The Suite Life

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Douglas MacArthurThe Manila Hotel’s longest-staying guest loved his suite so much, he stayed for six years, and fought tooth and nail to get it back from the Japanese

If hotels carry the promise of looking after the tired and weary, then the Manila Hotel must have been doing a remarkable job for the past 98 years for it to be recognized as a haven for people of distinction.

Established in 1912, Manila Hotel has served as a refuge for famous personalities in the entertainment and political arena before its longest-staying guest checked in, the legendary General Douglas MacArthur. The General was a guest at the Philippines’ oldest hotel from 1935 until 1941.

Chief national defense strategist as Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, a rank that has never been given to anyone else since, MacArthur could not have chosen a more suitable official residence.

Situated across Rizal Park, the hotel is located along Manila Bay, the country’s chief port and the traditional gateway into the city. The hotel was also a stone’s throw away from the walls that protected colonial Manila from pirates and invaders.

The Army and Navy Club, which ‘Dugout Doug’ frequently visited, was a short walk away. So was the American Embassy, making it convenient for him to maintain contact with the US government. And, with Malacañan just minutes away by car, he was also within reach of his other boss, Commonwealth of the Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon.

While staying at the penthouse suite of the Manila Hotel, MacArthur was given the honorary title of General Manager. This made him eligible to stay free of charge at the hotel’s premiere suite, a solution that government accountants saw as the most effective way to handle the cost of putting him up in the hotel. But the General ignored his honorary status and focused his military discipline on the proper management of Manila Hotel during his stay.

World War II forced MacArthur to leave his posh accommodations, but he fought the invading Japanese with such ferocity to take back the city and the hotel he had come to regard as his home. The penthouse suite has since been named after him and exists to this day.

Inside the MacArthur Suite is a huge formal dining room, a spacious parlor, and a kitchen. The study is decorated with some of the General’s books, family pictures, and war memorabilia.

The best feature of all—for grizzled generals and discriminating guests alike—is the terrace that gives a commanding view of historic Manila Bay and the marvelous sunsets that signal the end of another great, historic day.

Print ed: 02/10


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