When I was a child in the 80′s, there was only one venue in the city that discriminating hosts would dare choose for exclusivity and excellent catering services. Sta. Monica Beach Resort had already distinguished itself as the go-to place for garden weddings, debut parties, birthdays and corporate affairs.
Set apart from the other establishments in the city with its own private corner of the Dumaguete Bay, I remember lush tropical landscape replete with palms and coconuts, a free form pool with beautiful cottages and a limitless view of the sunrise should you choose to greet the morning with the rising sun.
My last visit to this iconic destination was in 2003 when the then resident manager obliged my request for a fashion shoot for men’s lifestyle for the pioneer newspaper in the country.
It was therefore a delight and a relief to learn that the beach resort, now christened Sta. Monica Beach Club, is now managed by boutique hotel group One-of Collection, which specializes in managing distinctive hotel and resort properties in prime locations around the Philippines. The group’s unique capabilities are designed to provide unforgettable travel experiences and unparalleled personalized service to guests, and to create genuine value for its stakeholders and the local communities in which it operates. Led by a group of creative young leaders and innovators in hospitality and hotel development and management, One-Of Collection has a growing portfolio of resort properties that includes Amorita Resort (www.amoritaresort.com) and Momo Beach House (www.momobeachhouse.com) in Bohol, and the Funny Lion Inn (www.thefunnylioninn.com) in Coron, Palawan.
Sta. Monica Beach Club has a three-bedroom Beach House, 14 beautifully designed deluxe rooms and 4 family lofts in elegant whitewash finish which currently offer guests Hamptons-style accommodations.
The rooms are air-conditioned, and amenities include cable/LED TV, private toilet and bath, in-room safety deposit box, shower with hot and cold water, coffee and tea making facilities, and mini bar, plus wireless Internet.
The native huts which occupy the entrance part to the property are currently being renovated to make way for a reception area and front office which reflects the current management’s thrust and design sensibilities.
Aside from the location and facilities, Sta. Monica Beach Club’s core competence is it’s offering of gastronomic delights that are sure to please everyone’s palate.
Lanai Restaurant, a pavilion-type 180-seater diner with an unobstructed view of the sea has also enjoyed an elegant make-over. The once red brick-walled columns have been whitewashed, as have been the rest of the walls, and the inner ceiling walls have been taken out to make way for a high ceiling, now also whitewashed, with unique chandeliers and ceiling fans to add drama. Only the red terra cotta tile flooring remain untouched, which, together with the new white, serve as the perfect showroom for the chef’s masterpieces.
According to the youthful Resort Manager Mr. Mark L. Guerrero, he spends a lot of his free time in the kitchen. His background in food and beverage is a passion he shares with Sta. Monica’s equally youthful chef.
The Lanai Restaurant is as good a place as any watering hole to start off your lessons in wine tasting. They have a well stocked bar which surprisingly has some hard to find wine and liquor, and each one comes with adequate references to origin, aroma and bouquet.
Start off the day with Continental or Filipino breakfast.
Local cuisine include Budbud (glutinous rice best served with a hot local chocolate drink made from tablea), Silvana (a frozen cookie made from a layer of butter cream sandwiched between two cashew-meringue wafers coated with cookie crumbs, the cookie version of the Sans Rival), and Sinuglaw (a dish that combines sinugba or grilled pork and kinilaw or fish ceviche, marinated in vinegar and coconut milk).
The restaurant also offers its own take on other delicious regional specialties, such as Crispy Kare-Kare , with a delightfully golden Crispy Pata (pork knuckle) served deconstructed on wooden chopping board with a bowl of kare-kare sauce, a condiment of bagoong (shrimp paste) and a side of steamed string beans, eggplant and pechay.
Creamy Seafood Puttanesca is also popular with the guests.
Saturday night specialty is grilled food – pork, chicken and seafood which includes grilled fish, squid and prawns.
The promotion from F & B to Resident Manager is well deserved for Mr. Guerrero as the resort has already reached its target income as early as 3rd quarter of 2014. In fact, plans are underway for acquiring a beachfront property in Siquijor Island which is just an hour away from Dumaguete City via sea craft to add to One-Of’s resorts.
Chief Executive Officer of One-Of Collection Mr. Nikki Cauton oversees the creation and development of infrastructures for the hotel management group’s resorts.
With a hands-on approach, Nikki defines the overall corporate development strategy and is actively engaged in the implementation of procedures, controls, and marketing plans for the resorts. He also leads the group’s day-to-day operations, managing over 200 employees divided among hospitality, F&B, administrative, and marketing and sales groups.
From 2008 to 2012, Nikki served as the General Manager of Amorita Resort, steadily growing the luxury resort’s occupancy rates, setting standards for quality of service, and delivering signature guest experiences that have made Amorita Resort a consistent Agoda Golden Circle Awardee and TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice and Certificate of Excellence recipient. In 2011, he became a Trustee for the Philippine Bohol Arts Foundation, Inc. (PBAFI), an organization that’s currently working with One-Of Collection to promote and reinvigorate Bohol as an eco-cultural tourist destination.
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University (Juris Doctor and AB in Political Science), Nikki attended the Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management in Singapore, completing both the General Manager’s Program and the Professional Development Program on Hotel Planning and Design.
Before shifting to hospitality, Nikki spent five years practicing litigation and corporate rehabilitation law. He is currently a partner at the Africa and Cauton Law Office. He is married with two kids.
Sta. Monica Beach Club is located at Barangay Banilad, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental 6200; with telephone numbers +63906-4789018 and +6391-4694880. Manila Sales and Marketing Office is at Unit 701, The Infinity Bldg., 26th St., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1694; with telephone numbers +632-5539549 and 856-1443
Special thanks to Ms. Kata Agmata, Director of Marketing, Resort Manager Mr. Mark Guerrero and his amiable team for a memorable experience.