Manila Hotel undergoes a facelift

By Karen Flores,

Posted at Mar 10 2010 04:09 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2011 08:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The oldest luxury hotel in the country is in the final stages of renovation as it prepares to celebrate its 100th year in business in 2012.

It was a huge price to pay, but Manila Hotel took the risk since it wanted to keep up with the times. The renovations started last year, a time when companies were forced to cut down on costs due to the global economic crisis.

They spent a huge sum to put up new facilities, improve old structures, and hire new staff.

"We want the hotel to have modern facilities, but of course, we also want to maintain the overall look and feel of the place," Ralph Servande, Manila Hotel's assistant vice president for sales, shared with

It was a wise investment, according to Servande. A year after the renovations began, he said Manila Hotel managed to attract more high-value clients.

"There are more foreigners here now, Americans, Koreans, Europeans, etc. Of course we also have a steady stream of high-profile local clients. With the renovations, now the luxury is back," he said.

As it marks its centenary in two years, Manila Hotel aims to maintain its old grandeur while keeping up with the modern offerings of the Philippines' top hotels.

"If Singapore has Raffles Hotel, we want Philippines to have Manila Hotel. That's how we want to be remembered," Servande said.

Here are some of Manila Hotel's new and improved facilities:

Lobby lounge. Manila Hotel has joined the trend of lobby lounges as seen in most luxury hotels in the Metro. From its usual red couches, the lobby is now dotted with chairs and tables so guests can have snacks and drinks while listening to live music. Servande said the move has so far improved the hotel's target market. "Before, people are just loitering in the lobby, waiting for their friends. Now, customers can sit down, eat, or have a drink here," he said.


A new Cafe Ilang Ilang. Cafe Ilang Ilang, one of Manila Hotel's oldest restaurants, is set for a major overhaul in the coming months. Corporate communications executive Martha Herrera said the old Spanish-themed cafe will soon feature interactive live kitchen stations to keep up with most of the country's luxury hotels. An expansion of Cafe Ilang Ilang (as well as a change in the restaurant's overall design) is also in place. "Expect a whole new Cafe Ilang Ilang," Herrera said.


Mabuhay Palace. Manila Hotel's newest restaurant, Mabuhay Palace, continues to be a favorite of local and foreign customers alike. It features Chinese food touched by Western and Mediterranean influences, with set menus priced from P1,400 to P2,000 per person. Josephine Yu Tanganco, officer in charge at the Mabuhay Palace, said the restaurant's best-selling dishes include Long Life prawns and sharksfin soup with puff pastry. "This March, we have less 50% on our abalone dishes. That's from March 8 to 31," Tanganco said.


Refurbished rooms. Modern touches have been added to Manila Hotel's rooms, which have been here for decades. Exquisitely decorated in classic Filipiniana theme with capiz shells and narra wood carvings, each room now has a contact-less electronic door lock, a 40-inch LCD television, an iPod dock, free Internet access (both wired and wi-fi), and L'occitane bathroom amenities and toiletries. Each room also has a flat screen waterproof television in the bathroom so guests can watch their favorite shows while soaking up the suds. "Feedback on the new rooms has so far been very good," Servande said.


MH Health Club. Another new addition to Manila Hotel's facilities is the MH Health Club which includes a gym, a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a steam room, a dry sauna, and a spa. The hotel's gym boasts of Life Fitness Signature Series treadmills, cross trainers, upright and recumbent exercise bikes, among others. The spa, meanwhile, offers a combination of modern-day techniques and traditional massages. "We may build more [spa] rooms if demand continues to go up," Herrera said when asked about a possible expansion of the MH Health Club. 

Manila Hotel is located at One Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. For inquiries, call 527-0011 or send an email to [email protected]


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