Green Cocoon
CITY SENSE - Paulo Alcazaren (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2014 - 12:00am

Over the holidays, we decided to eschew a long road trip, opting instead to cocoon ourselves in the metro. We chose a food and pampering-centered break in Quezon City, in a section of that sprawling city we don’t go to very often — the Morato restaurant arrondissement.

We checked into the Cocoon Boutique Hotel, a place that was getting good ratings on websites like Trip Advisor (which rates Cocoon as No. 1 in Quezon City and No. 2 in Metro Manila, alongside big international five-star hotels in Makati, Manila, and the Ortigas area). Reports in other websites state the hotel was both green and comfortable for families.  

Click here to book at Cocoon Boutique Hotel

Located a stone’s throw away from the Timog-Morato rotunda, we found the hotel without much trouble. Parking was readily available at the basement and trips to sample the cuisine in the district were short. You could even just walk the one or two blocks to the main dining streets.  

During our stay we went to Romulo’s, Nomama, Buenisimo by Café Ysabel and Mesa for meals that satisfied our palates. Although there were dozens more, the rest of our repasts were taken at the hotel’s penthouse restaurant that had panoramic views of the city. The top floor also houses the hotel’s ballroom, which looked like it could fit enough people for a mid-sized wedding or business conference. The hotel also has Il Duelo, an Italian Restaurant that has garnered good food reviews.

Our check-in was smooth and facilitated by helpful staff. The hotel is a local homegrown operation and the warmth of Filipino hospitality shows. Our rooms were commodious, more spacious compared to international chains, and tailor-fit for families. The WiFi service was strong, an amenity I always look for. There were also many power outlets, a must for gadget-rich families. My wife Twink loved the roomy bathroom and the large tub.

I got to find out more about the hotel over coffee as I chatted with Atty Rafael “Boy” Vinzon and his wife Gigi, hands-on owners of the hotel. They told me about their journey to green hospitality. The couple got into building hotels (another is on the way) by way of their experience in building the home of their dreams a few years ago. They loved the process of design and creation, along with the satisfaction of seeing their projects come to life.

Their interest in greening and the environment started with their own residential projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s. During the design and construction stages they read up on the latest trends on eco-friendly homes and construction and realized the future was to build green. The two evolved an approach of doing business “based on the simple axiom of giving and offering the highest standards of luxury without taking anything away from the environment.”

They decided to get into the boutique hotel business as it was close to the process of building a home; actually, three dozen homey accommodations for couples and families. They found a property and started designing in 2007 and broke ground in 2009. They took their time in the preparation and design since they were taking the green route and wanted to do it right.

For the hotel’s interior design they retained the services of noted interior design firm Steven Leach and Associates, led by Ben Hughes and Bob Sanchez. Per directions from the owners, their designs make use of salvaged and re-purposed wood in almost all spaces. Gigi told me how she would search far and wide for enough material for the hotel. She would then sort and segregate the truckloads of wood to maximize where they could use it. The effort shows in extensive paneling and wall décor, aside from key furniture pieces. You won’t see this in five-star hotels.

They also used wood calado screens. These are intricate filigree salvaged from old homes meant originally to mitigate the sun’s glare. In fact, the hotel’s logo is a calado design that is a stylized plant and flower, emphasizing the hotels eco-friendly mien. Gigi also says that the logo symbolizes the “resources (needed for conservation) with the flower as an interpretation of the sun — the symbol for energy, and the flowing leaves as an interpretation of Water.” The logo, she added, also looks like “a person with outstretched arms to depict the people in our community — our staff, our guests, our neighbors, with whom we aim to build sustainable relationships.”

The couple hired architects and designers attuned to their mantra of green. Cocoon Boutique Hotel sought membership at the United States Green Building Council and is registered with LEED. Although the hotel was completed in 2012, improvements continued to be made. LEED EBOM V3 Certification, a difficult standard for hotels, is being pursued by Cocoon Hotel, to seal its claim as the first and truly green hotel in the Philippines. The technical effort for greening is being facilitated by their chosen consultants — architects Alvin P. Tejada and Howard Enimedez. Both consultants are LEED AP BD+C accredited, and both have extensive experience in LEED Project Administration.

The hotel harvests rainwater from its roof and stores them in a cistern for use in flushing toilets, pavement cleaning and plant irrigation. It also has a quaint chemical-free, organic herb and vegetable garden on its roof, which the kitchen staff uses for cooking.

All the lighting fixtures used in the hotel are energy-saving LEDs. Passive cooling is achieved through proper building orientation. Fresh air circulates about the interior due to natural positive-negative air pressure. Natural light enters via stairwells and room windows, which can be partially opened to let in fresh air.

The Vinzons are also fully supportive of corporate social responsibility. The hotel has pioneering projects for the district with Bridges Foundation, Inc. (a school for children with special needs) and the Sta. Rafaela feeding program.  

The success of the Vinzons will not stop with Cocoon. They are now planning their second hotel, the HIVE Hotel and Conference Place to located nearby. While Cocoon offers luxury, exclusivity, privacy, and nurturing, the couple guarantees the Hive will be a preferred venue for meetings, conference and events, while providing the same comfortable accommodations and green advocacy as Cocoon.

It was a great stay we had at Cocoon. Staycations are becoming the in thing; increasingly so as traffic out of the metropolis during holidays may make the escape more than difficult. Why waste the time when cocooned retreats are available nearby?

It is also good to note that more Filipino entrepreneurs are getting into the hotel business. I see them forging ahead and becoming a force in the hospitality business as the Philippines gains its rightful place in regional and world tourism. The color of the future for Filipino hotels is green — from the environmental point of view as well as the revenue earned.

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For more information on Cocoon, visit or call 632-998 3117 or 0922- 810 4692.

Feedback is welcome. Please email the writer at


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