IN PHOTOS: Exploring the Waterfront Insular Davao hotel

Earnest Mangulabnan-Zabala

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IN PHOTOS: Exploring the Waterfront Insular Davao hotel
The spacious grounds and beautiful views of this hotel has made it an easy favorite for many travelers

Wandering the spacious grounds of Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, one of the oldest hotels in the city, is to step back into a time when life was a little less hurried.

Designed by no less than National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin, the hotel is charmingly old school. The establishment harkens to a different age in hospitality service, when physical space was considered essential to a hotel guest’s overall experience.

This can be seen in its low-rise buildings, spacious guest rooms with verandas to boot, expansive gardens filled with stately coconut trees, and in the way the whole establishment takes advantage of its natural coastline. 

Acquired by Waterfront Philippines in 1999, the new owners decided to keep the original design intact with the most unobtrusive renovations. “We want to keep it as is because it has its own character,” remarked Bryan Lasala, hotel manager, on the property’s rich heritage.

Although it currently has a predominantly business clientele, Waterfront Davao is just the place for guests who want to enjoy a more laidback break from the hustle and bustle of modern city life. Aside from making sure the room is as comfy as possible, its spacious veranda is the perfect venue to while the time away. You could spend hours just looking at the horizons – such bliss! 

DELUXE ROOM. Spacious accommodations await each hotel guest. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

VERANDA. A quiet afternoon reading your favorite book in your very own veranda? Yes, please. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

While the resort is proud of its beachfront, swimming in its waters may not be the best thing especially during low tide, as you need to go further out to really enjoy it. Instead, take a dip at the pool in the middle of the property. It’s not shy about its depth, this pool: it’s 10 feet at its deepest. Be careful!

POOL. Work up a breakfast appetite with an early morning dip. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

The gardens are paved with several footpaths and following these trails is quite enjoyable. Several concrete benches line the beachfront and it’s not unusual to see groups of people seated, eyes towards the sea, especially in the afternoon.

GROUNDS. Feel the breeze on your face as you leisurely walk by the beach. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

When it comes to food, the hotel brings its A game. Café Uno is quite known for its lavish breakfast and lunch buffets that feature traditional Filipino favorites and choice international entrees. Pizzaiolo, just beyond the hotel’s lobby is known for its freshly baked cakes and pastries and of course, their thin-crusted pizza. We can’t have enough of their sisig pizza, which, sadly is on a limited offer. But hey, catch it if you can. Promise, it’s worth the effort.

LA PARILLA. A curtain of grilled meat and seafood goodness at La Parilla. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

La Parilla, on the other hand is where you go for a romantic dinner. They specialize in seafood freshly caught from the seas of Davao and grilled to lip-smacking perfection. For nightcaps, there is Vinta Bar where you can order the city’s signature cocktail, the Davao Punch. Initially a non-alcoholic drink introduced by the local tourism office during the 2011 Kadayawan festival, it is a delightful mixture of guava juice, vodka, and pomelo.

Davao is a wonder of a city. In the midst of its urbanization and ever-widening business and commercial district, it is also home to some of the country’s natural marvels. On the other side of Davao Gulf are the beautiful islands of Samal and Talicud, with its inviting waters and pristine beaches. And further inland are several renowned nature reserves. One of them is Eden Nature Park, an 80-hectare forest sanctuary slash adventure grounds developed by the Ayalas of Davao.


EDEN. Tinubdan, one of the places of interest in Eden Nature Park provides a glimpse into the Lumad way of life. It is derived from the root word tubod, which means spring or origin of water. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

Waterfront Hotel is well acquainted with these and makes good use of its prime location. “We’re a resort hotel that offers easy access to the islands and at the same time, provides access to the highlands and to the other inland resorts,” says Lasala. With its own private dock, resorts like Chemas by the Sea in Samal Island, is an easy excursion.

CHEMAS BY THE SEA. Across Davao Gulf and a few minutes away by boat lies the tranquil Chemas by the Sea in Samal island. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

If shopping is a main concern, no need to worry. A shuttle regularly brings hotel guests to SM Lanang and Abreeza malls in the morning and picks them up at the same stops in the afternoon. This gives you more than enough time for the requisite shopping date at Aldevinco. Don’t forget your durian and pomelo pasalubong.

DURIAN. When in Davao, one must have durian, of course. Photo by Earnest Mangulabnan Zabala

Standing tall for 56 years now, the Waterfront Insular Davao has become one of the city’s best known-landmarks. A favorite among Dabawenyos for personal events like weddings and family reunions; of corporate people eager to combine business with pleasure; of travelers seeking new adventures, it has been witness to generations of good times and fond memories. –

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