As building blocks of an interior or any given environment, details accrue to create an ambiance, a style, or a particular aesthetic. They may be functional or purely ornamental, an afterthought or intrinsic to the overall layout of a space. Without details—the flourish of fleur-de-lis on a vase, the visible grain of an oak table—the built environment will be flat, soulless and dispiriting. Details are a space’s animating force. No wonder that Mies van der Rohe, an acknowledged pioneer of modernist architecture, was credited for having said: “God is in the details.”
It is the details that provide the theme, narrative and unified effect behind Peacock Garden (thepeacockgarden.com)—a 40-room boutique hotel crowning a Bohol hillock, in the historical town of Baclayon. Upon entering through its massive wooden gates carved with the peacock symbol (which serves as the hotel’s recurring motif), one will be greeted by an imposing structure of red tile roof and a facade the color of mellowing sunlight. The architecture is unmistakably European in sensibility, anchored by a marble sculpture of a woman in a triumphant pose, the fan of a peacock unfurled behind her. A row of Italianate lion heads serves as an additional water feature.
Details shine and constellate in the main lobby filled to the brim with antiques and other curiosities: a cabinet displaying an array of centuries-old German pieces (beer mugs, hymn books), opulent chandeliers, a sofa curiously delineated with velvet ropes. The sofa, from the Biedermier era, takes on extra significance when one finds out that Jose Rizal sat there in its prior location in a mansion in Heidelberg. In the main dining hall is a piano made by master craftsman Wilhelm Rudolph and a collection of chairs dating back from the 19th century.
Like polished brass, the hotel reflects the identity of the German Hans Schoof, a modern-day gentleman who still wears a bow tie and carries the confidence of a soldier. Married to the Boholanon beauty Lani Jubac, Hans turned what was originally planned as a German restaurant into a sprawling complex with a hotel, a spa, a pub, a cigar room, a bar, among others. His son Christian, who serves as Peacock Garden’s general manager, remarks: “This is an expression of his past. When he went to Greece, he said, ‘One day, I’d have house on a hill with a view just like here in the Parthenon.’ Indeed, that’s what he did.”
“Peacock Garden is meant to tell a little bit about the owner and his story as well as his interests and passions, adds Amanda Iliscupides, the hotel’s marketing manager. “Since everything is curated, everything is handpicked based from what he’s read, he’s traveled, his personal aesthetic, it’s become a hotel that has a little bit more character and a little bit intimate with its approach with the customer experience.”
Amanda explains that because of the little touches of Hans’ identity and heritage infused into the details of the hotel, the guests feel as though they had been transported to a different place—a mysterious destination that recalls castles, knights and wintry nights except it is located within a tropical scenery and gifted with a view of South China Sea revealing a constellation of lamp-lit boats at night. “You never quite expect it to be in the middle of Bohol, in the middle of the Philippines,” she says. “People say it feels like Greece, like somewhere they’d be in Europe on vacation.”
Despite the Peacock Garden’s distinct European feel, local guests still feel an immediate connection with it because it offers an array of experiences to different types of people. They home in on what appears to be relatable to them: the infinity pool, the architecture, the rooms, the amenities, or the historical details. “We’re trying to make every experience personal,”says Christian. “It elicits different types of emotions from people. It can be historical or it can be just awe when looking at a great view.”