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Biz Buzz: Apec hotel winners

/ 12:50 AM November 20, 2015

Everyone knows by now where the major players at this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit stayed—US President Barack Obama stayed at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, just a stone’s throw away from the main venue; Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed at the Century Park Hotel, not too far away, and Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev (standing in for President Vladimir Putin) opted to stay at the Crown Towers at the City of Dreams complex, along with the entire Russian delegation.

But what about the other players?

Well, for those wondering where new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stayed, the answer is that his delegation was billeted at the venerable Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

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And those who are curious about where Trudeau’s rival “Apec hottie” stayed, he was billeted at the Solaire Resort and Casino Hotel, owned by the Spanish speaking ports magnate Enrique Razon Jr.

The Makati Central Business District also played host to two other Apec economy leaders. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stayed at the Raffles Hotel on Makati Ave., and understandably so, given the tight ties between the Singaporean government and the Ayala business empire that owns the property. Raffles, of course, is a Singapore-based hotel and resort firm that is also part of the Fairmont Hotel group.

In addition, Prime Minister Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, is the CEO of Temasek Holdings which owns the region’s largest telecommunications group, Singapore Telecom (or Singtel) which owns a majority stake in the Ayala-run Globe Telecom Inc. (there’s the connection).

Raffles Hotel also played host to another Apec leader, Taiwan’s former Vice President Vincent Siew, who came on behalf of the island’s president, Ma Ying-jeou.

But one of the busiest hotels in town had to be the Diamond Hotel along Roxas Boulevard, owned by San Miguel chief Ramon Ang.

Diamond played host to Apec heavyweight, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This is, of course, fitting given the fact that Ang is a “Japanophile,” loving all things Japanese (not to mention that Japanese beer maker Kirin Brewery owns 49 percent of San Miguel Beer). Before Ang bought it from its Japanese owners, Diamond was part of the ANA hotel chain.

Diamond also would have hosted Indonesian president Joko Widodo, but the Asean giant opted to send Vice President Yusuf Kalla, who also stayed at the hotel.

Finally, Diamond was also the hotel of choice for Peruvian President Ollanta Humala—the leader of next year’s Apec host nation—who, we hear, had to be prevailed upon to stay at the hotel’s presidential suite, as he had previously requested to stay only in a “regular room.” Talk about humility and simplicity.

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In any case, it was just as well, since Diamond has three presidential suites to spare.

All told, it was a good week for hotels all around Metro Manila. Daxim L. Lucas

Flying in style

WHEN it comes to presidential planes, no one comes close to the US President’s “flying White House,” Air Force One—which is essentially a souped up Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet.

But that doesn’t mean other heads of state won’t try to follow suit.

During Apec week, plane spotters were treated to several Boeing 747-400 jumbos not normally seen flying above Metro Manila. These included Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Japanese Air Force One” (with a large “rising sun” roundel on its tail), Korean President Park Geun-hye’s “Korean Air Force One”; Chinese President Xi Jinping’s chartered Air China jumbo jet; and, of course, the 747 “flying palace” of Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (which he’s known to fly himself, at times).

Not to be outdone, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev used his government’s own Ilyushin-96 wide-bodied jet complete with the national tricolors and “Russia” (in Cyrillic) emblazoned on its sides. We hear that three other jets flew in his support and security staff, including a stretch Mercedes Benz limo.

But perhaps the one jet that caught the eye of many observers—for being disproportionately small in comparison with the economy it represents—is the private jet that flew in Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

No, this head of state didn’t fly in on a chartered Singapore Airlines A380, although he could have easily done so. Instead, he flew into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a rather simple and small Gulfstream G550 (the same kind that ICTSI owner Enrique Razon has).

Sure, it has room for 16 passengers, and is equipped with a bathroom and shower, a queen-sized bed and satellite communications, but it’s not even owned by the Singaporean government. Instead, it’s chartered from an Australian firm called Pacific Flight Services.

Now, given how wealthy Singapore is, that is what you call “unassuming.” Daxim L. Lucas

Riding in style

THE CONCLUSION of any major international summit is always awaited by car lovers who also happen to love a good bargain (“bargain” being a relative term, of course), and this year’s Apec is no different.

Word on the street is that the local distributor of BMW—Asian Carmakers Corp.—will likely sell (or maybe auction off) many of the luxury vehicles it supplied to the Apec Summit.

Of particular interest to would-be buyers are the 19 BMW 7-series (the stretched wheelbase variety) that were used to ferry world leaders between the Philippine International Convention Center and their hotels. Brand new, these cars cost about P8.8 million each, but as is the usual practice, these are expected to be sold at a discount to reflect their “slightly used” status.

(There are only 19 because two world leaders, US President Barack Obama and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, flew in their own wheels for the occasion.)

In addition to these limos, BMW also provided 5-series sedans and hatchback cars for the various Apec meeting throughout this year in the run-up to this week’s leaders’ summit—almost 200 BMWs in all.

Not to be outdone, Japanese automakers also joined the Apec bandwagon. In particular, Toyota Motors Philippines provided almost 300 vehicles—Camrys, Corollas, Fortuners (used mainly as security escort vehicles for the BMW limos) and Grandia staff vans—for the summit. Given how fast Toyota sells its vehicles, they should have no trouble disposing of these in the secondary market.

Finally, there’s also Nissan Philippines which has provided more than 300 units of its Altima, Sylphy and Almera sedans, and Urvan vans for the occasion.

All told, we’re talking of almost 1,000 “slightly used” vehicles coming into the market soon.

Of course, when it comes to variety, prospective buyers won’t have a lot to go on in terms of color.

Like Henry Ford once said: “You can have the car in any color… as long as it’s black.” Daxim L. Lucas

Energy undersecretary, anyone?

SHORTLY after Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada was officially appointed head of the Department of Energy, the agency has made a call for applications for the position of undersecretary.

In a posting on the DOE web site, the department invited qualified applicants (including next-in-rank employees) to apply for the vacant position.

Presently, there are three undersecretaries and one officer-in-charge or OIC undersecretary at the department: Donato D. Marcos, Raul B. Aguilos, Loreta G. Ayson, and Mylene C. Capongcol (OIC-Undersecretary).

Some may wonder what happens to the incoming undersecretary when Monsada, (a career official), now co-terminus with President Aquino, goes back to being an undersecretary after the 2016 national elections.

Monsada said she wanted to go back to working as undersecretary when the time comes, but it would not be surprising as well if private firms try to get her into their team.

Whether Monsada goes back to her former post or crosses over to the private sector side, only time, we suppose, will tell. Riza T. Olchondra

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TAGS: Airplane, Airport, APEC, billet, Biz Buzz, BMW, Boeing, Business, Car, delegate, economy, hotel, Leader, Transport
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