I first set foot in Bacolod in 1979 when the best hotels then were Sea Breeze and Sugarland. I have stayed in both, but I then preferred Sea Breeze because it was right at the city center, the easier for me to visit the radio stations when I used to do media checks then.
Sea Breeze has become a good budget hotel, from being the premier hotel in the 70s. Warning: don’t book this hotel if you want the best, luxurious accommodations. But highly recommended for practical, non-fuzzy travelers.
I remember the huge tables and chairs at the ground floor restaurant where I almost always ordered steal a la pobre. The old man Rene Echauz, the owner of the hotel, once sat down with me on my table for small talk, realizing I was a solo guest. I don’t anymore see cafes where tables are so far apart from each other. I guess old hotels were built with generous spaces in the plan.
generous spaces between dining tables
With newer hotels as years passed by, Sea Breeze decayed to a point that seemed beyond repair. I then movedto the newer hotels, including once at the casino hotel so I could go straight to my room after blackjack or baccarat at the gaming tables. Then came L ” Fisher and Sea Breeze seemed doomed to oblivion.
The prominent winding staircase.
On a trip a few years back, I went to the hotel, for old times’ sake. And the old hotel staff (literally old, being senior citizens) remembered me from years past. And proudly told me that 2 rooms have been renovated. I checked them out and the suite looked like brand new, and decided to stay one night.
The corridors need updating. But then i really don’t mind when I am on a budget.
Over a month ago, I tried to book myself at L’Fisher, the best hotel in the city, but was told the hotel was fully booked for the Masskara. And then I thought of the renovated suites at Sea Breeze. I called the hotel and they proudly declared they now have more renovated rooms. Well and good.
My room. Executive Suite 210. With a veranda and a view of the fair and the mall from a distance. It used to be that one has a sea view from here in the old days, before the reclamation. Not bad. In fact, the bigger suites are at the same room rate, but this was the only suite left because of the tight bookings due to the Masskara Festival.
A budget “executive suite” may be an oxymoron in the hotel industry, but that is how this nice room is. No clothes closet, just open shelves and hangers.
A clean bathroom is a must. And Sea Breeze delivers. Of course I can not vouch for the older rooms that have not yet been renovated. (They renovate room by room, )
Staying here for the Masskara was most practical. I was a few steps away from the city’s main plaza where the Masskara competitions were being held. As I write this, there is a street party around the plaza, littered with makeshift inasal stalls, with almost all tables overflowing with beer. A night market is open for others who would not want to get wasted with all night drinking.
Around the plaza., just for the Masskara, I guess. Not that busy during the day, but all seats taken at night til the wee hours of the morning.
I am also right beside the fair that was set up for the Masskara, in between my hotel and SM City Bacolod. The rollercoaster rail sits next to the fence outside my room, and I can hear all the yelling from excited riders. I can see everything from my veranda.
The view from my Suite 210 veranda
The hotel staff is what makes me comfortable at Sea Breese. Ms Elia at the front desk and Marigold of Reservations are the typical Ilonggos – – warm and caring.
Marigold and Ms Elia at the front desk
Having come to Bacolod precisely for the Masskara, the hotel is dressed like a Masskara hotel. Apparently, the owners have been collecting the winning masks year on year, and are all displayed at the lobby, the coffee shop, the front desk, and even on the 2nd floor corridor.
previous years’ winning masskaras on display at the lobby
Not bad for a budget hotel. I did not even know beforehand they now also have wifi. With rooms as cheap as P975 (single) to the executive suites for only P1,790, I would ay that Sea Breeze has regained it’s rightful share in the Bacolod travel industry. Not in any way the premier hotel that it once was, but the best-value hotel, most likely. And nothing beats its location. At the heart of downtown. Right in the middle of SM, the plaza, and the beautiful San Sebastian Church
San Sebastian Cathedral
The plaza, almost just across from Sea Breeze, was the heart of the Masskara
The Masskara dance competition was held right at the plaza, across from my hotel
sculpture at the plaza
Sea Breeze Hotel is at San Juan Street, Bacolod City.
Contact them at (034) 4337370, (034) 4333907. Fax (034) 4332258. They accept all major credit cards.
Here are the displays of the previous years’ masskaras, and of course don’t expect these to be on display year-round:
All these seem to make Sea Breeze Hotel the “official” Masskara Hotel
N.B. I was a full paying guest of the hotel, and no freebies were given to me. I wrote this because I felt good that the old hotel is slowly picking itself up.