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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Story of Luneta Hotel: Is this Old Dame too Beautiful for Manila?


If Luneta Hotel were a lady, she would stand out in a crowd, leaving everyone captivated by her beauty. Men fawn over her, as if under a hypnotic spell. They fall in love with the effortless grace and charm of this lady that has seen it all -- a nation's progress, downfall, and war wounds. Over time, however, her beauty fades and one day, she finds herself alone in a city where her beauty no longer seems appealing and relevant. She feels out of place, lonely--almost like a derelict. Consequently, she never leaves her home for many years.

The Old Luneta Hotel when it was built

One day, she meets a gentleman who sees the beauty beyond that loneliness. He tells her that there's a world out there that she should again be a part of. Slowly, the vigor she once had would return.  She might not have discovered the fountain of youth but she finds love that would save her. With a mix of courage and trepidation, she steps out of her house. She discovers that this new world that has forgotten her is ready to take her back again. They were waiting for her to walk the streets of the city that would draw more inspiration from her. This is her story. 

The Luneta Hotel is one of my dream hotels in the city. It was Manila's gem. Everytime I would see it, I imagine myself transported back to a Manila that every city in Asia dreamt of becoming.  The hotel was a symbol our country's vibrant colonilization and western expansion. 

For a long while, Luneta Hotel was one of the most romantic places in city. The hotel has an exceptional Belle Epoque facade reminiscent of French rennaisance architecture. It was completed in 1918 on T.M Kalaw street during an Era when Manila was open to all the innovations the world had to offer. Everyone had a gorgeous view of Manila Bay Sunset from its functional balconies, where one could have some tea or coffee.  It brought the air of European living to Manila. As time went by though, the Luneta Hotel became too extravagant to maintain for its owners due to high maintenance and eventually, its grandeur was lost. Having been uninhabited for a long time, it was headed towards a further state of deterioration. That  seemed to be the end of the line for this remarkable hotel. 

With signs of decay, weak supporting columns and utter neglect, the building faced a harsh reality- it was going to be demolished. It was a threat to public safety if a major earthquake would hit Manila again. The only way it could be saved is by retrofitting the whole building using modern technology. A glimmer of hope for the hotel came after a few years. 

Having a grand vision, Beaumont Holdings group decided to buy the property. When they applied for a demolition permit, panicked ensued among the Heritage Conservationists. However, they soon realized that it was only undergoing structural rehabilitation. That would mean the facade could not be changed and no additional floors could be added. Finally, the old dame is ready for a grand welcome.

Within a year, I am sure the hotel would already be operational. I have high hopes for it. Luneta Hotel will definitely be one of the hotels I am looking forward to seeing after its completion. I would most likely stay here for a weekend to experience what it was like to live in a beautiful Manila, an elegant era that is lost in time. 

Despite this major overhaul, the surrounding area might not give this hotel justice. The bigger picture still remains: Is this property overwhelmingly beautiful for Manila? Perhaps, it is not. It may be the hotel this city actually needs. Like an artist's muse, it would be the lady that would inspire this city to see its true potential.

P.S
Another big break for Manila? My fellow travel bloggers Nina and Monette mentioned this a few days ago. Rumors have been going around that the Fullerton Group in Singapore is planning to transform the National Post Office into one of their hotels.

The government is considering it since having a post office in a building this big is not cost-effective. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Manila's future may seem to be brighter than sunshine. If this would be our way to a greener and cleaner Manila, I am all for it. 





































16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this post, doc. I see this all the time but di pinapansin. - Grace Tan

The Sunset Goddess said...

Great series of posts on Manila's old hotels/landmarks---perfect in time for independence day ;) I never even knew about Luneta Hotel until your post. Thanks for sharing :)

deobaraanmd said...

@Sunset Goddess - Thanks so much! I really love this building so it's about time people know more about it. There are many beautiful things in this city. We just need to work harder.

deobaraanmd said...

@thank you grace!

Batang Lakwatsero said...

very nice. hopefully other majestic buildings (Metropolitan Theater) would soon be restored like this hotel. great post doc.

deobaraanmd said...

Thanks Ivan- I always say, I am one of Manila's biggest fans. This is me giving back to this city. :)

Yeah the Metropolitan Theater is such a waste. That place would require major rehabilitation and funding if they plan to make it operational. *Fingers crossed*

Marie C. said...

Wow! Impressive and beautiful post GT.

Anonymous said...

The Post Office building brought back memories as I worked there in 1969 -1975 then I left for the USA.
Bless your heart always for Very interesting post! Thel from Florida

deobaraanmd said...

Thank You Thel! I hope it will be a promising development.

Nes said...

Deo great post... You were always pointing this building out during our " favor" tours but reading about it in your blog adds more romance and nostalgia to it..;-)

Francis Martin said...

I love how you compared to building to a lady. Great blog post. You are almost as good a writer as me, brother. Haha! =)

Francis Martin said...

Typo: "I love how you compared [the] building..."

Edward said...

Underneath I believe Manila still has the charm and one day hopefuly she will rise again.

deobaraanmd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deobaraanmd said...

*I was inspired brother!
@nes- thank you
@edward- It will rise again!

Marvin Leonard Ojerio said...

Sadly, it is foreigners that sees the beauty and importance in conserving our own national heritage...