Hospitality with a Heart | The Henry Hotel, EO Philippines
Updated: Apr 7
All around the world, the concept of what a hotel is and can be is constantly evolving. The industry as a whole has gotten to the point where simply offering a room with a bed, a hot shower, and HBO won’t cut it. Hotels have gone from providing accommodations to now being about a total package experience for guests. The inclusion of more than one restaurant, buffet breakfasts, spas, gyms, and more bells and whistles than you can think of are pushing hotels into full blown destinations. Nowadays, if a hotel can’t provide unique experiences that customers find appealing, you probably wouldn’t want to book a night there.
There are however a number of issues that the hotel industry as a whole faces, especially when it comes to sourcing. Many of the bigger players in the hospitality industry look towards building bigger, shinier, more opulent developments where they can. Sustainability has only began trending recently, as still being adopted slowly around the world. The industry as a whole is starting to make more socially conscious, more sustainable choices with guests as well as behind the scenes. These efforts however can go unnoticed, or in reality, have minor impact in the grand scheme of things. In The Philippines, one hotel venture is showing that the hospitality industry that small calculated shifts from the industry norm can allow you to succeed with sustainability.
The Henry Hotels are a collection of boutique hotels, with branches in Manila and Cebu, the country’s capital and queen city respectively. Each of their properties has a chaotic charm to them, mixing post-WWII design, pop art elements, and industrial influences. With 62 rooms in Cebu and 35 rooms in their Manila properties, each has a distinct look to them, nothing is cookie cutter about The Henry. Both properties are carefully curated, with local art and design choices that emphasize some of the country’s finest artists. Each of The Henry Hotels is filled to the brim with personality that sets them apart in a crowded hospitality industry. Many guests point this out on social media, but there’s much more that bubbles beneath the surface.
The eclectic aesthetic of The Henry Hotels may be the first thing people will notice, but there’s more that separates them from the bigger hotels out there. With a look that was made for Instagram, The Henry has so much more going for them than just looks. The team that handles the properties have, from the very start of The Henry, looked to emphasize local Filipino flavor, especially when it came to whom they chose to partner with. For most hotels around the world, CSR partnerships are limited to benefactor-like programs. The Henry hotels incorporate upcycled multi-purpose trays in their rooms, one of the first surprises that will catch your eye upon entering the room. Though not attention seeking, these little touches actually come from a foundation in Cebu and another based in Bulacan, each benefiting a community social enterprise. The upcycled fixtures also extend to the waste baskets, which are sourced from a women’s cooperative based in the depressed areas of Manila. The Henry has featured these elements on their social media pages to shine some light on these causes, but for the most part, they work their way into the hotels seamlessly.
One of the elements that makes every hotel stay a little bit more amusing is the mini bar, which stocked a little differently at The Henry. Here you’ll find a slew of iconic Filipino snacks from all over, giving you a tour of the islands through snacks. What stands out from the selection are two distinct brands that do a lot of good in their communities as well. Bottled water and social enterprise partner HOPE in a Bottle helps take an everyday product and turn it into a tool to support education in an unexpected way. All profits that come from HOPE go toward building classrooms in much needed areas across the country, with each bottle consumed going toward communities in need.
The other surprising element in these mini bars is the chocolate from Theo and Philo, a single origin chocolate producer with some of the most sustainable business practices in the local cacao industry. What Theo and Philo are doing in the PH chocolate industry is massive, especially when it comes to producing some of the finest, most sophisticated chocolate in the region. Having these two altruistic and responsible products in your mini bar speaks volumes about how their business is run.
Keeping guest rooms and common areas clean is one aspect of a hotel stay that guests don’t ask for, but rather have come to expect. Cleanliness is one of those non-negotiables during a hotel stay. The Henry does do that, but skips out on using a hundred and one kinds of industrial products. They instead have opted for a local plant-based cleaning product that supports at risk youth, something you may not expect. The Henry Hotels has utilized Manila-based cleaning agent Messy Bessy, a brand that is known for their quirky branding and personal sanitation needs, for the past four years. They’ve relied on this product not only because it keeps their properties pristine, but also because of the good that their affiliate strives for in Manila. The success behind Messy Bessy is also directly tied to the Helping OUrselves through Sustainable Enterprises Foundation, known as HOUSE. The foundation goes to great lengths to work with at-risk young people, equipping them with the skills to work their way out of poverty. Messy Bessy and The Henry have helped many turn their lives around by providing constant support to HOUSE Foundation scholars to earn their degrees, and support themselves. In the long run, The Henry looks to continue supporting both Messy Bessy and HOUSE as they bring more young people out of the cycle of poverty.
Though most of their sustainable choices come on the operations end, guests have the opportunity to support local causes directly at their uniquely situated gift shop. The Honest Henry operates as an honesty store, a social experiment of sorts where items are displayed and a dropbox is maintained for people who want to pick up an item. The Honest Henry’s inventory has no mark up on locally produced goods, with featured items from Anthill Fabric Gallery in Cebu and Gifts & Graces in Manila. These two organizations' work helps keep heritage weaving alive, empowering the women behind the looms to become more financially independent. All this is made possible through an altruistic concept for guests at The Henry.
When you look at The Henry Hotels as a whole, you can see how their impact is steadily growing. Since 2012 when they first opened their doors in Cebu, The Henry has continuously made smart and sustainable decisions every step of the way. These decisions may not always pop up on The Henry’s TripAdvisor page, but guests still rave about how the properties’ hospitality is unmatched. Sustainability doesn’t always need to be at the very forefront, but it adds so much to the overall guest experience that The Henry has become so well known for. As they open more Henries across the country, we can expect their process, and their focus on supporting local industries to grow as well. Over the years, each Henry Hotel has made it a point to understand their partners more than just knowing their facts and figures. Through company exposure trips to their partners’ production facilities, there is a level of empathy that you may not see in the Philippine hotel industry. Boutique may be the category that these properties may be classified under, but their efforts are by no stretch small. The Henry is a leading example of where the hospitality industry can go, setting a standard that others should be following, no matter how boutique they may seem.