Regarding Henry
ARTMAGEDDON - Igan D’Bayan (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2015 - 12:00am

It’s 1948 again and Manila is the most beautiful city in Asia.

Sounds like a piece of magic-realist literature? Yes and hell no.

We still do love our fair city, but sometimes when you’re stuck in the carmageddon of cargo trucks on Roxas Boulevard and you’re bound for the Port Area, well, as in yesterday, Manila could resemble something chaotic, dystopic, a sort of Philip K. Dick by way of Sta. Cruz and Avenida Rizal. But wait there is still an oasis-like hideaway deep in the city. A compound of residential structures refurbished into a hotel — a mélange of romantic past and contemporary present. Meet Henry, specifically The Henry Hotel along F.B. Harrison in Pasay City.

Innovoterra Properties chairman Hanky Lee explains that his group re-conceptualized The Henry Manila’s entire location to keep up with its vintage theme. Lee wants their guests to feel as if they’re being transported to a different time from the moment they enter the gates. You’ll see five Liberation-style houses containing the boutique hotel’s 34 uniquely designed rooms.

What’s in a name?

“Henry for me is a sophisticated world-wizened traveler,” says Lee. “Somebody who is in search of unique experiences. That’s what we try to provide our guests. For me, this is a passion project. This is not your run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter hotel. Thus you get an experience, you get an experience that is like no other.”

The main house sits imposingly at the end of the driveway and serves as the hotel’s center: the reception, restaurant and bar (Marivic Diaz-Lim’s Apartment 1B), and owner’s suite are all housed there. The balcony in the owner’s suite also faces the garden designed by National Artist for Landscape Architecture Ildefonso P. Santos, which boasts a carefully selected plant palette of post-war favorites such as palmera, santan, lantana and champaca.

The compound is also home to the Avellana Art Gallery (owned by Albert Avellana), the atelier of couturier Jojie Lloren, as well as the showroom of furniture and interior designer Eric Paras. Paras collaborated with Lee and company to implement the strategy of “adaptive reuse” and transform the houses into spaces which “exude the signature The Henry Manila nostalgic vibe.” 

Hanky, who was the one of co-founders of a very successful New York-style pizza chain, currently fancies himself as “the innkeeper.”

“People call this ‘slow living in Pasay,’ but now we’ve become ‘medium living,’ (laughs) but with just 34 rooms — the Classic, the Suite, and the Owner’s Suite — we’re still intimate,” he says.

 

 

Lee says that The Henry Cebu opened in late 2012. “Since each Henry is like no other, the one in Cebu is art-inspired. There are murals, paintings in each of the 38 rooms — artsy, quirky.” The Henry Manila, which opened in Dec. 15 last year, boasts unique furnishings of closets, side chairs and sunroom sets — all sourced from all over the Philippines and refurbished for a modern vintage twist.  

“It’s serendipitous how I found this place,” he shares. “I went to Eric Paras’ shop to get furnishings for my own home seven years, looking for unique pieces, and I saw these houses being rented to a French treasure hunter, historian Ino Manalo, gallery-owner Albert Avellana.”

The Henry Manila, managed by Hospitality Innovators Inc., is not just a place to crash in after partaking of the Malate nightlife (beer, art and NBA games at The Oarhouse Pub with Ben Razon; beer, art and world or soul music at Bar@1951 with Butch Aldana; or beer, spicy chicken and Stone Roses/Pixies KTV tunes at Tokyo88).

Hanky says that just taking a stroll along the hotel’s grounds allows each guest to chill out, hear oneself think, and decompress in a Fortress of Solitude of sorts — even in a place as frenzied as Pasay City.

Each house features a sunroom built for afternoon tea and conversations with friends, while pocket spaces spread in-between houses serve as nooks for writing, meditation, or reading a book. For just weekend, you can be Nick Joaquin doing a reportage on lovers, criminals or the phantom lords of Old Manila. Or be David Medalla and plot the next revolution in exploding galaxies or art. Or maybe write songs about killing fascists with an acoustic guitar, a gin-damaged voice box, and three broken barre chords.

All inside your own breezy, sun-dappled room at The Henry. 

So, time to get an old Remington typewriter, look around this enclave of Art Deco grilles and old baldoza tiles, order a strong brew from Apartment 1B, and start typing: It’s 1948 again and Manila is the most beautiful city in Asia.

* * *

The Henry Manila is at 2680 FB Harrison St. Pasay City.  For reservations, call 807-8888, email reservations.manila@thehenryhotel.com or visit www.thehenryhotel.com. Follow The Henry at www.facebook.com/TheHenryHotel and @thehenryhotel on Instagram.

ALBERT AVELLANA COM HENRY HENRY MANILA HTTP LIVING MANILA MODERN PHILSTAR
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