Our 4×2 stopped on a quiet lot beside an intersection that’s redolent of UP Diliman’s
innards. There’s a long and empty highway with occasional SUVs and unoccupied
tricycles, a bazillion senescent leaves, and a Philippine flag waving in the plum dusk air.
Microtel Inn Tarlac, a one-storey, 50-room business hotel, sits in the middle
of sleepy Luisita. Amid the rustic and the tepid, there was that question in me wary
head, “Who the hell stays in this hotel?”
Apparently, many…including us who, along with a bunch of mountain bikers, were billeted at the hotel for the yearly Enduro Race at the Tarlac Recreational Park (TRP), a 30-minute drive from the
This particular Microtel branch isn’t jaw-dropping grand. There aren’t a lot of recreational facilities – gym, pool, or playground – either. Its design is straightforward,
akin to no-frills, low-rise condominiums: concierge adjacent to the entrance, a small four-seater receiving area, and a long hallway with a vending machine. Like its Microtel siblings, this one centers on providing comfy, budget accommodations for business travelers than lavish, all-inclusive staycations.
|Photo by Microtel Inn website|
But despite this, the hotels boasts lots of returning regulars, mostly coming prior to or after a flight out of Clark International Airport. These regular customers have made it their home for the past decade since it first opened doors as the first of many Microtel branches in the country. Later on, I’d discover why. And I’d be left feeling the same.
Rooms in Microtel are capacious and sufficiently equipped with business-suited amenities for a restful stay: chiropractor-approved queen-size mattress, silky sheets, a well-stocked bathroom, wooden cabinets, and a 24- inch LCD TV with premium cable. There’s also a safety deposit box and IDD/NDD-enabled phone. Stationery and travel magazines grace a spacious office desk that overlooks a lush garden. High-speed WiFi is available for $1 per hour (2014 rate). We got a room for 2 for only P1,800 a night.
When we stayed here in 2014, the management was still in the process of opening an in-house restaurant, so the complimentary breakfast and other dishes were decked on a long, narrow table along the corridor. There’s a conference room on one end of the hall. Midway there’s free-flowing juices and water. And coffee. All day. #CoffeeIsLife
Buffet breakfast is
normally served around 6:00 to 6:30 am , but for the benefit of those who were
leaving for the race at 4:00 am, the staff serve breads, jams, cereals, and hotdogs at 3:00am. I’m betting they will gladly do the same for you if you need to be up very early for a flight or a Pinatubo trek. Just inform them the evening prior.
TOP SERVICE AND LOCATION
Compared to other hotels in Luisita, Microtel may fall short of amenities. Both nearby La Maja Rica Hotel and Central Park Hotel have on-site swimming pools, for one. But whatever it lacks in amenities, it compensates for in terms of location and service – and always beyond what’s expected.
The hotel rests just next to the Aquino Center and Museum, accessible via a three-minute walk. Free shuttle service can be availed to and from nearby attractions: Luisita Golf and Country Club, Las Haciendas de Luisita Clubhouse, and Plaza Luisita. Customers can dine and shop at the Plaza and once done, they simply need to send an SMS and a staff will pick them up.
The staff, despite being sparse at night, is deft and accommodating. They go the extra mile to provide those nice little extras. They allowed us to overstay an hour more without extra charge and drove Lia and I to Tarlac Recreational Park to meet her father after checkout for a measly P300 (The rate to SM Tarlac alone is P500; to TRP, it’s usually P800 to P1,000).
(Note: There are no taxis, trikes, and other PUVs that ply the steep road to TRP. To go there, one must hire a jeepney from SM City Tarlac…or bring a car.)
Before hauling our bags out the room, I perched myself on the bedside chair a last time. I swept the curtains and found a suburban dream beyond the glass pane, awash in sunlight and greens. Warm like the staff surrounding it, I almost didn’t want to leave. This space and all that came with it – its contemporary offerings, the hospitality, the peaceful location – already felt like home.