Strand Hotel YangonYangon Beach Hotel
The Strandhotel's story
It all begins in Isfahan, Persia. Today, Isfahan is the third biggest town in Iran (about 200 leagues southwest of Tehran), known for one of the biggest places in the whole wide globe, which has been declared a UNESCO Heritage. Isfahan was the capitol of Persia in the mid-16th centuries and much of its former fame has been preserved in its magnificent architectural style, streets and fortresses.
Isfahan was the birth place of the Sarkies-Brother ( "Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak") of Armenian origin in the middle of the 18th century. The Suez Canal was opened in 1869 and the old Silk Road through Isfahan was rapidly declining. Others of the Sarkies had already decided to sail the new routes to new trade centers in Calcutta, Dacca, Singapore, Batavia (now Jakarta) and Sourabaya.
This was followed by the Brotherhood with the aim of importing cannabis from the Caspian Sea to Penang, Singapore and Rangoon. But what they found upon their arrival was far removed from the greatness of Isfahan. It was only in 1820 that Stamford Raffles had established Singapore, and in the later 17th century Sir Francis Light had loaded silver-coin cannon and fired into the jungles to encourage his workmen to make more room for Georgetown, the capitol of Penang.
As they gave up the rental contract for the East, they re-named the second hotel The East and East, which was quickly re-named The E&O. E&O's great popularity resulted in the conversion of a building in Singapore and Tigran opened the Raffles Hotel with only 10 rooms at the end of 1887.
In 1890 Martin withdrew to Isfahan and his sibling Arshak took over E&O, where he remained until his deaths in 1931. In 1886, the Brits invaded Upper Burma and made Burma the capitol of Britain-India and Rangoon. In 1896, Aviet and Tigran began building the Strand Hotel in Rangoon, which opened in 1901.
Retired, the Strand boys bought The Strand in 1925 to a restaurateur in Rangoon (Peter Bugalar Aratoon) and Ae Amovsie. The hotel prevented bombing during the Second World War and was moved to the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1942. Unbelievably, the natives were only permitted to spend the night in the hotel in 1945.
Burma gained sovereignty in 1948, the hotel went into ruin and was taken over by the Burma Economic Development Corporation after the 1962 coup d'état. Excerpts from a 70s guest's account say: "It is now on the Yangon City Inheritance List; it has been a selected member of The Most Famous Hotels in the World since 1993; and Andreas Augustin has written a story about it ( "On which much of this story is based").