Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gohotels: Ala carte accommodations for the practical traveler

A cool room. A firm bed. A hot shower. 

As a budget traveler, there's little more I can ask for.  Besides, in the post-millennium recession world, more and more people are going back to the basic minimums if only to be able to continue traveling. For a budget traveler like me, that means making do with humble accommodations to leave more room (pun intended) in the budget for transport, sightseeing, food, etc. That may have to change when the concept of value hotels catches on here in the Philippines.
Much in the same way that no-frills airlines have changed the way we Pinoys travel, the value hotel concept just may change the way we choose our digs while on the road. Lagal[og] was fortunate to have been invited by gohotels to preview their pioneering value hotel located where else, but near Pioneer Street along EDSA in Mandaluyong. Located at the Cybergate Plaza, gohotels features 223 rooms spread over two floors.  Expect a no-frills place with no gym, no pool, no room service. As far as the rooms are concerned, the choices are just limited to two: the number of beds (a single queen or two single beds) and the location (inner rooms with no windows and the outer rooms which have either an EDSA or Guadalupe-Pasig river view).  The rooms roughly have the same size (18-21 sqm); layout (un-claustrophobic, spacious with nothing to trip on); and look (two toned, predominantly white).
 
THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Undoubtedly, the biggest come-on apart from the location (a leisurely stroll away from the Boni-Mandaluyong MRT station and steps away from the Robinsons Forum Mall) is the low price – as low as P388 – and what it comes with: an air-conditioned room, a firm bed with all-cotton sheets and either a chiropractic or regular pillow, T&B with handheld and rainshower plus water heater, LCD TV, safe and wi-fi. Of course, the pricing varies as it is part of a bucket pricing scheme which means the earlier you book, the lower the price you get (patterned after the Cebu Pacific model). I bumped into E, a visiting OFW from Leyte who stumbled upon gohotels at the mall, walked-in, and shelled out P800/day which is still a very good deal considering the quality of the rooms and the amenities included.

IN THE WORKS. For those who may bewail the lack of room service, there’s going to be a food outlet (Tokyo CafĂ© Junior) to serve morning to midnight meals (as well as drip-method brewed coffee) and a MiniStop just outside. The mall is just at the adjacent building so supplies are easy to procure. Thankfully, this is a smoke-free establishment (smokers can puff away outside the ground floor lobby).  Environmentalists will be happy to note that all lights are CFLs and the card upon entry system means all appliances including air conditioning automatically go off upon exit.

Like the ala carte dining option, parking will be offered as an add-on. Ditto with additional toiletries (soap and shampoo) which will be available for a minimal fee. I just wish that they will offer chargers for mobile phones and laptops as add-ons as well (special consideration for light packers/ travelers or when you happen to forget to lug one).

Bullish about the future of local tourism, Robinsons Land is eyeing the addition of gohotels in Tacloban, Dumaguete and Palawan in the next three years. I think when the concept spreads outside Manila, it will really catch on and benefit more travelers, foreign and local.
(I got what I call the River Side View and my room gave me an interesting look at the different socio-economic classes from the shanties of Guadalupe in the foreground to upscale Serendra in the distance)

IMPACT ON TOURISM.  One thing I like about this development is that the value hotel concept may just help elevate the standards of accommodations here in the country as inns and hotels will have to upgrade their offerings while keeping prices low and consumers can get quality accommodations (clean, upgraded amenities) at more affordable prices.  (For example, the choice of having a chiropractic head pillow and the free wi-fi in-room are really nice touches).  It's also good to be given a choice to pay only for facilities you actually avail of. No doubt, people will come here for different reasons -- as a family weekend escape, to catch up on sleep (especially for those who work in call centers), somewhere to hang out when it gets hot and noisy in the house -- but just the same, I think the value hotel concept is an idea whose time has come.

gohotels is set to formally open this May 19. Many thanks to Liz Gregorio and Adrian Ong of gohotels/Robinsons Land for the invite to preview the gohotel experience.  It's best to book ahead to get the lowest possible rates.  Go to www.gohotels.ph for details or call 0922-GOHOTEL.
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