The Manila Hotel at night
|Address||One Rizal Park|
|Opening||July 4, 1912|
|Management||Manila Prince Hotel Corp.|
|Floor area||35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||William E. Parsons|
|Number of rooms||149 (1912)
|Number of restaurants||3|
|Number of bars||4|
The Manila Hotel is a 570-room, historic five-star hotel located along Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines built in 1909 to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines and was opened on the commemoration of American Independence on July 4, 1912. The hotel complex was built on a reclaimed area of 35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft) at the northwestern end of Rizal Park along Bonifacio Drive. Its penthouse served as the residence of General Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as the Military Advisor of the Philippine Commonwealth from 1935 to 1941.
The hotel contains the offices of several foreign news organizations, including The New York Times. It has hosted numerous world historical persons and celebrities including authors Ernest Hemingway and James A. Michener; actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Wayne; publisher Henry Luce; entertainers Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson and The Beatles; U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, and other world leaders.
The hotel tower built in 1977, surpassed the Philippine Plaza Hotel (now Sofitel Philippine Plaza) in Pasay City. It was the tallest hotel tower in Manila Bay area until the opening of Solaire Resort & Casino in Paranaque City on March 16, 2013.
When the United States took over the Philippine Islands from the Spanish in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley began Americanizing the former Spanish colony. In 1900 he appointed William Howard Taft to head the Philippine Commission to evaluate the needs of the new territory. Taft, who later became the Philippines' first civilian Governor-General, decided that Manila, the capital, should be a planned town. He hired as his architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham, who had built Union Station and the post office in Washington. In Manila, Mr. Burnham had in mind a long wide, tree-lined boulevard along the bay, beginning at a park area dominated by a magnificent hotel. To execute Burnham's plans, Taft hired William E. Parsons, a New York architect, who envisioned an impressive, comfortable hotel along the lines of a California mission but grander. The original design was an H-shaped plan that focused on well-ventilated rooms on two wings, providing grand vistas of the harbor, the Luneta, and Intramuros. The top floor was, in fact, a large viewing deck that was used for various functions, including watching the American navy steam into the harbor.
During the start of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, President Manuel Quezon hired Paris-trained Filipino architect Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of painter Juan Luna, to take charge of the renovations of the Manila Hotel. The hotel would serve as the residence of General Douglas MacArthur when he became the Military Advisor of the Commonwealth. Luna converted the hotel's top floor into an elegant penthouse and expanded the west wing northward – creating the air-conditioned annex - and designed some key public rooms like the Fiesta Pavilion, then the biggest function room of the hotel. The hotel was the site of festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth government in November, 1935.
World War II
During World War II, the hotel was occupied by Japanese troops, and the Japanese flag was flown above the walls for the entirety of the war. During the Battle for the Liberation of Manila, the hotel was set on fire by the Japanese. The shell of the building survived the blaze and the structure was later reconstructed.
Under Martial law
During the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, in accordance with Presidential Decree no. 645, the old Manila Hotel Company was liquidated and the government took over its ownership. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was given the mandate to form a new subsidiary corporation that would restore, renovate, and expand the Manila Hotel. In the following two decades, Mr. Marcos's wife, Imelda, could frequently be seen at the hotel restaurants. During her visits, a red carpet and garlands were put out and the air was sprayed with deodorant. Under Imelda's patronage, the hotel reaped international recognition and awards. It was the place to go and be seen during the martial law years.
The hotel was remodeled in 1975 and expanded to 570 rooms with the addition of the high-rise hotel building behind the original five-story structure. The renovations were headed by National Artists for Architecture Leandro Locsin and Ildefonso Santos with Patricia Keller, partner in the international interior design firm of Dale Keller & Associates. Guest amenities were updated including executive services, language translation, a business library and color television and closed circuit movies. The hotel’s spartan interiors in simplified Mission style gave way to more lavish furnishings. Inauguration and formal reopening ceremonies of the Manila Hotel was held on October 6, 1977.
Transfer of ownership
Around 1995, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) called a bidding to sell the property. The tender went to a Malaysian firm, the Renong Berhad and ITT-Sheraton combine over Emilio Yap, a Chinese Filipino billionaire tycoon and owner of the Manila Bulletin, the country's largest newspaper by circulation. Yap went to the Supreme Court of the Philippines and won by matching Rehong's bid and citing the Constitution's Filipino First policy in the ownership of a 'national patrimony'. Fifty one percent of the ownership was awarded to Yap's Manila Prince Hotel Corporation (MPHC), while new owners joined on April 25, 1997 as 49 percent shareholder. Yap signed a check for ₱673.2 million and the MPHC took over the property on May 7, 1997. One of the first things Yap did was to pull down the three brass chandeliers in the lobby, upon recommendation of a feng shui expert, and replace them with five.
In 2008, the Manila Hotel underwent a series of dramatic renovations in time for its grand centennial celebration in 2012. All of the hotel’s rooms were fully refurbished and renovated and fully equipped with the most modern facilities and amenities. The rooms windows were enlarged to provide a breathtaking view of the bay and the Manila sunset. The hotel also opened a Health Club next to the Manila Hotel Health Spa to offer a five star relaxation to its guests.
On January 17, 2008 the Manila Hotel Tent City, located west of the original structure was opened. The performance/conference hall could accommodate 2,500 guests for wedding receptions, anniversaries, conventions, and exhibitions. Its high ceilings allow even the most complex of venue set-ups and design. The Tent became the center stage when the hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Ball on July 4, 2012 with President Benigno Aquino III as the guest-of-honor.
Through the years, Manila Hotel have been the scene of historic events in the country. The Philippine Constitutional Convention of 1970 was held at the Fiesta Pavilion of the hotel on November 10. The convention attended by 320 delegates was called to change the Philippine Constitution that has been in existence since the start of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935.
The political party of Ferdinand Marcos held its convention at the Manila Hotel before the February 1986 presidential election and Corazon C. Aquino delivered a speech at the hotel that was a turning point in her presidential campaign. Marcos's rule ended in February 1986 after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
On July 6, 1986, a group of military officers loyal to deposed President Marcos took over the Manila Hotel and declared Arturo Tolentino, who was Marcos's vice presidential running mate, as president. However, the coup did not last long, they surrendered two days later.
The hotel received international attention in 1999 when Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady, celebrated her 70th birthday in this hotel. More than 1,000 of Manila's elite turned up in the event.
Measuring 125 feet (38 m) long by 25 feet (7.6 m) wide, the lobby is lined with white Doric columns. The floor is Philippine marble; the chandeliers are made of brass, crystal and seashells; the furniture is carved out of Philippine mahogany, which is used throughout the hotel.
The three-bedroom MacArthur suite was the residence of Gen. MacArthur while living in the country. The suite is located at the 5th floor of the original structure.
The Penthouse, the most expensive suite with its private swimming pool on the 18th floor, has a view of Manila Bay, Rizal Park and the 16th-century Spanish walled city of Intramuros opposite the hotel. Like the Presidential Suite, the penthouse is decorated with rare paintings, Asian antiques and Filipino crafts. Th MacArthur, Presidential and Penthouse Suites provide 24-hour butler service.
Facilities and services
The hotel's guest facilities and other services include limousine and luxury car rental, a helipad on the roof deck, airport transfer and transport assistance, medical clinic, a Business Center with Internet access, 24-hour full menu room service and concierge, laundry service, a delicatessen, a hair salon and souvenir shops.
The Manila Hotel Spa is located by the bay offering relaxing massages and other therapies. Guests could avail the use of the outdoor pool and complimentary use of the Health Club that has its own dry sauna, steam room and jacuzzi and offering fitness programs like yoga and Pilates.
The hotel has three restaurants, three bars and a delicatessen offering a range of cuisines, from Chinese to European.
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- "MacArthur Suite". Manila Hotel Official Website. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
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