My fiancée and I, and my parents, aunts and cousin were stranded in Cebu City when a typhoon warning cancelled our ferry sailing to a nearby resort. Fortunately, a family friend in town had the scoop on a brand new hotel to try out: the St Mark. It was a bit further away from the port, where we would have to report back the next morning to secure replacement tickets, but well worth the diversion.
The hotel isn't really that well marked at street level - there's a sign on the roofline, but from the sidewalk you could blink and you'd miss it. It's on a minor side street adjoining a church, making for a relatively tranquil setting in the evenings, and a lovely dawn wake up call as the belfry bells peal.
We were told the hotel was pretty brand-new, and they weren't kidding: modern, quality décor throughout. Clearly a lot of attention paid to detail, with the hotel logo and font consistently used everywhere, and all the furnishings seemingly fresh out of a dwell magazine photo shoot. Details like these often go overlooked outside of chain franchises with strict standardisation guides; as a local independent, St Mark's execution is outstanding. One key surprise: the best hotel clock radio I've seen anywhere worldwide - a proper bedside stereo system, complete with iPod/iPad docking port. (Then again, sign of too quick progress: not iPhone 5 compatible).
Many Filipino households still do not yet have heated showers - a bucket of heated water and a scoop is the usual ablution - but the St Mark's saw fit to spare you the traditional Philippine bathing experience, with a trendy full-length shower stall. Again, much attention to design and detail: fixtures are minimised and streamlined, with a neat inset mosaic band forming a shelf for shower toiletries. Even a toothbrush and toothpaste set is provided, something you don't often see in hotels in the rest of the world.
Though the bed and bathroom might be ultra-modern, the included breakfast offers a delicious smorgasbord of traditional Filipino morning fare. There's garlicky steamed rice, sweet sausages, braised vegetables, sweet bread, salted fried fish and corned beef. There's also a grill for Western-style omelettes and such if you prefer, and the attentive staff will bend over backwards to cook you up something bland from America if your palate demands. But why would you?
Although there are chain hotels everywhere in the Philippines nowadays - Radisson has a hotel in their blu line just near the Cebu harbor - with standard chain service, and chain prices, locally-owned hotels like the St Mark aimed at both foreign and local visitors offer much better value for money - I was able to get three rooms for my entire family, at the cost of one at the blu. Plus, an extra intangible bit of genuine Filipino warmth and hospitality that comes with pride of local ownership.
- Also Known As:
- St. Mark Hotel Cebu/Cebu City
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- St. Mark is a boutique hotel with five star amenities that caters to travelers coming to Cebu for either business or leisure. The hotel is the premiere hospitality venture of Terre D’Or Realty Corporation, a realty development firm with a portfolio of condominiums, apartments and strip malls and an independent Australian business partner.The Hotel holds 63 elegant and well-appointed guestrooms across seven different themed floors. Guest may choose from its 17 Superior Rooms, 36 Deluxe Rooms, 3 Junior Suites and 7 Loft-type Residential Suites on the top floor, each room type having the complete amenities. St. Mark has HALO an all-day dining restaurant, room service, five meeting rooms and a ballroom that accommodates 70 persons. ... more less
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