Community and folklore inform the design of new Bohol resort

South Palms Resort Panglao Bohol – MGallery is taking shape with a storytelling design concept that draws on the cultural identity of the destination.

Innovation and sustainability leaders in architecture, interior design and green development have come together to create this one-of-a-kind property.

The spirit of the island

Construction of the 188-key South Palms Resort Panglao Bohol – MGallery, a part of Accor, is currently underway on a 6.4-hectare site on the Panglao Shores of Bohol island in the Philippines. The resort is being developed by the owning company, Alturas Group of Companies (AGC), in partnership with Asian hospitality consultancy, C9 Hotelworks, with its completion scheduled for late 2024.

As the property begins to take shape, details have been revealed of the locally inspired concept defining the forthcoming hotel’s design. Award-winning culturalists, storytellers and community-first advocates are collaborating to put adaptive reuse at the heart of this property, with craft, community and a deeply held value for the local history and culture all being woven into the project.

The re-discovery of Bohol’s cultural heritage is led by the hotel owners’ love for the destination and the personal journey of Hope Uy, daughter of the founder of AGC, is at the core of the hotel’s creation.

“The design of South Palms Resort Panglao Bohol – MGallery instils the timeless tales of family into every aspect of the hotel,” said Uy. “Ensuring that this DNA was at the centre of the hotel was everything for me. This is the heart of the project.”

“I was born in Bohol and it is vital for me that the spirit of our history, culture and sense of family comes through all aspects of the design creation. I hope it will also inspire others. I feel that we have a responsibility to respect our land and our heritage and make it everlasting and relevant to new generations.”

Community connection

Of the designers working on this project, Patrick Keane, founder of Enter Projects, an artist and master of native material design, is working with Boholano craftsmen to create spaces of celebration. “Here is a community deeply entrenched in generations of arts and crafts,” he said.

“We are using local materials such as recycled woods, weaving basketry and weaving fabrics, plus traditional techniques passed down through generations and incorporating performance-based materials such as solar and sustainably engineered materials. As a project it is breaking new ground.”

Hazel Wu of White Jacket has then been working on the reuse of materials from former ancestral homes. “A piece of Bohol will be featured in every room, including wooden walls that previously formed part of village dwellings and natural materials that tell the story of local artists and artisans,” said Wu. “This is a tale of culture and folk tales. Stories that will be told throughout the hotel.”

Eco credentials

Chris Singer, founder and managing director of SCSY Studio is drawing on his 25 years of master-planning, architecture and design expertise to provide conceptual and technical recommendations for the hotel’s design, while Phillip Pond, founder and director of Atelier Pond, develops the concept, planning, and detailed design for the four restaurants and bars on site.

The entire design concept ensures optimum sustainability, from the use of high-performance glass, natural ventilation and solar harvesting to the integration of smart technologies, use of electric transport and implementation of water treatment and waste reduction. A specialist in low-carbon projects, John Farrell, founder and director of XCO2 Energy, is instrumental in ensuring the hotel’s environmental status.

The destination landscape and sustainability specialist, Drew Anderson, managing director of TOPO Design Studio Singapore, has also been brought in to help AGC harness natural resources and work with the community in this regard.

Bohol is considered one of the Philippines’ most exciting destinations for investment. The island is home to the new Bohol-Panglao International Airport, which as the first eco-airport in the Philippines, adds to Bohol’s credentials as a sustainable destination.