August 12
, 2004  (STAR) By Joseph O. Cortes - Come to think of it, the term cybercafé is a misnomer. If you’ve been to one of these establishments, the last thing you’ll see is coffee. Usually, the place is busy with kids plugging their way through Ragnarok. And if ever it serves drinks, chances are you would see teeners drinking a can of soda.

That’s why at Traders Hotel Manila veers away from the pack. Here, coffee and Internet service do go together.

Traders general manager Henry Lee says was intended to be a suitable meeting place for businessmen, where they can have informal meetings over coffee and enjoy the convenience of broadband Internet connection.

"There was a growing demand from our clients," Lee says. "Because the market of our business center is changing, Traders Hotel Manila wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology."

"In the past, whenever people called for reservations, their main concern was our room rates. Now, the first thing they want to know is whether we have Internet access. There is definitely a growing demand for IT, and we realize that there is no running away from it," he adds.

Although it is just a few months old, is enjoying its position as a 24-hour watering hole for techies and coffeehounds alike in the Bay Area. This isn’t surprising considering that it has cozy interiors that make you feel at home. The floor is a shiny parquet, and there are huge bookshelves at the rear that add a touch of color to the place. With mood lighting that dims at night, it looks as classy as it feels.

The café seats 30. The non-smoking section has sofas at an elevated area, complete with center tables and throw pillows. There is also an intimate smoking area of three tables that fronts busy Roxas Blvd. It has three computer terminals, as well as line access for laptops.

And while its rates for Internet access might be pricey compared with those at the usual Internet café, it tries to be competitive. Thirty-minute access costs P75, while two-hour access is at P250. However, 24-hour Internet access, priced at P999, is consumable within a week’s time.

"Since Traders is the first hotel in the Bay Area to offer 24-hour Internet access at our own Internet café, I hope we start a trend among other hotels in the area," Lee declares. "It really depends on the venue’s target market and the location of the hotel. Our fulfills the requirement of businessmen – an informal meeting place where they can huddle together, seated in comfortable sofas, enjoying a cup of coffee and snacks, as well as access the Web at the Internet-ready terminals."

And that’s not all. Lee says Traders will soon be providing WiFi connection in strategic areas, such as the hotel lobby, the function rooms at the second floor and the Paseo del Sol swimming pool area.

Apart from Internet access, also offers its own blend of coffee, made of highland arabica and robusta beans.

"That gives it a healthy taste and a delightful aroma," Lee says. "We did extensive coffee and food tasting for two months to come up with the selection we now have. We continue to try other items to add on to the existing menu."

It serves a variety of hot and cold coffee beverages, like espresso, latte, cappuccino, café mocha and mocha and caramel frappé. It has an assortment of cakes and pastries, cookies, sandwiches, light salads and a selection of juices and soft drinks.

Service is quick, and the staff, dressed in their casual black getup, is friendly. And if you want a souvenir of your visit, there are a number of items available at the shop window, such as monogrammed T-shirts and caps.

Although Traders already has Traders Café, the hotel’s coffee shop, Lee says will not compete with it in any way.

" offers real to-go service," he explains. "All items are ready-to-go and over-the-counter."

* * * is located at the ground floor of Traders Hotel Manila, along Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. For inquiries, call 523-7011.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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