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Planned hotel casino complex in Manila Bay eyes VIP tourists

Posted on October 17, 2012 10:29:42 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE PLANNED Solaire Manila hotel and casino complex by listed Bloomberry Resorts Corp. aims to take advantage of the robust local gaming environment and ramp up the number of high-end visitors to the Manila Bay development in the next two years, an official said yesterday.

“Frankly, our strategy is to ramp up first the VIP (Very Important Person) business market before we introduce our high-premium customers. This is going to be the first time in a large way that foreign business customers are going to be coming to Manila, and we want them to come back again and again,” Bradley Stone, president of Solaire Manila manager Global Gaming Asset Management LLC, said in a briefing in Makati City yesterday.

“We’re going to be 55% mass market, and about 45% VIP business on a normalized year, by around 2014. Our projections are very strong but defensible,” Mr. Stone said.

At present, the VIP market among locally operated casinos accounts for only a small percentage of the overall gaming industry, another official said.

“There are VIP players here, but they are only a few, the mass market still accounts for a majority of gaming. I can’t say for certain how much, but I would say VIP would only be around 12%, even less,” Donato C. Almeda, Bloomberry director, said in a separate interview.

“The market locally will always be there. But at the end of the day, we have to grab the chance to tap the international market, which will be the upside to this project,” Mr. Almeda added.

Bloomberry, which debuted on the local bourse early this year via back-door listing, is currently building the $1-billion, five-star Solaire Manila in the Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City in ParaƱaque.

Aside from Bloomberry, three other casino-resort developers, namely Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc.; the SM Consortium; and Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., have also been authorized by the government to build their respective gaming projects in Entertainment City.

The first phase of Solaire Manila, which will open next March, will feature an 11-storey, 500-room hotel atop a three-level podium, as well as a 10-storey parking building all to be built on an 8.3-hectare property. The casino and gaming areas alone are expected to feature 1,200 slot machines and occupy some 18,500 square meters.

In addition, two areas roughly measuring a combined eight hectares, have already been allotted for future expansion purposes.

“Where gaming is concerned, there is a void that needs to be filled for the huge world gaming market, particularly by offering an alternative for the large and growing Southeast Asian market,” Enrique K. Razon, Jr., Bloomberry chairman and president, said in a statement yesterday.

Bloomberry shares plunged by 7.21% or P1.04 to P13.38 yesterday from P14.42 last Tuesday. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente    

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