Army Navy Club reopening as 5-star hotel
(The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The historic Army and Navy Club, once the favorite watering hole of colonial-era American officers and servicemen, is set to reopen by October – this time as a plush five-star hotel and spa.

Major retrofitting and restoration works in the iconic building are almost complete, based on the latest update by Cornelio Aldon, president of Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corp., the developer-restorer of the Army and Navy Club.

Once opened to the public, the hotel will feature 74 guest rooms each with a unique colonial-era design, a 300 sqm. spa, all day dining, a coffee shop and a 600-sqm sky bar.

Restored at a cost of P2.4 billion, the Army and Navy Club was originally designed by William Parsons, a Paris-trained American architect commissioned by renowned city planner Daniel Burnham.

The century-old, H-shaped structure once served as the hub of American social life in Manila for many decades. It had banquet and social halls, dining and drinking facilities, guest rooms, swimming pools and other entertainment areas. Later, the building became a museum but its steady decline continued due to lack of funds for maintenance. For the past 30 years, the building has been condemned and deemed unsafe.

The rotting floors and foundations were the greatest challenge, Aldon said. The building’s proximity to Manila Bay and seepage of seawater had caused much damage to the building’s core, he explained. These were carefully addressed by retrofitting beams and columns and replacing slabs with reinforced concrete. The goal is to strengthen the building and make it conform with Philippine and international safety and engineering standards.

Once successful in their first restoration project, Aldon said Oceanville is open to helping government rehabilitate more historic buildings around the country that need the same attention as the Army and Navy Club.

He stressed, however, that the prohibitive cost of restoration work is a major hindrance. Company engineers estimate that restoration cost three to four times higher than building a new structure.

Such projects also require time-consuming and painstaking research, the challenge of finding technical experts and strict government regulatory requirements that developers must comply with, Aldon said.

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