• ‘Staycation’ at Manila’s Grand Dame

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    VACATIONING within the city or staycation has become trendy for people who have no time to go on a long holiday but want to experience the amenities of a luxury resort.

    Listed by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the 25 best hotels in Asia in 2013, The Manila Hotel is positioning itself the urban holidayer’s top choice for a staycation.

    To prepare for the influx of staycationers and other guests, the Manila Hotel is undergoing a transformation.

    “With the shift of ‘city centers’ from Manila to Makati and Taguig, the renovations are necessary to bring back the glorious days of the Grand Dame,” Manila Hotel President Joey Lina told a press conference recently.

    Lina said the transformation firms up the commitment of management not only to be one of the best hotels in Asia but in the world.

    “This is tall order but this is a commitment that the management promised to the Philippine government when they assumed the ownership of The Manila Hotel,” says Lina, referring to the Yap family.

    “In 2010, we started our journey of transforming Manila Hotel,” said Dr. Enrique Y. Yap, the hotel’s executive vice president.

    Towards the end of last year, hotel guests began noticing subtle changes, beginning with the opening of the Centennial Hall at the ground floor.

    This year, the hotel aims to renovate the Fiesta Pavilion, the Maynila Ballroom, the Millennium Salon and the Presidential Suite that will be finished by the end of the third quarter this year.

    Fiesta Pavillion is one of the biggest function rooms in the Philippines, with seating for more than 2,000 guests. For more intimate conventions, meetings or family parties, the Pavilion can be subdivided into smaller “smart” ballrooms with walls and ceilings that change colors through computer-controlled lighting to suit the event’s color scheme.

    “We took inspiration from the Kodak Theater where you will have a very ambient lighting on the ceiling,” Dr. Yap said.

    The renovations started this month by Manny Samson and Associates, whose previous projects include Shang Salcedo Palace in Makati and Batu Karang Lembongan Spa and Resort in Bali, Indonesia.

    The 1,000-square-meter Presidential Suite will be upgraded to be “the grandest presidential suite in Asia.”

    The changes are meant to enhance, not diminish, Manila Hotel’s historical significance.

    Nestled in the heart of Manila’s historical quarter, the hotel has played host to global celebrities like Prince Charles, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, former US President William Clinton, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and Michael Jackson. It was also home to one of the most prominent figures in Philippine and American history—General Douglas MacArthur.

    These and more stories will be put together through a guided digital historical tour for guests. QR codes will be placed in different areas of the hotel. Through an application, which they can download, guests can scan codes posted all around the hotel, which will reveal photos, videos and historical facts.

    According to Denise N. Tambuatco, the hotel’s executive vice president for marketing, “We are currently scouring our archives for photos and videos and will upload 20 videos in June.”

    More images will be uploaded in October, when the hotel celebrates its 102nd anniversary.

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