Travel and Tourism

Hotel 1925: Living the life in Lipa

RENDEZVOUs - Christine Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Hotel 1925: Living the life in Lipa

Façade of Hotel 1925 with a vintage Mercedes-Benz in the porte cochere

Sometimes, we stumble upon priceless works of art and our lives are touched in a very special way.

In nearby Lipa, Batangas there exists a modern heritage hotel that will surprise you with its class and beauty. The family that owns Hotel 1925, a 16-room boutique hotel, conceptualized the hotel with their love for their father as the guidepost. The patriarch of the family, in lighter moments when he was still alive, requested that his children build him a statue as a memorial. What better way to preserve his memory than by building Hotel 1925, a monument of love dedicated to a loved one who was born in the year 1925?

Somehow — if only for the love angle in the backdrop of its construction — Hotel 1925 will remind you of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. And judging by the number of exquisite antique pieces found in every nook and cranny of the hotel, a visitor might also be reminded of Tugu Malang, a famed resort in East Java, Indonesia. The hotel also evokes the feel and sincere appeal of a parador in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Yet, despite conjuring many memories of my international wanderlust destinations, Hotel 1925 stands on its own beautiful and majestic merits. It is an addition to the pride of boutique hotel industry in the country.

Hotel 1925, nestled on a 7,307-square-meter property with 1,209 sqms. now devoted to the hotel, comes from the family that gave life to the authentic Italian restaurant in Lipa called Casa Marikit Ristorante Italiano, the very first fine dining restaurant in the city. Beside Casa Marikit, which will soon reopen after renovation, is Irosin, a Japanese restaurant that serves lip-smacking fare of tempura, ramen and steak.

The hotel reveals an untold story of hard work and perseverance. Hailing from a very poor family, surviving the Japanese occupation and batting tuberculosis, Rufino “Pinong” M. Mojares was saved by his enterprising spirit. Working from a very young age, he bought and sold everything under the sun to make ends meet. From trading secondhand tires to selling appliances, manufacturing jeepneys, selling motorcycles and feed-milling, he started making his mark in the world of business.

With the passage of time, his businesses diversified. He closed some doors and opened new ones. Where once there was an open-space warehouse, there now stands a beauty of a boutique hotel. What used to be a rough cement floor is now covered with Machuca tiles. Old wood was turned into embellishments. The grand staircase preserves the scars and secrets of the past. So much of this edifice belongs to long ago, explains Hotel 1925 manager Bambi Tibayan, who graciously took care of my best friend Bum Tenorio and me during the recent long weekend.

The hotel is a tribute to the boy who didn’t have enough money to replace the slippers he wore. It is a tribute to Pinong Mojares, the man whose empire is still in existence in Batangas. His lovely and loving daughters Ma. Socorro Mojares-Cadiz, Esperanza Mojares-Leyeza and Michelle Mojares-Fabie are the owners of Hotel 1925. They opened it for the love of good food and architecture.

It all started six years ago when Michelle studied culinary arts in Enderun Colleges. Then they opened Casa Marikit. They also started collecting antique aparadors knowing that in the future the direction would be to build hotels and resorts.

The concept of the hotel is Spanish colonial. The owners of the hotel wanted to bring back the memories of Lipa, the way it was in 1886, when it was reportedly the only supplier of coffee beans in the world. It was a time of splendor and luxury when mansions were adorned with furniture from Europe. Other plans for the hotel include a gym, a grand ballroom, swimming pool, spa, a salon for women, a large garden and even more beautiful rooms in the design stage.

Hotel 1925 was built by Ramon “TJ” Fabie III, loving husband of Michelle, in honor of his father-in-law. Some of the wood used in the hotel came from a warehouse that stood in the same location. It took two years to build the hotel. The exquisite antiques displayed in the hotel are part of the collection of TJ.

(TJ also heads the Vanilla Scape Land Corp., the real estate developer behind the Vigan Village, the first Filipino heritage community in this side of town. It focuses on function and value without sacrificing design. The company strives to revive the values of the past by mixing modern amenities with the earlier designs.)

At the Balcony Suite King where I stayed, I felt like a queen. The 56-sqm. suite is a classy, well-appointed paradise, a work of art. The white/gray/black Machuca-tiled floor is reminiscent of Old World charm. The mahogany-colored door is classic in design yet playful. By the foyer is a beautiful aparador, which serves as the closet. It is so cool to find a safety deposit box in a centuries-old aparador! There are comodas, too. When you enter the bathroom, you will smile at the natura-inspired tiles on the wall. The whole suite is a work of art. The genius behind the boutique hotel has painstakingly thought of every detail. The arrangement of every detail is magical, marvelous and mesmerizing.

The suite has a king-size bed with a massive headboard depicting old-school carvings that display an artisan’s eclectic talent. The microfiber pillows and chiropractic beds are wrapped in 100-percent cotton sateen linens. The luxury spills into the bathroom that offers organic French toiletries from Les Couvent des Minimes. 

Each of the 16 suites is equipped with a LED television set offering cable channels. The room is also provided with high-speed internet connectivity.

We had the privilege to try the D’Ursi Autentica Pizzeria Napoletana from Italian chef Mateo d’Ursi. The restaurant is within the property complex of the hotel. Mateo brings Naples to Lipa: hot thin-crust pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, fresh mozzarella and homemade gelato are just a few of the many unique treats waiting for you. The Napoletana pizza is a handiwork of God — in flavor, taste, texture and presentation. The Italian chef taught us that if the pizza stays in the pugon for more than 80 seconds, it’s not Napoletana pizza anymore. The pugon makes the pizza authentic Napoletana because it came from the Acunta M. Napoli company in the southern part of Italy. For extra flavor, the restaurant uses madre de kakaw woods in heating the oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. I daresay that the best pizza in the country can be found at Hotel 1925.

Hotel 1925 is also home to Il Capo, the refined gentleman’s barbershop and whisky bar. This is where Bum had an undercut ’do. While having his haircut, he was served a glass of Japanese whisky. While waiting for him inside Il Capo, I was having my yummy gourmet tulingan panini, which I downed with the most refreshing tamarind juice.  (We were told many gentlemen from Manila troop to Il Capo for their haircut.)

The cyclists all over the Philippines find a haven at Hotel 1925, too, because the hotel houses Weird Cycles Bike Shop which distributes the high-end Corratec brand of mountain, trekking and electronic bicycles. One bike that caught our attention had a frame made of bamboo. Talk about ingenuity!

Soon to open is the Imprenta Modern Filipino Cuisine. It promises to bring even more gastronomic pleasure to Lipa. We can’t wait.

We heard Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Lipa. On bended knees, we thanked the Lord for traveling mercies and for the opportunity to discover places like Hotel 1925 that make us appreciate our country all the more.

Looking back on this special long weekend, our hearts and minds were filled with glorious memories, although in a modern setting. The experience is akin to the joy one feels after stumbling upon a priceless piece of art that will inevitably touch one’s life in a very special way.

See you at Hotel 1925.



* * *

Hotel 1925 is in Brgy. Sabang, Lipa City, Batangas. For more information, call 0917-9012009 or 0917-8269629.

* * *

Email the author at [email protected].



  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with