Create a project that will make an impact to the community. That was the motivation of the Go family when they built G1 Lodge, a boutique hotel strategically located atop Session Road. And make an impact the Gos did, in a property some people might think would be too small—250 square meters. Their original plan was to make it a commercial space, but as the family architect Aris Go puts it, they didn’t want to just sit back and wait for the cash register to ring. “We wanted to make our lives harder,” he quips.
You can easily glean this ethic in the amount of work they put into planning the Baguio hotel’s architecture, taking into consideration the kind of experience they wanted their guests to feel as well as the space, shape, and size of the existing building. “The site is tight and closer to a triangular shape, so we had to really fit in whatever we could within this area,” explains Aris, the eldest among eight siblings.
In terms of design, Aris wants to bring out the Cordilleran artistry and craftsmanship and distill its uniqueness. By that, he means not being coy about the “un-fineness of the materials,” the mistakes and the flaws. The ceiling, depicting an inverted Cordilleran terrain, immediately wows you at the lobby. “This is just natural timber (Finnish pine) without any paint, without anything,” he points out. “We just sanded it, fixed some holes. Then we wanted it to curve down toward the ground, so much like approaching the ground at an angle,” he explains, noting that “the ceiling is in a way tessellated, it’s like broken triangles and origami-like in a way.”
But Aris is quick to add that the ceiling’s design isn’t all for aesthetics. The triangulated ceiling was also meant to add depth to the space, since the lobby is below the standard height of 2.4 meters. In addition to this, the ceiling has an acoustic function. “If the ceiling is just flat, sound will reflect at a certain angle, such that if I shout toward the ceiling, you can hear some sort of echo, which you don’t want.”
Their front desk is inspired by the hagabi, an Ifugao furniture placed in front of the house to signify wealth. A hagabi is usually cut out of narra, but G1 Lodge’s is made out of pine timber burned the traditional way. Sitting on top of the desk is a small pile of dalupirip from a farm in Itogon while timber from Atok, Benguet is perched on a coffee table in the lounge area. “We found the moss interesting, so we put the timber there and it becomes a furniture,” Aris says.
Here are other interesting spots in Baguio:
Designers primarily have aesthetics in mind when they conceptualize facades. In the case of G1 Lodge, the design of the facade serves important functions as well. “The building is facing the east. If we are in Manila, we’ll just shade it all throughout, because we don’t want sun to get into the building. But because we’re in Baguio, we want to have that late afternoon sun to get in. So, we created a shading system, where the sun would get into the building at around 4p.m.” They also used clear glass (instead of tinted) because they wanted people to see through the building, and for their guests to see the outside.
As for the hallways leading to the rooms, Aris veered away from the traditional formula of painting the walls white to make the space look bigger. “Here, we did the total opposite. Because the space is tight, [the dark walls] make it even tighter, but that makes the [hotel experience] even more personal. We wanted it to achieve that kind of feeling. We wanted to just light the floor and emphasize the path. Lighting also directs the eyes to the paintings on the walls, so the black walls make the perfect background. Then once you enter the rooms, you’re greeted with colors. You have these processional experience of the design,” he explains.
In its one-year of existence, G1 Lodge has already made a mark in terms of creativity and innovation. And as an affirmation of Aris and 90 Design Studio’s efforts, G1 Lodge was recognized at the Kohler Bold Design Awards 2017 for being The Boldest Urban Hotel.
Things are looking up
Russell Go, the hotel’s operations manager and the fifth in the brood, admits it’s been a roller-coaster ride for the family, as they didn’t have any hospitality experience whatsoever. But he adds that they are primed to take on the challenge and learn more about the business as they go along.
Currently, the 10-floor property has 30 rooms, but will soon add six more. All units have a smart TV, so you can watch Netflix to your heart’s content while enjoying in-room dining. WiFi signal is strong so you need not worry if you need to submit an important report while on vacation. The beds and pillows are soft and comfy, and the rooms have air-conditioning units, so you are guaranteed a good night’s rest. Each room has a private bathroom with free toiletries. A function room good for 40 pax will soon be available, and the roof deck will be an added attraction once it’s done.
As for food and drinks, G1 Lodge has its own coffee shop, Raincoat Coffee, which serves ala carte meals and a variety of beverages like fruit juices and milkshakes, and artisanal brews from different parts of Benguet.
What’s great about G1 Lodge is that it’s located at the highest point of Session Road, so guests will have direct view of Leonard Wood, and is walking distance going to SM City Baguio, Burnham and Mines View Park, and the city proper. It’s about 2.7 kilometers away from Lourdes Grotto.
Things are also looking up for G1 Lodge since it launched in March 2018. Russell says their goal is to be the hotel of choice especially among millennials and business people. In the next five years, they are hoping to build a G2 or G3, because according to him, the rewards are high. “With this project, we’re able to showcase the best of our people and we’re able to make mark that we can all be proud of,” says Russell.
For more information, visit the G1 Lodge Facebook page.
More fantastic-looking hotels to check out
Photographs by Andre Drilon