HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — After 55 eventful years at the centre of ever-changing Saigon, the Caravelle Hotel is inviting travellers from all over to share its legacy of Vietnamese history and hospitality with a special anniversary offer.
Most notably remembered as a haven for journalists covering the war in the 60s and 70s, history lovers have the opportunity to experience the iconic Saigon hotel at a 55 percent discount off regular room rates, when booking stays of two nights or more from May 7 to 31, 2014.
The Caravelle’s anniversary offer comes on the verge of the property’s most significant renovation since 1998, and coincides with the original hotel’s soft opening in May 1959. Situated in cinematic Lam Son Square, the Caravelle opened as Saigon’s tallest building and was the only hotel in the city outfitted with air-conditioning and bulletproof glass.
The Caravelle’s name was taken from the Iberian ‘caravelas’, the light 15th century ships that explored the New World. The downtown hotel quickly became the city’s finest lodging and a fashionable address for professional and social activity. In the 1960s, the hotel housed the embassies of Australia and New Zealand, the offices of Air France, and the Saigon bureaus of international media corps NBC, ABC and CBS.
During Saigon’s most chaotic years, the Caravelle provided an oasis of calm efficiency and modern comfort. The hotel’s rooftop watering hole, now Saigon Saigon Bar, became a gathering point for reporters who surveyed the skirmishes on the outskirts of the city from their bar stools. Among the award-winning journalists who called the Caravelle their temporary home were Peter Arnett, Walter Cronkite and Malcolm Browne. Their memoirs and writings recall resourceful staff, handsome limos and spotless rooms.
After the end of the war in 1975, the hotel was renamed Doc Lap (Independence) Hotel, and operated by the Vietnamese government, until March of 1992, when the hotel’s then owner, Saigon Tourist, partnered with Chains International Hotels Management Singapore Pte. Ltd in a bid to revive the 86-room landmark property.
In 1992, the Caravelle Hotel relaunched its well-known brand of gracious Vietnamese hospitality in the same incomparable location. In 1998, the hotel made a smooth transition into the re-energized Saigon landscape with the refurbishment of the original 10-story building and the complement of a 24-story tower. On May 12 of this year, the Caravelle will embark on a new wave of renovations, beginning with the hotel’s ground floor lobby, front desk and buffet restaurant Nineteen.
Today, the Caravelle is once again leading the local hospitality industry — this time in environmental commitments. The hotel has received ISO 14001:2004 certification, Earthcheck Silver Certification, Vietnam’s Green Lotus Certification, and most recently, the ASEAN Green Hotel Award for 2014.
The Caravelle Hotel’s 55th anniversary stay offer requires a full non-refundable pre-payment, and cannot be used in conjunction with other promotions.
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