It’s not entirely surprising that a chic oasis like the The Venta Suites exists in Betis, Guagua, Pampanga, a place popular for its Baroque-style church, as well as its woodcarving and furniture industries that supply pieces to some of the most fashionable home brands in the world. Still, it’s hard not to be stunned when one encounters the great style possessed by this new staycation favorite.
The bed and breakfast is a passion project of Lieza Bituin, the youngest among the four children of Jose and Myrna Bituin, founders of the 49-year-old JB Woodcraft in Guagua, Pampanga.
Since 2007, Lieza has been managing one of the family’s furniture businesses—the South Sea Veneer Corporation, which specializes on modern wood furniture featuring traditional hand-inlaid wood veneer or marquetry. The family also runs Betis Crafts Inc. and More Than a Chair.
The idea to diversify the business was something the family has been toying with for some time, but it was only during the onset of the pandemic when Lieza’s plans to put up a boutique hotel really started to take shape. Good thing she’s always loved creating beautiful spaces, which comes naturally to the Manufacturing Engineering graduate, thanks to a lifetime of exposure to the family business as well as furniture shows in abroad.
The 2000-square meter spot where The Venta Suites now stands was previously a wood kiln drying facility for the family’s furniture business. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, however, the family was left with no choice but to close it down and relocate the business to Concepcion, Tarlac and Mabalacat, Pampanga.
The family moved back to Betis in the early 2000 and developed the 3-ha property, incorporating a finishing facility, an office and showroom, and Fabrika Villas, a factory turned hotel which is run by Lieza’s brother.
The old wood kiln facility was the key inspiration for The Venta Suites, as well as its huge bentiladors—hence the name “Venta” (although Lieza would discover that the word is also a Spanish term for “inn”). Since Lieza wanted to retain the industrial vibe of the structure, she converted the chambers of the kiln to become the three suites of the boutique hotel—instead of tearing them down. The large bentiladors that used to help circulate air in the kiln were repurposed as decorative elements—a way of paying homage to the place’s history and heritage.
And while it’s tempting to produce new furniture for the hotel, Lieza decided to stick to the concept of adaptive reuse. “If I needed a chair or a table, I’d have to find something in the warehouse that I can reuse,” she says.
The furniture pieces in the hotel are mostly conversation pieces. For instance, the old panels previously used for exhibition booths in furniture shows are now reborn as headboard in Chamber 3. The old stationary routing machines from the family’s factory were converted into a dining table base and a stand for Lieza’s collection of plants, while some of the antique furniture of Lieza’s mom also find their rightful spots around the property.
Aside from sharing the history and heritage of the area, The Venta Suites is also Lieza’s way of sharing a part of herself with others—her love for travel and the outdoors, her love for plants, and her personal passion for local crafts. “I’d like to make it a melting pot of everything,” she says. “It’s a concrete output of how I combine all these personal passions.”
[Photos courtesy of Lieza Bituin]