Yan­gon’s re­vamped The Strand

Fresh from a ma­jor re­fit, Myan­mar’s leg­endary grand dame is look­ing bet­ter than ever.

DestinAsian - - GOOD GO TO - BY CHRISTO­PHER P. HILL

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.

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