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March 29, 2013 6:12 pm
The view from the dining pavilion at Dedon Island in the Philippines takes in a glorious stretch of beach and sea but it is the furniture that really catches your eye.
To the left, there are two seats, or “nest rests” to give them their proper name, hanging from coconut trees whose trunks have been bent at remarkable angles by 1984’s Typhoon Nitang. To the right is “Daydream”, an Arabian Nights-inspired canopy day bed that resembles a flying carpet. Next to the infinity pool is a sun lounger constructed to look like an oversized leaf, all the more striking against the backdrop of blue skies and white sand.
Is this a resort or a beach-based furniture showroom? The answer is both. It’s also second home to Bobby Dekeyser, founder of chic German outdoor furniture brand Dedon. In the early 1990s, Dekeyser and his uncle, a plastics extrusion expert, developed a unique waterproof fibre, then travelled to the Philippine city of Cebu to see if its celebrated rattan weavers could use it to make furniture. Six months later, Dedon was born and the company’s manufacturing arm has been based in the Philippines since. From a small family company, it has grown into a global brand with more than 3,000 employees, and boasts of collaborations with high-profile designers including Philippe Starck, Stephen Burks and Richard Frinier.
The company is based in Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, and Dekeyser himself lives in New York but he frequently travels to the Philippines, and decided he needed a weekend retreat there. “I found this magical island in Siargao through a friend who had previously owned the resort,” he says. “I immediately fell in love, and bought it.”
Designed by Jean-Marie Massaud and Daniel Pouzet, the new Dedon Island celebrated its first birthday this month. Among four acres, on the southeastern tip of Siargao, it has nine villas, a mangrove pagoda, games lounge and outdoor cinema.
Luxury lifestyle brands moving into hospitality is not a new concept. Missoni, Versace and Bulgari have all opened offshoot hotels in recent years, operated by third-party management companies. Dedon Island is owned and operated by the brand itself, and plans to create more resorts in Africa as well as Asia through Dedon Places, a newly created arm of the company. Dekeyser insists this is more a pet project than an exercise in brand extension. “I wanted to create my perfect holiday destination,” he says. “In many ways, there is no pressure for us to make money or to meet targets. It’s not a hobby but it’s very personal to me.”
Certainly, there is something immensely personal about the place, making it feel like home or at least an immaculately kept holiday house. Then again, it could also just be that, as a result of the wet season, my mother and I had the resort all to ourselves except for one charming family of four.
There are no schedules, rules or menus on Dedon Island. You have an “adventure manager” at your disposal to plan bespoke itineraries to neighbouring islands, surfing trips to Cloud 9 (celebrated as home to some of the world’s best waves), paddle board training among the mangroves, motorbike adventures to nearby towns, cooking classes or yoga sessions.
Or, if the heat makes you feel lethargic, you can always be assured of a (beautifully designed) seat in which to doze off.
Rates at Dedon Island (www.dedonisland.com) are from $480 per person per night, full-board and includes excursions and activities
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