Waterfront group eyes purchase of hotel in Manila
Firm in talks to buy 500-room property with casinoBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Hotel operator Waterfront Philippines Inc. (WPI) is in talks to buy a 500-room five-star hotel in the Manila area, an acquisition that can scale up its hotel portfolio by about 35 percent.
Weslie Gatchalian, WPI assistant to the president, told reporters at a cocktail party at the Waterfront Cebu City that the group was working on the purchase of the hotel property, which also has a casino as an anchor tenant like most other hotel properties operated by the group.
Gatchalian declined to identify the prospective acquisition, saying this would be disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange once finalized.
If and when such a deal is closed, this will be the group’s third hotel property in the Manila area. “It’s still the tourism hub,” Gatchalian said, noting that the city would likely attract more tourists especially when private licensees start operations at the Pagcor-initiated Entertainment City complex.
The two other hotel properties operated by the group in Manila area are the 505-room Manila Pavilion, a deluxe boutique hotel with a four-star rating, and G-Hotel, also a boutique hotel along Roxas Boulevard.
In Cebu, the group has two hotels—the 561-room Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino and the 164-room Waterfront property near the airport. It also has a 159-room hotel in Davao, the Waterfront Insular Hotel.
WPI has a total of 1,445 hotel rooms to sell across the country, making it one of the biggest hotel operators in the Philippines.
Competition in the hotel business is very challenging these days, according to WPI group sales manager Myla Mohammad, who noted though that the group was faring well compared with the industry average.
“We feel that competition is very tough because of new hotels dropping down rates and there’s more supply than demand,” Mohammad said. “But in terms of market share, we’re still getting our fair market share.”
Among the challenges to the hotel industry, she said, was the continuing travel ban in China, which has halved business from China. Before the travel ban to the Philippines, about 25 percent of their wholesale business was coming from China, Mohammad said.
With the group’s growing hotel portfolio, Mohammad said part of the strategy was “convening and trying to position each property to prevent eating up market share.” For instance, he said Waterfront Cebu City hotel was positioned as a convention hotel.
Waterfront completed last May the renovation of its grand lobby. Apart from improvements to the general structure of the lobby, the Lobby Lounge itself now offers an all-new dining and lounging experience, with newly installed glass panels, semi-enclosing each side of the lounge. Fully equipped bar areas have also been installed in the middle of each of the two sections of the lounge, ensuring diners of more efficient service.
To enhance overall guest experience, the hotel offers nightly entertainment from the city’s top performers, soulful afternoon music by soloists, a selection of afternoon tea packages and gourmet desserts.
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