The other day I found myself trying to book a hotel by only three standards. First it had to be clean, second it had to be not super expensive, and third, it had to be worthy of the ‘gram. That seems to be a general consensus these days — luxury is fine, but design, man, you can get that with change to spare. The latest hotel to rise in the city of Puerto Princesa, Hue Hotels & Resorts, fits the bill. With 122 rooms, it’s comfortably huge, but still within a boutique, three-star budget. And, you guessed right — it’s super Instagrammable.
The design is a collaboration between Hue Hotels & Resorts managing directors, brothers Dexter Lee and Dennis Lee, and Singapore-based firm White Jacket. Taking inspiration from its locale, Palawan, the hotel references birds in flight, mangroves, and local handicraft. It also supports local industries by tapping them as suppliers.
Perhaps the wackiest part of the hotel is the pool, which is on the fifth level, overlooking the mountains of Palawan and, get this, the highway. The outer wall is made of glass, so if you swim close enough, the whole barangay can see you. Trust us, it’s a thrill. Hue Puerto Princesa also has a spa, a fitness center, a ballroom for 300 pax, and meeting rooms.
Adjacent to it is the Hue-designed and built Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar, which is operated by Chef Gabby Prats, whose specialties include cashew kare-kare, ginataang santol, and thrice-cooked bagnet. The cocktail menu was created by Liquid Maestro Kalel especially for Hue (get it? LOL), also drawing inspiration from local ingredients and tropical flavors.
Hue Hotels & Resorts is also opening in Boracay soon. It’s going to be designed differently and positioned differently — just like every Hue Hotel that might arise in the future. This is the concept of Dexter and Dennis, who liked the idea of different “hues” for a spectrum of hotels. “Each one will be different, and will depend on the location,” says Dexter. They’re also not holding back when it comes to architecture and design. “It would’ve been easier to build a standard hotel, but we wanted something that was a standout,” he says, referring to Hue Boracay, which is sort of bean-shaped from an aerial view. “When it came to the design brief, it was the weirder, the better,” adds Dennis.
The better, indeed. Their risks are paying off. In Boracay, they opened Station X, the hotel’s commercial and dining area, ahead of the hotel — Dexter admits, after a “long discussion.” “But it turned out to be the right decision,” he adds. With Station X already open and brimming with people wanting to get a taste of local and international cuisine (again, for Boracay’s spectrum of visitors), Hue Boracay, although yet to open, is sort of already marketing itself. It’s also making the hotel more approachable. The open, welcoming feel of the commercial area is like an invitation to visitors to come check the hotel out once it opens. The same approach applies to Hue Puerto Princesa, in which Matiz, their “in-house” restaurant, was actually leased out to give local businesses a chance to bloom. This resulted in an atmosphere that made it feel separate from the hotel and open to non-guests, so it’s a destination in itself.
But Hue is not just about aesthetics. The Lee brothers, having been running malls and retain developments in Cavite, actually have a long-standing advocacy to promote and champion local businesses. “We have the same advocacy as when we do in retail. When we build something, we want it to uplift the community. That’s one thing that’s constant in all our developments,” says Dennis. In Hue Puerto Princesa, they tapped local suppliers for decor and accessories, and promote the use of homegrown ingredients.
Future Hue Hotels are a given, although the brothers say they want to establish their Palawan and Boracay properties first. As for their next location, Dexter hints: “The more secret the better,” referring to the rise in popularity of little-known destinations, where, obviously, there’s a lot of potential. We trust that Hue will adapt to these places just fine and not turn them into fast food centrals and pool clubs. They’re cool like that.
For reservations, visit their website.