One of my best friends from high school now lives overseas. Last year, she returned for a short vacation with her family to their province, Cebu. Taking this as the perfect time for an overdue reunion, I flew in from Manila with our other good friends.
We stayed at Montebello Villa, a garden hotel in Banilad. It's off the main road, but still conveniently located near Gaisano Country Mall, 11 KM from the domestic airport. It has been open since 1972 and a popular venue for special occasions. With its classy interiors, well-maintained facilities, efficient service and friendly atmosphere, it's easy to see why it's a favorite.
|The view from our room's balcony
There are friends you haven't seen in the flesh for years but the moment you're within spitting distance, you just pick up where you left off, laughing and talking the same way you've been doing since you were teenagers. It's a golden connection, one worth preserving and traveling for. I'm very thankful that it's the same for us. The moment we got inside our room, we just talked and laughed as though we often spend time together.
|Hotel lobby. Those chairs are beautiful!
|Us :) Missing Rea and Joy!
Montebello carries an old world charm and looks like someone's home, making it a great place to enjoy a quiet time, solo or with loved ones. Though it's not close to the beach, it has facilities like gym, swimming pools and a game room to keep you entertained. The famed beaches in Mactan, are about 40 minutes away and you can just take a cab or rental to get there.
We had so much fun reminiscing about the good, old days. Playing in the varsity, we struggled together, trying to maintain a balance between school and football (two other friends were in the basketball team). It was really challenging, having to go to practice after classes, going to games on weekends, football camps in the summer. With all that time we spent together, we became like an extended family and though it was hard to be a student athlete, I remember it as mostly being fun because of them and the rest of our team.
The afternoon tea took nearly an hour before it arrived. The staff were apologetic, mentioning that everything was freshly made. It looks dainty and beautiful but we all attacked it as though we were trying to make a goal.
For dinner, the restaurant had a nice Spanish buffet. The tables were beautifully set-up and decorated with rose vases. A band was also going around playing requests from each table. The vibe was as upbeat as our appetites. The croquettes were so good!
Buffet breakfast was fun, as with all our meals. There's adequate spread of Western and Filipino dishes. Dining area was packed but service was efficient.
|the pool looks even more inviting at night
A weekend of catching up certainly wasn't enough time but we made the most of it. Nats and I were able to make a stop at Cebu's Original Lechon Belly at Maxwell Hotel before our flight home.
Being a frequent traveler to Cebu, it feels like a second home to me because of convenient flight schedules going here. Flights from NAIA are plenty and not as expensive, as long as you don't book your flight days before (prices could go up to 5x). There's also an option to fly from Clark if you're coming from northern Luzon. Looking for a place to stay is easy and there's a good variety of things to do from nature to city adventures.