Seda Capitol Central is a redevelopment of Bacolod’s capitol complex’s perimeter, a project of Ayala Land with the provincial government.
Seamless in Bacolod
CITY SENSE - Paulo Alcazaren (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2018 - 12:00am

The City of Smiles has more reason to smile these days. The local economy is booming, the BPO industry and tourism are on the uptick — and then there’s Seda Capitol Central, the city’s newest landmark.

The City of Smiles has more reason to smile these days. The local economy is booming, construction, infrastructure, the BPO industry and tourism are on the uptick. Housing, lifestyle and shopping options for locals and visitors are increasing in terms of quality and variety each year. Even the local football club is doing well.

These improvements are best reflected in the resurgence of the city’s historic district. This is anchored by the Negros Occidental provincial capitol complex and its lovely central park, a legacy of the American colonial period. I was in Bacolod recently for the opening of the first element of the ambitious redevelopment of the capitol complex’s perimeter, a project of premier real estate developer, Ayala Land, Inc. in partnership with the provincial government.

Seda Capitol Central Hotel,’s premier room elevates luxury with commanding views of the city.

My wife Twink and I checked in last Friday at the new Seda Capitol Central Hotel, which is strategically located at the corner of Lacson and North Capitol Streets, right next to the park. The spanking new hotel boasts 154 rooms, a pool, gym, two F&B outlets and meeting rooms to fit up to 250 people. Seda senior group manager Andrea Mastellone boasted that they’ve been keep busy since their soft opening because of the BPO industry and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibits) market.

After a quick check-in at the hotel and a sumptuous buffet lunch, we spent the rest of the day visiting two heritage structures that have been adaptively re-used and are now tourist destinations. We visited the famed art deco Daku Balay and the “new” Negros Museum, both a few minutes from hotel. It is actually possible to walk to the museum, which is adjacent to the soon-to-be-open Ayala Malls Capitol Central, a 70,000-sqm. regional mall.

Seda’s Straight Up Bar is the place to be from dusk onwards in the City of Smiles.

The Negros Museum is housed in the old satellite office of the capitol complex. It is designed in the same elegant neo-classic style of architecture as the main capitol building by  Juan Arellano. The current renovation and conservation is by the firm of Architect Bong Recio. It is a work in progress and the displays are not yet complete, but apparently it will take a few more months to be fully realized. Something to look forward to.

A few minutes’ drive away is Daku Balay. This was the home of Generoso M. Villanueva, a colorful sugar plantation owner. He had a Cebuano architect design an art deco masterpiece in the mid-1930s to lord it over the city. It was and still is the largest art deco mansion in the country. Lilia Villanueva, a granddaughter of the owner gave us a fascinating tour of the tall structure. It was, in fact, the tallest in the city until the 1960s. After a tour of its four floors, we climbed atop the building, which still provides a good panorama of the city, all the way to the sea.

Daku Balay is a must-visit and a magical masterpiece of Art Deco.

The mansion’s streamlined shape, porthole windows, flat roofs, and modern silhouette make it a true architectural landmark. Its interior design and colorful decorative reliefs of Negrense fables make it quirky and distinctive. Kudos to the family for keeping it in good shape and opening it up to the public for arranged tours. Plans are underfoot, the owners say, of converting the section where the house is into an arts deco district just like South Beach in Miami.

For merienda we made our way to Calea, a Bacolod must-visit. There must have been two dozen cakes to choose from. With sugar as the island’s main produce, its no wonder the locals, every single one of them, have a sweet tooth. I developed diabetes just looking at the cakes. And to wash it all down, sugar cane juice of course!

We ended the day with a fun evening at the opening of the hotel’s rooftop bar Straight Up. The panoramic views of the city were stunning, and the food, drinks and entertainment matched the sumptuousness of the setting.

Seda Hotel’s Misto restaurant offers a good mix of cuisine for travelers.

Seda Capitol Central Hotel manager Rhett Villarus was a gracious host and welcomed us all. I managed to get an audience with him in the middle of the festivities and gleaned the secret of Seda’s seamless guest experience. He credited it to consistent good service and staff training to ensure that everyone is “pro-active in meeting guests’ needs.” Group honcho Mastellone added that “Our goal is to be the preferred hospitality brand in the country catering to both local and global travelers.” They are much closer to this goal with this opening of its seventh property.

Next week I continue with the rest of our stay at the hotel and this special weekend in Bacolod. This journey is complete with visits to neighboring cities in Metro Bacolod, more museums, fantastic ruins, and more hidden gems, including a site filled with minimalist modern architecture by a quiet master of form and function.

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