As the first British trading post in the East, Penang was already well-established, but it was not until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the arrival of the steamship that travels to Asia assumed unprecedented style and luxury. It was from this mélange of cultures and colonial commerce, four Armenian brothers, the Sarkies, would emerge to establish some of the world’s greatest hotels in the East, including The Raffles in Singapore and The Strand in Rangoon. The first of these, in 1885, would be the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, once pronounced as “The Premier Hotel East of Suez”, boasting more than 100 rooms 40 of them with adjoining bathrooms, hot and cold running water, individual telephones and a 902-foot seafront, “the longest of any hotel in the world”. Today the Eastern & Oriental Hotel is the embodiment of both a special time and a special place. For well over a century, this remarkable hotel – known simply as `The E&O’ to generations of travelers – has stood as a testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era. In many ways, it has also come to represent Penang itself; its story inextricably woven into the island’s history, its traditions an indelible part of many a traveler’s treasured memory, its name synonymous with the magical island once known as The Pearl Of the Orient.