Hotel de Oriente

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Constructed in 1889 in Binondo, Manila, the Hotel de Oriente was known to be the Philippines' premier luxury hotel.

Shortly after arriving from Hong Kong on 26 June 1892, José Rizal head to Hotel de Oriente and lodged at room No. 22 until his banishment to Dapitan, Zamboanga under the order of Spanish Governor-General Eulogio Despujol. It is believed that the Philippine National Hero was the most famous guest of the hotel.

History

The establishment of Hotel de Oriente was headed by Don Manuel Perez Marqueti. Its location was rather advantageous, as it was in proximity to Chinese retail stores, Escolta's shopping district, and even Intramuros. Famous landmarks of the time such as Plaza Calderon de la Barca and Estero de la Reina also contributed to the hotel's appeal.

With a budget of $100,000, Hotel de Oriente's architecture was designed by Spanish architect Juan Jose Huervas y Arizmendi. The result was a three-storey hotel that had 83 rooms, 25 horse stables, an attic, and a broad entryway adorned with red clay tiles. Hotel de Oriente was popular among newly-arrived Americans. At that time, it was rather typical for American army officers to be seen at the entrance of the hotel, as this was where their spouses stayed.

The amenities offered by Hotel de Oriente were commendable during its time as well. Fine dining was handled by Chinese servers clad in a uniform that resembled a long gown, and who were trained to glide graciously among busy tables. The dominant cuisine in the Hotel de Oriente was French, but it also boasted dishes from Spain. One food critic even went on to write praises for the hotel's curry and spicy chicken and rice, stating that both were far more superior than any variation in the West.

As for the rooms, it is worth noting that back then, Hotel de Oriente was one of the few residences in Manila that had electricity. This allowed the hotel to install ceiling fans for each room. Aside from the aforementioned luxury, rattan wicker chairs were also available for the guests, and majority of the wooden floor was covered by hooked rugs.

Following Don Manuel Perez Marqueti's death in 1899, his wife put the hotel on sale at $160,000. It was purchased a year later for $350,000 by an Australian named Walter Fitton. He then sold it to Sellner's Manila Investment Co., which in turn leased it to a Chinese restaurateur who went by "Ah Gong."

In 1903, American architect Edgar Bourne was tasked by the Philippine Commission to purchase Hotel de Oriente for $675,000. The hotel continued to house foreign guests until it was eventually replaced by the Manila Hotel, which is in operation until now.

Hotel de Oriente in the Present

Tourists may still get a glimpse of Hotel de Oriente's former glory, as it had been rebuilt at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, which is a heritage resort located in Bagac, Bataan. The hotel was also rechristened with a new name; it is now called Hotel de Oriente Convention Center.

Hotel de Oriente Convention Center's exterior still follows the original Spanish architecture. Its interiors, however, are brand new, and designed in such a way that celebrates Filipino craftsmanship. The centerpiece of the convention center is a marquetry inspired by Juan Luna's renowned painting titled Spoliarium. Found indoors as well are wooden mosaics of the murals done by National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco.

Just as it was once the first hotel in the Philippines to cater to the elite, the Hotel de Oriente Convention Center also holds the title of being the first convention center to boast not just the function rooms but also opera-like balcony rooms for esteemed visitors. The function rooms are named after streets in Manila: Azcarraga, Avenida, Blumentritt, and Sta. Cruz. It is at the Azcarraga Function Room where tourists may learn more about the convention center's history and development through the information made available by the Hotel de Oriente Convention Center Exhibit.

Furthermore, the Hotel de Oriente Convention Center has two halls named "Manila" and "Binondo"; each can seat 1,000 attendees.   


References

Citation

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