Cebu’s remarkable success in tourism has heightened competition among hotel players. The province saw the continued entry of big global brands going after the same market enjoyed local players operated in. But instead of allowing these big brands to eat them alive, competition has pushed some to revisit the value they offer their guests.

This is what the management of NS Royal Hotel (formerly NS Royal Pensione) embarked on in recent months.

With P25 million to P30 million spent on renovation work after four months, Nixon Dizon, president of Nicol Shirl Realty Corp. said they have transformed and re-branded the 20-year-old NS Royal Pensione into NS Royal Hotel to meet the increasing demand for mid-market accommodations in Cebu.

“This is our first major renovation since we opened 20 years ago. We felt the timing was right with all the developments we are seeing in Cebu now,” said Dizon, chief executive of NS Royal Hotel.

Now has Fudge, too

He said the management did a complete overhaul of the facility from the facade down to the details of the hotel, including its dining, guest rooms, meeting rooms and ambience.

“We wanted to be known as a boutique business hotel in Cebu that offers a fivestar hotel experience,” said Dizon.

NS Royal Hotel is a 37-room hotel located on Juana Osmeña St. in Cebu City. It has a 120-seat meeting room for small Mice (meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition) events. Now attached to the hotel is Fudge, another homegrown brand that will serve the hotel’s food and beverage requirements. It can seat around 40 guests.

Augie Lontok, who owns Fudge, said their location in NS Royal Hotel is the third branch of Fudge and the sixth restaurant owned by the family. They also own three branches of Lava by Fudge.

Lontok, whom the Dizon family also tapped as a hotel consultant, said the hefty investment in renovating the hotel signified the family’s confidence in Cebu’s tourism industry and their commitment to deliver “the best tourism experience” to every guest.

“The family has made an institution of themselves as a pension house and they did a wonderful job. I think that has given them the confidence that they will do a better job with the hotel. They have picked up the expertise through their travels abroad,” said Lontok, who prefers to call the transformation of NS Pensione into NS Royal Hotel as a “rebuilding of a new product” rather than a renovation.

“NS Pensione was great in its time but now it is even better,” he said.

While other hotel boasts of having the best spas, swimming pool, view, and other attractions, Lontok said NS Royal Hotel’s unique selling proposition is providing guests “a restful stay.”

Dizon said they have made hefty investment in beds and linens to make sure guests would have a comfortable sleep after a long day of work or exploring Cebu. “Those amenities that are within their control like the beds, linens, and service, that’s where they are going to achieve the five-star quality,” said Lontok.

He added that the family has also made the right call in attaching a branded restaurant to their hotel.

“Hotels are notorious for having expensive food, bad food. Any hotel. Now boutique hotels are staying away from that. They are starting to put branded restaurants in their hotels... It is part of the attraction when you attach a branded brand to your hotel because it already has a following. It will make the marketing easier,” explained Lontok.

Younger mindset

Dizon announced that his son, Joshua Thad Carlos Dizon, has joined the company as chief operating officer (COO). The younger Dizon’s job is to help run the company while also sharing the “millennial mindset” to make the hotel more attractive and engaging to younger travelers.

“We are really making the hotel more modern. A lot has happened to Cebu and its progress is unstoppable, we need to ride the growth or else we will be left behind,” he said.

Wi-Fi connection has been installed in all the rooms, said Joshua.

Asked what his vision for the hotel is, the COO said he’d like to see NS Royal Hotel grow into a chain of hotels with branches in other key cities of Cebu and even outside the province. He, however, declined to disclose the timeline of this planned expansion. NS Royal Hotel officially opens today. (KOC)