From quaint streets filled with bicycles and a practically non-existent skyline to today’s fast-paced metropolis, Saigon’s evolution during the last 60 years ago has been profound. Yet, throughout all the changes, one thing that has remained constant is the Caravelle’s role as a luxurious place to stay, meet, work and celebrate. To honour the Caravelle’s 60th anniversary, the iconic hotel hosted a large party, decking out the ballroom in 1950’s style and inviting special guests including Denby Fawcett, one of the first female journalists to stay at the hotel.
|An ad for the Caravelle Saigon in 1961 when a “Twin-bed room” cost only $12.20|
The evening started with the speech of Mr. Pham Huy Binh, Chairman of Saigontourist Holding Company and the Chairman of Chains Caravelle Board of Members, which signified the standing of Caravelle for the past 60 years and its contribution to the city’s tourism development. He did not forget to end his speech with a gesture of appreciation for the hotel’s dedicated associates and for the support from guests and partners of Caravelle.
To follow up, Mrs. Fawcett regaled guests with stories about the early days when she first came to Vietnam. She remembered fondly how the Caravelle, then the tallest building in the city, was the place to be for reporters. “At night you could drink an icy glass of whisky while looking across the beautiful cityscape.”
“The Caravelle in the mid-1960s was a place where reporters could find a home away from home; a place where they worked and a place where they lived,” Fawcett explained. She noted the rarity and importance of the hotel’s reliable electricity, very good phone service, bullet-proof windows. It was the first hotel in the city to be fully air-conditioned and the safety and comfort it provided made it a place where news and careers were made.
While Fawcett helped guests understand the historic importance of the Caravelle, the night’s host, Ha Anh Vu, explained why it remains relevant amongst Saigon residents and tourists today. The famous model explained that whenever she returns to the city from her many trips oversees, the Caravelle is always her go-to spot to rest and reenergize; meeting friends for dinner and cocktails, swimming in the pool and savoring an extravagant Sunday brunch.
|John Gardner, General Director of Chains Caravelle Hotel speaking at the hotel reception party|
After John Gardner, General Director of Chains Caravelle Hotel Joint Venture Company explained the exciting room, suites and ballroom renovations that have helped the hotel maintain the prominent status that Fawcett enjoyed decade’s prior, The Swingers Club took the stage. The band, regular performers at the Caravelle, ran through a number of high-energy hits. With a special guest singer performing classic swing numbers, dancers took the stage twirling and spinning with moves straight out of the 1950s.
In addition to the music, the Caravelle captured the mood of that glamorous era through decorations in the spacious ballroom. Classic black and white scenes of cyclos and women in stylish ao dai hung on the walls alongside images of the hotel. Guests attired in elegant gowns and suits moved about the room sipping Champagne and sampling a sumptuous spread of Vietnamese and Western food emblematic of the Caravelle’s appeal for locals and foreigners alike, prepared by the hotel’s talented culinary team.
In the last 60 years, Saigon has lost many important landmarks and buildings but the Caravelle has endured for the many reasons that were on display at the anniversary party. Its ability to blend modern luxury and comfort with reverence for history and culture have made it a special place for journalists, businesspeople, celebrities and tourists alike. The 60th anniversary offered a chance to look back fondly on its prominent role in the city’s history and celebrate the exciting experiences it promises to offer guests in the future.
About Caravelle Saigon
Since its opening on Christmas Eve 1959, Caravelle Saigon has gained renown for being at the heart of everything important in this great city. Located in the city centre, the hotel is a short walk to iconic landmarks and locations, such as the Saigon Municipal Theatre, also known as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, historic Dong Khoi Street, modern Nguyen Hue Walking Street, and the legendary Ben Thanh Market.
Within its walls, the hotel has been at the centre of significant historic and cultural events as well, beginning with its original design hailed at the time as one of the tallest and most modern buildings of its kind in Vietnam. Then, there was its involvement during the war years, followed by cameo roles in popular films and literature. While much of what lies at the heart of Caravelle Saigon is historic, its rooms are modern and luxurious, making it the ideal place to make your own history in one of the most enchanting cities in the world.