Friday, February 28, 2014

My Manila Hotel Tour: A Glimpse of History

I have always marveled at Manila Hotel's magnificent lobby. As a young child, I am fascinated with its grand chandelier because it made me feel like a real princess dancing with her prince under such sparkling bright lights. I had no idea that several decades later, as a young adult, I'd still find myself in awe by the beauty and grandeur of Manila Hotel's ante-lobby. I guess one could call it serendipity that I had been invited to tour the hotel recently. 

A visit to Manila Hotel transports you back in time. Built on July 1912 in the heart of what used to be the Philippines' central business district--Manila--Manila Hotel opened its doors to the most influential people of the time, from the Ilustrados to high-ranking government officials.The hotel's main building boasts of five floors while the tower suite is 18 storey high with further plans of expansion in the offing. With 102 years of service in the hotel and tourism industry, Manila Hotel continues to celebrate history with their best personalized service and giving guests priceless memories. This is what sets the Grand Dame apart from all the other five star hotels that have sprouted in the last century--they offer not just a typical hotel but for their guests to experience and have a glimpse of the Philippine history. Not every hotel can do just that. 

Walking through the halls of Manila Hotel alone gives you a nostalgic ambiance. Imagine that you're walking on the very same venue where the prominent people of our history used to frequent. The alta de sociedad (elite society) and those who were well off in the olden times had actually partied in the rooms and maybe celebrated important occasions there. Each and every nook and cranny of Manila Hotel speaks of elegance and a great sense of history. This is what sets The Grand Dame (a monicker of Manila Hotel) apart from other modernized hotels that we now have. Checking in to Manila Hotel is tantamount to experiencing a glimpse of Philippine history. 

The Champagne Room alone is a sight to behold. The glass panel is bullet proof because it is the past Philippine presidents and other government officials would hold events, dinner and other private functions. The vintage glass trees gives the room an edge because they're still original, nevertheless untouched from what the Champagne Room used to be. Meanwhile the tasseled lamps add a romantic ambiance to the place which makes it perfect for intimate dates. The Roxas Room at Manila Hotel according to the guide also used to be bullet proof too. 

We were able to visit the Honeymoon Suite, and I'd have to say I was surprised to find it a room a whole lot bigger than what I had expected it to be--a spiral staircase, two sets of sofa can be found on the upper (TV room) and lower area (receiving area) of the said suite--huge enough to accommodate not only the newly weds but also including their guests prior to the wedding day. The said suite had two toilets, a bath tub and and enclosed shower as well.  But here's the best part of the suite: it has an amazing view of the splendid view of Manila's skyline at night from the second floor which is simply breathtaking.

But throughout the tour itself what interests me most is the part where we visited General Douglas MacArthur's Suite. Well, who wouldn't have known the man famous for his own words, "I Shall Return"? It felt really nice to know a little trivia or two about how the General lived in the Philippines during their time. I think it also helped that I was able to visit his close friend, former Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon's Heritage House (which I have featured on this blog quite recently) to further understand the friendship that transpired between them. For someone who had only seen those two historical figures (the President and the General) on textbooks alone, it's refreshing to learn that they aren't just product of fiction or any fabricated story, but they were real people. I strongly suggest that the youngsters of today should try joining the My Manila Hotel tour so that they'd be able to learn something more interesting apart from the ones they only read on books. 

In fact, although the General's suite mostly had items made of replica, it is now only 1/3 of its original, there were two items which remained original, two chairs to be specific who were mere witness to the life of the famed General Douglas MacArthur. There was even his hat as well as old photographs of him, his family (wife and son Arthur MacArthur as a child) and his dear friend, former Philippine president Manuel Quezon. If those walls could only speak for themselves, they could tell us more how the General has lived his life. 

We also made a stop to Mabuhay Palace where the wall panels were said to be imported from China and that they were made from jade. They looked pretty sophisticated and they tell the story of Chinese famous philosopher, Confucius. The canopies were made of bamboo to somehow give some balance and harmony in feng shui. The place is a good venue for special occasions such as wedding and baptismal receptions, family reunions etc.  I was able to eat at Manila Hotel's Mabuhay Palace once during their celebration of the recent Chinese New Year but they highly recommend their salted egg ice cream found only at Mabuhay Palace. 

Apart from Mabuhay Palace, we also dropped by the posh Cafe Ilang-Ilang. There was an array of sumptuous and delectable buffet choices as well as highlights of international cuisines such as Japanese, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Italian, Spanish and many others. There was even a fun activity where volunteers were asked to help the Chefs in putting their preferred toppings on their D-I-Y pizzas. Before the Manila Hotel Tour was over, we were lead to an upper deck behind the swimming pool where one could catch the famous Manila Bay sunset! It's such a romantic place by the sea where we devoured on pizzas made by our co-bloggers. With the sun setting as a backdrop, it was a perfect way to capped our My Manila Hotel Tour. 

According to Ms. Denise of Manila Hotel, they are now working on a special app using augmented reality where upon entering a specific room or place within Manila Hotel, using that special app would make you see the things what has happened or transpired in that specific place in history. It's like making your own My Manila Hotel Tour--at your own pace and time. It'll be an exciting adventure and another reason for you to come and visit Manila Hotel anytime soon. 

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. Opinions and impressions are 100% my own.