Couple comes home to PH, sets up Cebu design hotelBy Aileen Garcia-Yap
Aileen Garcia-Yap, Cebu Daily News
They saw Cebu as a good place to invest in something that’s unique and will compliment the booming tourism industry here.
For 11 years, they were based in Shanghai, China and doing their business there. However, they wanted to be closer to home. And so they looked for something they can start with in Cebu.
May Zulueta-Ernst and her German husband Detlef Ernst came to Cebu over a year ago and started their search.
“We then came about this property and thought it is a good place for a small-sized hotel that we will design ourselves,” said Zulueta-Ernst.
Having been exposed to different cultures and visited numerous places around the world including Europe, the couple wanted to bring in the artistic feel of all the places they’ve been into the property.
“So we met with the property developer Johny Siao and decided to partner with him. We will be running the hotel operations then,” said Zulueta-Ernst.
The couple invested around P50 million to set up the first design hotel in Cebu.
For at least a year, the couple, a first-timer in the hotel business, brainstormed and visited different shops and manufacturers in Cebu to source for fine, artistic pieces for the property.
“We decided to call it The House of Cebu Design Hotel,” they said.
They first opened the restaurant which is called Paseo One named after the address in their location which is 1 Paseo Street in Maria Luisa Road, Cebu City.
“We opened the restaurant in February this year and we offer mostly German cuisine,” said Zulueta-Ernst.
The restaurant features a unique set of chairs and tables which they sourced locally and some from China.
The long table made of hardwood was sourced from China. They designed and specifically had Mandaue Foam the large high chairs for the restaurant.
“We want our diners to enjoy the place while they enjoy the food.”
After the restaurant, the bar opened at the second floor of the five-story building called the Scrapyard.
Ernst said they aimed to make the Scrapyard the next favored bar in Cebu.
Like Paseo One, they collected scraps that they could find around Cebu and converted it into something very creative and functional to complete the unique feel of the bar.
Upon entering, one can’t help but notice the vintage Volkswagen convertible displayed at the bar.
“We really took time and collect these things for the bar and designed the bar in such a way that it speaks ’relaxation’ into the whole place,” said Ernst.
In April this year, they then opened the first of 15 hotel rooms out of the total 38 rooms they will have by end of the year.
What makes The House of Cebu different from all other hotels in Cebu is the rooms which are each uniquely designed.
“Each room has unique colors, paintings, and furnishings — all giving that comfortable and luxuriously homey (feeling),” said Zulueta-Ernst.
According to Zulueta-Ernst they played with a lot with colors and partnered with local painters to paint unique images in each room.
One very unique feature in the property is its floors which is not tiled just like the homes in the provinces.
The play of colors, unique furniture pieces, some even antique finds, and the paintings all contributed to the very “homey” feel in the property, which makes people more comfortable to move around even in their denim shorts and flipflops.
According to Ernst, they are also working to make their services more personalized and are training their 30 employees for this goal.
Currently, they are working to complete all the rooms and have it ready to accomodate their growing customer base.
According to Ernst they are banking on Cebu’s popularity as a top destination in the world and are targeting to attract the leisure and business travellers.
“Since we opened, we are seeing a growth in the number of foreign tourists especially the Japanese as well as domestic travellers from Manila who are here for business,” said Ernst.
The couple said that their being different would make them more competitive especially that Cebu already had a lot of international brands also trying to get a share of the Cebu market.
For their rates, the couple said they wanted it to be competitive at P4,000 to P5,000 for the standard rooms and P10,000 to P12,000 for the suite rooms.
“We could say this is the first here in Cebu with the concept. We don’t like to call it a boutique hotel because it is more than that. It is our very own design,” the couple said.
To grow the business, they said they would be looking for other partners who own properties in the countryside areas of Cebu like Moalboal to offer more services to their customers.