Traveler’s Inn: It’s Not JAS an Ordinary Place

When traveling, it is expected that people would always look for a place to stay that will make them experience the same comfort that their home provides, especially if the destination is quite far.

The Municipality of Jose Abad Santos (JAS) is often considered far away when the jump-off point is the Davao Region’s capital, Davao City. However, travelers need not worry about the distance of more than 200 kilometers they need to travel. While the long haul seems tiring, this will be forgotten for sure because of the breathtaking view on the way to the hidden treasure of Davao Occidental. And once there, guests can proceed to a place where they can enjoy a worthwhile stay in what they call a real home away from home.

The Traveler’s Inn is almost everyone’s go-to place when looking for a reasonably priced, well-maintained, and cozy space to stay when in JAS. It has been the perfect choice for many tourists, travel junkies, exploring riders, and even for those from the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) who are in the area to deliver services to the locals. It is a comfortable shelter in the adventure haven of the south. With its location along the stunning coastline of JAS, it is impossible not to fall in love with the place.

Behind the must-stay abode away from the hustle and bustle of the city life is the commendable couple Julius and Sarah Jane Delos Reyes. Their commitment to continuously provide a place to stay for the municipality’s visitors is beyond doubt. In fact, they have managed to keep the business despite the surmounting challenges they need to endure because of the pandemic. 

The Beginning

The Traveler’s Inn was established in 2004 when Sarah Jane saw the opportunity to open a business that could cater to the influx of tourists who had a hard time finding a place where they can rest while after a day of merrymaking during local festivities. 

Driven by the passion to solve this concern, the husband-and-wife team decided to maximize their six-hectare beachfront coconut farm and convert it into an affordable inn that has convenient access to the pristine beach, facing the vast Pacific Ocean.

The owners’ daughter, Sam Delos Reyes-Turtur, who manages the family business, shared her fond memories of how their old house was transformed into a six-room building, which signaled the realization of her mom’s vision. In 2018, they added two more cottages that can accommodate three persons each. They also expanded the development with a two-story building for the airconditioned executive rooms where five persons can stay together. Over time, they have won the hearts of many travelers, who became their patrons and the reason why the inn was always fully booked during festivals. But things have changed when the pandemic struck.  

Bouncing Back from the Pandemic

Amid the promising economic landscape of the thriving first-class municipality at the southeasternmost part of the Philippines, the local tourism industry was not spared from the negative impact of the pandemic due to the implementation of the government’s heightened restrictions. 

This is the situation that the Delos Reyeses have had to contend with since the declaration of the National Health Emergency in March last year. They were even forced to close their business for three months following the lockdown, which resulted in laying off some of their employees. 

Nevertheless, in June 2020, many government agencies rented their place for monitoring and giving of interventions among the locals. This made them reconsider opening the Traveler’s Inn again. Since then, hope has continued to flow. Before yearend, they already had a function room built to cater for events in their place.

Recently, most businesses in JAS are already back but some hotels, inns, and resorts are only running at a maximum of 30% of their capacity in adherence to the government’s approved guidelines, and this scenario affected their income. But the Delos Reyeses are bigger than their worries.

“Dako ang natabang sa DTI during the pandemic labi na sa pagtabang sa amoa sa pag-register sa among business and pag-assist sa amoa sa pag-loan sa P3  program sa SBC (DTI has helped us a lot during the pandemic, particularly in helping us register our business and apply for the P3 loan of SBC),” Sam said.

The P3 or Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso program is a loan facility by the Small Business Corporation, the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This aims to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) improve their business.

According to Sam, ff their loan gets approved, they will expand their inn by adding lifestyle amenities, such as a swimming pool and other attractions.

Sam, a graduate of the DTI-led mentorship program Kapatid Mentor Me-Money Market Encounter (KMME-MME), expressed her gratitude to the agency for including her in the second batch of the 2021 graduates, which focused on the tourism sector. She narrated that the modules and stories of the coaches and mentors inspired her to create a plan for their resort. She is optimistic about achieving her goal of developing the hostel into a premium resort with more rooms, a concierge, and a function hall in five to 10 years.

“Nagapasalamat ko og dako sa DTI kay sa tanang businesses, naisip ko nila nga i-invite sa KMME kung asa nakatuon gyud ko’g dako. Ang KMME program ang nahimong way nga magpadayon mi sa among loan application para ma-materialize ang plano nga gihimo namo during the program (We are very thankful to DTI for inviting us to the KMME program. I really learned a lot from it. It was the program that pushed us to continue with our loan so that the plan we crafted according to what I learned through KMME will materialize),” she said.

For her part, DTI-Davao Occidental Program Manager Ma. Joycelyn F. Banlasan reiterated that the agency is keeping its vow to sustain its interventions and initiatives to support businesses, including the tourism sector, during this pandemic. She also emphasized that tourism is a priority industry of the DTI office in the province.

With DTI’s commitment and support and the owners’ undeniable entrepreneurial spirit and stamina, the Traveler’s Inn is truly on its way towards becoming better, and not just an ordinary place to stay in JAS. (PR)