Rex Hotel: Vietnam’s home to foreign tourists recalls memories
Rex Hotel memories, during the 1970s, the Rex shopping center used to be the place for many U.S. military officers and war reporters to come for entertainment. Thirty years on from Vietnam’s unification and Rex has become a four-star hotel and restaurant, a top destination for foreign war veterans returning to Vietnam in order to recall old memories.
Located in the heart of the city, the Rex Hotel stands next door to the People Committee House, a witness to the city’s historic difficulties and for this very reason, the hotel has acquired historical value. The Rooftop Garden Restaurant & Bar on the terrace is where war reporters used to gather before 1975 and Newsweek recently chose it as one of the best bars in Southeast Asia.
It’s historical value makes the Rex a top destination in many international magazines and guide books, in which tourists are recommended to pay a visit to the hotel to witness a remainder of the old Sai Gon and the enjoy the warm and cozy atmosphere.
The hotel has four restaurants, including the Cung Dinh (Imperial Palace) Rex Restaurant that serves traditional Vietnamese food. Here many foreign visitors and overseas Vietnamese come to enjoy delicious food and witness attractive traditional dancing. The restaurant also organizes cooking courses for diners who are interested in learning more about Vietnamese cuisine.
The Rooftop Garden Restaurant & Bar was recently home to a party for over 100 veterans and war reporters from across the world, Tim Page, an ex-war reporter, simply stated that, “Four decades elapsed and Rex Hotel now is not just a place for eating and drinking.”
It comes as no surprise to find that many diplomatic corps have once set foot in the hotel. Included in the list of celebrity hotel patrons are the King of Norway Herald V, the Queen of England, the President of Tanzania and the Chief Executive of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy. The hotel was once the general headquarter for the 22nd SEA Games and during the APEC event in 2006, more than 40 chefs from the Hotel prepared a banquet at the Reunification Palace to serve 300 diners.
At present, the yearly turnover of the restaurants account for 40% of the hotel’s annual total turnover, expected to reach US$1 million by the end of the year. At this, the restaurant may soon be eligible for a place on the list of restaurants that have the highest turnover in the world.
To meet demand, the Rex is currently upgrading facilities to become a five-star hotel by 2008. A training program for the restaurant’s employees is underway, equipping them with professional skills that meet international standards of management. The famous 5-star Raffles Hotel and Resorts’ management team will be visiting Vietnam to give the necessary training to the restaurant staff.
As a sign of gratitude, this June, President Nguyen Minh Triet bestowed the title Hero of Labor to the hotel.