LIFESTYLE

Green Travel

When green is chic and luxurious-and beyond wild and raw

Cocoon Boutique Hotel's facade, note the wooden posts are from salvaged wood. The newest hotel in Quezon City is also the first truly green hotel in the Philippines. Photo by Francine Marquez for InterAksyon.com.

It all started as a dream, shares Gigi Vinzon, Cocoon Boutique Hotel’s owner and General Manager. “We wanted a business for when we retire and, just like most people we know, our wish list included having our own bed-and-breakfast place someday.”

While she and husband Atty. Rafael “Boy” Vinzon’s dream was brewing, an opportunity came along by way of an offer from the owner of the property where their dream B and B now stands. “We took the chance and we slowly but surely started building our dream from there,” she adds.

But it wasn’t just a matter of constructing a hotel. During the years when their dream remained in their minds, and with no specific time table yet, Gigi and Boy have been combing through secondhand shops, sites where old houses were about to be demolished and its parts sold, as well as in five-star hotels when these sell their used furniture and other accessories.

“I just realized, even then, mambubulok na pala talaga kami (we were already scavengers)! ” Gigi lets out a laugh.

Boy chimes in and reveals that four huge-sized chandeliers that they bought from The Peninsula Manila during one such sale were left lying around in their garage for years. Boy had to bring out the family’s cars and park them outside.

Still, the Vinzons were very sure that the humongous chandeliers would be useful someday—when their dream hotel would finally come true.

Cocoon Boutique Hotel's Gigi and Atty. Boy Vinzon started with a humble dream. But with their sheer determination and clear vision, they were able to realize it. Gigi is now focusing on enhancing the hotel's green practices and ongoing staff training to make staying at the hotel even more enjoyable. Photo by Peter C. Marquez for InterAksyon.com.

That dream soon came in the form of a proposition from the owner of the property where the hotel now stands. Gigi and Boy grabbed the opportunity and bought the land. And from the drawing board, they already knew what they wanted: a modern boutique hotel offering luxurious amenities, and yet, one that’s also eco-friendly.

The couple tapped sustainable design firm Steven Leach to create Cocoon Boutique Hotel’s interiors, which was able to meet most LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements. Its energy-efficient features include the hotel’s use of LED lights; inverter air conditions that save up 70 percent on energy costs by regulating heat transfer and flow; and double-glazed windows that help retain cool air and reduce energy consumption.

Late last year, after two years of construction work with Gigi at the helm, the 40-room Cocoon Boutique Hotel had its soft opening. Finally, the huge chandeliers and the salvaged furnishings were given a sense of place.

A green hotel in many aspects, all the wooden materials are recycled. No trees were cut down in constructing the hotel.

Only salvaged pieces of wood were used for the elegant wall of this hotel room. Photo by Francine Marquez for InterAksyon.com.

In keeping up with the eco-friendly concept, all 80 bulbs of each chandelier (formerly from The Pen), have been changed from 50-watt bulbs to more energy-efficient 6-watt LED light bulbs.

The 80-bulb majestic chandelier now hangs above the lobby. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com

A Steinway piano, circa from the 1800's, greets guests at Cocoon Boutique Hotel's lobby. Photo by Francine Marquez for InterAksyon.com.

The moment one enters, prepare to be impressed with the lobby's high ceiling from where a grand chandelier (not in photo) hangs, and framed repurposed antique carabao cart wheels on the wall. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com.

The hotel’s main feature, the ultimate treat for tired urban warriors desperately in need of a good night’s sleep, are the luxurious beds and beddings in each room: 100% Egyptian cotton bed linen, 
90% goose down duvets and circle-of-down pillows, and 100% Egyptian cotton top-of-the line bed with pocket springs and memory foam. You could almost hear Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman exclaim, “Hoo-ha!”

You'll literally be in the lap of luxury as you lie down on the hotel's super soft bed and pillows. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com.

Adds Gigi, “We wanted guests to realize that being a green hotel can both be luxuriously carefree yet responsible at the same time.”

Need to sneak in a little work or check your e-mail? Guests will also like the high-speed Internet access in each room. Other amenities include a 32″ LED Cable TV with USB port for DVD and MP3, and separate deep-soak bathtubs and rainshower, to name a few.

Cocoon Boutique Hotel also observes green practices such as having a gray-water recycling system, offering an option to re-use towels and linen, and providing waste baskets that urge guests to segregate biodegradable trash from non-biodegradable ones.

Guests are encouraged to participate in the hotel's green philosophy by segregating trash in wastebaskets labelled as biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Photo by Francine Marquez for InterAksyon.com.

It also offers toiletries made from all-natural, non-animal tested materials. Shampoo and conditioner bottles are made from 40% recycled plastic. The packaging of the toiletries are printed in soy ink and carry the EU Eco-label, a certification from Europe that distinguishes green and environmental-friendly products that are of high quality.

Gigi says that even their laundry and cleaning materials are non-toxic and chemical-free.

Green toiletries. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com

Call it a stay-cation or micro-vacation, the point here is to have a quick escape from the urban jungle. The hotel makes sure you’ll need everything while you’re ehem, away. Get a new haircut, massage, or a diamond peel treatment, the hotel has tenants for such needs: Peps Silvestre Salon, Iris Spa, and Nouvelle Clinic, respectively. It also has a flower shop called The Mulberry Shop.

For dining or chilling out, there’s an Italian restaurant called Il Duello run by rising celebrity chefs Pierre Tan and Rurik Laviña; Paire, an interesting dessert-and-drinks bar owned by Abby and Kat Nantes; and My Serendipitea, a bubble milk tea place.

You won't need to leave the hotel with tenants that include restaurants, a milk tea place, spa, beauty salon, an aesthetic medicine clinic, and a flower shop. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com.

Or, you can hop over to My Bro’s Mustache Folk Bar, a popular hangout among Pinoy jazz, rock, and folk music aficionados. The place, located on Sct. Tuazon Street, was established by Boy a decade ago and has featured Pinoy music legends like Pepe Smith, The Jerks, Jun Lopito, and Wally Gonzales.

After sleeping like a baby in a very luxurious and comfortable bed, the morning after promises to be an equally revitalizing experience. Go up the roof deck and get a view of the city while it’s still quiet. Here, you’ll find the outdoor lap pool and a high-ceiling ballroom for 250 or two function rooms for 100 persons each.

At the roof deck, you'll find a lap pool and the hotel's function room. Photo by Francine Marquez, InterAksyon.com,

Breakfast, also served at the roof deck, consists of a buffet of fresh fruits, juices, cereals, and breads. You can have eggs prepared the way you prefer it at the egg station. Hot plates for a continental or native breakfast are ordered a la carte. Of course, you’ll also be served freshly brewed coffee or tea.

Spend the rest of the morning with a nice swim or just by basking under the sun while you listen to music connoisseur Boy’s selection of jazz or ambient music. Ah, got to wear shades while enjoying the life. Yes, you’ll almost forget you’re still in the city.

•Cocoon Boutique Hotel is located at 61 Scout Tobias corner Scout Rallos Streets, Bgy Laging Handa, Quezon City. Telephone number: (632) 921-2706 to 08 or 632- 4137281. Check their website at www.thecocoonhotel.com.

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