If there’s one thing I can’t forget of my visit in Roxas City, it’s the barbecue at Bitoy’s Balay Barbekyuhan along Baybay Beach.
It’s kinda ironic to hanker for pork barbecue when Roxas is the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, but what can I do? I’ve found excellent seafood as well in Iloilo City and Bacolod City, but the fact is that Bitoy’s pork barbecue is the best I’ve ever tasted.
They didn’t stint on the meat; even one stick can make you full already. It’s also very tasty and tender. The best thing, however, is the price: a single stick costs only P25.00 (around $0.60)! Everything that I’d eaten in Roxas paled in comparison to this value-for-money food.
According to Rowena Conlu, co-owner of Bitoy’s, the Grand Gazebo, and Jacque’s Coffee and Chills across the street, the sauce was her mother-in-law’s recipe. The latter set up the business in the early 90s and it just grew.
The barbecue, however, wasn’t the only thing that made my stay in Roxas a very comfortable one. I was hosted by the Grand Gazebo Events Place and Dormitel for a couple of days and I was glad to have chosen it as my base.
The resort was just across the street from Baybay Beach, a popular hangout for visitors and locals alike. Lining the seven-kilometer stretch are a number of restaurants usually offering seafood options.
The Grand Gazebo is popular as an events venue. Its huge gazebo can accommodate up to 400 people and people book it (they have bookings almost everyday!) for weddings, birthdays, acquaintance parties, anniversaries, and conferences.
Smaller groups of 30 to 80 people can also be accommodated in a smaller hall. And if you want to get married here, they also have an open-air church. When I was there, I saw one wedding being conducted. How romantic!
What I loved best about the Grand Gazebo was its rooms. I was given the Suite Room, and for its price (P2,000 during low season), I was surprised at the amenities I found.
The room was huge, with a king-sized bed, a small sofa and table, minibar, cable TV, free breakfast, and best of all, Wi-Fi access in the room. It certainly is my kind of room.
It was so comfortable staying there that had I not made appointments to meet with Couchsurfing people, I would have chosen to just stay inside and enjoy my vacation in Roxas.
Breakfast was also okay. Guests have it in Jacque’s Coffee, choosing from a menu there which would then be relayed to Bitoy’s across the street. I chose tapa and I didn’t regret it (except that I should have told them to hold off on the rice). What I loved, however, was the ca phe sau da (Vietnamese coffee) I ordered once. At only P60, it was a good deal indeed.
I also had a chance to meet the staff, and I was surprised that some of them had been working there since the 1970s. I think that only good and kind employers are able to retain such loyal employees, and talking to Rowena, and hearing about her mother-in-law, I can see how the staff would feel that they had found a family with the Conlus.
As I told Rowena, though, there’s one thing missing: a pool. They have set a space for it already but decided not to push through with the investment. I hope they change their mind someday. A pool would definitely make the Grand Gazebo perfect!
So if you’re looking for a place to stay in Roxas City that’s just a few steps away from the beach, with very accommodating and friendly staff, easy access to great dining options, and just a tricycle ride from downtown (fare: P10), consider the Grand Gazebo. There’s nothing more welcoming in the Seafood Capital of the Philippines.
Thanks to Claire Madarang for connecting me with the Grand Gazebo! Thanks also to Couchsurfing friends Jiji Bermudez and Mary Rosali Legaspi for taking me around.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by The Grand Gazebo, but all opinions in this post are mine alone. They have had no say in this review.