Thursday, November 29, 2018

Holiday Inn Baguio City Centre: Finding an Ecology of Good Eating and Living in the Highlands

Holiday Inn Baguio sunlit facade
Call it serendipity that the book I was reading during our trip to Baguio (and eventually onwards to Bontoc and Banaue) was naturalist, Bill Mckibben's "Deep Economy," the second chapter of which was devoted to "The Year of Eating Locally."  By some sort of planetary or cosmic alignment, our stay in Holiday Inn Baguio City Centre centered around green eating, and to a certain extent, green living.  Being a locavore isn't necessarily a new idea, but it's a step up in the right direction here.

Tourism has a way of supplanting or diluting anything local -- whether it be the local culture, tradition or culinary offering.  I've been to a lot of places in our country and my main observation is that "continental"/international/global cuisine has largely replaced the local fare.  Call me old-fashioned but I think visiting a place involves immersing in its uniqueness, and that includes the food.  Save for occasions of expediency, nothing's cornier or more insipid than dining in a Mcdo or Jollibee if I'm out of town.

Having said that, I'm surprised that not a lot of eating places here take full advantage of the city's unique location.  As a gateway from the mountains to the lowlands, Baguio is proximate to the produce of La Trinidad, the vegetables of Buguias, as well as the traditional fare of the surrounding highlands (think etag of Sagada, pinikpikan, et al).
Lamisaan's Carpaccio di La Trinidad
OF SALAD DAYS AND BAGNET DREAMS.  The Ilocos food theme was still ongoing when we visited so we had our fill of Ilocano-cuisine-inspired dishes.  There's the patis-infused bagnet soaked, dried, and cooked in-house, mini-pizzas made using Vigan longganisa and bagnet bits; salads built around the fresh produce of Baguio and nearby La Trinidad and accented by local ingredients such as kinning, the local bacon. 

I will reserve the finer details of our favorite fares sampled in Lamisaan, the dining outlet of Holiday Inn Baguio as you can read it in our foodblog, Happyfoodies.com, but to cut to the chase, let me say the hotel's food offerings is worth the trip, whether or not you're a guest of the hotel.  It's good to have a chef with the audacity to tweak the menu to make it ownable to its Baguio location and not homogeneous to the hotel's menu in Manila.  Executive Chef Melwin Mantuano has a heart for local produce and ingredients, and the guts to come up with interesting, delicious fare that take advantage of these.   For example, one of his salad creations is infused with kinning bits, the local bacon, which adds a flavorful, smokey, if intriguing twist.   Sourcing his Wagyu from Kitayama, his Wagyu Burger is half-beefy goodness, half-fresh produce heartiness.  Oh, we can talk for hours on food and the food landscape.

MAKING ROOM FOR CHILLING OUT.  Nice touch to have motion-sensor activated hall/corridor lighting -- a very green thing for saving on electricity.  The rooms are air-conditioned (the high-tech control panel takes quite a lot of figuring out though).  Interesting to note the pillows are marked as "Soft" and "Firm" (both are really plump and well-suited to good sleeping); the scented toiletries are branded "Soak" -- interesting suggestive words to make one's stay enjoyable.  Our double bed room came with a glass-paneled T&B so if you would choose to watch a movie while bathing under the rainshower fixture or doing your ablutions on the "throne," you can.

Now, some nit-picking here and there:  Soundproofing-wise, I can hear the neighboring unit's TV blaring.   I also got roused up from sleep past midnight as it got warm under the sheets (I'm wondering whether it's actually cooler to keep the windows open than rely on the aircon).
Glass-walled T&B panel lets you watch TV while taking a shower
Since I always sleep with all the lights off so the somewhat high-tech, lighted bedside light control panel could be a hindrance to good sleeping.  Good thing I always have an eye cover with me.  The T&B automated lighting also has a "habit" of turning off by itself at the most unlikely times -- when I've just finished bathing and toweling off, getting ready to brush my teeth.
Holiday Inn Baguio's gym floor
WORKING OUT AFTER PIGGING OUT.   The cool weather of Baguio has always been a good excuse to momentarily forget one's diet; this occasion is no exception.  In between sleeping, eating, working online, more sleeping, I sneaked out to the gym on the second level to squeeze in a workout.  

Hmmm, the equipment appears to be in varying degrees of dis-use (rust in places, missing caps and pins in others).  I joked about it with a friendly staff who was about to workout and he concurred with me -- the weight stations are rusty from little use.  Maybe I'm an anomaly here but I value the availability of gyms/workout spaces in the hotels I stay in.  I don't really care if the equipment is state-of-the-art or basic, just so that it's clean and in proper working order.  Maybe, not a lot of guests would care to use or even see the hotel's gym but I think this is one area where upgrading is in order for the sake of safety and convenience.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.  Located along Legarda Road, the upper floors of the hotel has an expansive view of the city, especially the west-facing rooms, where you can see the cathedral and other landmarks.  Being at the city center has its benefits as it's relatively easy to either walk, commute, or drive to other sights, eating places and shops.

ONGOING PROMOTIONS.   Whether it's for feasting or chilling out, the upcoming holiday season is a great time to visit Holiday Inn Baguio City Centre.  Check out the following promos!
Home for the Holidays

Ring In the Holiday Cheer!
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
A Holiday Meal
To book or inquire, contact:
Holiday Inn Baguio City Centre
Address: 56 Legarda Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet
Landline Telephone Number: (074) 620.3333
Email:  info.hibaguio@ihg.com
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