SanTomas Suites is billed as the “home of executives” in First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. It is this aspect of the hotel we see when we come over, capping a one-hour early morning drive from the metro.
Things are buzzing but muted on this last day of the work week—the receptionist stands alertly at her post; members of the cleaning crew are mopping the corridors under the watchful eye of their supervisor; the clinking of silverware indicates that the restaurant is in the thick of preparing for breakfast service.
It is in the restaurant where we sit down with general manager (GM) Norman Eusebio and his team and, afterwards, partake of SanTomas Suites hospitality.
SanTomas Suites was built in 2012 as a “higher category” accommodation option to the park’s then 11-year-old Microtel.
“The strength of SanTomas is the size of the room and the amenities we offer. I think in terms of space we have the biggest suites in the area of Batangas, which is a big advantage for extended stays,” says Eusebio.
Located on R.S. Diaz Ave. cor. First St. in FPIP, SanTomas Suites has six suites and 34 premium rooms. The suites feature a kitchenette, king-size bed, work desk, high-speed internet connection and cable TV, among other amenities. Ranging in size from 28 sq. m. to 38 sq. m., the suite is ideal for two occupants.
The premium rooms, on the other hand, take things a notch higher with a bathtub, microwave oven, refrigerator, and coffee and tea making facilities. At 34 sq. m. to 55 sq. m., the premium rooms can comfortably accommodate up to four guests.
These airy and generously proportioned spaces are a SanTomas Suites hallmark in a segment that’s notorious for offering cramped, musty or barebones accommodations.
Guests can de-stress in the gym at the top floor and in FPIP’s own Oasis Gym or swim a few laps at the swimming pool of the neighboring Microtel.
For conferences and seminars, the SanTomas Suites function room can fit up to 100 guests.
Just last month, SanTomas Suites opened the doors to its restaurant concept called Millie’s All-Day Dining. Putting up the new establishment, which serves international cuisine, is one of the hotel’s strategies to lure other markets apart from businessmen and locators.
While SanTomas Suites boasts of a full house during the workweek, the hotel is eyeing a bigger slice of the business from “staycationers” and other types of tourists.
It is during the weekend, then, that SanTomas Suites puts on its more relaxed character.
“The beauty of being a business hotel is that we are full on a Monday to Friday because that’s for businesses,” Eusebio says. “We cater to engineers and technical specialists who come to FPIP, so we’re stable in terms of market base.”
SanTomas Suites is also the hotel of choice of visiting executives of FPIP locators, some of which are among the world’s largest multinational companies.
When things slow down on the weekend, SanTomas is ready to welcome visitors of all kinds. FPIP has even made it easier for non-locators and non-employees to enter the park, in part to boost traffic to commercial areas, Eusebio points out.
The GM has a list of attractions that guests can try in this first-class city nestled at the foot of Mt. Makiling. Whether visitors are weekend warriors, millennials, foodies or the devout, they’ve got a package for it.
For faith tourism, guests can visit Padre Pio Shrine some 20 minutes away from FPIP. The domed church draws architecture buffs because of its intricate design.
“We created a special room rate for families so they would stay on the weekends. It’s one way of supporting the church and the pilgrims,” Eusebio says.
History buffs can check out the museum dedicated to one of Batangas’ famous sons, Miguel Malvar, who was a leading figure in the Philippine Revolution.
Another family staycation package covers a trip to the Enchanted Kingdom theme park half an hour away in Sta. Rosa.
SanTomas Suites is also working with the Department of Tourism for the “Bring Your Fam to the Farm” project.
“Millennials, especially those living in the condominiums, have never been to a farm. They think watermelons grow on trees,” Eusebio observes.
FPIP’s linear park, which will formally open later this year, is an integral part of the “Bring Your Fam to the Farm” project. The three-kilometer garden is home to native and endangered trees, different bamboo species and fruit trees.
“We plan to collaborate with Bambike, the maker of bamboo bicycles, so guests can bike inside the park,” the GM notes.
The more adventurous can try their luck at Mount Makiling Forest Reserve, a part of which is located in Sto. Tomas.
If a hotel caters chiefly to businessmen, then golf can’t be far behind. SanTomas Suites, being in the vicinity of several golf courses—Ayala Greenfield, Mount Malarayat and Summit Point—offers golf weekends at special rates that other hotels cannot match.
“Because of our partnerships, guests can access all of these golf courses. You don’t have to be a member to be able to play,” Eusebio says.
He adds: “We also organize golf tournaments, which is an added value that the others don’t do.”
Of course, a vacation won’t be a vacation without food. Eusebio declares: “It’s more fun in Batangas because we have the original bulalo, lomi, kapeng barako, kakanin like suman, and kalderetang kambing, among many others.”
Before returning to SanTomas Suites, guests can drop by the newly opened pasalubong center for souvenir items and goods produced by women’s groups and farmers’ cooperatives, Eusebio adds.
“With our restaurant partnership with Millie’s All-Day Dining, we really want to expand our live-in, live-out conference market. We can create a lot of packages, because F&B is the heart of the hotel,” the GM shares.
For now, Eusebio envisions SanTomas playing an important role in helping increase tourist arrivals in their city, which reached eight million in 2019.