20 years after, Waterfront still Cebu City's grand hotel

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Mar 17 2018 05:56 AM

The grand stage design for Waterfront Cebu's 20th anniversary bash. Photo from the hotel's Facebook page

CEBU CITY -- The guests partied like it was the 1920s. 

Men wore bow ties and dressed in varying colored suits, from black to white to red to striped, while women flapped around in fringe and sparkly dresses accessorized with feather and rhinestone headbands. 

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino's (WCCHC) Pacific Grand Ballroom was adorned with cascading white fabrics, the ceiling was bedecked with different kinds of chandeliers, and the stage's backdrop was decorated with Art Deco graphic designs. 
 
It was back to The Roaring Twenties for the 20th anniversary celebration of Waterfront Group's flagship hotel. The party was attended by Cebu's luminaries, from Amparito Lhuillier to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. 

(From left) Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino's general manager Anders Hallden and Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña

The party was a kick-off event for the year-long celebration. The hotel will host several events including the Waterfront Hotel Iron Chef for the Fourth of July celebrations. Also later this year, the hotel's wedding fair event will be its biggest. WCCHC will also release a coffee table book this year to celebrate its two decades in the industry. 

The hotel has become a landmark in Cebu. Its grandiose building dominated the Queen City of the South's skyline 20 years ago but it still remains as Cebu' City's grand hotel. 

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, located in Lahug in Cebu City, opened in 1998 with much fanfare. It was the biggest hospitality and leisure facility at that time with more than 500 guest rooms and suites, a casino, its own Duty Free Philippines shop, several dining outlets, and a convention center. 

It quickly became the venue of choice for large conferences considering that its convention center can accommodate more than 4,000 people.

But to last this long in a very competitive industry is no easy feat. Cebu is one of the country's tourism capitals and the hospitality business climate on the island is a tough one.

“The Waterfront family takes so much pride in providing true Filipino hospitality. Our team gets so much praise for always taking that extra step looking after all valued guests, whether they're from the Philippines or from some other parts of the world,” explained WCCHC general manager Anders Hallden. 

Anders Hallden, general manager of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel

“This joy to serve is not something you can teach; it's something you are born with and have a burning passion for—to exceed expectations and always deliver top service with a smile,” he added.

Recently, the hotel was chosen as one of five Philippine recipients for the ASEAN's prestigious 1st MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events) Venue Standard Award in a Hotel Category Setting. 

“We are the biggest MICE hotel in Cebu with a capacity of up to 7,000, depending on what type of event is going to be staged. With over 16 meeting rooms and three board rooms, an outdoor open-air area in the grand lagoon, a pool area, we can host virtually any theme and fulfill every request. That makes us a true one-stop-shop venue,” Hallden shared. 

For a hotel, 20 years is a long period. The hospitality industry is swiftly changing, year after year. There are more modern hotels opening shop and several accommodation options are pulling guests away from the traditional hotel setting. 

The hotel's Pacific Grand Ballroom is adorned with chandeliers and feathers for Waterfront Cebu's 20th anniversary bash. Photo by author

WCCHC makes sure to keep up with the times, upgrading to modern facilities and adapting to technological innovations. 

Filipino-owned Waterfront Hotels has been busy in the past two years because it has been renovating most of its hotels. The property in Manila, the Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino, is undergoing a major facelift because it is after all, the oldest hotel (in terms of building infrastructure) in the group. 

WCCHC is also receiving major renovations, particularly its meeting space. According to Hallden, its meeting facilities will be upgraded soon and will be the most modern venue in Cebu. Room renovations are also in the works.

“We will also undertake room renovations to bring our accommodations to higher levels of excellence. Indeed, the future looks very good for Cebu City and we are working to be there with the development. As Cebu's leading hotel, we will be in the center of it all as we continue to serve our guests in true Filipino hospitality, with a welcoming spirit and sincere pleasure,” Hallden ended.