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This Luxury Mountain Hotel Is Big on Upcycling

From hotel toiletries to Christmas decor, The Manor makes treasures out of trash

One of the biggest summer and Christmas destinations in the Philippines is the City of Pines—Baguio. With the cool crisp air, native, old-world charm, scenic mountain top views, the freshest strawberries and yummiest coffee, this location is still a favorite go-to for an easy 4-hour road trip vacation. I have so many nostalgic memories when it comes to this place, from riding bikes at Burnham Park to chasing butterflies at The Botanical Gardens. Truly, Baguio has so much to offer when it comes to whimsical mountainside tourist activities and attractions. 

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The Manor’s gorgeous & well-lit wood cabin-inspired exterior is a sight to behold at night

My family and I have always visited Baguio through the years, and our favorite accommodations have always been The Manor at Camp John Hay. From their luxurious cabin interiors, delectable food, amazing spa offerings, to their 5-star hospitality service, the city’s classic hotel never disappoints. But what’s even more amazing is how this 22-year old mountain lodging manages to commit to sustainability through their own efforts to reduce waste through upcycling.

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A thick fog come floating towards the property during a 5:30 AM sunrise, ready to kiss The Manor a good morning


GREEN HOTEL HALL OF FAMER

Known to be an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Green Hotel & Tourism Standard Hall of Famer, The Manor at Camp John Hay has been in the forefront of sustainability since around 16 years ago, when they started committing to greener practices and initiatives. The ASEAN Green Hotel Awards is an annual recognition program that acknowledges and celebrates hotels and resorts within the ASEAN region that demonstrate outstanding commitment and achievements in environmental sustainability. On the other hand, the ASEAN Tourism Standard is a set of guidelines and criteria to ensure quality and consistency in the tourism industry across member countries. The Manor has consistently received awards and recognition from the two tourism programs that they had to withdraw from joining. Now that’s a feat that’s hard to beat. 

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Breezy dining at Le Chef, The Manor’s hotel restaurant
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Breezy dining at Le Chef, The Manor’s hotel restaurant

As for their day-to-day operations, The Manor shows deep commitment to sustainability. The first notable feature of the whole property is the absence of air-conditioning units in the guest rooms. Resident Manager for more than a decade and creme de la creme in elevated hospitality, Christine Cua, shared with us her insights, “That’s one of our winning strategies for the ASEAN Green Hotel Awards, because we save so much on energy. It’s the architectural shape of the hotel. It was really designed this way so the air flows straight into our guest rooms. It’s warmer in the summer because of climate change, so we provide stand fans for that.” 

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A work-cation is extra cool and cozy at The Manor’s guest rooms

With energy conservation on top of their list, they also had to conserve water, since it’s a natural resource that comes with effort to access, because of the high altitude of the area. “We recycle the gray water from the property and use it all over our golf course,” shared Christine. On top of that, they have transitioned to recyclable glass bottles, plastic-free toiletries and slippers, refillable shampoo bottles, water stations all over the hotel, and collecting of used coffee pods from the guest rooms so they can return to the manufacturers for upcycling (they turn them into bricks). They also practice strict waste segregation and regular forest clean ups. 

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No air-conditioning, plastic bottles, and excessive plastic waste—The Manor is committed to a greener hospitality

Don’t think that being a hall of famer came so easily for The Manor. The cost and effort to be a sustainable mountain hotel brand wasn’t easy. Christine gave her insights, “There are initial investments like the water station. There’s a slight dent in the budget for the first three years because you have to invest in the machines and get rid of the disposable stuff in the rooms. The glass bottles aren’t cheap. But you get your return of investment in time. In the long run, it’s more cost-efficient.” Patience is a part of the process, and as the saying goes, nothing good ever comes easy. Fortunately, The Manor was all in when it comes to taking on the challenge of eco-consciousness, and Christine’s always in for a challenge.

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The Manor’s hotel spa is always ready for a day of pampering, with water waste that gets recycled to sustain their golf course


REPURPOSING WITH A PURPOSE

That’s another practice that The Manor has embraced—upcycling. It is the process of transforming discarded or unused materials into new products of higher value or quality. It involves repurposing and creatively reusing items that would otherwise end up as waste. Take for example the amount of soap that gets discarded after a guest’s stay. With 166 rooms, these soaps pile up. With the leadership and mindset of Christine and her team, they were able to reuse these soaps. “We monitor and measure our consumption of energy and supplies so we can find ways to lessen waste. We discovered a company that collects used soap. They grate it and process it with a solution that makes the soaps 100% clean. They repackage the new soaps for consumption then we donate them to hospitals and schools for the blind. This is one of our projects, we call it ‘Soap of Hope’.”

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Products of Hope: upcycled soap and soles of slippers give hope to The Manor’s production partners, and beneficiaries, too

Another thing that generates a lot of waste are the guest slippers. The Manor partnered with Baguio City Jail to repurpose the soles of the used guest slippers so they can upcycle them into brand new ones, ready for selling. “I personally coordinated with Baguio City Jail if they were open to having their inmates have livelihood. We give the soles of the discarded bedroom slippers, and then they upcycle them by sewing them into new soles. We used to buy them back and then resell them. But now the inmates [we worked with] are free, so we work with parents who are stricken with poverty. We sell the used slippers for 50 cents, and then they upcycle and sell them directly to customers. All the proceeds of the sales are handled by the Labor Management Committee, which is our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) group. It does not go back to the hotel as profit but to our CSR projects. Whatever sales we get, we donate to the indigent kids with cancer at the Baguio General Hospital,” Christine thoughtfully shared. 


A GREENER CHRISTMAS 

With Baguio being the ultimate local Christmas destination, The Manor has always enticed and excited guests for the holidays with their magical and intricate decorations. They really go all out when it comes to the festive spirit of Christmas, with various thematic ornaments like the classic Nutcracker decors, to the more playful ones like jumbo snow globes. This 2023, The Manor is committed to upcycling and takes it further as they partnered with Philippine Treasures, the gold standard brand and champion of exporting upcycled high-end decors and ornaments, with their factory and showroom in Baguio. 

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The Manor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony last 2022

Loly Gomez, owner and CEO of Philippine Treasures, is the woman behind the unbelievable brand. From acorns to native coconut husks to newspaper twine, Loly always had a knack to make the ordinary extraordinary. Her business was an “accidental” one, since she had no intentions of setting up an ornaments and decorations export production house, but since many of her friends started requesting and ordering some of her DIY creations, word got out. Fast forward to today, for over three decades, they have been globally exporting decors and ornaments made from repurposed and upcycled materials like twigs, seeds, clam shells, and even broken glass. 

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Philippine Treasures’ factory and showroom, filled with upcycled yet world-class and eye-catching trinkets and decorations

“The General Manager of Manor wanted to do a more classic theme this year. They want pieces that will stand out during the day, even without lights.” Loly said, recounting their engagement. As I looked around her showroom in Baguio City, I was thoroughly in awe of what she and her production team could do. From custom festive trees made of wood shavings ordered by malls from the Middle East, to more delicate ornaments made of recycled glass bought by big-time retail brands in the West, their impressive list of products and designs is enough to make the little kid in you excited for this year’s holiday decorations at The Manor. “We hauled all their decors and we’re doing our best to beautify and elevate them even more,” shared Loly. 

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Last year’s festive Christmas interiors at The Manor


STILL A TRUE CLASSIC

To stand 22 long years in an industry that has been tried and tested by a global pandemic is something remarkable, but to stay committed to green, eco-conscious practices amidst the crises is an even bigger feat. The Manor has kept the gold standard when it comes to guest relations, hotel amenities, CSR projects, and eco-conservation, which all proves their dedication and passion for sustainability. No wonder they are still the top of mind luxury hotel for tourists and travelers heading up to Baguio, their green-mindedness has made them even better when it comes to mindful hospitality. This year, I can’t help but look forward to the holidays at Pine City, and see how The Manor, in partnership with Philippine Treasures, will elaborately display their Christmas decorations that go beyond the aesthetic.


For bookings and inquiries, visit their website here. Follow them on Instagram for updates @themanoratcjh.


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