Paparazzi clicks with a new look and good food
LIFE & STYLE - LIFE & STYLE By Millet M. Mananquil () - April 17, 2004 - 12:00am
Hotels evolved from inns providing shelter and food for travelers. Remember how, in biblical history, there was "no room at the inn" for Joseph and Mary? Today, hotels are high-rise carpeted affairs used also as venues for grand events. But lifestyle changes have given a different perception of what hotels can be and should be.

Today, hotels can be bastions of modern design as well, aside from providing soothing comfort and excellent cuisine. It was Ian Schrager, creator of New York’s legendary disco Studio 54, who turned hotels into more exciting places by creating hip hotels like the Cleft in San Francisco and the Hudson in New York, designed by Philippe Starck. Schrager has created a following, composed mostly of hip millionaires who are simply bored and tired of the usual predictable five-star trappings. This is the affluent tribe of travelers who have seen it all, the sort of tourists who are looking for something more than the right duvet to keep them warm.

In the Philippines, we have yet to see an Ian Schrager-type of boutique hotel, and we may be light years away from having our own Anouska Hempel-type of lodging, though given the chance to do such exciting projects, our very own Ed Calma and Anna Sy will certainly do a good job.

Among our five-star hotels, Edsa Shangri-La Hotel has that eye for always creating a refreshing, trendsetting ambience for its restaurants. Since it opened in 1992, Edsa Shangri-La has always kept its drawing boards busy, giving its rooms and restos a new look even before its faithful clientele can even start to stifle a yawn.

After recently turning the 440 rooms of its Tower Wing all modern, the hotel will make the 228 rooms of its Garden Wing all a-bloom with a new look.

Last year, Edsa Shangri-La unveiled a more dramatic Summer Palace, as well as a more beautiful Nishiki Japanese restaurant. This year, hotel patrons just woke up one day to find a more exciting Paparazzi Italian restaurant. All these renovations were designed by Warner Wong Design and Architecture of Singapore.

The wonderful thing about these was that new interiors came with even better cuisine for the restos. Proof was that patronage of these restos doubled swiftly.

"We were aware that our outlets were already popular, but at the same time, we were aware of new eating places opening around us, so we had constantly keep our clientele excited," explains Milen Treichler, director of communications. "What people found remarkable was that none of the restos ever closed during renovations." A hard thing to do logistically, but Edsa Shangri-La did it.

General manager Wolfgang Krueger must be so proud of the fact that the hotel utilizes local suppliers, believing that Filipino craftsmanship is world-class. The woodwork for Summer Palace, for instance, was done by renowned artist-sculptor Claude Tayag.

Paparazzi has always been a fave of gourmets who look for true Italian dining. And while munching their pastas and risottos, diners can feast on an eyeful of design offerings as well.

"Paparazzi is a theatrical stage of drama and fashion, with intrinsic elements evocative of the Italian lifestyle and culture," says Treichler.

The façade has a crisscross pattern inspired by Bottega Veneta’s renowned intrecciato woven leather. Hmmm, interesting.

The sculpted dining table in green and gold mosaic tiles from Bisazza is inspired by a Prada shoe silhouette. Across the bar is a zabaglione counter where a chef prepares this Italian dessert on the spot. Nice.

On a divider-wall is a series of clear glass and metal tubes displaying preserved Italian herbs, fruits and vegetables. The private dining area is lined with shelves of dark wood with whimsical displays of colorful Murano glassware. Dazzling.

Much of the drama comes from the lighting, which Treichler says is computerized for lunchtime and evening settings. The lighting fixtures – all from Murano – truly provide eye candy, daytime or nighttime.

The uniforms, all Armani – inspired, were done by designer Rajo Laurel. To match the new accoutrements, the staff underwent training on wine appreciation, etiquette and grooming under former model Olen Lim.

Speaking of wine appreciation, Treichler says Paparazzi offers more than 250 wines, 200 of which are served by the glass. The most popular dishes? "Sea bass fillet, and seafood risotto with lobster and scallops," says Treichler.

Marketing director Benedict Lim reveals that the Lobby Lounge, Garden Café and the Mezzanine are next in line for a new look. This is one hotel that never sleeps.

Yes, we do enjoy looking at the details of Edsa Shangri-La’s newly reinvented restaurants. And what makes the sightseeing experience nice is that the food actually tastes good.

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