Hotel Centro: Serene oasis and lively epicenter
Almira Astudillo Gilles (The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Last Oct. 17-23 I organized a retreat for writers in Bobosawen, Aborlan, Palawan. This was held in a lovely villa on the west coast, about two hours by van from Puerto Princesa.  The owners of the villa, Theresa and Herwig Guilen, were gracious hosts, and every day Theresa prepared exquisite dishes using vegetables from her organic garden, eggs from their free-range poultry, and fresh bounty from the sea.

In the five days we were at the villa, Butch Dalisay Jr. and his wife June, Ed Maranan, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Ricardo de Ungria, Joel Tan-Torres and daughter Marjette and I were spoiled by the beauty of the surroundings, the hospitality of our hosts, and the high quality of food and drinks.

These same hallmarks of excellence also describe Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa.  Located along San Pedro National Highway, this ultra-modern resort opened in March 2011 and is locally owned and staffed. A mere 10-minute ride from the airport, it was a perfect place for spending our last night in Palawan before catching our flights the next day.

Through the efficiency of Sylvan Labrador and the hospitality of Josephine Fabello, we enjoyed first-class accommodations and an elegant dinner under a canopy set up in the garden. A rectangular swimming pool and outdoor Jacuzzi glittered in the adjoining area, and soft music wafted through the still night air. Dinner consisted of at least seven courses, with such meticulously prepared dishes such as pumpkin soup and chef’s salad with a sesame vinaigrette dressing for starters, followed by beef salpicao, chili prawns, Chinese style steamed fish, and baby back ribs with mango chunks. The grand finish was a pairing of fresh fruits and chocolate cake made on the premises.

Hotel Centro is also a convention venue, and after dinner we were given a tour of its conference and banquet facilities. The elegant and contemporary interior design, with stained glass ceilings, plush seating, and recessed lighting complemented the state-of-the-art audio and video equipment available for use. Innovative in energy use, Hotel Centro is an eco-hotel: all lights are LED, guest room water is recycled for the garden, and the Flotex carpet is environmentally friendly.

One hundred eleven rooms are available, and guests may choose from superior and deluxe rooms, honeymoon and family suites. A palette of soft hues is used on the walls and furnishings and a scent, bottled in Manila specifically for Hotel Centro, fills the air, providing a restful atmosphere at the end of the day. All rooms are nonsmoking and equipped with the comforts required by leisure and business travelers alike: LCD televisions and DVD players, pure herbs bath amenities, mini bar and complimentary tea, coffee, and bottled water, and a work desk among others. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas. To ensure the safety of their guests, rooms also feature electronic ID door lock systems, in-room safes, sprinklers, smoke detectors, and emergency lights.

The next morning, an impressive array of breakfast dishes was spread out on the buffet table. We feasted on adobo, fried lamayo, bacon, soup, tapa, and rice. The vegetable omelet I ordered was creamy and paired perfectly with homemade pineapple and watermelon jams. Our stay was a fitting and memorable ending to a special week, and the gracious Hotel Centro staff made us all feel at home.

Busy all year round, Hotel Centro is unique among Puerto Princesa hotels because of an assortment of package deals tailored for individuals, couples, and groups. Their “Centro Loves Palaweños” promotion offers discounted rates for locals. Holidays like Halloween and Easter are celebrated. The grill is open every night for dinner and a Mongolian buffet is prepared every Saturday.  Day guests may “swim and dine,” a combination very popular with children.  Menu items change every quarter, and these specials are posted in the lobby.

December is a festive time all throughout the Philippines, and Hotel Centro makes it easy to celebrate with holiday deals. The Christmas menu includes traditional fruitcake, specialty pasta such as pesto cream or meat-and-cheese overload, their famous Monte Cristo sandwich, rib eye, salmon steak, and “tapatizers” (crispy cheese sticks, sweet-and-spicy chicken strips, tuna sashimi). New Year Countdown festivities celebrate both endings and beginnings, remembering the past year and welcoming the new one.

For the year 2014, Hotel Centro offers Puerto Princesa’s vacation packages with additional perks. Book any of the following vacation packages and you will receive a vacation voucher to enhance your visit. In addition, these packages include discounts on spa services, tours, ala carte menu, drinks, and wine.

• R&B — Room and Breakfast includes room accommodation and buffet breakfast.

• UR Holidays All Inclusive Premium — Three-day, two-night stay in a deluxe room with buffet breakfast, Underground River tour, Honda Bay island hopping tour, and city tour.

• Family HoliDATE — Three-day, two-night stay in a deluxe room with buffet breakfast, sunset drinks at the Soul Pool Bar, and lunch or dinner for two.

Hotel Centro is simultaneously invigorating and tranquil, designed with a cool vibe and staffed by warm Palaweños. It is both an oasis and the epicenter of  “the city in a forest,” Puerto Princesa. Indulge yourself next time you visit Palawan.


Hotel Centro is located at San Pedro National Highway, Puerto Princesa City 5300. For inquiries, call 02 556-5656 (Manila), 048 434-1110 (Palawan) or 0917-5991912, e-mail at or log on to



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