Personal review from Vanessa Liwanag’s stay at Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines.
The Arrival – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines
The north of the Philippines is home to numerous historical destinations which includes the quaint and charming city of Vigan. Stepping on the sidewalks of this acclaimed UNESCO heritage site transports one back to the olden times where horse-drawn carriages were kings of the road and gas-lit lamps provided the warmth and security for the local townsfolk. Among the maze of the winding streets, we found a precious gem, the luxury boutique hotel called Hotel Felicidad, resplendent in all its glory along the street of kings called Calle De Los Reyes.
Entering the royal entrance of the hotel, we breezed through the lobby embraced in an atmosphere of warm smiles from the kind staff who offered us sweet ripe mango refreshments to quench our thirst after a long drive from Manila. A grand wooden staircase took us upstairs to the majestic room that was prepared for us, adorned in antique furniture made of solid kamagong and molave wood, carved in the style of legendary craftsman Ah-Tay. It felt like home as we slept through the night, in white luxurious sheets accentuated with soft pillows covered in hand-woven soft abel cloth that had us fall asleep easily and dream of being back in the 1800s, where all was still and silent in the province.
The Heritage – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines
Owned by Jose “Bonito” Singson, Hotel Felicidad is a blissful haven that is highly recommended to be visited by a majority of the Ilocanos, the people from Ilocos Region, who are proud of its history and presence. Bonito described the hotel as a place where “Ilocano heritage and hospitality is experienced at its best”. First built in 1918, the original structure was an ancestral house that was fully restored and converted into the luxury showcase that is appreciated today with 21 beautifully decorated suites and rooms fully equipped with modern amenities. Wandering through the grand historical hallways filled with artworks of Philippine master painter Jim Orencio had us feel that we were truly in the corners of true luxury. Everywhere we went, we had a private concierge assisting us and catering to our every whim and wants.
The Copious Brunch- Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines
Brunch was served at the adjacent Casa Caridad, where their best guarded secret is a delightful family chef called Manang Cristeta Mendoza who has been living in Vigan for all her life and has delighted a lot of hotel guests with her magical creations. Manang Cristeta knew all the best suppliers of the freshest greens and top quality produce in the region and it was a genuine treat to sample all the wonderful dishes that she has concocted from old recipes passed on through generations. Together with her local culinary staff, she served us a sumptuous spread of aromatic garlic rice, fresh farm eggs cooked according to preference, an excellent local dish called Pinablad a Pusi which included tender portions of pork knuckles slowly cooked in a transparent broth filled with leaves from the drumstick tree locally called as malunggay, and the best longganisa sausages – a local delicacy famous in the Philippines which is yet to be discovered by culinary circles internationally. Bonito shared to us that they would be offering their old family recipes on fine plated dishes soon in a first-class restaurant called Casa Vicente which was being built on the same street of Hotel Felicidad. After a regal feast prepared especially for us by Manang Cristeta, we were already looking forward to visit this future gastronomic destination that will soon be open for all.
The Island Activities – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines
After a good fill, we were off to the charming streets of Vigan, where a ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages was waiting for us on the famous street of Calle Crisologo, situated one block near the hotel. A tour of the city had us traversing streets laid with century-old stone tiles centered among well-preserved colonial houses and restaurants with facades that reflect the best of Asian architecture.
The slow pace of our tour had us relish each moment that delivered us back to that old chapter of Spanish rule in the Philippines, documented in bronze plaques that can be seen on the walls of various historical monuments which includes the magnificent Vigan Cathedral, and the celebrated Plaza Salcedo with statues of revered heroes standing up high amidst the business of people and locals all around. Our last stop was an interesting visit in one of the oldest pottery barns in Vigan, where we marveled at the sight of pots and trays in clay being baked in a massive oven which resembled a tunnel made of rich hardened soil from the hills nearby.
Lots of activities can be done in the region encompassing the city of Vigan and the staff of Hotel Felicidad recommended us to visit a preserved lighthouse, built in 1892 located at Cape Bojeador. It showcased a grand panorama of the northern seas of the Philippines at the best vantage point any one can ever have. After taking in some fresh air and breath-taking views, we headed off to the unique rock formations that were situated 2 hours away in Kapurpurawan Beach in the municipality of Burgos. Recently developed by the local tourism authorities, the rock formations are a sight to behold, amidst a lush valley filled with dragonflies and little flowers in a seemingly untouched environment. Hotel Felicidad is also offering exclusive tour packages for all their guests wanting to visit all the other beautiful sites of the Ilocos Region which includes the famed shores of Pagudpud Beach, the vast estate of Fort Ilocandia, the grand church of Paoay and the cockfight pits dotting every village along the way, serving as an authentic local experience of a festive crowd-gathering tradition that is still practiced until today.
The Love – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines
Hotel Felicidad exceeded our expectations as one of the best accommodations in this part of the country that is starting to be discovered by intrepid travelers yearning for an authentic experience in other prime locations apart from obligatory visits to the beaches and islands that the Philippines is globally known for. It is truly a diamond in a treasure chest, well-guarded with pride in the heart of the city. A place that welcomes each and every one wanting to savor the luxury of time and local traditions found only in Vigan – a city that merits its position in the list of top heritage sites in the world.
LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Hotel Felicidad.
Visit www.hotelfelicidadvigan.com to plan your luxury stay.
Photos courtesy of Hotel Felicidad, Commons Wikimedia, Katrina Manahan and Vanessa Liwanag