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By: Tessa Prieto-Valdes, October 27th, 2012 02:43 AM

COZY and spacious Ramada Hotel Suite Room

Properties in Makati and BGC (Bonifacio Global City) may be the ones generating the most buzz per square inch of newspaper space, but over in Binondo there is also a silent boom in rent per square meter. Yes, it seems that our Chinatown, one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world, has rents in the same prime luxury level as Makati.

If I were to poll Binondo people as to what accounts for their rent premiums, their probable answer would be that Chinatown has character and culture. It may not be the cleanest or most orderly place, but Chinatown still has the edgiest ambience, the best food and the cheapest bargains that the Fil-Chi community has to offer.

Mall opening

This Binondo boom has gotten even more explosive with the opening of Lucky Chinatown Mall. Offering foreign and local retail brands, this shopping paradise has numerous food outlets, clean restrooms, and gives visitors a cultural tour of Old Chinatown.

Once parked inside Lucky Chinatown, one can walk to Binondo Church, then head back for shopping. You can also do wholesale shopping at the adjacent 999 Mall or 168 Mall, or at the CityPlace Square, which is connected to Lucky Chinatown by a footbridge.

For bargain hunters looking for unbelievably reasonable prices, a shopping haven awaits at all the endless little stalls inside Divisoria Mall, where quantity shopping is best. The challenge of balancing price and quality is the fun but tough part.

MANILA City Mayor Alfredo Lim, Andrew Tan, Philippine President Benigno ‘NoyNoy’ Aquino III, Kevin Tan at Lucky Chinatown Mall

On historic Escolta, the gateway to Chinatown, there are a couple of furniture shops that display several styles of contemporary and classic pieces. Italian-inspired leather sectional sofas, glass-top dining tables with upholstered dining chairs, and streamlined, laminated headboards are just some of the interesting finds inside a couple of shops around that area.

Office furniture and study desks are also available at reasonable prices at the shops along T. Pinpin Street in Binondo. Century Woodmart has three large shops with furnishings for the home and office.

The best place to be

Another wonderful addition to the flavor of Chinatown is the new Ramada Manila Central (www.ramadamanilacentral. com). This hotel will be the best place to be in Binondo.

The Ramada Manila Central towers are at the corner of Quintin Paredes and Ongpin streets, right beside the beautiful and historic Binondo Church. It is Binondo’s first four-star, international-standard hotel, with 114 well-appointed rooms as well as first-rate amenities: a Premiere Lounge, kid’s play area, fitness center, and high-speed Internet access in all rooms and public areas.

For celebrations and gatherings, delicious dining and banquet spaces are available. These include the casual News Café, the breezy Luna Roof Deck and Multipurpose Hall, the quietly elegant Lobby Lounge, and the formal Plaza de la Barca Events Hall.

With its Zen-inspired interiors, modern features and warm, friendly staff, Ramada Manila Central truly captures the unique charm of Binondo—that perfect complement of history and novelty, culture and commerce. Steps off the entrance are myriad choices for authentic Chinese cuisine, from fried siopao and dumplings, to Peking duck and mooncakes, to hotpots and hopia.

Ramada Manila Central is managed by Hospitality International, a vibrant Filipino management company that is considered one of the foremost specialists in the operations of world-class lodging facilities, with over a dozen expertly managed properties in its roster. The group operates the Ramada Manila Central under a license agreement with the Wyndham Hotel Group International.

In the words of Karl Velhagen, Ramada Manila Central’s GM and a veteran of the hotel industry, “At Ramada Manila Central, we make it easy for our guests to simply step out, work, explore all the best that Binondo has to offer… and leave the rest to us.” I, for one, can hardly wait to check in.

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter or e-mail her at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph.

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