Celebrating new beginnings
THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2016 - 9:00am

It was an evening filled with reminiscing and gratitude as Sonja Vodusek passed the torch to her successor, Mark Choon as The Peninsula Manila’s new general manager, before she left for Tokyo to assume her post as general manager of the Peninsula in the Japanese capital.

Sonja thanked the people who had made her Manila sojourn so memorable — from the support she has received from Peninsula Hotels chief operating officer Peter Borer and group director of Human Resources Sindy Tsui, who flew in from Hong Kong for the affair; her wonderful hotel team and all the friends she has  made in the past five years. Manila was her first general manager’s post and she shared that The Peninsula Manila has always been a wonderful training ground for new general managers. She recounted a piece of advice given to her by the Peninsula Hotels COO when she first came to Manila. “Peter told me, ‘Once you do Manila, you can do anything.’ I think he is a great testament to that since he is now the COO!” Sonja said.



For his part, Mark Choon shared he was not a stranger to Manila and the Philippines as his wife Jennifer is a Filipina. Moving to Manila and taking on the mantle of general manager of The Peninsula Manila proved to be a homecoming for him and his family. He stressed that his job was to continue the legacy of all the general managers before him — to keep the hotel on the path that was set out for it from the day it opened its doors 40 years ago on Sept. 14, 1976.

Choon said, “I look forward to carrying on the torch that has been passed on to me — to ensure the hotel’s future for our next generation of guests and staff, to support and give back to the community that has held us in its affections all these years and to be Manila’s premier hotel.”

A cocktail was held for the two with friends bidding Vodusek goodbye and welcoming Choon.

A ‘Rare’ experience

The Macallan Rare Cask, the gateway to the highly prestigious and inspirational The Macallan 1824 Masters Series, was launched at Blackbird at the Nielsen Tower in Makati City.

Launched at a dinner for 80 guests, The Macallan Rare Cask encapsulates The Macallan distillery’s dedication and commitment to exceptional wood management, with far less than one percent of casks maturing at the distillery deemed fitting for the Rare Cask label by master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno. It is a single malt of great diversity and intricacy, a reinterpretation of the classic profile achieved through the widest palette of cask styles, which include wood species that are the best in the business like Spanish and American oak casks.

Dalgarno said, “Rare Cask is about identifying a selection of casks, which can truly be called rare. Each of the cask styles result in different character, so each imparts its own distinct influence on the final whisky.”

The Macallan Rare Cask showcases two of The Macallan’s greatest strengths: exceptional sherry seasoned oak casks and beautiful natural color.

On the second floor of Blackbird, three private tasting sessions were conducted by brand trainer Keith Nair. Guests indulged in the specially curated four-course menu by chef Colin Mackay.

Dinner started with the Spiced parsnip veloute, seared scallop and caviar paired with The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old. This was followed by the Beaufort and mature cheddar souffle with pear truffle honey rocket paired with The Macallan Edition No. 1. The sumptuous main course was a juniper-roasted red deer fillet, smoked potato puree, fine beans, roast onions and cranberry jus, which was served with The Macallan Rare Cask. An indulgent dessert combo of dark chocolate, Burnt Butter semifredo, Pink Peppercorn popcorn and Salted Caramel was perfectly paired with The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Years Old.

The evening continued outdoors at the Nielsen gardens where DJ Luane took the decks and guests enjoyed the Macallan cocktails.

(The Macallan Rare Cask is now available at Forth & Tay. For more information, visit  www.facebook.com/themacallan.)

‘One circle of champions’

MVP Group media bureau head and Philex Mining Corp.  senior vice president for public and regulatory affairs Michael Toledo spoke at the recent Children’s Hour Annual Benefit Lunch held at the Raffles Hotel in Makati City.

In his speech, Toledo, a member of the charity’s board of trustees, encouraged guests to become Children’s Hour champions by pledging a specific donation for the next three years. He said, “An hour is all it takes to make the world a better place for children. We can do remarkable things if we come together as one community, one circle of champions.”

It was a remarkable event for Children’s Hour. Last year, the foundation reached out to more than 30,000 Filipino children nationwide.

The afternoon was filled with musical entertainment and  an exceptional gourmet lunch prepared by chef Billy King of  Le Chef at The Manor.

Strengthening tourism ties

The Philippines played host to 10th ASEAN member nations for the biggest regional event in the travel industry — ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016. The forum, which gathered all the member countries’ tourism sector representatives, showcased the ASEAN region as a prime tourist destination.

Joining the annual event were tourism representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. With the theme “One Community for Sustainability,” ATF 2016 aimed to project ASEAN as a beautiful and versatile single destination that will attract more tourists and strengthen ties among the various sectors of the ASEAN tourism industry.

Organized by the Department of Tourism, TTG Asia, the Asean Tourism Association and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the forum also gave the Philippines the opportunity to highlight the Visit the Philippines Again 2016 campaign, which aims to entice local and international travelers to visit and experience the country all over again.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said, “Hosting the ATF 2016 was such a proud moment for all of us. Beyond the conference walls of the meeting, the delegates experienced our country in different ways — from our diverse natural wonders to our rich cultural heritage and the warmth of the Filipino people. The forum allowed the exchange of ideas for the progress of the ASEAN economies, and built stronger friendships between the nations.”

TPB COO Domingo Ramon Enerio III remarked, “We were honored to have hosted ATF 2016, one of the biggest travel events in the region. We gave our best to ensure the success of this event, but most importantly, we made sure that our delegates had a great and memorable experience in the country.”

(Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)

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