Cable News Network (CNN) International cited the historic landmark Manila Hotel, the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines, as one of today's seven "heritage hotels" in Southeast Asia, alongside Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, Thailand, and Raffles Singapore.
In the article "Then and now: The stories behind Southeast Asia's heritage hotels" posted on http://www.cnngo.com/explorations, authors Tina Hsiao and Jules Kay "pondered on the legacy... [in] these grand old dames of hospitality" by tracing a bit of the history of each of the seven hotels, their famous guests, unique features and distinctions, and their present states, which were accompanied by then-and-now images.
Located at the Manila Bay area, the Manila Hotel was designed and built in 1908 on an area of 35,000 square meters on Roxas Boulevard, under the supervision of William Parsons. Its construction was meant to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines. It officially opened upon its inauguration on July 4, 1912, the same commemoration date of American Independence.
Today, the five-star white, green-tile-roofed California Missionary-styled edifice has 570 rooms that offer the best westward view of Manila's fabled sunset, the fortress of Corregidor, the poignant ruins of the medieval fortress that was Intramuros, and the palm-lined promenades of Luneta Park.
Hsiao and Kay's article mentioned Ernest Hemingway, The Beatles, Marlon Brando, Senator Robert Kennedy, Charlton Heston, the Rockefeller brothers, and John Wayne as among the Manila Hotel's famous guests.
"One of the Manila Hotel's most notable long-stay guests was General Douglas MacArthur, who was invited to form the Philippine Army and stayed at the hotel from 1935 to 1941 with his family in a penthouse suite atop the fifth floor (now the MacArthur Suite)," the feature added.
In December 1941, the Manila Hotel became the command post at the onslaught of the Japanese invasion. After reopening at the end of World War II, it became a favorite venue in holding summits, constitutional conventions, and other mostly politics-related functions.
The Manila Hotel underwent remodeling, restoration, renovation, and expansion in 1976 and was inaugurated and formally reopened on Oct. 6, 1977.
In one of the most tension-filled episodes in the country's political history, a group of military officers loyal to the deposed President Ferdinand Marcos, took over the Manila Hotel on July 6, 1986 and declared Arturo Tolentino, who was Marcos' vice presidential running mate, as President. The soldiers surrendered two days later.
Thailand's first luxury hotel, Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, built in 1876, holds the distinction of giving the country's capital its first elevator (installed in the Garden Wing extension in 1958) and first city spa, the article said. Its famous guests include Paul Theroux, John Steinbeck, Ian Fleming, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Jackson.
The Manila Hotel is the only hotel in the country cited by CNN International.
The other "heritage hotels" featured in the article are the Eastern & Oriental in Penang, Malaysia; Hotel Metropole in Hanoi, Vietnam; The Strand in Yangon, Myanmar; and Hotel Majapahit in Surabaya, Indonesia. (With additional information from http://www.manila-hotel.com.ph/history)