I want to live in a world designed by Niccolo Jose - a world where all furniture is magically transformed to art, where art expresses different emotions, and where chairs are anything but ordinary. I suppose my wish got granted when our teambuilding for this year was held at the family resort of the young and talented woodbender and visual artist.
Located in a 29-hectare property that was once devastated by the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, Green Canyon, which is about two hours’ drive from Manila, sits prettily in the middle of a lush green canyon near the Clark Freeport Economic Zone. It opened in late 2014, and has earned the accolade for being the first eco-art resort in the country as it combines the elegance of art and beauty of nature to give people a rejuvenating experience.
The three-storey main hotel is a redesigned farm warehouse, partly made from boulders sourced from the nearby Socobia river, volcanic ash and lahar. As part of its green initiative, it uses solar panels as backup power source and a reverse osmosis water filtration system that makes water clean and potable. The pathway leading to the entrance, made of bricks from sugar mills of Negros, is lined up with bicycles, which guests can freely use to roam around the resort. I also spied wooden Mokujins, one of which is carrying a board with a Proverb quote “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”
Upon entering the main lobby, I was amazed by the preponderance of wooden artworks and furniture sculpted and painted by Nico and his team. They are all over the place - from floor, counter, walls, stairs to ceiling – and they have elevated an otherwise typical lobby into an art gallery, showcasing the artistry and ingenuity of Nico.
Wooden counter adorned with miniature and cute wood works
Pyrographic portrait of Yoda - a blow torch wood burning art
Giant pocket watch
Think Big chair
Alice in Wonderland's Chesire cat chair
Aenigma - wooden portrait mosaic of Nico’s ex
Wine glass bottle chandelier
J bench and reading nook
Some of Nico’s intrepid and extraordinary creations are mostly made from recycled and salvaged woods. The most notable of which is the 7-foot Think Big Chair made from over 5,000 pieces of century-old mahogany, tamarind, narra, tangili, kamagong, molave, palo de china, ipil, cherry, cedar, and palo ropa woods. His chairs may look quirky and whimsical but most of them are ergonomically sound, as if hugging whoever is sitting on them. Moreover, he wants every piece he makes to have soul so that the person who will be using or seeing it would feel an undeniable connection. A chandelier made of used bottles hanging on iron racks that used to be part of an old train, on the other hand, is the masterpiece of his father, Jojo Jose. The artistry really ran through the family bloodline.
The hotel has 47 unique rooms and a few stand-alone casitas good for couple, family and barkada. Most of the furniture inside the rooms, including bed frames, were made out of trees that got washed away by Typhoon Ondoy back in 2009. I was assigned, together with Ate Ivy, in the Upgraded Standard Room. Minimalist in design, the room is spacious and the bed soft and fluffy.
The Pavilion houses their all-day dining restaurant Palette, function rooms and a main hall for private events, and the open-air terrace Boulders View Deck. The restaurant serves home-cooked cuisine prepared with produce grown at the resort's organic farm.
Pyrographic portrait of Pacman in the main function hall
Pulled pork sandwich with cassava chips
Kalabasa ice cream
There are several physical but fun activities to do within the resort – biking, swimming, and mountain trekking. And even if it was exhausting being in action due to summer heat, the open layout of the resort ensures a green and relaxing vista from all directions – still a good trade-off. The golden hour also offers spectacular sunrise and sunset views.
Quarter-circle shaped Symphony pool
Solar ball-powered Wave pool
View from the mountain trail
I’m certain everybody enjoyed the amenities, and various games and activities, particularly the cheering competition, Amazing Race, and Hiram na Mukha talent portion. Likewise, nobody got burned or seriously injured this year. It was almost a perfect teambuilding. Only one thing had gone amiss.
We weren’t wearing green.
Green Canyon Eco Art Resort
San Vicente Rd., Bamban
Tel. No.: (045) 499-4800, 0998-9634332