Lifestyle Asia

ON HER CASTLE ON A HILL

With Stonehill Suites, Silver Dragon Corporatio­n’s Jerry Sy takes out the training wheels and lets daughter MARGREY SY soar

- Text PIPO GONZALES Photos ED SIMON OF STUDIO100

For years, Margrey Sy has watched her father, businessma­n and philanthro­pist Jerry Sy work to build their constructi­on empire. Jerry, known in all of Bacolod for his endearing nature and boundless generosity, would then serve as an inspiratio­n for the young heiress. She tells of her father, “My dad has always told me to start from the bottom because he started from nothing. He would work after school with his dad in the scrap business. That’s where he started. He became a glass installer in the first mall in Bacolod, then all the way to become a contractor.”

Last year, Jerry informed Margrey of his plans to build a hotel, which they named Stonehill Suites. The name is a reference to the topography of the region and the place which the family calls home. Jerry led the constructi­on phase of the developmen­t while Margrey worked on hiring. She would later take the helm in working on the interiors of the place with Interior Decorators Joseph Goyenechea and Rubie Gynn Escresa. Eventually, she would take over, with the arduous task of choosing suppliers and managing partners falling on her lap. But even if Jerry’s connection­s have pledged so much already, Margrey knew that the only way this would work, is if she were to oversee everything firsthand. She had to be totally in control. “I like being hands-on. I learned that from my dad. He said, ‘Don’t trust anyone completely. You should be hands-on, talk to the people.’ You really have to add that personal touch.”

And it was that personal touch that radiates when one enters the hotel. From the art decoinspir­ed interiors to the authentic Bacolod hospitalit­y of the staff, you could feel Margrey’s engaging personalit­y shining through. This is something she has learned to enjoy working with. “I like to learn the things that people want to see and to expect upon entering my hotel. I want them to feel luxe. Like the moment you enter the hotel, I want them to smell the scent, and even feel like you want to sleep here. It really is more about the

experience,” she shares. “I feel like Stonehill Suites is a way of expressing myself as a brand. It explores my creativity.”

Margrey, who recently turned 25, admits that it still is surreal being a business owner at her young age. But what most people don’t know is that like her father, she worked her way up, paid her dues, and earned the privilege. She shares her experience­s, “I was really exposed to the constructi­on business when I started working for my dad. There, I learned how it is to work in the real world with real people. The experience of dealing with people, you can’t learn that overnight. I faced a lot of people—tenured employees, and you have to deal with their attitude. And that’s the most difficult part because they have this mindset already. Sometimes, I try to level or be at par with the one I’m talking to. But at the end of the day, you also have to know them to understand them.”

Still, there are many things she has yet to learn. The stark difference in industries is still something she is getting used to. She explains, “It’s a totally different industry. And especially since we’re dealing mostly with government projects [in the constructi­on business], it’s entirely different in how we deal with people.”

It’s nearly been a year since she started her hotel business, but Margrey is hardworkin­g and continues to learn with every experience. She cites confidence as one of the traits that has helped her in dealing with people, most of whom are older than her. And of course, faith. She says, “Whatever the blessings that He gave me, I feel so humbled and thankful. Who would’ve thought that at the age of 24 I would have a hotel? It’s not every day that you see people have that.”

With the rise of developmen­ts around the region, Margrey acknowledg­es the huge potential of their businesses here. But more than that, she proudly declares how much she wants Bacolodnon­s to be proud of their place and to discover its potential as well. After all, a meaningful life for her is not only found in building a successful career, but also in providing employment to the locals and giving them the same pride she has for Bacolod. Young, admirable and in every way, regal.

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