Iloilo on my mind. Yours, too. It’s the food craving, admit it. The batchoy, the oysters, the Molo soup, and those sweet stuff that you can’t get enough of— biscocho, butterscotch, barquillos, piaya. But that’s just scratching the surface, so to speak. Iloilo is a gastronomic paradise! It’s for this reason that I hopped on the plane as soon as the direct flight from Davao was relaunched.
Where to stay in Iloilo? Go for Richmonde Hotel.
Richmonde Hotel Iloilo grew up with the address it’s nestled in, within the Megaworld mixed-use township of Iloilo Business Park on the former Mandurriao Airport. What was once a peaceful quarter at its budding stage in 2016 is now abloom and booming. It is one of the busiest zones in the city today and Richmonde is witness to the transformation. The Festive Mall, Festive Walk, the convention center, and the neighboring residential and corporate towers are busier than ever—and the area is still growing.
To be at the center of Iloilo's most happening zone, Richmonde is surrounded by what every traveler may want or need— entertainment, shopping, local food, a transport terminal, convention center, and even the corporate offices—all steps away from the hotel’s front door. Location-wise, Richmonde Iloilo scores an A+ for convenience.
When tourism came to a halt, Richmonde stayed afloat by being present for the local market. During the pandemic lockdowns, the hotel was the corporate workforce residence. Soon after, when the locals were more confident stepping out of their bubbles, but still can’t cross borders, Richmonde was the preferred staycation address.
“The fact that Richmonde was not a quarantine hotel, everybody was very comfortable staying with us,” shared Natalie Lim, general manager of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, of the staycation market the hotel tapped.
Within the 149-room hotel is a showcase of modernity fitted out with “thoughtful conveniences” that delivers comfort, And by “thoughtful,” Richmonde embraces the community it’s in. Aside from the warm Ilonggo hospitality, the hotel tastefully dots the establishment with other local flavors—from interior design and hotel implements to items on the menu.
Cuisine is the other ace up Richmonde’s sleeve. After March 2022 when domestic tourism was on the rebound, Richmonde started luring in the locals with food.
“Yes, we did lure people with food. We have a new Ilonggo-based menu. It is something that pays homage to the locals and it’s served in a modern way. Homegrown food, but modern,” said Natalie.
“We started getting adventurous with our food. Ilonggos love to eat and they love to eat their food. They will try something new, but eventually they will go back to Breakthrough to eat the talaba, to the sugbahan for the inasal, to Central Market or La Paz for the batchoy. By having Ilonggo heritage food, we are tapping into a domestic market that loves to eat and loves to eat well, dine in a nice setting and have degustation,” she said.
“Our purpose is to help the community. We have articles we use in the hotel made by the hands of local artisans and craftsmen, things that are made by the hands of locals, of Ilonggos. We want to give livelihood to people and to showcase them. We (Richmonde) are in Iloilo and it builds a sense of community. In terms of food and how we incorporate it into the hotel setting, we never forget about our branding of ‘support local.’ We have turned to them for resources in the past three years when supply was disrupted.”
But it’s not just in Iloilo the raving for modern Ilonggo food is happening. When the Megaworld Hotels & Resorts (MHR) conceived its signature menu with items representing the locality where each of the hotels are located, Richmonde Iloilo’s interpretation of the Chicken Inasal landed on one of the most ordered items on the menu nationwide.
Natalie, Executive Chef Ariel Castañeda Jr. and the hotel culinary team are focused on the evolving development of LaMeza Ilonggo, a degustation that features Ilonggo heritage cuisine on a modern table. Soon, Richmonde’s tribute to the city will be enjoyed by the locals.
“We are moving forward and moving fast with our food. We have a new menu, we have the MHR signatures, the chef just came up with holiday packages that include the degustation, and we are reopening the Zabana pool bar that requires a new menu,” Natalie said, adding, “When we have settled down, we’d like to develop on the idea of a small restaurant in the mall serving our food, like the signature Ensaymada. We want our food to be more accessible to more people.”
So you see when at Richmonde you need not look far or step out of the hotel when craving local food. The hotel has the best of Ilonggo cuisine in “your home” in Iloilo.
Staying at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo is like ordering a steaming hot batchoy with everything on it. The Ilonggo delicacy is a hearty meal that’s a welcome treat at any time of day, it promises contentment, it's comfort food. It’s a delightful memory that gets imprinted on the mind (and heart, too) that will make you come back for another serving, and another—just like Richmonde. That’s something to love in the City of Love.
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