Hotels offer more than a brief respite for travelers. Some, like Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, have become an architectural fixture that reflects the dynamic urban landscape of a particular place.
Designed by National Artists Ildefonso P. Santos and Leandro Locsin, Sofitel is an upscale bayside resort hotel that spans a geometric-style structure on 12 acres of verdant, landscaped grounds with an unparalleled sunset view.
Sofitel celebrates innovation and a French approach to hospitality, while simultaneously drawing inspiration from local culture and tradition to give its guests a luxurious hotel experience.
Echoing Sofitel’s modern and refined vibe in her design, event stylist Abhie Tan’s setup features a similarly contemporary spin with Japanese elements. Set amidst Sofitel’s Harbor Deck, Tan’s outdoor setup is sheltered under a makeshift canopy draped in pink jersey fabric that is arranged to evoke a laidback vibe. Ornate crystal chandeliers complete the rest of the ceiling design, casting a regal glow and setting the mood.
The Japanese Metro Luxe theme continues with the rest of the setup, which predominantly features metals to reflect an urban vibe, as well as varying shades of pink that temper and soften the entire look.
Specially constructed round centerpieces made of tubular metals dominate the guest tables, adding height and structure to the space. A profusion of sakura flowers adorn the upper part of the centerpiece, while peonies and carnations occupy the base, along with luminaries placed in the middle. Steel chrome-backed chairs with black upholstery match the guest tables that are swathed in black tablecloth, maintaining the overall contemporary look.
Chrome charger plates echo the use of metals in the setup while sprucing up the plainer cutlery and white plates. Printed pink Japanese silk table napkins, black Miso soup bowls, and chopsticks with pink sleeves add a customized touch to the rest of the tablescape.
Meanwhile, the same design scheme is applied to the acrylic VIP table, except the tubular centerpiece comes in a rectangular shape filled with phalaeonopsis, ranunculus, calla lilies, lisianthus, imported roses, carnations, and peonies. As a nod to the popular preference of maximalist arrangement among locals, Tan used a mostly clustered design in the floral arrangements, but integrated a bit of the Japanese art of flower arrangement—Ikebana—in it. Additionally, LED stick candles on chrome candlestick holders are strewn among the flowers, along with dainty folding fans, which punctuate the setup’s Japanese influence.
The same goes for the backdrop, which is framed with a couple of cherry blossom trees that are adorned with luminaries made of tea lights on glass candleholders, which are strung on branches.
The cherry blossom trees also feature heavily on the menus and name cards, courtesy of Annasthetic Designs. Delicate, pink sakura flowers are printed on the border of premium board paper with pink and black script, allowing a sense of continuity on both the theme and color scheme. The same print appears on the wedding invitation, which is comes in a three-card set cut in a hexagon shape, slipped into an urbane flab matte envelope and finished with a personalized sealer.
Meantime, the menu details an exclusively curated Japanese spread, courtesy of Sofitel chef Masahiro Mizumoto. For the appetizers, there’s Kouhaku Namasu (vinegar-marinated radish and carrots) and Lobster Sashimi, followed by a main course comprised of Tai (Japanese sea bream) Hamayaki, Scallops Chawanmushi with Wasabi Ankake, and assorted Tempura. The meal comes with Sekihan (red beans rice), along with assorted pickles and Kajiru (clam miso soup). For dessert, there are assorted fruits and a Green Tea Cheesecake with Green Tea Macarons.
Topping off the meal is an exquisite Japanese-inspired cake by Abby Aroila of Sweetbunch Cakes & Baking Supplies. In lieu of the Japanese Metro Luxe theme, Aroila’s four-layered, all-white base is festooned with a large, winding sprig of sakura sugar flowers. Lace piping made of sugar covered with silver dust and silver spray to resemble a chrome and metallic finish serve as accents, along with several sugar origami of paper cranes, which symbolize love in Japanese culture, aptly rounding out the setup.
DREAM TEAM: Event Stylist ABIGAIL TAN of NATURAL ART https://www.instagram.com/naturalartph/| Cake SWEET BUNCH CAKES https://www.instagram.com/sweetbunch28/ | Stationery ANNASTHETIC DESIGNS https://www.instagram.com/annastheticdesigns/| Trusses JS MINA https://www.instagram.com/jsminasoundsystemrental/| Photography ADRIAN ARDIENTE https://www.instagram.com/adrianardiente/| Venue and Food SOFITEL PHILIPPINE PLAZA MANILA https://www.instagram.com/sofitelmanila/| Special thanks to Ms. Margot Calimon of Sofitel Manila | Words SHAHARAINE ABDULLAH