While some of these hotels have the added attraction of offering a different take on the local vibe, there are those that offer the usual “budget posh” experience. The latter is usually defined by what amenities they are willing to trade off to give their visitors a quality time.
Gran Tierra Suites is one of these boutique hotels, located in Cebu’s Fuente area. It is right smack in the area’s “Hospital Belt”, and as such is near prominent locations such as the Capitol Building, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, and (of course) a bunch of hospitals like Chong Hua and Cebu Doctor’s.
The hotel offers three types of rooms. The single room has a double bed and is listed at a little under PHP 800. The double room has two single beds, and is a little under PHP 1,000. The family room, good for three people, is a little under PHP 1,200.
All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, and entertainment is provided by an LCD cable TV. There’s also free WiFi for all rooms, and the bathrooms are equipped with hot and cold showers. So far, everything sounds good and ideal even for backpackers or casual travelers. But then again, something always has to be sacrificed, right?
Here’s the catch!
I arrived at the Gran Tierra Suites well before the check-in time, which was 2PM. When I first came into the hotel’s lobby, I almost doubled back. I thought I had entered the wrong place!
First of all, the lobby was sweltering. I learned later that air conditioning at this part of the hotel is only turned on close to the check-in time, and it was turned off for most of the day. I first arrived at 9AM, and I stayed for an early check-in at around 12:30. All through this time I was sweating.
Second, I didn’t recognize the reception counter for what it is. Instead of the usual sparse and formal counter, this one is laden with local delicacies for sale. There are cakes, biscocho, and even pan de sal on display. The front desk staff was also largely more preoccupied with their goods than with welcoming the guests!
Despite this, the staff are courteous and accommodating when they get around to the customer service side. Despite being almost 2 hours early, they let me check in and lead me to my room. I noticed that their energy saving efforts went even to the hallways, whose lights were also mostly turned off.
The rooms were pleasantly big and clean, and even the toilet was very well-maintained. I can’t help but notice an old musty smell hanging around the room, though. It was not altogether unpleasant, but it’s the kind you get in old homes. Nevertheless, all the amenities are working, and once I got over my initial surprise I realized this is a good place for short stays. There’s no breakfast included with the rates, but there are lots of restaurants and fast foods around. The location is also good, close to the main road and transportation hubs.
Gran Tierra Suites may not be perfect and it’s not among the top bed-and-breakfasts in the area for no reason. It’s just a very unusual experience down at the front desk, but in the rooms (where it really matters) Gran Tierra Suites has struck the right chords.