The year 2018 is teeming with three-day weekends, so why not consider a staycation in Manila? And what better place than the new Rizal Park Hotel right in the heart of old Manila, where shades of history and nostalgia are in almost every corner. This is the newest place to join the ranks of luxury hotels in Manila, one of which is the Manila Hotel. But unlike the Manila Hotel, Rizal Park Hotel gives you that luxury staycation experience at an affordable price.
Named after the Philippines’ national hero and a key tourist spot, the Rizal Park Hotel overlooks the Manila Bay and was itself once home to an iconic landmark of bygone days, the Army and Navy Club (ANC). The original edifice was built almost 120 years ago when the Americans arrived in Manila and served as a social hall and leisure center exclusively for American army officers where they could unwind, eat, play sports or even stay for the night.
After the war, the place maintained its exclusive status and club facilities, and was renowned for its fine American and international cuisine. It became a popular venue for balls, fashion shows, and special performances, a place to be seen. With limited membership, it was considered a status symbol to dine there during the postwar decades up till the 80s. It was even declared a National Historical Landmark in 1991.
Despite its prestige, the club struggled to keep its head above water and was forced to close shop. In the 90s, it housed the Museo Pambata, and recently, was leased by Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corp. which transformed the place into the present Rizal Park Hotel.
Oceanville spent about four years taking on the difficult task of reinventing the facilities yet maintaining the original structure and ambience. Restoration was particularly daunting, as the developers struggled to keep the original facade and interior design yet had to reinforce the structure.
As soon as you enter the main driveway, you will already feel the hotel’s grandeur. The iron grill fences are reminiscent of the early years of the last century. And when you step into the lobby, you will immediately be mesmerized with the hotel’s elegant interior, from the domed ceiling and stained glass windows down to the black-and-white checkered tiles which was characteristic of the old Army Navy Club. At the entrance, you can read the plaque which declared ANC back in 1991 as a historical landmark and a memento to Filipino-American friendship.
Two staircases lead to rooms on the second floor but are for exclusive use of guests only. And despite the centuries-past feel of the place, the hotel has adapted electronic room key cards just like any other state-of the-art accommodation. There are four floors of rooms, most of which have retained their original sizes and layouts. The interiors are truly a delight for camera bugs and Instagram aficionados who will keep themselves busy in photo ops.
Rooms and Facilities
The hotel offers various type of rooms from deluxe to suites. Each room maintained the original neutral and subtle off-white tones of the ANC with touches of gold, but more stylish than its predecessor. Room rates here are much more affordable than another nearby hotel in Manila, with a deluxe room for 2 starting at Php3,600 (prices subject to change) when you book through Agoda or Booking.com. The published rates on their website is crazy expensive for a boutique hotel.
Even with its century-old design, the hotel offers state-of-the-art facilities, such as the spa, and function rooms. Soon to open are the grand ballroom, swimming pool, fitness center, seaview deck, and rooftop bar.
There are three restaurants in the hotel to delight your palate. Cafe Rizal offers daily lunch and dinner buffets at very reasonable rates, especially if you have the chance to catch discounted deals on their website. The spread features Filipino, international cuisine, or a fusion of both. For instance, there’s the salmon sisig, ravioli pie, and dumplings. Main courses include prime rib, lechon belly, steaks, seafood, pasta, and many others. If you prefer a less-heavy meal, you can choose from their short order menu. The Courtyard is an outdoor lounge serving beverages and snacks. And the newly opened Imperial Court offers authentic Chinese dishes.
Places to Go and Things to Do
Your Rizal Park Hotel staycation is not complete without touring the nearby landmarks. The hotel is strategically located along the Roxas Boulevard strip, just a stone’s throw away from the historical Intramuros area where you can visit Fort Santiago and take kalesa rides around. It is not too far from the National Museum where you can learn all about Philippine history and culture. Kids of all ages will enjoy Museo Pambata where they can tinker with science models and exhibits. It’s also near the Manila Ocean Park where you can learn more about the different marine life of the Philippines.
The hotel also overlooks the Manila Bay where you can enjoy viewing the famous sunset. You can stroll along the seafront and enjoy the cool sea breezes. There are several restaurants and cafes along the strip where you can dine al fresco.
If shopping is part of your itinerary, you can take a short jeep or taxi ride to the Mall of Asia where you can shop till you drop, dine, watch movies, and on occasion, concerts. Or try your luck at the City of Dreams or Solaire casinos.
So make this summer a Rizal Park Hotel staycation!
Check the availability and rates of Rizal Park Hotel
Hotel rates vary depending on the date of your booking so just compare the rates below.
(I was invited by Rizal Park Hotel for dinner. Thank you very much for inviting me and for your hospitality! My opinion, as always, are solely my own.)