The sun may be hiding when we took this photo, but Taal Vista Hotel remains a beauty to behold. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario, using OPPO Reno7.

The Taal Vista Hotel is run by a general manager who is FIlipino. To understand the significance of that statement, it’s important to note that in the hotel’s 83 years of existence, it has almost exclusively been run by foreigners. In fact, Ramon Makilan is only the second top honcho to ever become GM.

Makilan became GM in May 2021, during the time when lockdown restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted leisure travels. It was a challenging time, to say the least, but Makilan is hopeful that the worst is over.

“One of the advantages that I have as a Filipino GM is that I know what Filipinos want. I can relate to the our guests, who are mostly Pinoys, so much better,” said Makilan, who was operations manager at Taal Vista before he got promoted.

Makilan. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario, using OPPO Reno7.

Makilan’s career started in 1993 when he become a waiter at a local hotel. In 2001, he became a crew member for six years in a cruise ship. He decided to go back to the Philippines in 2008. Four years later, in 2012, he joined Taal Vista as food and beverage director.

“It’s been almost a year since I became GM and, until now, I still can’t believe it. It’s such an honor to be at the helm of such a revered hotel,” Makilan said. He thinks it was his hard work and dedication that have won him the position.

Makilan has a lot on his plate, topmost of which, is making sure that Taal Vista Hotel quickly bounces back from the adverse effects of the pandemic. Now that travel has resumed, he is hard at work, implementing changes that would hopefully attract regular guests to return once more, as well as inviting ones who have yet to experience staying at the hotel.

Among the changes that he has implemented include putting up the Chill Out Bar, an outdoor dining experience within the hotel premises, which allows guests to enjoy sumptuous meals while overlooking the majestic Taal Volcano, complete with an acoustic band.

They had also put up domes that serve as a hang out place for guests, injecting a youthful and more modern vibe. Taal Vista also launched the “History Walk,” which guides guests through a photo exhibit, depicting the rich history of Taal Vista and its previous and current owners.

The Chill out bar is a hit amongst guests. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario, using OPPO Reno7.

So far, the changes seem to be working. Occupancy rate at the hotel, which has 200 rooms, has so far averaged 52 percent this year.

This year, Makilan plans on making Taal Vista the top hotel in Tagaytay in travel website TripAdvisor.

Makilan said: “We’ve rehired 80 percent of the workforce we had to furlough because of the pandemic. The Taal Vocano looks like it’s calmer nowadays. And people are finally traveling more frequently. In other words, the future is bright for Taal Vista Hotel.”

Makilan. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario, using OPPO Reno7.