Behold the new Bohol
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2015 - 10:00am

Bohol is a laid-back Third-World province with First-World habits and amenities. Amidst verdant ricefields and pristine rivers, tricycles and jeepneys, you find air-conditioned rest rooms with Wi-Fi and courteous attendants.

Boholanos follow rules and ordinances, like curfews and an ordinance to have a biblical passage written behind every tricycle in the capital city of Tagbilaran.

Centuries-old churches, some rising above the ruins after the deadly quake of October 2013, stand on the side of seemingly endless concrete roads. Our tour guide Gigi Kho proudly says Bohol hardly has “massage roads” anymore — referring to roads that shake one up. Locals and tourists in Bohol are in for a smooth ride, literally and figuratively.

The renowned Loboc river, about an hour from Tagbilaran, and rivalled only in fame by the award-winning Loboc Children’s Choir, is cleaner and greener now than it was some eight years ago when I last visited. The river looks to me like a mountain of jade was melted and allowed to flow between two forests. The river’s cleanliness comes from the people’s conscientiousness — and perhaps their fear of the P10,000-fine for littering.

Small wonder several resorts have nestled their dreams in Bohol. The biggest dream to come true is the Henann Resort Alona Beach, the newest and biggest resort hotel of magnate Dr. Henry Chusuey of Boracay Regency fame. It is also Bohol’s biggest resort.

The debonaire Chusuey started in the resort business 17 years ago with 43 rooms on the island of Boracay. Today the all-Filipino Henann (short for Henry and Anna Lissa, his wife) Group boasts 1,200 rooms in Boracay and Bohol — for now, that is.

“We shall not be resting. Our group is currently building three more resorts in Boracay that will house a total of 500 more rooms. Aside from these three resorts under construction, we have recently acquired three additional properties where resorts will also start construction by the end of next year,” Chusuey, a native of Iloilo City, revealed. He wouldn’t reveal, however, where the three more resorts outside Boracay will rise. (Palawan, perhaps?)

All in all, Henry’s Henann group will consist of 10 resorts and hotels in the country! He is hotel royalty, truly, our very own Henry X (X for 10 resort hotels). If that’s not a vote of confidence in the Philippine economy, I don’t know what is!

According to Chusuey, when Henann builds resorts, it doesn’t just think of profits.

 

 

“We think of providing thousands of job opportunities,” he added.

Most of the resort’s 450 staff members come from Bohol and nearby Cebu. Those who live a distance from the resort are provided quarters near the resort. We noticed the staff — from housekeeping to food and beverage — is not just attentive. It is also beefed up. You don’t have to crane your neck to attract a waiter’s attention. And you don’t need to wait long for room service or housekeeping to attend to your request despite the fact that the hotel was teeming with guests at the time we were there for the holiday weekend.

* * *

Chusuey chose the best spot to build a dream. Bohol is a one-stop destination for nature’s indulgences. You have the opposite of the perfect storm — you have a confluence of the factors for a perfect day: picturesque churches, rocky cliffs and wondrous Chocolate Hills (over a thousand of them, sculpted from limestone by nature); rivers (including underground rivers in caves) and oceans and seas; dolphins and tarsiers; folk dancers and choirs with angelic voices.

“We are riding on the growing popularity of Bohol as the next, best location for seminars and conferences,” said Karl Chusuey, vice president for marketing of the Henann Group.

Boholanos are reserved and respectful — generally, they are not the type to take advantage of tourists. Deeply religious, Boholanos keep holy Sundays and Marian feasts, so much so that a fiesta is celebrated every day in the month of May. A Boholano anywhere in the world is said to stipulate in his employment contract that he be allowed to take leaves in May.

* * *

Henann Resort Alona Beach, which was inaugurated last Aug. 23, is one of least 117 resorts on Panglao, a white-sand ringed island that is shaded by lush vegetation.

The 400-room, 65,000-square-meter resort has three sprawling swimming pools that wrap around the buildings, a state-of-the-art convention center, a wide array of international and local dishes (its fruits are sweet and succulent, as if picked up ripe from the tree), and the widest beachfront in Alona, Panglao.

Several rooms open up into the pool, so you could go straight from your veranda into the water. When you say “Henann,” I think of its trademark swimming pools with sunken bars.

“Our dreams have come a long way. And now we celebrate another milestone as we open the biggest beach resort in Bohol,” said Chusuey during the inauguration, which was celebrated with a sumptuous dinner buffet at the 1,000-seat Henann convention center within the hotel complex. Present were Dr. Chusuey’s wife Anna Lissa, sons Alfonso and Karl and daughter Christina; Senate President Franklin Drilon, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos, Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores, Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, Iloilo Representatives Jerry Treñas and Arcadio Gorriceta.

Chusuey said the resort “is all set to showcase what Bohol can best offer to the world.”

(For reservations and inquiries, call Henann Resort Alona Beach at (632) 230-3000 to 02.)

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com.)

 

ACIRC ANNA LISSA BOHOL CHUSUEY COM HENANN HENANN RESORT ALONA BEACH QUOT RESORT RESORTS STRONG
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