breakfast and lunch al fresco. But on weekend nights, you’d be a bore not to stay there as the best live bands play at that make-shift stage by the gate. Imagine this, the singers are dishing out light jazz or acoustic pieces, you look out the boulevard, people are strolling… and in the dark waters beyond, the superferry might be cruising along. Fantastic! And your dinner table is inside a secure fenced-off area of the hotel amidst trees with little yellow lights inside capiz-shell lanterns… the candle on your table merrily flickering with the light wind… good food… and you are all alone! Arggghh he he he! Now this is serious, their beer is not that cold and waiters bring out a glass with ice, then a small bucketful of it if you need more. THAT downgrades the whole experience into some kind of a so-so beer garden!

Hey, Hotel Tavern must have expert kitchen crews. The food is always good… presented well, tastes well. Which reminds me, where are those kitchen crews?! Well, over at the hotel’s main building behind the front desk and the lobby/lounge hehehe! Look at that picture. See that big silvery door to the right of the lobby? Yeah, under the orange tiles just beyond the motorbikes and the mango tree. That's the one, and there is a smaller door to the left (dark spot on the picture). In there is the mighty gastronomic factory. So now you get it, right? Your grilled tanguigue travels the same way you traveled from your room to the restaurant hehe! How? The waiters keep dashing the distance. And when it rains… it pours he he he he he! I am almost sure though, this should be addressed when those renovations are over.

By the way, Hotel Tavern is also the best place to lounge around during evenings for good food and good music. You can try the following links for a sampler:
Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Video 4


There is a travel and tour facility that hold office (a desk) at the lobby – sadly, the many times I have attempted to talk to the person in charge, front staff would tell me they are not around! Ah! But when I asked them front staff about doing a day tour of the city, they told me to just commute and do it alone. And I did! And I liked it! But on going to the islands, no one could help me.

Lastly, airport, integrated terminal or seaport, Hotel Tavern's shuttle service (a Delica Van) is complimentary with a jolly uniformed driver. But if you're leaving for Siargao or the other islands using the outrigger boats, don't harp for the free shuttle. You just cross the boulevard from City Garden Resto and there is your ride. Otherwise, the van would skirt Borromeo St., and unto the Boulevard - that is probably more than a kilometer ride! In my case, there was an early morning drizzle, Mr. Doorman gave me an umbrella and walked with me all the way inside the boat until I was seated on one that he chose for me! Service is the best thing in this hotel, I think.

Okay, enough of Hotel Tavern. Let’s go to my tours, alrightie?! Next blog entry please!

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