THERE’S a boutique hotel nestled where the landmark Blanco Center used to be on Salcedo Village in Makati City, which reminds one of Frank Gehry, the iconic architect who did not just change the face of architecture but an entire city’s economy, and is perhaps among the very few marketer extraordinaire Seth Godin referred to as “a purple cow in a field of monochrome.”
Extrapolating on that thought a bit, what is now The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences used to be the old Sandra, only dolled up to the nines with high heels and a little bit of dress and rechristened Georgina.
Because a drab apartment building that looked straight out of some city of yore just simply doesn’t cut it these days. And so the owners came to do something about it with developer Hospitality Innovators Inc. (HII), determined to get the building’s mojo back and give it “a fountain of youth.”
“When the owners came to us, they said, ‘Maybe you can help us with this: The building is old, so we’d like to try and see if there’s a way we can increase its earning potential,’” HII CEO and President Luis Monserrat recalls. “I realized that what we needed to do here was transformation, a complete makeover.”
Monserrat tapped art-geek architect Dom Galicio for the reconceptualization, and the proposal for the complete renovation being art-inspired was made in earnest. When it was time to think of a name for the property, HII went back to its core—what the entire effort was about: transformation. “Dom suggested that no other artist embodies transformation better than Pablo Picasso,” Monserrat said.
The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences is the flagship in the HII line of concept spaces, driven by its knack to “reinvent the old to experience the new,” and recreate or tap into the potential of the properties from what otherwise would have been the bland and the boring.
“This is what we offer hotel and property developers: the impressive combination of a unique concept and great service that can enhance the value of assets and create attractive returns,” Monserrat said, adding that they are going head-on against the “Goliaths,” and the clear-cut brand of creativity and nuance they throw onto the table is what sets apart the properties they conceptualize and manage.
The epitome of HII, The Picasso is literally an art box of more than 130 rooms, which, beyond just being decked with portraits on the pictorial walls, are spatial still lifes where the guest himself can be a part or the subject of the painting.
An ode to Pablo Picasso’s artistic philosophy, The Picasso’s Tina Periquet-designed interiors are an inviting picture of old Europe, replete with Cobonpue and Bertoia pieces that are accentuated by oxidized mirrors, hardwood parquet floors and various pastel finishes unique in each of the rooms, which are named after relevant places in the West that were frequented by the artist (think Barcelona, Montparnasse, Madrid).
At different times of the day, one can find his art snob on his private balcony or sprawled somewhere right on the edge of everything, overlooking the landscape of the city leaning against windows that extend up to the ceiling down to the floor, from a wall to another wall.
Beyond the complimentary art-themed facilities (among many others: a gym or two, a Wi-Fi lounge, a restaurant called Brasserie Bohème), the in-house art gallery showcasing Filipino contemporary works by Art Cabinet Philippines (which also curated all art articulations in every nook and cranny of The Picasso) is the altar of it all, where one can commune with and be lost in a reverie conjured by the assembly of critical expressions in various media.
The Picasso, so to speak, is an art gallery with beds and a lot of pampering. Here, you don’t have to be artsy-fartsy to feel right at home.