Guest post by Jhoanna Sevilla
In 15 to 20 years, Manila will be the top-of-mind global destination in Asia—not Hong Kong, not Singapore, not Tokyo. “Because…why not?” Okada Manila’s President Steve Wolstenholme quipped during a Breakfast Forum hosted by Asia CEO Forum President and CEO Rebecca Bustamante at the Discovery Primea Makati on 14 September 2016.
Okada Manila, formerly called the Manila Bay Resorts, is the next world-class integrated resort to open in Paranaque’s Entertainment City. This is purported to be the biggest of its kind in the country. Its developer Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. was established locally for the Okada Manila project with an initial budget of US$1 billion. As of this writing, the project investment has doubled to US$2.4 billion.
Three of the main attractions of the integrated resort are the 9,000 square-meter indoor nightclub and beach complex that features white sand; the largest dancing fountain in the Philippines and the second in the world, next to the Dubai Fountain; and deluxe rooms such as villas that measure up to 1,400 square meters.
Betting on the Philippines as Tourist Destination
What drove Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. to forge on with such an ambitious project? Wolstenholme stressed that the Philippines is a country of opportunities and that the Filipinos should see these opportunities. Filipinos need to recognize and believe that they are special because with a culture that exemplifies humility, they do not think this way at the moment.
Wolstenholme shared the same confidence in the country’s capacity as a global tourist destination as the man behind the project itself, Universal Entertainment Corporation Chairman Kazou Okada. Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. is a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment Corporation.
If there is one proof of Okada’s confidence in the project, it is the fact that Okada Manila is his biggest business investment to date. His vision does not center on Manila only as a destination hub. Currently, he is eyeing projects for other local sites as well.
Laying the Project Groundwork
Okada Manila’s Phase One, which covers 22 hectares of the 44 hectare development, is on track and expected to open by the end of the year, according to Wolstenholme. However, there is no official news yet on which attractions will be launched first. The retail store section will open by the first or second quarter of 2017.
These retail spaces will showcase local and international brands.
Okada Manila also intends to focus on Filipino talent by highlighting local celebrities for the live entertainment. Although international performers will be featured each month, there are no plans to feature a foreign celebrity as its endorser.
The entertainment complex aims to parallel the attractions in Las Vegas and Macau. Its entry in the Philippines is just the beginning of Chairman Okada’s vision as well as plan to encourage other organizations and business leaders to do business in the country.