What is the ultimate luxury? We at Zee Lifestyle have been trying to answer that question for as long as this writer has been on the staff–and probably for a lot longer. A handcrafted designer bag, sure. Having a private island all to yourself, of course. The chance to sleep in on a Monday, definitely. A lot of people seem to agree that luxury often comes from a sense of exclusivity–whether it’s an experience or a product, something becomes a luxury is knowing that not everyone has a chance to have the same thing.
This became the inspiration for the dinner we hosted to kick off the holidays–after all, does anything feel as exclusive as sitting down for a five-course dinner on an intricately decorated table in the middle of a bustling department store, while other customers are rushing through their holiday shopping?
The shop floors of Rustan’s Department Store became host to a unique dinner experience that began with cocktails on the first floor. Amidst glittering Christmas decorations, guests enjoyed appetizers while sampling the selection of drinks–specialty ginger ale, a blueberry vodka cocktail and bottles of Moët & Chandon. In the middle of the refreshments and light chatter, the group was also treated to pampering sessions from the brands of Rustan’s Beauty Source.
After hors d’oeuvres, guests were escorted to their respective tables. Our dinner hosts Regal Oliva and Divine Maitland-Smith had invited a select group of friends for their respective tables.
Basil Cabaral of Rustan’s visual merchandising department had come up with luxurious and modern holiday table settings for the event. Divine’s table on the second floor is decorated with avian accents, golden details and pops of green. The highlight of the table is a golden spiked star sculpture, which guests had re-imagined as statement accessories. Upstairs for Regal’s table is a more traditional take, with Christmas trees featuring in the chargers and as sparkling centerpieces.
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The conversation was quick-witted and interesting, with topics that range from addressing the traffic problems in Cebu at Regal’s table (Margot Osmeña says the answer is discipline–not to kill the drivers next to you, the others added) to the best thing about holidays in Cebu at Divine’s (Butch Carungay and Jon Medalla got into a light argument about how happy we really are during Christmas).
As the night slipped into the later hours and Rustan’s shut its doors, the conversation and the wine continued to flow–the full story will soon be out in Zee Lifestyle’s next issue!
In the meantime, check out our teaser for what went on during the night here:
Bask in Tranquility & Relaxation in this New Hotel within the City
“A” for ASMARA
by Allain Dumon Fonte
In this very fast-paced world that we live in, we find ourselves in a never-ending race of deadlines, submissions, and to-do-lists. However, when things become too much to take, we need to pull out the plug and reboot ourselves. It’s fine to pat your own shoulder and tell yourself that you have done enough; and so, you should stop, take a deep breath, and drop everything. I usually take myself to a quiet and remote place, and with a whole new scenery. I want to be lost somewhere where nothing can remind me of work. Yet, the challenge for many of us is time. Some of us only have one off-day from work in a week; while others are lucky to have two days. Hence, travelling to the Bahamas or to the Caribbean is no longer viable. Even travelling to the world-class resorts in Mactan, to the mystic islands up north, and to the serene beaches down south of Cebu takes so much time because of the traffic situation. Time is of essence and spending it wisely will be our best investment.
Then, I discovered a new haven just a few minutes’ drive from Cebu’s central business district. The ASMARA Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village is a hidden gem. Even driving up to the main doors of the resort, you can already feel the exclusivity of this place. Stepping out from the car and walking to the main lobby with a view of the pool to the left, I feel being transported to a whole new world. The architecture, the interior, the furniture, and the total design concept of this hideaway has created an ambiance comparable to that of the Leadwood Lodge Safari Resort in South Africa or to the Escondido Villas in Acapulco. I sat in the lobby as I waited to be served. I listened and listened very well; surprisingly, I can only hear the birds chirping, the wind gushing down the valley, and a few guests having fun at the pool. Imagine having this tranquil experience in the heart of the metropolis is extremely amazing with a capital A.
Because I got intrigued with the interior, I asked the hotel staff who the architect and the interior designer are; and she gladly introduced me to the owner, the architect, the interior designer, the design concept master, and even the furniture artist of this fine establishment, Mr. Carlo Cordaro. This is how casual and relaxed the environment is; you will get to meet the owner and converse with him. I am struck to meet someone with multi-talents but with such humility. Mr. Cordaro indulged my inquisitive mind by showing me how he conceptualized and then started building this former racetrack into a perfect haven.
Mr. Cordaro explained that as an artist he keeps four important things in mind. First, the location and the environment. ASMARA sits in the valley with the hills of Maria Luisa Estate to its east. Thus, the location is gifted with the cool breeze from the hills, and Mr. Cordaro took advantage of this by creating an open-space restaurant and recreation area. The restaurant is also part of the village’s recreation space where guests enjoy yoga sessions, or a dip in the pool, or even a tennis match.
Second, Mr. Cordaro wants to make use of the local raw materials and create a venue that is distinctively Cebuano; and this is what makes Asmara remarkable and unique. The quirky hotel doors are diagonal and lined with banana skin fibers, the modern-designed furniture are all made from high-quality wood, the walls are lined with abaca fibers, and the tall coconut trees entwine with the rooms’ viewing decks. Guests have an exquisite panorama of the sunset and the recreation space in the village. I told Mr. Cordaro that the rooms have already soothed my stressed thoughts. This brought us to the third concept that Mr. Cordaro considers in designing, “the emotion”. He wants his design pieces, from furniture to spaces, to convey emotions to the guests. He said that before finishing a masterpiece, he always puts himself in the shoes of other people and asks himself if the art pieces exude emotions or connect with him. He believes that any work of art must connect with the people to be appreciated. ASMARA Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village is very well thought of because every space and every corner can deliver emotions of relaxation and ease.
When I asked him for the fourth element, Mr. Cordaro smiled and answered, “sustainability”. He wants ASMARA to be as green as it could be. The open-space restaurant uses less electricity because it maximizes the natural light and the cool breez. The glass pyramid in the middle of the dining area does not only manipulate the natural light but it is also a gigantic rainwater collecting facility. The use of indigenous local materials for the interior of the hotel and the pillars of wood that support the three-story hotel building make ASMARA one of the most sustainable establishments in Southeast Asia. Mr. Cordaro has not only made ASMARA an asset to the economy and tourism, but also an asset to the environment.
Since we were already in the dining area, Mr. Cordaro offered that I should try their authentic Italian dishes. I took the liberty of ordering the pizza rolls, and it refreshed my memories of Palermo at Frida Pizzeria. I shall not disclose how many pieces I ate that afternoon because it was just divine. The chicken skewers became special with the restaurant’s secret sauce. They were heaven to my taste buds. Please do not let me start with the healthy options for their beverages. Every fruit juice is freshly squeezed and very well-concocted.
After the very delightful conversation with Mr. Cordaro, I finally settled in my room and enjoyed my four seasons drink on my room’s balcony with the scene of the orange sky, the breeze brushing my face and the sounds of water from the pool. With Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in my hand, I felt great that very moment. Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village is a gift to mankind.
A for amazed…A for astonished…A for awed…A for ASMARA.
A GREEN CHRISTMAS: Eco-friendly Holiday Gift Ideas
Seriously, who wants a blue Christmas? Go green when gift-giving with our curated list of sustainable gift items that are perfect for your loved-ones AND the environment as well.
It’s Christmas Deer Knot Wrap from LUSH (Php 495)
For the practical yet fashionable mom, this reusable organic cotton Knot Wrap from Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is ideal. With an endeeringly bright and nostalgic design, this can be used to wrap gifts or add a touch of festive charm to any outfit.
Lush has introduced Knot Wraps 10 years ago, in 2009, as an alternative reusable packaging. This Christmas, Knot-Swap, a new scheme will launch in all Lush shops. Freshen up your Knot Wrap game without wasting a stitch. Swap in your pre-loved wrap and get 50% off a Lush design of the same size. The Knot Wraps for Christmas 2019 are made from either Organic Cotton or Recycled waste bottles. Waste not, want knot! For more information, please visit www.lush.com.ph
Abaca Pillowcase in Green from ANTHILL (Php 849)
This Abaca Pillow Case from Anthill Fabric Gallery is fabulous for the meticulous aunt and can enliven any room. It is made of Abaca pinanggabol (handloomed natural textile) from the Daraghuyan Tribe in Dalwangan, Bukidnon. The handloom process creates a slightly looser weave that leaves a comfortable texture and softness that deepens over time. The Abaca pillowcase is available in 5 colors.
Bag of Treats from ECHOSTORE (Php 629)
Filled with Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates and variations of Malagos Dark Chocolate, this “bag of treats” from ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle is the ultimate present for the kids and the kids-at-heart!
Bamboo Tumbler from ECO HUB CEBU (Php 720)
A nice fit for the on-the-go dad or the adventurous brother, this double-walled insulated tumbler keeps any beverage hot or cold for up to 8 hours. You can have it customized and engrave a name on the body or the lid at an additional fee of Php 50 per piece.
Order via Facebook: Eco Hub Cebu
Gifts of Comfort and Joy from HUMAN HEART NATURE (Php 509)
Give the gift of natural goodness to grandma with this set from Human Heart Nature which includes Lavender Oil and balm with Rose Bouquet Hand & Foot Salve for her relaxing and pampering needs!
Glass Skin Glow Set from ELLANA MINERAL COSMETICS (Php 1,148)
Now available in a special bundle, this best-selling item from Ellana Mineral Cosmetics is an essential addition to your girlfriend’s purse! It’s skin care and a setting spray in one, which contains rose and Mandarin orange extracts.
Lazy Boy Dry Shampoo from PARALUMAN (Php 130-160)
Perfect for the vain boyfriend, this dry shampoo from Paraluman is lightweight. It contains cocoa, patchouli and seaweed to volumize, add shine, heal, reduce oiliness and dryness, and promote hair growth. It also comes with a sleek black aluminum tub that you can reuse over and over!
All products featured on zee.ph are independently selected by our editors.
Siosai Tempura Restaurant
Serving a variety of set tempura meals, they’ve got the culinary technique down to a T, especially with their Japanese head chef, Kojiro Shimamura, at the helm.
Siosai Tempura Restaurant is the newest tempura place in town.
Named after the sound of the waves, Siosai Tempura Restaurant has the culinary technique down to a T, especially with their Japanese head chef, Kojiro Shimamura, at the helm.
You can find your usual tempura fare, like shrimp, here, but you’d be surprised just how many kinds of tempura are on their menu, from vegetables to other kinds of meat like chicken or pork.
Their desserts are also served tempura-style, like the ice cream and the cinnamon apples.
Opens Mondays through Sundays, 11AM to 11PM.
Bonifacio District, 6000 F. Cabahug St, Cebu City, Cebu
Awesome Online-Exclusive Deals and Free Shipping Await Shoppers at the Newly-Launched Old Navy PH Digital Store
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