Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Radisson Blu Cebu Hotel

For many years, we referred to it as “that tall unfinished building beside SM Cebu”. We can drop that description now, as for about 3 weeks already, that building has a name. It opened its doors on the last Monday of September, and is now called no less than the “Radisson Blu Cebu Hotel”. Yep, their first in south or eastern Asia. And yes too, it already has guests though its grand opening is purported to be set still come 2nd week November 2010 to be graced by a big name from the metropolis! So, what? Well, I went there recently, don’t you want to hear what I have to say?! Here I go…

Went there for two things - to book some family who would be coming to visit and witness the Sinulog 2011 and check their function areas as probable training or event venues. The hotel has no discounts nor special packages (yet) for 2011, so all they could tell me were ‘rack rates’ until end December 2010. Anyway, I know that wouldn’t be too much of a difference, I think. But as a training / seminar venue… hands down this is so far the best value around. Now, it being a new facility, I had to ask many questions and the customer service girls were very accommodating. In the effort to explain things better, they instead invited me for a go-see of the hotel’s facilities. Wow! I had to meet a client at the mall in 15minutes, but how could I say no! So, I begged client for more time and roamed the place for a little more than an hour! Hah!

What’s different? Well, for starters, this one is not just new in terms of fixtures and materials, it also considers the needs of the times. Like? There is free wired or wireless net access anywhere in the WHOLE facility. No fuss. Just flick it and you’re on! Period! I actually tried it using my omnia as we moved around the hotel. Consistent strong signal wherever we went. Coolness! But badness if you were a trainer as your participants could secretly just be tapping on FB instead of listening to what you have to say hehe! Oh, there is even a corner at that balcony above the lobby with PCs for anyone to connect to the web. Nice that they made those as ‘stand only’ desktops so that no one will hog any PC the whole day hehe! So what else did I see? Hmmm...

The rooms. Big, elegant, well-equipped. Most reputable hotels are anyway, right? But this one is new. So, it naturally has something better than any of your existing 5-stars in Cebu. There are generally just 2 kinds of rooms in this hotel, so it is not confusing for most of us who can’t seem to stop at getting the cheapest type but we go on by comparing one room rate to the other. There is just the De Luxe and the Executive Suite. The first one is their regular twin-bed or 1 king-bed room. The second is the suite. That’s it. And they are all well-provided and fully stocked with amenities. Whatever is in one room is also present at the other. The difference is just on the floor area and things to fill them like a separate sala/receiving area and a tub plus a big closet/dressing area for the suite. But the robes, slippers, etc are the same.

Form and function is no different to the many hotels you see everywhere. But I like the beds. Just looking at them, you know that the sheets, bed covers and pillow-cases are the types that easily crumple. That means one excellent thing for me – they are soft cotton and comfy as a bed should be (at least for me). TVs do not clutter the set-up as they are all wall-mounted LCD flatscreens. Well, at the suites, the other TV sits atop a tasteful divider-like cabinet in one corner. The other (over at the sala) is also wall mounted. Aw, the fully stocked personal ref and adjoining cabinet for the coffee paraphernalia are niftily tucked under black marble counter tops so they don’t clutter your sights. I like the convenience of those big white switches lined by the sides of the beds!

I-pod docking stations are in each room, the TVs remote control is contained in its own pouch that contains a list of channels. Oh, wherever you are from, your electrical plugs wont need any adaptors as they use universal sockets. And who said anyway that those receptacles need to be at floor level? Inconvenient bending over, right? Well, At this Radisson, those sockets are right where you need them so you don’t have to crawl hehe! Ah, this is one of the few hotels that I have seen where they believe it’s a guestroom necessity to have a flat iron and kabayo (ironing board). Hmm, the last one I stayed at with that thing was years ago in Melbourne. I wonder if this can happen “hello housekeeping, can you please ask one attendant to come to my room and iron some of my clothes?” hehe!

Restaurants. There is only one at ground level near the lobby and across SM. Ah it has banks of buffet stations serving food from everywhere on earth! And it is open until midnight. But there is also a cozy nook at the spacious lobby where you could have snacks, coffee or cocktails while the nightly band plays soothing melodies until 1AM. I like their jazzy acoustics pieces. Well, if you like the feel of extravagant elegance for your cocktails, head up to the 20th floor as the Club Lounge is located there. You can also opt to take your breakfast there! Ah I noticed, then again, they're serving food at that bar near the pool!

Yep, the swimming pool that looks small if you stand on any side. Why? Because it is not just your ordinary pool. Its irregularly shaped peppered with decorative things like fountains, bridges, etc., But if you actually make a round of the whole area (on the sides or on the water) it is big and can accommodate a lot of swimmers. Try looking at it too from up the rooms. It looks like a water garden! A few steps down from this pool is the well provided and spacious gym. Oh beside this pool and outside of the lobby is what they call an Events Plaza for those who want outdoor fun. Its just a wide garden with a faux waterfall on the side. And yes, the snack bar. Your grand view from this area is nothing but the circular rampway of SMs parking floors hehe!

Meeting Rooms. Well, you might want to call those ‘conference rooms’ instead of just meeting rooms or breakout rooms as they are individually big that can fit 10 to 60 (though I think even more. Yes, some walls could be retracted to join two or three of the rooms making them just one. All rooms are named after male saints in their Spanish versions (i.e., San Antonio, San Cristobal, San Lucas, etc). Oh, the San Martin Meeting Rooms 1, 2 & 3 has glass doors that lead out to a balcony with a view of the pool and the garden. Nice if you want your room awash with natural light! And, there is a boardroom for the big shots to discuss their big shot meetings! It’s a room with a marble top table good for 18 executives (or pretending to be) to weed out their institutions' plans or issues! There is a lectern and all the push-button things for presentations and connectivities.

The ‘Meeting Plaza’ is such a wonderful thing. Ever conducted or attended meetings or conferences where the hotel must spread food at the very inside side of your room? That’s common, right? And very distracting both for facilitators or attendees – the aroma, the movements of hotel crews, the color of the food, ahhh you cant help but depart from your subject matter hehe! Here, instead of featuring a spacious lobby for reception areas to each room, they peppered the place with posts that have built-in shelves to serve buffet nooks where participants from each of the meeting rooms can gat their food and drinks. Yeah, the naughty participant/attendee can easily jump to another meeting’s fare hehe! And good that there are no seats or lounge couches so your attendees won’t have a choice but stay inside your meeting room and participate! All these are next door to the only facility named after a female Saint – the Santa Maria Grand Ballroom! So the meeting rooms and meeting plaza are a great breakout area!

Santa Maria Ballroom/s. Ah, this is the hotel’s main event venue. Its huge. The girls tell me it can accommodate up to 1,200 guests. There are two dividers that can chunk the whole thing into 3 separate ballrooms called Santa Maria Ballrooms 1, 2 and 3. Lavish. High ceiling, chandeliers, pin lights, flood lights, and other whatever lights. This venue even has its own lobby called ‘pre-function area’ and it is so big it can easily fit 5 or 6 badminton courts with enough space in between hehe! This too has its own VIP room to keep that politician or celebrity before his or her appearance hehe. And Santa Maria has its own audio-visual control/projection room!

The business center. This one is good. It’s a departure from the usual business center of most hotels that look like a travel agency desk! For Radisson Blu Cebu, their business center is a room with nothing and everything! When I say nothing, aside from the concierge-style lady over at entrance, you go into a room with nothing but cubicles with blank desks, without any distracting ads, posters or paintings on the walls but with all the connectivity and peripherals like printers, photocopiers, phones, fax, etc tucked inside drawers or cabinets. A cubicle can be ‘your own little work corner’ or ‘your own little office’ to receive and discuss business with clients or associates. And it straddles the nearby meeting rooms and the Santa Maria Ballroom.

Nina Ballroom. This is located down at ground level or lower-ground if your point of view is the lobby. A smaller version of the Santa Maria yet still bigger than SM Cebu’s Trade Hall! Oh this one is composed of three smaller ballrooms but only 2 can be joined by retracting a wall. Like the Santa Maria, It even has its separate entrance way so guests do not all have to pass the main lobby. Whoa, there is even a nearby concierge or check-in area for groups. I like the ceiling-mounted LCD TVs and the drop down white screens in these meeting and function rooms. Every room too has its own digital signage not mounted but part of the external wall.

Alright, over at the lobby there is a bank of public phones and just one cubicle destined to house an ATM machine. Its not yet there but surely it will be a BDO machine, what else hehe. Whoa, speaking of BDO, if you are an account holder of said bank, the hotel offers big discounts. Same goes for those who have SM Advantage Cards. I think you also get points for staying there or availing of their services. Hmm! Nice one!

1 comment :

  1. yes, radisson blue cebu certainly is a hotel that provides the best perks not to mention super big meals in town. ;-)