Of all the hotels in the metropolis, only a few can boast of having such a history and prominence as the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in the reclaimed Cultural Center of the Philippines complex near the Manila Bay.
It was one of the hotels built at the height of the Marcos era to showcase the Philippines to the world in the midst of the events going on at the time. To be specific, the hotel, which was first known as the Philippine Plaza Hotel, was built to house the delegates of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting which was to be held in Manila in 1976. (an event Marcos successfully lobbied for)
This seminal work by renowned Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, with Ildefonso Santos designing the hotel grounds, the pool, and the gardens, manages not to betray the fact that it was actually rushed to completion, still looking good as ever though the age may show these days. It also happens to be one of the largest hotels in the country in terms of rooms. One could not imagine a hotel with only 11 floors could have 609 guest rooms all in all. And being near the bay, the hotel also boasts a commanding view of Manila Bay and its famed sunset.
It’s been said that Imelda Marcos actually owned the hotel, well-hidden through a network of dummies. Eventually it went under the management of the Westin group, thus it was called the Westin Philippine Plaza. Then in 2006, Accor took over the hotel under one of its hotel brands, Sofitel.
These days, the hotel still enjoys a strong following that has gotten even bigger in recent times thanks to the hotel’s crown jewel: its restaurant named Spiral, named after the spiral staircase that connects the upper ground lobby to the restaurant on the lower ground.
More than the iconic view of the restaurant, Spiral stands out among the many hotel restaurants of the country simply because of one thing every food-loving individual naturally loves: the buffet. This is not just some regular buffet being served in this restaurant, it is a buffet that consists of the widest variety in the buffet menu ever served in a restaurant. Spiral’s 21 dining ateliers has become the stuff of cravings that every foodie yearns to visit despite the hefty price tag for a table in this restaurant.
The Sofitel Philippine Plaza has come a long way from its beginnings in 1976 to become one of the city’s landmark hotels that we know today. Regardless of the differing views on the era it was built on, the hotel still stands as a bright spot in the metropolis’ ever-changing landscape, inviting more guests and visitors to appreciate its history, the view, and the food as well.
© The Urban Roamer