For the past four decades, Mandarin Oriental, Manila has always been committed to giving its very best to countless guests that have walked through its elegant doors in Makati City. This standard is what made it an icon in the Philippine hospitality industry and why news of its temporary closure stirred many emotions as the hotel prepares to move to a new home in 2020.
As it officially closed its landmark property on the corner of Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas on September 9, the Mandarin Oriental Manila made sure to fulfill its commitment to the very end. For only the best was given to its loyal staffers, from the very top executives, down to the maintenance crew through a fitting farewell.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, the hotel’s much loved and respected former director of communications, Charisse Chuidian, talked about the “jovial but tearful goodbye” the Mandarin Oriental Manila family had for one another.
On the morning of the final day, the entire staff was given their generous severance package as management’s way of showing their gratitude for every employee’s dedication and hard work during their tenure. Clearly, every effort and contribution in the hotel’s day to day operations had been valued by the company.
And just like a family, over 400 staffers of Mandarin Oriental Manila sat together for a final farewell buffet lunch at Paseo Uno.
Chuidian shared, “The mood was generally jovial, though many colleagues shed tears. They also broke into song during the walk down the red carpet in the lobby as they exited the hotel.”
Hotel general manager Torsten van Dullemen told them, “I don’t know what to say at a moment like this, other than a huge thank you to all of you. When you walk through the door, walk with your head up high and with pride. Thank you for everything.”
Overhead, as the men and women of the Mandarin walked out of their beloved hotel for the last time, a banner read, “Thank you for 39 excellent years. Sa muli nating pagkikita. Maraming, maraming salamat [Until we see each other again, thank you very much].”
Days before the official closure, the hotel staff devotedly fulfilled their respective duties to the very end, just as Chuidian herself had done.
She was busy with the clearance of both office and separation documents, as well as attending to follow-up queries from the media and followers of social media accounts regarding the final days and future plans of the hotel. Mandarin Oriental Manila’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts were only deactivated on Wednesday.
But more than just her corporate tasks, Chuidian also made sure to make time for “the people that mattered.” She said, “I also spent catch-up lunches with friends, and a get-together with my team of three—Isabel Cang, Nannie Flores and Jake Dolosa—before we went our separate ways.”
Indeed, a new chapter is set to begin for all former employees of Mandarin Oriental Manila, even Chuidian, who assumed a new post for another property on Friday.
She revealed, “I will actually begin to work on the 19th of September at the City of Dreams—an integrated entertainment complex that’s due to open before the end of the year—as vice president of Public Relations.”
She credits her 22 years of experience with the Mandarin Oriental Manila for preparing her for this whole new challenge, and will forever be grateful for every piece of learning, fond memory and friendship made in the famed hotel.
The new Mandarin Oriental Manila’s 275-room hotel is scheduled to open under a long-term management contract with Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts.
In August, Ayala Land Inc. announced its renewed P65-billion investment in Makati City for the next five years. The new Mandarin Oriental will be part of this grand development, where the hotel will rise at the tip of the Ayala Triangle Gardens. The new location will actually be across the old property. (“How they ‘Make it Makati’” The Manila Times, August 21, 2014).
Little has been disclosed about the new look, or whether the property will still carry the design of National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin.
As Chiudian spoke on behalf of the hotel for the final time, she said, “Details on the new property are not yet available, but one can be certain that it will be a stunning hotel in the luxurious tradition of Mandarin Oriental.”