GLOBAL hospitality design company Hirsch Bedner Associates’s (HBA) Manila Design Office was awarded that challenge for some areas of a major luxury hotel, and presented their first two—the now-open La Piazza and the main ballroom, the Grand Salon.
Both stand apart as much as they blend with the grandiose, whimsical, larger-than-life and mostly pink-themed vast space that is Okada Manila.
“As we have done always with our projects around the world, we worked with the Okada Manila team to develop and execute designs that fully incorporate and respect the unique visions they have, and use our expertise to deliver world-class spaces today’s travelers and urban dwellers expect, and perhaps even awe them while we’re at it,” said Norman Agleron, principal of HBA Manila. He worked very closely with 12-man dedicated team, from design to execution phases.
La Piazza, the hotel’s Italian restaurant, transports diners to Italy as soon as they walk from the carnival-themed pavilion through its doors. Unmistakable details identified with Florence, Milan and Venice abound, a signature true-to-concept stamp of the design group’s work.
Veering from the stereotypical images of Italy, but aiming to remain faithful to the country’s rich culture, exquisite artistry, iconic architecture and luxurious elegance, the HBA team worked to bring as many of these details together in a space to produce at the very least, a visual experience of Italy.
Grabbing one’s attention upon entry are the domed ceilings, reminiscent of the country’s iconic cathedrals. The HBA team designed these double-vaulted ceilings, and added emphasis by using visually compelling exposed ribs in some spaces, which help emphasize height and distinguish each of the separate areas inside.
For serious wine lovers and aficionados, a door to the left leads to a more private and cozy wine cellar with Mr. Kazuo Okada’s hand-picked wine collection, lying on temperature-controlled floor-to-ceiling racks on three walls, to choose from, if not just to enjoy company, wine, and antipasti on the wine-barrel inspired cocktail tables, surrounded by them. Not to be outshone is the brass and crystal-customed chandelier, designed to resemble grapes hanging in vineyards and providing warmth and affirming what is served in this particular room.
Double glass doors to the left of the long bar’s end open to the luxurious main dining area. Here, one can see how the hotel’s pink-colored theme is used. Richly upholstered plum velvet banquet seating along one wall is an inviting alternative to the tables and complimenting upholstered chair sets by the windows or underneath the magnificently intricate crystal chandelier resembling a delicate rain shower or magical fringes, aligned with and emphasizing the entire ribbed ceiling. The lights, as well as those from the wall sconces, are reflected on the highly polished wooden tiled floor, made even richer with designs ingrained in each tile by Italian wood craftsmen. Each tile is framed by black Italian marble, broken with white on each corner.
The windows of the main dining area offer one of the hotel’s most ideal views of their famous spectacular-lighted dancing fountain shows. The three smaller private rooms next to the main dining area, however, share the best view. The first is at the farthest end of the restaurant, for a relatively small party, with a long rustic chef’s table underneath another amazingly detailed grape vine-inspired brass and crystal chandelier almost running the length of the room. The next private dining room has plush velvet upholstered seats in a lighter mauve and the distinct smell of rich leather from the intricately tooled leather on the walls. The last one, equally appointed, has a more masculine appeal, with deeper wine-colored seating and damask covered walls.
Every corner, wall and door throughout La Piazza, was not overlooked. Mirrors have antiquated finishes, floors and countertops have famous Italian marble, and even the rest rooms are appointed with the exquisite Renaissance-inspired details one associates with Italy.