Sea Luxe Treatment: Marine-inspired luxury as far as the eye can sea
Written by: Arch. Juan Carlos M. Hubilla
On April 2010, the Manila Ocean Park unveiled its newest attraction – not a new addition to its marine menagerie, but a boutique hotel, Hotel H2O. Offering 147 luxurious rooms, world-class amenities and services, this sea-inspired getaway uses technology to pamper and rejuvenate its guests.
Designed by GSN+p Architecture Studio for China Oceanis Philippines, Hotel H2O is a unique part of the Manila Ocean Park Complex. It is a member of Worldhotels, a global organization of hotels and hospitality establishments noted for their service, charm and character – “Unique Hotels for Unique People,” as the website states.
Unique it certainly is, in both design and function. The hotel’s upper-level reception area is accessed from a small exclusive lift lobby to the left of Manila Ocean Park’s main entrance. The aquatic theme is evident from this foyer with its palette of high-gloss graphics on fritted glass, mirror and matte-finished metallic surfaces, glassy mosaics, and biomorphic patterns. The aqua, blue, silver and black theme continues and evolves at the lobby level. Rounded columns, bubble-inspired light fixtures, circular and curving lounge furniture and arched patterns dominate the receiving and meeting space.
To the left of the reception counters is the hotel’s Zenyu Eco Spa, offering gym and spa facilities as well as negative-ion hot beds and the fishy-sounding but utterly relaxing Fish Foot Spa.
Immediately to the right of the counters is the hall leading the guestrooms, and further to the right are the hotel lounge and suites. Whereas the blues and silvers of the lobby and hallways have an underwater feel, the paler earth tones of the lounge bathed in generous daylight from west-facing windows lend a more beach-like atmosphere. All public areas on this level – reception, spa and lounge – have a continuous floor-to-ceiling view of Manila Ocean Park’s atrium.
In addition to the hotel lounge, guests can also unwind or be entertained in Hotel H2O’s other venues: White Moon Bar and its al fresco sunsets and bay views, Liquid bar’s all night pool and swimwear parties and Geniuses Bar’s chic and spacey jellyfish atmosphere, and a world is Asian cuisine at the Makan Makan Asia Food Village. For larger events, the hotel’s function hall can seat up to 300 guests and share 100 foot long aquarium, the other side of which is viewed from within Manila Ocean Park.
SLEEP WITH THE FISHES
Of its 147 guestrooms, 41 feature massive aquarium rising from headboard height to the ceiling and running the length of each room. A mirror of the same height along the abutting wall’s length enhances each room’s already generous proportions. The aquariums are actually individual windows into a larger tank that runs through all the guestrooms in the middle of the four structures. A crystal – clear four-inch thick glass wall keeps the guest dry and the sea creatures wet. The Parkview Room’s floor-to-ceiling window overlook the Hotel H2O’s pool and light and sound show area, while the Bayview Rooms look out to Manila Bay. Peering down from the bay view side, there is no simple ground; just a breathtaking view of sea, sky and, at the right is the Manila sunset.
In terms of energy efficiency, Hotel H2O utilizes solar panels to present its power requirements. The hotel also built and maintains the storm sewage treatment plant to throw out pollutants before releasing water back into the bay. A more relevant technology employed, or rather literally applied, throughout the entire Hotel H2O is its negative ion-releasing Ecoparadise paint. According to Ecoparadise, their products employ a technology that “uses living microorganisms to change the inherent properties of materials like ceramics, plastics, fibers and liquids to produce a range of stable deoxidizers.” These deoxidizers supposedly discharge negative ions continuously without getting depleted.
Hotel H2O’s Marketing Communications Manager Mike Sagaran explains that negative ions from these odorless paints free the interior air of airborne dust and particles by attracting and clumping together these potential allergens and pathogens. Once they have adhered to one another, the particles become too heavy to stay afloat and drop to surfaces and floors making cleaning easier and more efficient.
Hotel H2O’s luxe undersea-themed decor and motifs brought me back to those retro-futuristic lairs of James Bond villains: gorgeous interiors, machine gun wielding bikini-clad beauties and a sinister secret contraption ready to feed unwary guests to some slithering underwater beastie. Sans the swimwear – clad ladies, Hotel H2O’s sleek interiors, amenities, and invisible negative-ion effects have all the good looks and fun of a super spy movie without the villains – despite the real live Manila Ocean Park sharks next door.