Iloilo is steep in culture and heritage. Credit: Khonte Abejuela/Getty Images
After years of operating under the shadow of tourism savvy and well publicised Philippine destinations such as Manila and Cebu, Iloilo in Eastern Visayas, is raring to occupy a vantage spot on the international meetings stage.
Backing this bold effort for the once bucolic, heritage town is the P50 million (US$972,000) Department of Tourism's "Meet You in Iloilo" campaign. Tourism Secretary, Ms Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, said that the successful hosting of international events such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in 2015 and 2017 respectively showed that the city is ready to embrace global tourism standards.
For clients who place a premium on culture and heritage, this city is the choice. One of the oldest settlements in the pre-colonial Sri Vijaya kingdom, it has managed to retain original vestiges of its gracious past through vintage buildings and houses, heirloom cuisine and religious traditions.
Iloilo City has around 4,700 hotel rooms, and some 1,130 rooms are under construction and will be available by 2022.
Iloilo Convention Center.
WHERE TO MEET
• Iloilo Convention Center (icon)
Located in the Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, the state-of-the-art facility, derives inspiration from the local Dinagyang and Paraw Regatta festivals. It is a two-storey structure spanning 11,832 sqm, with the main hall on the ground floor boasting a 3,700-seat capacity and 500-seat function rooms on the second floor. A 1,500-sqm rooftop outdoor area is popular for al fresco functions.
• Camina Balay Na Bato
This heritage venue is a stone house built in 1860. It serves delicious meals and snacks using recipes handed down through the generations.
Courtyard by Marriott.
WHERE TO STAY
• Courtyard by Marriott
Centrally located and near to the Iloilo Convention Center and Festive Walk Mall, the hotel has 751 sqm of event space, six event rooms and two breakout rooms.
• Park Inn by Radisson.
Able to host up to 360 people in meeting spaces. Perks include free Wi-Fi, LCD projector and sound system.
• Richmonde Hotel
Available spaces measuring from 9 sqm to 150 sqm with floor to ceiling windows.
• Seda Atria
A variety of unique spaces abound in this stylish property: a lobby level meeting room for 18; 40 pax on the roof deck and another room which can be divided into three breakout rooms or kept as one for 200 pax.
HOW TO GET THERE
• Iloilo International Airport
Located in Santa Barbara municipality, about 20 minutes from downtown proper, it is served by all major Philippine carriers, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. It also connects Iloilo to Hong Kong and Singapore via Cebu Pacific.