Nestled between the lush mangrove forests and soft supple sand on the island of Siargao in the Philippines lies a secret sanctuary, Nay Palad Hideaway. This boutique eco-luxury hotel is the embodiment of a dream that owners Herve Lampert and Bobby Dekeyser envisioned together over a decade ago. From early origins as DEDON, a furniture company, their concept of an “outdoor living room” came to life through the creation of an island resort that showcased their values and aesthetic as a brand. Brought to life in collaboration with designers Daniel Pouzet and Jean-Marie Massaud, Nay Palad Hideaway’s architecture blends ancestral traditions and local craftsmanship with world-class hospitality to create an oasis for family, friends and travelers alike.
From its inception, Lampert and Dekeyser’s love for nature permeated through the build and design of the hotel, reflecting its core belief in sustainability and preservation of the environment surrounding the property. Through the support of the local government and an active mentorship from The Long Run, Nay Palad Hideaway has been able to develop partnerships with local fishermen to reduce and eventually stop dynamite fishing in the area. The property now supports a thriving marine ecosystem and biodiverse island through the protection of the mangrove forest.
We spoke with Herve Lampert to learn more about the beginnings of Nay Palad Hideaway, how they are regenerating the island through its conservation efforts and what a typical day looks like in paradise.
What inspired you, in the beginning, to move to the Philippines and join your business partner, Bobby Dekeyser on the journey to create DEDON furniture?
Herve: Our vision for the DEDON furniture brand was always to create outstanding and inspiring outdoor living experiences. I grew up on a small farm in the countryside in France and Bobby was a professional soccer player. Enjoying the outdoors was quite a second nature for both of us. When we decided to take production into our own hands and create our own manufacturing facilities, we chose the Philippines because of the warm and hospitable people, their gentleness and their amazing skills, and also because of the unparalleled beauty of the country.
How did DEDON as a furniture brand evolve into becoming an island resort?
Herve: In our quest to create outstanding and inspiring outdoor living experiences, we always believed that the furniture was not enough and that we needed to find a place where we could bring all the values of the brand together and allow family, friends and clients to experience all what living under the open sky means to us. The idea of creating our own resort in the Philippines, our second home, grew very organically in our minds.
What is the story behind finding and choosing the location on Siargao Island to build the hotel?
Herve: We worked very hard to build the factory in the Philippines and eventually we wanted to discover more about this exceptional country. A friend of ours suggested we visit Siargao and, when we did, we could not stop returning again and again. It became our favorite place, and most especially the spot where the resort is located (a friend of ours was operating a little resort before) was always having a magical impact on us: the serenity of the area, the lavish beauty of nature and the turquoise color of the lagoon. It took us a minute to get the idea to buy the place and eventually open our own resort in Siargao.
Why is sustainability important to the ethos of the resort and how was this implemented from its inception through its design and architecture?
Herve: Nature has always been the center of our philosophy, because we simply love it, enjoy it and respect it. From the beginning we wanted the resort to be an example of good sustainability practices. It started with simple ideas like: a plastic bottle would never reach our property, to use only local and natural materials for the construction of the resort, to protect the astonishing lagoon and the immense mangrove forest in our backyard and to finally become an active member of The Long Run. Through the Long Run we learned and exchanged with a global community of property owners who protect the environment and the biodiversity by using the 4C’s principle (Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce).
What was one of the challenges in setting up the hotel’s sustainability best practices and how did you overcome it?
Herve: When we started the construction in 2010, we almost forgot that Siargao was just a little island. Therefore, it has become a real challenge to find the right resources, materials and also skills to build the resort. Luckily, we quickly realized that the local people had a huge heart, good intention and were willing to learn. We brought in a few experts to help them conceptualize the details of the construction and we later learnt that the locals would share a lot of ancestral skills to not only improve the construction, but assure we could use local materials in the most sustainable way possible.
Can you tell me more about Nay Palad Hideaway’s commitment to conservation through its involvement with The Long Run?
Herve: The resort operates in a beautiful lagoon that unfortunately, was badly damaged by years of dynamite fishing. With the support of the local government and the expertise of other members of The Long Run, we were able to develop partnerships with the local fishermen and authorities to drastically reduce and eventually stop the dynamite fishing practice in the area. Together with our team, we now continue to protect the area and support the development of marine life. We also carefully watch dozens of square kilometers of mangrove forest at the back of the resort ensuring it will be preserved as a big part of the biodiversity on the island depends on that mangrove.
What does a typical day look like for you when you are at Nay Palad Hideaway?
Herve: We love adventures and when our guests come to Nay Palad Hideaway we want them to experience as many adventures as possible around the resort and the island. This is the reason why all activities are included in our all-inclusive rates. We do not want our guests to miss any of them, like starting the day with morning yoga (at either the yoga pavilion or at the sea pagoda around 350 meters from the shore). After a good swim in our pool and a quick shower, it would be the perfect moment for breakfast at the restaurant while gazing at our lavish garden and the ocean. Right after breakfast, our family-lounge boat will be ready to take the guest island hopping. This is the best occasion to visit 3-4 small islands in the area (especially the famous “Naked Island”, a sand bar that extends on 150 meters of pure white sand), swim around, and enjoy a beach barbecue specially prepared by Chef Marc. Back at the resort, it will be the perfect time to jump on a stand-up paddleboard and ride around the mangroves forest while the sun goes down. On the way back, it should be a must to climb the 3-story mangrove pagoda to enjoy a glass of wine and some appetizers while watching the sunset over the entire mangrove forest. For the grand finale, Chef Marc and his team would be happy to entertain our guests for a 3 or 4-course fine dining dinner on the beach. And if anyone needs a great personal pampering before going to bed, why not finish the day with our signature “Hilot” massage at our amazing spa village.
What does the future hold for Nay Palad Hideaway in light of Covid-19 and navigating the “new normal”?
Herve: We all know that travel will never be the same again. But at the same time, we also believe that people will want to be more cautious about choosing the right destination for their vacation. We think that there will be a clear trend in the desire to reconnect with nature and focus on the essential things like sharing simple and intense moments with family and friends. In light of this, Nay Palad Hideaway would be the perfect choice. Not only do we operate 10 villas on a 4-hectare property, but we also designed the entire resort providing multiple hidden spots, from our tree-house to our organic farm, from our pool cabanas to our mangrove pagoda: there is a variety of places to find relaxation, peace and serenity, where you almost have the feeling that there are no other guests at the resort.
Recently, we opened our Perlah Villa, a 400-sqm fully equipped villa (for 6 people) with its private swimming pool, private beach, a tree-top terrace and all services are delivered straight to the villa. The most demanding guests will enjoy the privacy and exclusivity of this villa. At last, we have taken the opportunity during the confinement period to train our team and implement all sanitary precautions across all the operations of the resort (kitchen, spa, laundry, restaurant, etc). We left no stone unturned and have adapted to the highest level of sanitary requirements based on new government rules and also sharing best practices with dozens of luxury properties around the world. Therefore, we believe we are very much ready to offer not only a safe environment to our guests, but most especially an outstanding barefoot luxury experience at Nay Palad Hideaway.
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