Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
We never expected that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) would wreak havoc not only on our health but also on our economy. Although the death toll is not as high as those being infected with the virus, no one knows whether it will be mild or severe when you are infected with it.
As a result, some people are wary, but most of them are worried. Respected scientists from all over the world did the unthinkable: they worked together to find a vaccine against the virus. After almost a year, they came up with not just one but several vaccines.
The Philippines joined the COVID-19 vaccination program as initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO). In Davao City, health officials were doing their best to inoculate most of the people. Other organizations and institutions joined the cause.
Waterfront Insular Hotel was one of them. The City Government of Davao, through the City Tourism Operations Office and the Davao Tourism Association, launched the “Bakuna by the Sea” on June 30, 2021, at the Waterfront’s Grand Pavilion.
“It was initially exclusive for tourism workers and allied services (including the media) but we eventually opened it up (later on) to the general public,” says Wilfredo Paolo M. Rosello, marketing communications officer.
This year, it has continued to support the government’s program through the “Bakuna Booster by the Sea.”
When the pandemic engulfed the whole country, Davao was also affected. No more conferences, meetings, and gatherings. Travel by air, sea, and land were curtailed; only in cases of emergencies and very important matters were travels allowed.
Some hotels in Davao City closed as a result of the health crisis. But Waterfront continued its business and came up with some strategies to entice people to come. As it is far from the overcrowded city and has fresh air from the sea breeze, it is a good venue for something for a family or a small gathering.
“Given the need for people to unwind in a safe public space, we launched our Waterfront Picnics in our garden area,” Rosello says, adding that the hotel is open for such picnics from 6 to 10 am and from 3 to 6 pm.
At the start of the pandemic, most restaurants and foodie establishments were closed or open for limited hours only. So much so that Waterfront launched new promotions and highlighted its food and beverages offerings.
“We refined our offerings in our al fresco dining outlets: namely La Parilla, Pool Aquarius and Pizzaiolo,” Rosello states.
At the Pizzaiolo, you can order these pastas: aglio e olio, shrimp ala pobre, chicken carbonara and Filipino classics. The following pizzas may be ordered: margherita, Hawaiian, pizzaiolo, calzone, Milano, madrillo, Filipino, and Bolognese.
Those who want to stay at the hotel are assured that they are very safe. “We have intensified our safety and sanitation measures, especially in our rooms, to make sure that our guests have the best experience,” Rosello says.
In fact, before you can check in, your body temperature will be checked. There are alcohols in some places of the hotel where you can readily use for hand sanitizing. Even inside the rooms, you get to read the information posted in the mirror about the health protocols that need to be observed.
As most Filipinos are now vaccinated, people are now starting to go out. Waterfront is now ready for the coming of its guests and visitors. “We’re expecting for more people to visit na given that more and more people are getting vaccinated and the restrictions are slowly easing up,” Rosello says.
Right now, Waterfront is busy preparing for its upcoming promos for Valentine’s Day and Holy Week. “We’ll be coming up with different promos both in our restaurant offerings and also for the staycationers,” Rosello points out.
Originally, Islandia Hotel was its name when it was launched on September 1, 1961, by a group of investors led by the Ayalas. Owners Don Enrique and Don Jaime Zobel changed it to EJ Davao Insular in 1962.
In 1980, it was renamed as Davao Insular Inter-Continental Inn. It finally became Insular Hotel Davao in 1991. When Century Hotel took over the hotel (from 1994 to 1998), it was given the name Insular Century Hotel.
When the Gatchalian family took over the hotel in 1999, it was renamed Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao. And the name stuck until now.
The hotel is now part of Davao’s history. It has received several citations and recognitions from different award-giving bodies.
“Visitors, who in the last fifty years or more have been coming to enjoy this hotel’s amenities, to savor local hospitality and the gentle climate of Davao will be glad to know that their happy memories were kept alive,” said an information sheet is given by Rosello to this author. “A part of local history, the hotel has been given a new and wonderful lease of life.”