PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan -- Astoria Palawan recently officially launched its new Premier Villas, a collection of luxury accommodations that has been added to their Puerto Princesa property.
Covering eight hectares of a former mango orchard in Barangay San Rafael, the sprawling resort is one of only a handful of five-star resorts in Palawan's capital.
What's different about the resort is it keeps things green. Being located in the country's “Last Frontier,” Astoria Hotels and Resorts, the resort's mother company, made sure that it builds with minimal impact to the immediate environment.
“Astoria works closely with renowned architectural firm of Ed Gallego &Architects to ensure that we design our property to highlight the environmental beauty of our surroundings. Our design and construction strategy always takes the sensitivities of the environmental condition of the area into consideration with the end in mind that we need to preserve and enhance what is natural in the area and integrate it into the whole Astoria Palawan experience,” explained Astoria Hotels and Resorts chief operating officer Vivian Ng.
The Astoria group, a Filipino hospitality company, has several properties around the Philippines including in Ortigas, Makati, two in Boracay, and one in Bohol.
When the company built the resort in Palawan, it made sure to preserve as many mango trees in the property. There is also a continuous effort to rehabilitate the reefs in the waters, which were destroyed by bad fishing practices.
The resort also invested in an eco-digester to dispose of food waste. They also have their own water filtration and processing system that supplies the potable water. Refillable glass water bottles are provided in rooms instead of plastic bottled water. The resort also use solar energy for a portion of its electricity needs and uses e-trikes in ferrying guests around the resort.
They also have their own sewage treatment plant and a desalination plant.
Sustainability was also a priority when the resort built the new cluster of rooms. The Premier Villas are located nearest to the beach. There are six villas and each villa is divided into five rooms. Portions are elevated following the topography of the land.
“We wanted to create a luxurious experience for our guests, with expansive villas that they could have every amenity in. In our one-bedroom and two-bedroom villas, we have a dining table, kitchen, living room set. Essentially, our guests are transported to a tranquil island getaway but with all the comforts of a modern home. We believe that this experience gives them the best of both worlds,” Ng said.
The unique feature of the rooms are the high ceilings. The rooms are very spacious with an open bathroom concept. The design is modern with a polished concrete finish. It also has a full functioning kitchen.
Some of the features of the room are the brightly colored wall décor, like art inspired by Palawan's marine life and an actual surfboard. The yellow and gray weave furniture adds more color to the room.
The villas surround an infinity pool and a smaller Jacuzzi-like pool. It's beside one of the resort's restaurant called Habitat and just a few steps away from the Palawan Waterpark, which Astoria also owns and operates.
“With the new luxury villas, our guests have a new experience that is more private and with a direct view and access to the beachfront. This introduces a more upscale experience to the resort. The space has been designed for maximum flexibility while providing the privacy needed. It can enlarge to connect rooms, or close off and be a private space,” she said.
A PARTNER OF SUBARAW
The resort is an active member of the Puerto Princesa community. Aside from working with local communities and helping locals with livelihood programs, Astoria Palawan is one of the partners of the local government in the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival.
Held every November 11, Subaraw Biodiversity Festival started last year to celebrate the Puerto Princesa Undergound River (PPUR). The famous subterranean river was announced as one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” in 2011, and in 2014, the Philippine government declared November 11 as “Puerto Princesa Underground River Day.”
“We started celebrating in 2014 until 2017 as a local event. Then starting 2018, before the start of the PPUR celebrations, we conceptualized to make this into a national event. Having realized in the whole country, most of the festivals are based on religion, we thought that here in Puerto Princesa, we have a different festival, it's about biodiversity. PPUR Day was transformed into Subaraw Biodiversity Festival,” explained Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
Subaraw is a contraction of two words: “suba” means river and “taraw” means limestone cliff.
The festival is aimed at celebrating not only the river but the biodiversity of the city.
“It's a celebration of biodiversity because, our national park which is inside the World Heritage Site is very rich in biodiversity. Not only in land but also in the sea. We are thankful because of how rich life is here, in terms of biodiversity,” Bayron said.
Most of the activities in the festival centered on the promotion and raising awareness for the protection of Palawan's biodiversity.
One of the activities called “Subarun” is a fun run that requires participants to give at least one eco-brick (plastic bottle densely stuffed with shredded plastic) as “ticket.” There was also “Scubasura” which challenged scuba divers to collect as much trash they can get in the waters of Puerto Princesa.
The festival also held the float competition where participants from the public and private sector create floats made of recycled materials. Astoria Palawan won the competition in the large category last year and this year, they placed second place with their marine life-themed float.
“The float is made of fruit of nipa palm, which is used to make kaong for fruit salad. The float took about three weeks to be finished. When you think and work on something from the heart, then that's the best,” shared Astoria Palawan general manager Joy Suarez.
Astoria Hotels and Resorts has big plans for the future. The company is adding more rooms at Astoria Palawan and is set to add more rooms in the Bohol property. The company is also building a boutique-style hotel in Siargao, which is targeted to open in 2022.
“With six properties under our belt, we are set to build our seventh, which will be Astoria Siargao. This will sit on an 8,000-sq.m. property directly facing the famous Cloud 9 beachfront,” Ng said.
“Astoria has always strived to develop boutique-sized and boutique-styled properties in prime beach locations and Astoria Siargao definitely hits the spot. As such, we are excited to be developing an opening room inventory of 100 rooms as our initial foray into the location. We target our development in increments to be able to develop a deeper understanding of the locality before expanding our projects to a larger scale,” she added.