They seem like pretty plastic pots mounted at an angle on the hotel room wall. But inside one of them is a TV remote control device and near it a flatscreen TV. Aha, comes the discovery. The pots are makeshift cubby holes for gadgets – the room’s and yours too.
As indicated by a visual graphic beside another “pot,” you can even use this one to amplify the music on your phone. Will it really work? You are intrigued and hooked on finding out.
The unusual but functional use of PVC pipes is space planner Edwin Dychauco Uy’s fine example of “experiential interior design” as applied by his firm in Hotel Covo, the newest 20-room boutique resort in Northern Palawan’s Lio Tourism Estate in the municipality of El Nido.
Panoramic photo of the Bacuit Bay adds depth to the bedroom at Hotel Covo.
Bold accent walls in a shade of the sea engage guests upon entry to the room.
A foldable desk and a pull-down clothes hanger are among the engaging elements.
Hand-woven synthetic rattan screen serves as a unique backdrop.
Neutral walls serve as canvas for colored plastic pots that double as gadget holders.
“It’s an approach that makes you want to touch, feel, interact and examine,” said Uy.
Hotel Covo is one of four boutique resorts recently established by an Ayala Land Hotel and Resorts Corp. subsidiary focused on a pristine four-kilometer stretch of fine white sand. Together with a row of restaurants, dining and retail outlets, the resorts are part of an emerging self-contained 325-hectare Lio community where travelers and future residents can expect to enjoy for generations to come the beach which is simply one of many destinations of the larger Bacuit Bay, known globally for its diversity and stunning geography.
The four resorts likewise aim to meet the needs of an equally diverse set of travelers including millennials and young urban professionals, the target market of Covo. Because this group is characterized by their constant search for new experiences through dining, travel and similar activities, Uy set for himself the goal of immersing the guest in the Hotel Covo environment through highly sensual moments.
As one enters a hotel room, for instance, the guest is immediately visually engaged through bold accent walls in a shade of the sea that also covers the ceiling. But the shock of color is limited to the foyer and switches to a soothing neutral further down the room, the appropriate backdrop for the colorful cubby holes.
Past the bathroom to the right, the room opens up to reveal a wide panoramic photo of an iconic Bacuit Bay destination that stretches across the headboards and upward to the ceiling.
The standard way of opening up limited space would be to use a mirror wall, according to Uy.
“But that approach is almost a cliché.”
The panoramic photo achieves the purpose of making the room seem deeper than it is while driving home to the guest that he is indeed in Bacuit Bay.
The campaign to engage the senses begins at the Hotel Covo lobby which seamlessly integrates the reception desk and bar.
“Hotel behavior has changed,” said Uy, who is a University of Sto. Tomas architecture graduate. He also has taken design courses at the Domus Academy in Milan and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and is now pursuing a master’s degree in interior design in Hong Kong.
In previous generations, the registration area, lobby and restaurant were clearly delineated. But because the millennial traveler is more comfortable with multi-functional spaces, an open plan was used in Covo. What seems like a series of round table tops in differing heights which collectively function as a registration counter cum restaurant bar take up one side of the room.
A grouping of conical forms and columns in light-colored wood make up the base of the counter. The unusual base “was inspired by the roots of the nearby mangrove forest,” revealed Uy.
But before the guest can get to the counter, a collection of seating areas – some with plush banquet seating, others made of light outdoor furniture material, and another consisting of gay colored pillows strewn around floor mats — compete for his attention.
“It is quite playful and doesn’t offer a singular look,” Uy said. It is also a reflection of the diverse personalities of young travelers today.
A departure from the beiges and browns favored by many hotels, Hotel Covo’s interiors are also instagrammable and can catch social media attention. Best of all, its spaces remain functional and work for the traveler open to new design expressions.
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