FROM IDLE LAND TO WORLD CLASS FACILITY
Integrated development a perfect showcase for tourismBy Theresa S. Samaniego
Philippine Daily Inquirer
At the height of the world’s worst financial crisis in 2008, practically all businesses must have stood still.
After all, the crash of major financial markets around the world, reported to be the “biggest economic debacle since the Great Depression in the 1930s,” may have prompted most companies to be more conservative in their business decisions.
Not in the case of Alliance Global Group Inc., led by visionary tycoon Andrew Tan.
In July 2008, AGI, through its tourism arm Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., has teamed up with Star Cruises Ltd., the world’s third largest cruise line operator and part of the Genting Berhad group of Malaysia, to put up the 25-hectare Newport City.
Too ambitious project
The tourism estate in Newport City which is the Resorts World Manila (RWM), was then envisioned to feature a full array of entertainment facilities and services designed to attract domestic and international tourists.
“We built [Resorts World Manila] during the global crisis and a lot of people then were asking if the project is not too ambitious, considering we are experiencing rough times and we don’t know how long it’s going to last. Also, there were doubts if we really have a market for this kind of development,” recalled AGI president Kingson Sian.
But when RWM finally opened its doors to local and foreign guests in 2009, AGI has not only proven its critics wrong. It is now even being heralded as a visionary for coming up with a world-class destination that was being positioned to become the gateway to Philippine tourism owing to its proximity to the Naia 3 terminal.
“We dared to dream big and we were able to do it. As the first in this industry, we were able to chart the direction and write the rules while at the same time help in our own little way contribute to nation-building,” Sian said of Resorts World Manila.
Asia’s newest playground
“We converted a nonperforming, idle piece of property and reposition it to a productive facility that generates taxes and has eventually become a showcase for tourism,” he added.
Hyped as Asia’s newest playground, Resorts World Manila is the first integrated tourist hub of its kind in the Philippines—a one-stop, nonstop entertainment and leisure destination. It features the country’s largest casino, the five-star Marriott Hotel; the six-star, all-suites Maxims Hotel; the Remington Hotel and the upcoming Belmont Hotel; a 1,500-seat performing arts theater; fine-dining restaurants and an upscale shopping mall.
“It has definitely enhanced the value of the area. Now upon landing [at the Naia 3], it’s the first thing that tourists can see rather than the old barracks which was what it was before. So in terms of having your best foot forward, this is as good as it can get—showing tourists who have never been to the country that we have something like this,” Sian explained.
Roster of partners
Behind Resorts World Manila is a powerhouse roster of partners that are already well-established names in hospitality, property development, food and beverage and other industries in the Asian region.
“RWM comes from the vision of our two chairman, the Genting chair and the Alliance Global chair. They are two great leaders with a vision and had the guts to invest and the fortitude to carry through even during the most difficult period,” Sian said.
To further accommodate the growing number of visitors, more hotels are slated to be constructed within Newport City by 2016 and these will be complemented by the Marriott Hotel grand ballroom, which has a capacity of 2,500 persons for sit-down events and 5,000 people for theater.
“We always try to keep up with the changes and try to innovate as much as we can. We have a term here that we use, ‘Woweefi’, as we always want to give out that wow feeling to our customers whether it be through our structures, outlets or the service that we give, or ideally both. We want to continue to innovate on a lot of things,” noted Travellers International Hotel Group vice president Martin Paz.
Although initially famous for housing the country’s biggest and most luxurious casino, Paz said that RWM also has other attractions for the family.
“We try to target families as we have something to offer for everyone. Maybe it’s not as obvious… but we have a lot of outlets and establishments that are geared towards inviting the families to the property,” Paz explained.
Paz even likened RWM to a “cruise ship on land” that has its own amusement center called Game Zoo, a spa, a 24-hour cinema during weekends, various restaurants and bars and its very own Newport Theatre where one could enjoy watching various broadway musicals.
“We have opened the doors to that concept of integrated tourist investing entertainment destination. It’s a good industry to be in, with the competition coming in and us building more and more—it’s good for the economy. RWM is contributing greatly to the economy by providing employment to thousands of Filipinos,” Paz concluded.
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