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Travel and Tourism

W Taipei: Luxe in the City

RENDEZVOUs - Christine S. Dayrit - The Philippine Star

I often say that if I were a hotel brand, I would want to be the W where whimsical, fun, innovation, intimacy, drama and funky are always synonymous to each other.

Of late, my siblings and their families have been smitten with the W experience and our lives have never been the same. Each New Year, we look forward to celebrating life, love, laughter and prayer in this unique world of style, comfort and service with soul.

From choice W Hotels, we shift our focus to W Taipei where we discovered how this innovative brand constantly seeks ways to delight and surprise as it conceptualizes out-of-the-box ideas — the room, the palate, and perhaps even the planet. If you are there to work, you will find yourself infused with a sense of play; if you are there to play, you will find that your work life renewed and stimulated.  

A recent trip to W Taipei with my niece Nikki Boncan-Buensalido and her husband Jason Buensalido, both multi-talented architects who place a premium on design savvy and contemporary creativity, proved that the W truly epitomizes their eclectic and innovative personalities. Unique design narratives, fusion of quirky pluralism and functional style, and spaces that playfully come to life are just some descriptions that capture Nikki and Jason’s experience at the W Taipei. W Hotels Worldwide is an industry innovator that brings a jolt of electrified design to Taipei. Spending a few days in this luxurious urban paradise merits their conviction that the heart of this booming and vibrant Taiwanese capital with the veneer of 21st-century sophistication is the W Taipei. From here, one ought to explore all the scintillating secrets the city has to offer — awe-inspiring architecture, world-renowned museums, innovative restaurants, the undisputed king of night markets, hottest nightspots and the very affordable shopping whether local or imported goods in malls or stalls.

W Taipei is located in the heart of the bustling Xinyi Central Business District. It is a sanctuary of serenity and energy in the heart of this bustling neighborhood, reflecting the surrounding natural beauty of Casing Mountain and Yangmingshan National Park, juxtaposed alongside Taipei’s vibrant, modern cityscape.

“Besides being the urban mecca and capital of Taiwan, Taipei’s strong connection to nature continues to influence the culture here. W Taipei will be a haven of fun luxury, where serenity meets energy and will be the venue of choice for discerning and style-conscious trendsetters who want to be wowed by the finer things in life — particularly those inspired by W brand’s unique mix of contemporary cool design, modern comfort, and innovative style,” says Cary Gray, general manager of W Taipei.

Wina Chen, marketing and communications director of W Taipei, greeted us and we were ushered into our “Wonderful Room,” one of W Taipei’s 405 guestrooms and suites. Warm-colored stones, burnished wood and lush electrified floral carpeting contrasts with modern, subtle lighting inspired by Chinese lantern boxes bring out hints of the local Taiwanese culture while the white table and designer leather chair set amidst a seating vignette overlooking Taipei 101 serves as a fine complement to the background and view overlooking the lights of the city.

The next morning, Gary Lee, marketing and communications manager of W Taipei, gladly showed us around and explained in detail the W lingo and how everything is tied in to their concept. Gary related that different W Hotels in various parts of the world carry different themes. W Taipei’s was “Nature Electrified.” He said this theme stemmed from Taipei’s distinct location set amidst the Yangmingshan range of mountains and the Yangmingshan National Park. W Taipei’s vision was to bring in nature and translate it in an electrifying hip and happening way. 

As one enters the W Taipei’s Wheels Lobby, one enters a sensory overload of layers and layers of design.  From its front door mat that greets visitors a “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening” depending on the time of the day to the Whatever Desk where you can ask for “Whatever you want, whenever you want” (as long as it’s legal). The “whatever, whenever service” is something only W Hotels Worldwide has and they can give literally whatever you what, whenever you want it. (We tried asking for hairpins, a nail cutter and a pancake recipe from the Kitchen Table. We got all we wanted. All we had to do was to ask.)

Upon entering, what distinctly caught our curiosity were two art installations called “To Light You Fade” created by Random International, UK. The installation is an interactive piece that deconstructs a person’s movement as one passes by it. The second installation was a circular disk made out of high-grade thumbtacks titled “Purple Target” by Howard Chen of Taiwan.

Gary showed us around the welcome desk juxtaposed with white discs of LED uplights evoking water droplets and vertical strips of stainless steel metal saplings. He invited us over to the W Living Room where a kinetic series of timber louvers form a stepped canopy, folding down to enclose the second story meeting areas as their version of the Lobby.

The W Living Room at night is transformed into W’s Woobar. The Woobar is equipped with oversized ottomans, lounge chairs, sofas and cocktail tables spread out across the space. At the end of the bar is a DJ Island, which is home to W’s resident DJ and other world-class DJs who control the state-of-the-art sound and light systems integrated into the design.

The Kitchen Table’s modern interpretation of yellow interiors and patterned ceiling emits the feeling of the sun’s warmth and glow in a garden cottage every morning.

Next, Gary welcomed us into the amazing Sweat Fitness Center, W’s signature gym, and W’s Away Spa and Sauna.

On the topmost floor is Yen Restaurant, a Cantonese restaurant with a spectacular view overlooking Taipei 101, the city and the mountains that stretched beyond. The rich purple-colored glass created a mirage of spaces, reflections that brought out a unique identity to the space. Another interesting detail was that in certain function rooms and nooks, artists found very clever ways of using kitchen and cooking utensils as the medium of their art pieces.  In one nook, spoons, knives and forks brought to life Chinese warriors standing in attention guarding their own “gateways.” In another function room, cookie cutters were used to create a stunning backdrop amidst the colorful yet classy interiors of the room. Nikki shared that she enjoyed looking at every art piece because each was a statement piece that was still traditional but at the same time was able to veer away from the usual and the common — which is what they also try to do in their architectural design practice. 

After sundown, indulge in liquid luxe at hotel’s Yen Bar overlooking the amazing Taipei 101. Try its signature cocktail drinks like the Green Tea Mojito and Oolong Tea-infused Vodka Fizz Cocktail. 

As an additional treat, Gary thoughtfully informed us that there was a Red Dot Exhibit and Design Expo just around the corner. It was delightful to explore this old factory converted into a museum and expo space that was adjacent to the new Eslite Mall, another design haven. After a truly inspiring day, we were pleasantly surprised to find three test tubes of M&M’s, almonds and macadamia nuts from Joyce Hsu, W Insider of W Taipei. Joyce reminded us if there was anything else in the hotel or around the city we’d like to visit, we can just ask her — “Wherever, Whenever, Just Ask” was her parting greeting.

Truly, W Taipei is a rich experience in itself. For Nikki and Jason, it was a sensory experience that allowed them to recharge and excitedly embrace the challenge to push contemporary architecture to its limits even more.

No matter how many night markets we explored, how many museums and natural attractions in Taipei we visited, our hearts always skipped a beat in excitement each time we would return home to our plush beds at the W Taipei. Just walking into the eclectic red and lemon lime green elevator, the harmony and contrast of the neon lights in the lobby that playfully tickled our senses, the familiar verbena-scented fragrance that wafted throughout the designers haven hotel — we knew in our hearts we were home. This is exactly where we wanted to be.

What else can you ask for?

* * *

For more information on W Taipei, log on to www.wtaipei.com. Eva Air flies daily to Taipei. For reservation please call 864-3800. For tours, please contact Jeron Travel at 854-1813 or visit www.jerontravel.com.

E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.

COM DESIGN KITCHEN TABLE TAIPEI W HOTELS W HOTELS WORLDWIDE W LIVING ROOM W TAIPEI
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