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Finally, a 5-star hotel in Quezon City

Balance is key: All 438 contemporary guest rooms in the largest hotel in Quezon City employ asymmetrical balance and use warmer hues to evoke a residential feel.

It’s all about the reveal for me,” Seda Hotels group general manager of and general manager of Seda Vertis North Brett Key says, and he wasn’t kidding.

Exhibit A: For dinner, he set up dining arrangements — even going as far as proposing a toast — all on the foyer of a ballroom were a debut was underway, EDM blaring. My media friends and I were exchanging awkward glances until Brett made us follow him into the kitchen where — surprise! — a farm-to-table themed spread had been set up for a sumptuous meal. The pots of herbs and live mushroom trays on the table were the source of my food’s ingredients and I watched the assembly flambé and plate my plate of tartufo pasta and sear my Angus beef medium rare. Four courses in, the youthful kitchen team broke into joyful song. That’s just getting started.

Exhibit B: The structure itself is also about pleasant surprises. Its straightforward black and white façade stands out in the emerging Vertis North business district, a few minutes away from the government agencies, multi-national corporations, and technohubs of Diliman and Eastwood and the entertainment giants in the Kamuning and Mother Ignacia areas, but the interiors beg to differ.

The elegance of understated muted hues allows the eye to travel to the furniture, artwork, and accent pieces all over the hotel. Being 100% Filipino is the big statement, a well-established brand in a competitive industry long dominated by international chains. The property is itself a canvass for Philippine design, talent, and hospitality and it shows. “We approached it almost like creating an art gallery to showcase Filipino artistry. We let the artwork dictate the space,” says Ayala Land assistant vice president and head of the Seda Vertis North project design team Edwin Yabut. 

The lobby alone heightens the sense of arrival not only with the space and bespoke lights executed by Azcor lighting. Photographic artwork by Jaime Zobel de Ayala overlooks the reception. You can lounge at the Vito Selma boat chairs facing it, or the poppy red Kenneth Cobonpue bloom chairs on the side, facing a family of Ann Pamintuan’s sculptural giraffes. The showcase does not end here, either. It’s the same at the 390-sqm. outdoor pool deck and bar with Kenneth Cobonpue outdoor furniture and a spa just inside decked out in Vito Selma. Edwin admits, “I really went overboard with designer stuff.”

Even in its ballroom — “We intentionally took out chandeliers,” says Yabut — and flexible function rooms, the look is sleek and modern with a bold splash of abstract art.

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“Seda is now more at home with its success and this is reflected in our scale,” explains Brett. The seven properties in its portfolio — including the first property in BGC — were built to complement a growing business district, but since Seda Vertis North opened in April, he observes, “We are a point of pride for people and companies in the largest city of Metro Manila, other northern cities including those in neighboring Bulacan province, Caloocan, and Novaliches who hostgatherings with us. They had to travel to Makati, Ortigas, or BGC to be able to have a hotel of this standard.” (Seda will open in Bacolod by the end of the year and eventually in El Nido.)

For travelers new to the area, its location, too, is full of pleasant surprises. “I’ve lived in Makati and in BGC. In my experience, Quezon City is the coolest of the bunch. Nobody really knows what to expect when you’re coming in here. There’s room for creativity,” Brett says. He cruises along Maginhawa Street in UP Teacher’s Village on his KTM motorcycle as his Sunday ritual. “The little shops there are so cool and trendy. I go to a little coffee shop that has four seats. It’s about value and creativity, service with heart, like us. No big chains.”

Ayala Malls Vertis North, however, is just across the street should you feel like catching a movie in the Philippines’ largest movie screen on recliner seats.

Exhibit C: In this age of shared office spaces and ride sharing, for today’s modern traveler, Yabut installed tableau tables in social areas like the lobby lounge to encourage social exchanges. It’s the same in all-day-dining Misto, just off the lobby and designed to seat as many as 250, where a communal tablon table overlooks a show kitchen with various stations and an extensive buffet including delectable pastries that changes with the seasons and diners’ tastes.

Brett says, “It’s our way of promoting social interaction among individual business travelers who, because they spend a long time alone on the road, may want some company during meals.”

 

 

 

 

“If you’re ordering a la minute sisig — which comes in tuna, chicken, and pork — the chef that’s making the sisig is also the chef that’s bringing it to your table,” Brett says of his Misto recommendation.

A high-end Chinese restaurant is slated to open soon. Until then, head up the Straight Up roof deck bar, which offers al fresco seating and stunning views of the surrounding cityscape at sunset.

Exhibit C: Brett has slept in every room – well, almost. He’s at 300 out of 438 guest rooms. (That’s almost double the number of rooms in the inventories of Seda’s first-generation of hotels.)

He explains, “Especially in large scale operations like this, every time you walk into a room everything looks nice, it smells fresh but you don’t really know how the room is until you sleep in it and if there’s a strange sound at 3 in the morning coming from a brand new air conditioning unit. Each room has a stamp of my approval.”

The club rooms and suites were conceptualized to “have a residential feel,” explains Yabut, beginning with warm colors to add punch to an otherwise neutral palette with geometric artwork in black and white hues. “It might seem simple, but there was a big decision: We didn’t provide a typical office writing desk. Instead, we took a different approach to it with a sofa and dining table. We observed millenials are so used to cafes. Maybe today’s travelers don’t need traditional tables.” Instead, a triangular sofa with a round accent table can hold a meal and a laptop. The room’s versatility and warmth is further complemented by the use of asymmetrical balance even in arrangements, adding a visual interest to the room without detracting from the space’s functions. The rooms overlook the city: EDSA, the MRT, its routes criss-crossing over each other to the rhythm of the city.

The rooms are also ASEAN-approved. The Japanese delegates, for instance, singled out Seda Vertis North among other hotels because of its spacious bathrooms. There is a shower closet and a deep bathtub — not a combination of the two where the showerhead goes over a slippery clubfoot tub — even at the Premiere room level. There is ample counter space for your toiletries. You also have closet space and a dresser.

Exhibit F: Online guest feedbacks would show you that apart from the design, it’s the service that has guests raving, even during Seda Vertis North’s soft opening with only a few facilities running.

“One thing I didn’t need to do is train people how to be empathetic. This is something that was so natural to Filipinos, so what I do is I use that ingrained innate talent and upgrade it to professional service, even from professionally pouring a glass of wine or tea,” says Brett.

He has an international background jumpstarting operations in high-end properties in Canada, USA, UK, Dubai, China, Vietnam, and one high-end casino hotel in Entertainment City. “In large luxury hotel brands, we have to conform inside a box. In Seda, we didn’t ask our people to conform to that box. We wanted them to keep that innate warmth of Filipino hospitality and expand that and develop it into international luxury standards.”

You experience it even before you get into the rooms. The team has been in on a proposal at Straight Up Bar, accommodating a string quartet which they didn’t normally have. For a guest checking in for a staycation with children, the team brings out a red wagon full of toys and the kids can pick up the toys so vacation time begins the moment they go through Seda Vertis North’s doors.

Like the chef’s table experience we had, Brett says of the intimate kitchen musical experience: “In my experience in Asia, I’ve met a lot of Filipino bands and singers. It’s a country where everybody can sing. Instead of looking for talent all the time, we opened it up. Is there anybody who can sing? It turns out we had some really good singers in our kitchen team.” He’s also had to put on his apron for the kitchen team on how to properly grill ribs, “’This is how they do it in Texas.’”

Hosting the ASEAN delegation shortly after opening their doors was like an initiation, from security briefing with 400 members of the national police to the team perfectly ironing shirts in three minutes tops.

For those who want even more personalized service, the presidential suite offers a 24/7 butler amenity. It’s perfect for a business owner who wants to host private meetings without a function room’s time constraints at the spacious dining area and kitchenette as well as staycationers who want to make the most out of their time off.

The butlers have received a minimum of 90 hours training on an international butler platform. Brett explains, “Butler service is meant to be seamless. They have a private entrance. You can keep your bedroom door closed while the butler prepares your breakfast, coffee or tea. If you’re having guests, he’ll welcome them for you. For business travelers, he’ll line up your meetings. We’ve brought up the level of what you might experience at international brands, you can expect it here.”

It all boils down to one philosophy which has Filipino hospitality at its heart. Brett says: “We try to figure out what our guest is expecting, then we elevate it. It’s all about personalizing the experience.”

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Seda Vertis North is at Astra corner Lux Drives, Vertis North, Quezon City. Call 739-8888 for reservations and inquiries or follow them @sedavertishotel on Facebook for updates or to send a message.

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