Sometimes, what one just really needs is to have an entire day of rest and relazation to himself: That is where Ayo Ayo Café and Sauna comes in. Ayo Ayo Café is a hybrid of a café, hostel and sauna.
Japanese IT professional Tomohiko Terada has been in Cebu since 2013 to learn English while doing freelance IT work. While walking around Cebu for six months looking for his quintessential workplace, he stumbled upon an old house that was built in 1968 on 44 Emilio Osmeña St., Guadalupe, Cebu City and fell in love with it. His search for an ideal place to work, stay, eat and relax led him to open Cebu’s first backpacker hostel and sauna café.
Tomohiko or “Tomo” to his friends then started to build the workplace of his dreams with a goal of connecting people through a good place and good food. In 2017, he had the old house renovated and transformed it into a home for backpackers, digital nomads and everyone else who needed a cozy place to work.
He retained some details in the house as his way of showing respect to the half-century-old house and its owners.
The hostel has a private room, one spacious shared bedroom that is good for 15 people, a lobby lounge at the same time a cafe that is filled with artwork, and is equipped with shared tables, plugs and strong internet connection.
Outside is a mini garden, a café and bar, a well-crafted wooden cart that houses products from local brands for its “Tinda-tinda” initiative, a treehouse with a small nook under it, a little water fountain that will soothe your eyes and ears, and its newly launched sauna with cold plunge pool—literally everything one needs for “bleisure” (the practice of combining business travel and leisure travel into one trip) trips.
The café and sauna’s official welcoming committee is a Golden Retriever named Given.
“Given is the employee of the year because he’s never late, always present, and gives the best customer service as it never fails to make the guests smile,” said Tomo.
Unlike most of the other sauna places here in Cebu, Ayo Ayo Café and Sauna’s has a cold plunge pool. A cold plunge pool is said to be an excellent way to cool down after a sauna. This sauna experience will help improve blood flow, allow toxins and body waste to be flushed out of the body, relax muscle tensions, and relieve stress.
Generally, it helps improve overall health and wellness.
After the sweat in the sauna and cool off in the cold-water pool, nip out for a cup of its Himalayan Buko Elixir and a Udon Salad, a classic Japanese cold refreshing summer salad consisting of chewy udon noodles, salad veggies and tuna, or a slice of Tres Leches.
As for its food offerings, its cafe offers authentic Japanese favorites such as Hambagu steak, Omu rice, Teriyaki burger and Katsudon, to name a few.
“When most foreign people talk about Japanese food, they will think ramen, sushi and tempura only—these are just some of our food. I want to share our homemade and comfort food, the food that I ate growing up cooked by mom,” Tomo beamed with pride. Now, Tomo’s mom’s recipes are passed down to him and his chef.
The hostel café and sauna also organizes an event called Mugna-mugna where local crafters are given the spotlight to share about their craft and passion.
True to its name “Ayo-ayo,” which means “take care” and the expression “ayo” when you knock on someone’s door, Ayo Ayo Café and Sauna takes good care of its guests and heartily welcomes them.
Ayo Ayo Café is open from Monday to Saturday from 1 to 10 p.m., and the sauna is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Just a tip: Book a sauna session ahead to make the experience more relaxing and convenient.
*Photos by CHRISTIAN JAY QUILO