“I was able to bring out my talent for design and drawing that others appreciate.”
FORMER Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Ariel Villegas may have retired after working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2018, but that doesn’t mean life has slowed down for him. In fact, the days just got busier now with Alfonso’s unique vacation homes, Cavite Madeline’s Ville.
In 2015, Ariel and his wife Girlie Reantaso, who had also worked in Dubai, acquired a sprawling 3,333 square meter plot of land for their after-work life, that is, until the popular show American cable “Tiny House Nation” provides them with a more unusual income concept. He says, “Actually, our retirement home was once designed by Girlie’s architect friend. But this show had such a strong impact on both of us and changed our plan.”
The idea began to take shape in 2018 when Ariel finished his job as an F&B (food and beverage) manager at the Holiday Inn Sharjah in Dubai, where he had worked for a decade to settle permanently in the Philippines. With him were all the things necessary for building houses. “From water heaters to lights and faucets, to cutlery, accessories, blankets, towels, soap dispensers and toothbrush holders, and even screws… I brought everything in Manila.
“Girlie and I thought we would be stagnant after we retired because we were both used to working every day. We didn’t want to be confined to the house doing nothing. So we thought about building these little houses . We could stay in one of them, and rent the rest in Airbnb (guest house).”
The interiors of the cottages are bright and cheerful (top), as are those of BuzzOne (bottom). CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
Ariel is currently the resort’s operations manager, while his wife takes care of the finances. Their only child, Madeline Jordan, after whom the venue is named, runs social media. His middle name Jordan is derived from Ariel’s favorite hero, Michael Jordan. She was nicknamed Magic after her mother had trouble giving birth. Her father says, “She was very active in helping us run Madeline’s Ville. But she was hired by Cebu Pacific as a customer service agent.
A couple helps the family with the maintenance of the place, while during the summer holidays, Ariel plans to provide more help to cope with the increase in bookings.
“When we started the business, we thought we would only have 10 clients per month,” says Ariel. “Girlie and I were planning an income of 25,000 pesos, enough to run the place, pay for guards’ salaries, food and electricity. We could also save 3,000 to 4,000 pesos a month. We went to- of the. “
There are seasons when Madeline’s Ville averages secure bookings of 50 nights per month, according to Ariel. This can go up to 80 rooms in a month. To date, he has had distinguished guests and even celebrities, diplomats and foreigners – Swedish, Indian, American, British, Syrian – who have stayed at Madeline’s Ville. Some of them have been repeated.
Ariel wanted to become an architect as a young boy. However, when he got to college, he studied electronics and communications engineering (ECE), but eventually completed avionics at the PATTS (Philippine Air Transport and Training Services) College of Aeronautics in 1985.
He did not practice his degree and instead first landed a job as a banquet server at the Hyatt Regency Manila for four years. Then he moved to Saudi Arabia, where he was employed for eight years, including as butler to the prince, son of King Fahad. Ariel returned to Manila and became a pioneer at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Malate, where he worked for a decade managing F&B operations (1998 to 2008).
As Operations Manager of Madeline’s Ville, Ariel puts everything he has learned in more than three decades of working in hotels, in Manila and abroad, to good use.
Madeline’s Ville also became Ariel’s platform for her artistry. He did the interior design of the rooms, as well as the design of the houses. “I was able to bring out my designer and drawing talent that others appreciate,” he says. “Things that I like, even simple drawings, I was the one who really created the houses.
“I was a carpenter, plumber, electrician, welder, painter, general worker. What the guests see, we did everything here. Even with the paintings and the drawings, we all helped each other. Even the design of the swimming pool was mine.”
Initially, Ariel feared that Madeline’s Ville location, along Palumlum Road in Alfonso, Cavite, would turn customers away. The location is also a stone’s throw from Sonia’s Garden, Splendido Golf Course, Twin Lakes, Reptileland and Ginger Bread House. He says: “At the beginning, we were afraid that people wouldn’t come to see us because it was a bit far, which might not suit them.
However, when Madeline Ville was launched on December 15, 2019, the couple’s concerns proved to be unfounded. “There were a lot of guests,” Ariel recalls. “The first month we opened, bookings were overwhelming.”
Originally, there were only three self-contained tiny houses that were color-coded, namely Bluesky (blue), Sunshine (yellow), and Earth (pink). Last December, a unique bus house, which the family named BuzzOne, was added to the complex.
“We didn’t expect the bus house to be highly rated,” Ariel reveals. “Even those who originally only booked the tiny house, once they see the bus, they want to be transferred there. It’s more convenient than the two-storey tiny house. There’s no stairs to access the loft bedroom in the bus house. the bed is extended like a large sofa, unlike the other units.”
Front of self-contained Bluesky and Earth cottages. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
Bus house amenities include a kitchen, toilet and bathroom. “The bus house gives customers a different experience,” says Ariel. “It’s one of a kind, the first in the Philippines, if not even the world.”
A second bus unit will soon be under construction and hopefully completed this summer. “We can’t just start building because we’re always booked,” Ariel reports. “The construction may disturb the guests, but I’m sure finishing it will go faster and easier this time.”
Ariel’s normal day starts as early as 5 a.m. when he responds to inquiries even though he’s still in bed. “When a customer cancels a reservation even the same day, we issue a full refund,” he says. “The word eventually gets out. Maybe that’s why we’re so blessed.”
Ariel is very responsive when it comes to reservations and inquiries. “We are always notified whenever someone asks. Recently there was one morning I woke up and had over 80 requests on my phone that I needed to answer. half a day to answer it.
“But if you love what you’re doing, benefit from it, and are happy, hard work won’t bother you.”
My parents Fermin and Lena Villegas. Mom, who resides in the UK, is very diligent. She may be tired but never says she is.
To share the City of Madeline with more people
First paid job
P38 per day as a banquet server at Hyatt Regency Manila
Look at my phone and respond to inquiries even when you’re still in bed.
Handyman. I have an eye for detail and design.
Time spent on social networks
Mostly due to the bookings we receive