It is hard to imagine a property with a more distinguished military lineage in its past than the Rizal Park Hotel in Manila. Formerly the Army and Navy Club of the United States Armed Forces in the capital of the Philippines, its presidents included Admiral George Dewey and General Douglas MacArthur, two of the heroes of the Pacific in World War II.
The palatial building itself dates back more than a century, to 1911. It underwent significant restoration, while retaining its landmark heritage status, and opened as a luxury hotel in 2017.
The interior is as impressive as the handsome colonial exterior. The entrance opens into a spacious octagonal atrium, with checkered marble floor and two majestic, red-carpeted staircases leading up to a circular mezzanine. Beckoning alcoves lead to intimate nooks with tables for two or four, while a rear door leads to an outdoor terrace.
Above the mezzanine floor are the 107 guest units: two kinds of rooms and three categories of suites, fit for the top brass of the most powerful nation on earth. The king-sized beds are super comfortable, and the units are also furnished with 40” cable TVs, coffee and tea makers, mini-refrigerators and personal safes. Complimentary Wi-Fi extends to all units.
The bathrooms are equipped with spacious showers, while the suites boast bathtubs as well. The larger suites even have porches with sea views.
Similar expansive views may be had from the rooftop infinity pool and Jacuzzi, which are at guests’ disposal, along with a state-of-the-art fitness room. Adults may avail themselves of a pampering spa and wellness center, and enjoy the convenience of an on-site casino. Children and families, on the other hand, may romp in a private kids’ playground, as well as play in the dedicated Internet gaming center.
All of these tempting amenities and activities notwithstanding, perhaps the most unforgettable experience at the Rizal Park Hotel could very well take place in the dining room. Three times a day, it is the scene of a lavish buffet, featuring no fewer than four different cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Western.
At breakfast alone, for example, one may start with a Chinese dumpling, move on to Japanese gyoza, and continue with American scrambled eggs and toast, accompanied by Filipino tocino (sweetly spiced ham). And wash it all down with a tropical fruit juice smoothie, and freshly brewed cappuccino brought to the table by an efficient and friendly server.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who stayed at the Rizal Park Hotel as the guest of the Ministry of Tourism of the Philippines. Photos by Mario Troiani.