Manila Hotel: The legend continues
Cheeko B. Ruiz (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Like fine wine and art treasures, the Grand Dame lives on as the Philippines’ iconic hotel, keeping pride of place in Rizal Park.

Today, 113 years after it was inaugurated, The Manila Hotel still stands proud, meeting the challenges of standards of hospitality demanded by discriminating guests and showcasing the best that the Philippines has to offer.

The latest round of renovations in the hotel started in 2008, beginning with the Mabuhay Palace. Interiors of the restaurant echo imperial neo-classical design, according to Nian Rigor, assistant vice president for public relations and corporate communications.

“Authentic jade sculptures narrate the tale of the great Chinese philosopher Confucius,” says Rigor.

Resident manager Gerhard Doll says the quest for change is never ending, which is why they are doing constant renovations and upgrading in the hotel.

“We are particularly on the lookout for the millennials,” he says, referring to the new generation of travelers who are very tech savvy and particular about their comforts.

All the hotel’s 535 rooms were likewise renovated and are fully equipped with the most modern amenities. The new guest rooms display the beauty of authentic Philippine interior design – with huge windows that provide a great view of the famed Manila Bay sunset.

Last July, the Manila Hotel launched its remodeled Fiesta Pavilion. The grand ballroom was transformed into a luxurious realm, adding more flexibility and functionality in response to the increasing demand for smarter spaces as Manila prepares to host global events such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit this November.

The Fiesta Pavilion now has a total renovated space of 1,522.79 square meters and can accommodate 1,300 people for a sit-down dinner or buffet and 1,800 people for cocktails.

“This reaffirms the Grand Dame’s reputation as the perfect destination for meetings, conventions and intimate affairs,” Doll says.

Meanwhile, Café Ilang-Ilang also underwent some refurbishments and was launched as a three-period meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – buffet restaurant.

“It has nine live cooking stations and features a wide array of local and international cuisine,” Doll says.



The garden area has a reconfigured and re-engineered pool with state-of-the-art pumps and filter system.

Other new features include a sun deck that beckons guests to relax on its comfortable Dedon Orbit lounge chairs and cool off with drinks at the newly refurbished wet bar.

For fitness buffs, Manila Hotel’s newly opened gym features state-of-the-art and high technology Life Fitness Elevation series machines such as the treadmill, crosstrainer, upright exercise bike and recumbent exercise bike. All these come with touch screen LCD, iPod control and a virtual trainer.

From the time Manila Hotel was inaugurated during the commemoration of American Independence on July 4, 1912, the hotel’s registry has seen the most name-droppable figures, from US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson to the Beatles.

But perhaps its most iconic guest was the late US army chief Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who stayed in the hotel with his family for six years from 1935 to 1941. MacArthur was invited by then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon to help build the Philippine Army.

Rigor says the countless awards received by The Manila Hotel in its long history are testaments to their unparalleled service.

Among the most recent recognitions given to the hotel are the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame from TripAdvisor; Expert’s Choice award from TripExpert, through recommendations from experts writing for top travel guides, magazines and newspapers; and Luxury Grand Hotel of the Year in the Philippines by the Luxury Travel Guide Global Awards 2015.

Filipino food festival

Until Sept. 27, the Manila Hotel is holding a Filipino food festival in partnership with the country’s flagship carrier, Philippine Airlines.

“We aspire to promote everything that is Filipino,” says Rigor, stressing that the Philippines has over 7,000 islands that produce an incredible array of seafoods, tropical fruits and vegetables.

Among the featured dishes are the reinvented favorites from Dedet “Lechon Diva” dela Fuente Santos, such as the best-seller truffle rice stuffed lechon de leche, hiplog and balut salpicao. Of course, not to be missed is the hotel’s special bibingka and puto bumbong set up at the alfresco area of Café Ilang-Ilang.

The delicious puto bumbong and bibingka, by the way, are prepared by Emelinda Sanchez, who has been with the hotel for almost 27 years.

“Some employees can opt to leave and are capable of establishing their own business already. But they choose to stay with us, like Emelinda. This just goes to show how happy and proud they are to be part of this institution,” Rigor says.

Surely, the Grand Dame has a lot more history to write and a lot more memories to make.

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