- Grand Hotel (Taipei City)
The Grand Hotel (zh-cl|c=圓山大飯店|l=Yuanshan Grand Hotel), built in
1973, is a famous landmarklocated atop a hill overlooking Taipei City, Taiwan, Republic of China. It is owned by the Duen-Mou Foundation of Taiwan, a non-profit organization, and has played host to many foreign dignitaries that have visited Taipei.
Chiang Kai-shek's retreat to Taiwan in 1949, Chiang felt it was difficult to accommodate foreign ambassadors, as there weren't any five-star hotels in Taipei. Thus, he wanted to build an extravagant hotel to treat foreign guests. His wife Soong May-lingsuggested to build it on the old Taiwan Hotel on Yuanshan Mountain, the site of the ruins of the Taiwan Grand Shrine, a Shintoshrine during the Japanese rule. Chiang decided on a Taiwanese palace-style architecture to promote Taiwanese cultureto the West through its extravagance. Taipei-based architect Yang Cho-Chengwas responsible for the design of the new hotel.
The hotel was established in the May of
1952, but it was expanded several times before it became the landmark as it is known today. The swimming pool, tennis court, and the membership lounge were constructed in 1953, and Golden Dragon Pavilion and Golden Dragon Restaurant opened in 1956. The Jade Phoenix Pavilion and Chi-Lin Pavilion opened in 1958and 1963, respectively. In 1968, the hotel was rated as one of the world's top ten hotels by the US "Fortune" magazine. And finally, in the Double Tenth Dayof 1973, the main Grand Hotel building was completed, making it an instant Taipei icon.
1995, a disastrous fire broke out on the roof during necessary reconstruction and refurbishment, and because neither ladders nor high pressure pumps could reach the fire, the roof and the upper floors were destroyed. Not until 1998did the hotel recover from the damage and became fully reopened to the public. Following the fire, the two dragon heads on the roof were rotated 180 degrees to point inwards. As dragons are traditionally a symbol of rain and water, this was intended to symbolize preparedness against a future fire.
The hotel's roof is currently the world's largest Chinese classical style roof. With its vermilion columns, the roof makes the hotel a visible showplace of Chinese architecture and culture. The hotel itself contains numerous objects d'art, wall panels, paintings, carvings, and significant restaurants.
Dragonmotifs are frequently intertwined throughout the various structures that make up the hotel, earning the hotel the name "The Dragon Palace". Beside dragons, lionand umeflower motifs also make a significant presence in the hotel.
Each of the eight guest levels represent a different Chinese
dynasty, as reflected through the murals and general decor. The hotel has a total of 490 rooms. The rooms facing south are offered with a paranomic view of Taipei City. The presidential suite, as the hotel claims, has former President Chiang Kai-shek's desk and Madame Chiang's dressing table. Currently, the presidential suite costs NT$160,000 per night (Approx. USD$4,850). Budget rooms are available from ca. USD$99 per night. [cite web|url=http://www.cheaptickets.com/App/ViewSpecificHotelLP?masterId=64868&gcid=S16036x129&keyword=grand+hotel+sonnenbichl&source=sr&type=k&WT.mc_id=ec101&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.srch=1&DCSext.mc_kw=grand+hotel+taipei|title=CheapTickets, The Grand Hotel|accessdate=2007-07-09]
The hotel also features
auditoriums and meeting rooms, making it a venue for conventions and conferences in Taiwan.
Ever since the opening of the hotel, rumour had it that
secret passages ran from the hotel for Chiang's convenience. The truth was uncovered after the 1995 fire, as part of the safety commission that was conducted. The secret passages were revealed to be two air-raid tunnels, each of them 180m in length leading to nearby parks, not the presidential residence or the emergency headquarters as rumours had suggested. The western passage is equipped with a slide for the disabled as an alternative to the spiraling stairs. The exits are obscured with concrete walls, thus escaping public detection for decades. The tunnels have a maximum capacity of about 10,000 people.
2005, the tunnels are closed to the public except for special events, when hotel officials invite the press and public inside the tunnels for a tour.
senatorand oppositionleader Benigno Aquino, Jr.was at the Grand Hotel on August 20, 1983, the day before he returned to the Philippinesand was assassinated. In his pre-return interview at his suite, Ninoyanticipated the worst that could happen upon his return. An excerpt of that interview can be seen here: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuEPFt-Dd-Q]
Popular Hanyul star Bae Yong Joon visited n' stayed there for promoted "Winter Sonata."
* [http://www.snweb.com.cn/gb/gnd/2002/1223/n1223001.htm "Visiting the Taipei Grand Hotel, Uncovering the Truth behind Chiang's Secret Passages"] , by Wu Yaming and Chen Xiaoxing, "Global Times", December 23, 2002, retrieved January 31, 2006 zh icon
* [http://www.grand-hotel.org/newsite/html/e/ca01.htm The Grand Hotel - Official website]
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