MARCO Polo Plaza Hotel opened 2010 with a lot of bookings, as its occupancy rate is now within the 90 percent level and still growing, as the Sinulog festivities start today.

Twenty percent of the room reservations for Sinulog started before the Christmas break last year, said Marco Polo public relations manager Chacha Rama in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

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“There was really a surge of bookings in the first week of January,” she said.

The bulk of its guests, she added, are returning Filipinos—including overseas workers and immigrants—who are coming to Cebu to watch the Sinulog grand parade on Jan. 17.

The hotel also has Manila guests and international travelers.

As part of the hotel’s promotional offering for its Sinulog room packages, Rama said guests can avail themselves of a complimentary shuttle from the hotel to a bleacher stand on Gen. Maxilom Ave.

The bleachers, which were rented out by Marco Polo, can seat 140 people.

Sinulog room packages, which start at P5,950 net, also come in with packed meals prepared by the hotel chef, that guests can bring with them while watching the parade from the Marco Polo bleachers, as well as souvenirs and face painting.

In line with the Sinulog celebration, Marco Polo will also open on Jan. 12 the Sugbusog Cebuano Foodfest featuring chef Jessica Avila. This event will run until Jan. 17.

“This will delight the (returning) Filipinos since we will prepare Cebuano food like lechon, humba, embutido and sinugba (grilled) dishes during the foodfest,” Rama said.

On that same day, Marco Polo will also open its Antique Sto. Nino Exhibit at the lobby lounge showcasing 18 antique pieces from the collection of Val Sandiego.

“The hotel has decided to make this an annual event,” she said.

On Jan. 15, Marco Polo will also hold a Sinulog tribal party called the Tequila Sunset Party at its al fresco dining outlet, the El Viento.

In 2009, Marco Polo ended the year with an average occupancy rate of “more than 60 percent,” said reservations and revenue manager Jude Pangan.

But she said that for this year, the hotel expects to exceed its 2009 performance by three to five percent in terms of total occupancy.