LIVING close to Montebello Villa
Hotel allows me the luxury of enjoying
tranquility in the midst of what is
getting to be a highly urbanized area.
In spite of the fact that this garden
hotel sprawls in a four-hectare property in Cebu City’s prime bustling business and residential district in Brgy. Apas, it has withstood the frenzy of the outside world. Its lush gardens have become a hideaway for guests and members of the swimming pool club of the hotel.
On Feb. 14, the garden hotel celebrates its 43rd anniversary. This pioneer hotel
in the Cebu tourism industry continues to hold its own in the midst of cutting edge competition. It has, indeed, been many years since my hotel career started and flourished in Montebello Villa Hotel in the 80’s. I still see traces of my fellow workers who have continued their
services every time I enjoy an afternoon of swimming in the big pool that started it all as a membership club and
slowly evolved into a hotel with 150 well-appointed rooms and suites.
La Terraza is a leisurely and
relaxing experience. Known
for the Spanish dishes
of the hotel owners, the Borromeos and
Alvarezes, the newly appointed young executive chef, Justin Barreto David is sprucing
up the menu with healthy, contemporary French-Mediterranean
inspired dishes. General Manager Gregorio “Goyito” Cancio introduced Justin to me over lunch. Goyito and I worked closely during my 10 years in the hotel.
His youth notwithstanding, Justin started the pursuit of his
culinary career after his high school gradation from the Ateneo de Manila. With the blessings of his
father, he obtained a diploma in Professional Culinary Management & Direction de Cuisine from Le
Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. He supplemented this with an
Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management from Ryde- TAFE
Sydney (Techincal And Further
Education). Justin continues to share his expertise in the Off
Shore TAFE as Institutional Agent in Manila where he spends a week
Lunch was beneath the vintage, lush bougainvillea with its bright red and pink blooms that veil the trellis just beside the swimming pool where a few of the dining
tables are situated close to the main dining area of La Terraza (pool terrace). To waken our appetites, we were served the classic Montebello Garden Salad—risp Lola Rosa and Romaine lettuce delicately tossed in raspberry vinaigrette topped with candied walnuts, mango cubes, cherry tomatoes, onions and croutons. A piping hot Bulalo
in clay pot followed. This comfort food can rival “sinigang” as the Philippines’ national dish. The
Gamberi Pasta–Fettucine mixed with Gambas and arugula, drizzled with Parmegiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese from Parma/Riggio-
Emilia region of Italy) was light and
delicious. The entrée is a signature
dish that Montebello has been known for—Surf & Turf, a delectable
combination of succulent US Angus
Steak and Prawn served on a bed of mashed potatoes and buttered
vegetables. Fresh Tropical Fruits capped the leisurely lunch. A cup of freshly brewed coffee allowed us to linger and enjoy the lush gardens.