The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone (TIEZA) has launched its newly renovated, iconic Mt Data Hotel to local officials, media and guests last Thursday, May 5.
Chief Operating Officer Mark T. Lapid, who presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony, stated in his opening remarks, “TIEZA is delighted to complete the much needed renovation of Mt. Data Hotel and launch this historic icon to the traveling public. For more than half a century, Mt. Data has hosted thousands of travelers who had wished to see the Cordillera’s finest tourist destinations.”
Located on a 7.7 hectare land in Bauko, Mt. Province, Mt. Data Hotel features 22 rooms and 2 dormitories, conference facilities, restaurant, bar and cafe, picnic grounds, and an eco-trail. It sits on a sloping terrain situated more than 7,000 ft. above sea level.
Mt. Data has been the hotel of choice in Mountain Province since the ’60s, not just as a worthy stand-alone destination but, because it is reached via the Halsema highway, it serves as a stop-over for tourists and travelers going to and from Baguio City, Sagada, Banaue and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cordillera rice terraces.
“The launch of Mt. Data Hotel supports TIEZA’s mission to create economic opportunities for Filipinos as the Philippines recovers from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lapid added.
40 million pesos were allocated for the hotel’s renovation that provided modern finishes and refurbishments while preserving the heritage of the hotel. The rooms are all still in its original pine wood but some other aspects were introduced like new furniture and amenities. The hotel’s fireplace remains while the new At-Ato Coffee Shop and Bar occupies the former boiler room. The old upright steam engine boiler was also kept as a reminder of its 50-year history. Other improvements undertaken were the installation of a perimeter fence, street lighting, and construction of new picnic sheds.
Mt Data was turned over to the LGU to operate in 2005. It was returned to TIEZA after 11 years but needed a major renovation so the hotel was closed for the duration. In 2020, a budget was approved to rehabilitate. It was a slow process of renovation due to pandemic restrictions, but the reconstruction continued on as related by Lapid.
Historically, the hotel is best known as the site of the Mount Data peace accord or known as SIPAT, a signing made by then President Corazon Aquino and the Cordillera Liberation Army on September 13, 1986. The accord led to the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
In 2018, the Mountain Province received more than 142,000 tourists. Eyeing more numbers, TIEZA plans to continue to market the hotel as a honeymoon destination. Training sessions are also ideal as the property is also conducive to holding seminars.
ACOO Jetro Lozada shared, “TIEZA is exploring the nearby places and interests as recommended by the LGU to add more tour products for development to be included in a tour package to create a stand alone destination.”
Furthermore, Lapid is proposing to add some more activities like a hanging bridge, zip line, bike trails, and upgrade the Internet connection.
Meanwhile, following its mandate, Mt. Data is now open for proposals for a private sector partnership to manage the hotel.
“If we cannot find a suitable private sector partner, and the LGU is interested, then they can operate, but the land and the property belongs to us. The properties are strictly allocated for tourism purposes only,” Lapid revealed.
Mt. Data is operated by TIEZA, one of 49 tourism assets under its portfolio. TIEZA’s major source of funding is their 50 percent share from the Philippine Travel Tax.