Bringing Classy Back: The Manila Hotel To Undergo Renovations
The facade of the Manila Hotel (taken from Facebook)
When in Manila and you want to go back in time, only one place can do that and it’s the Manila Hotel.
“Think of Gone With the Wind,” said Kristine Facto, the AVP of public relations and corporate communications for the Grand Dame, as I told her that it was my first time to visit the storied hotel.
“A virgin,” she announced to the group of bloggers gathered at the Mabuhay Palace for dinner. I laughed easily. When she announced something about sacrificing me, my laugh became nervous.
Yes, you read that right. It was my first time to visit the Manila Hotel. Two years ago, the hotel celebrated its first century and here I am, a maiden about to be sacrificed to the Manila Hotel.
The Manila Hotel then and now (from Facebook)
In the hundred years that the Manila Hotel has existed, it has seen its fair share of history. During its earlier years, Andres Luna, the son of Juan Luna, renovated the hotel. For a time, General Douglas MacArthur made the hotel his home, after his request to live in the Malacañang Palace was declined.
Instead, a suite was erected at the Manila Hotel to mirror the way the Palace looked. It turned out to be the MacArthur suite, a sprawling two-bedroom suite with two baths, a powder room, a study room, a dining room overlooking the bay, a kitchen, and a balcony with a view of the Manila Bay.
The Manila Hotel after the war (taken from Facebook)
However, tragedy struck when the Japanese troops occupied the hotel during World War II and set it on fire during the liberation.
Things changed during Martial Law and then president Ferdinand Marcos gave the Manila Hotel to the GSIS. Under First Lady Imelda Marcos, the hotel received international acclaim and recognition.
Part of the Manila Hotel’s charm is its impressive guest list, which covers politics, entertainment, and literature. Some of the Grand Dame’s famous guests are: Ernest Hemingway, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Marlon Brando, President John F. Kennedy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Emperor Akihiro of Japan, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, and Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden.
In fact, Hemingway was even quoted as saying, “You haven’t seen Manila if you haven’t been to Manila Hotel.”