Puerto Princesa hotel helps promote Palawan culture, nature

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2017 02:10 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2017 04:15 PM

PUERTO PRINCESA -- Hue Hotels and Resorts Palawan, the latest addition to Puerto Princesa City’s tourism landscape, has partnered with the local community to promote natural and cultural attractions while providing top-grade amenities to guests. 

Dubbed “City of the Living God,” Puerto Princesa boasts of untouched forests, white sand beaches and diverse wildlife -- all of which are reflected in the hotel's interiors. 

Run by Hospitality Innovators, Inc., Hue welcomes visitors at an open-air lobby that sits beside a garden, where the twitter of birds echo. 

Wood carvings of the endemic “balinsasayaw” bird decorate the lobby’s walls while the floor feature a pattern symbolizing the mangroves abundant in the city. 

Hue boasts of 122 rooms, a spa, ballroom, roofdeck pool and the Matis Restaurant and Tapas Bar. Courtesy of Hue

Hotel staff entertain guests at the reception desk. Courtesy of Hue

Mangroves, which are protected in Puerto Princesa, make a stamp on the hotel lobby. Courtesy of Hue

Fresh plants provide a backdrop to Hue's name. ABS-CBN News

Hue’s 122 rooms are also splashed with local touches like vibrant mats handwoven by Palaweño single parents and students; baskets filled with calamansi juice, rice coffee, cashew and tamarind candy; and gifts of pearls, sungkaan and straw hats for VIP guests. 

Photo courtesy of Hue

Boasting an unobstructed of the city, the hotel’s roof deck pool, meanwhile, is a riot of color inspired by fiestas. 

Photo courtesy of Hue

Hue owner-developers, brothers Dennis and Dexter Lee, envisioned the hotel’s “glocal” architecture, which merges a modern vibe with local elements, general manager Chris Guballa told ABS-CBN News. 

The glocal roots of Hue, Guballa added, extend to its efforts to foster the livelihood of locals and protect the environment. 

Majority of the hotel staff are Palaweños. Hue has also partnered with the Trade department to hold weekend bazaars for local crafts. It has also refrained from serving bottled water, relying instead on a reverse osmosis system that purifies water. 

“We are continuously trying to innovate, trying to embed ourselves in the local community. That's one of our advocacies here,” said Guballa. 

SAIL WITH FIREFLIES, CONSTELLATIONS 

Hue also assists guests in visiting tourist spots that are more accessible compared to the famous underground river, which is about an hour and a half’s drive away from the city center. 

During a tour with the media, Hue brought ABS-CBN News to an evening boat cruise along Iwahig River. 

There, the only illumination come from stars, and the flocks of fireflies that light up when hit by the flashlight of tourist guides rowing the boats. The boatmen also treat guests to lessons on constellations and the glowing bugs. 

Initially developed by the ABS-CBN Foundation, the Iwahig firefly watching station eventually became a joint project with the local government. 

On the way there, tourists can drive by a chain of majestic mountain ranges open to hikers, as well as the Iwahig Penal Colony, a “prison without bars” where convicted offenders roam freely. 

BEFRIEND THE DEEP SEAS

Hue's tour also included a picnic at Pandan Island, one of 16 islands at Honda Bay. 

Managed by Legend Hotels, Pandan Island offers tourists snorkeling and diving activities that can be capped with a buffet of fresh seafood. 

Thrillseekers can also drop by the nearby Splash islet, home to the Blob, an inflated giant pillow that catapults visitors up in the air and onto the sea. 

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If they are lucky, visitors can also catch a rare sight of the horseshoe crab, which can live for several decades and is known for its medicinal properties.

EMBARK ON GASTRONOMIC ADVENTURES

Puerto Princesa will also satisfy foodies. 

Hue’s own Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar, operated by chef Gabby Prats, delights with its three-generation recipe of paella, thrice-cooked bagnet, boneless crispy pata, and ginataang santol, among others. 

Satisfy your inner foodie with this thrice-cooked bagnet at Matiz. ABS-CBN News

Tourists craving for noodles, crusty baguettes and coffee, meanwhile, can head to Viet Ville, a former Vietnamese refugee camp-turned-restaurant that is some 15 minutes away from Hue. 

Also a short drive from the hotel is Baker’s Hill, a theme park sprinkled with snack houses and pens of peacocks. A bakery here sells tuyo pastillas and ube hopia while a small stall offers tamilok or woodworm in vinegar.

Travelers in Puerto Princesa also shouldn’t miss visiting the Palawan wildlife rescue and conservation center; the stunning hilltop view and zipline adventure at Mitra’s Ranch; the City Baywalk; and the famed Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage site.