Yangon’s revamped The Strand
Fresh from a major refit, Myanmar’s legendary grand dame is looking better than ever.
Few hotels in Southeast Asia are as storied as The Strand. Set on Yangon’s riverfront boulevard, it was opened in 1901 by hoteliers du jour Aviet and Tigran Sarkies—Persian-born Armenians who, along with two other well-mustachioed brothers, were also behind the Eastern & Oriental in Penang and Singapore’s Raffles. Back then, the city was called Rangoon, a booming if scruffy colonial port of 250,000 people. The Strand became a beacon of luxury and modernity. A whopping three stories tall and crowned by a grand pediment, it was the first building in town with electricity, not to mention 60 resplendent rooms that would host the likes of Noël Coward and Somerset Maugham.
But with Burmese independence, the property began a slow decline that only picked up speed after the military coup of 1962, when it was nationalized. By the ’70s, The Strand was rundown and rat-infested. Then came Aman founder Adrian Zecha, who restored and reopened it in 1993 as a 31-suite hotel. The Strand had returned to its former glory.
That, however, was almost a quarter of a century ago. By the time its current managers, GCP Hospitality, took over in 2013, the place was looking tired again, and in dire need of a technological upgrade.
“A major renovation was overdue to usher the hotel into the 21st century,” says Mark Murraybrown, the hotel’s operations manager.
Clockwise from above: The Strand’s neoclassical facade; inside a renovated suite; a hotel doorman; the Sarkies Bar has a new name and a new look.