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  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 2:40pm
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Manila's City of Dreams casino a bet on China, says James Packer

Luxury Nobu hotel added to attractions as Philippines aims to take on Singapore

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 12:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 4:20pm

Luxury boutique hotel chain Nobu is setting up its first Asia hotel in the US$1.3 billion City of Dreams Manila gambling resort as the project goes all out to reel in wealthy punters from China.

"This is a bet on the Philippines and it is a bet on China," James Packer, director of Melco Crown, co-developer with Belle Corp of the resort, said at a star-studded launch ceremony yesterday. "We really need it to work for the people of Manila and to also be an attraction that is good enough to get the Chinese market to come here and have fun."

The ceremony was attended by celebrity chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa and his partner in the hotel group, Hollywood film star Robert De Niro.

The Nobu hotel will be one of three in the complex, which aims to open by mid-year and will also feature the largest nightclub in the city and a theme park.

Melco Crown chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, predicts gambling revenue in the Philippines "could easily" double in two years to US$4 billion. That would make it the biggest gaming hub in Southeast Asia ahead of Singapore.

But the huge investment comes at a time when friction between Manila and Beijing is at an all-time high. The country's relations with Hong Kong are also at a low point due to unresolved issues over the Manila bus hostage tragedy three years ago.

Asked yesterday how these tensions would affect the casino's drive to attract Chinese high rollers, Ho was upbeat.

"I think the beauty of it is that we're in an industry of entertainment and of fun," he said. The political tensions were "really not on our level to resolve".

"The proposition that we have here, especially with the Nobu brand, it is going to be so compelling that people from all over the world, whether from China, Hong Kong or Asia, will come," he said.

Manila is seeking to position itself as an alternative gaming destination to Macau and other established centres and is building four casino resorts in the seafront Manila Bay area.

The Nobu hotel in Manila will be the group's biggest so far. It will feature 321 rooms, almost twice as many as at its award-winning Las Vegas property, as well as Michelin-starred chef Nobu's signature fusion cuisine.

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patricia.yunker.75
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RMY
Of course Singapore! How can you compare a Sweet Delicious Red Apple with a Mango?
chuchu59
A question. If you are a Chinese high-roller, which country would you prefer to spend your megabucks in? Singapore or the Philippines? No contest really.
lexishk
Why is it no contest, exactly? For the ordinary sex tourist (that's s e x in case SCMP decides to get prudish) or someone wanting to launder ill-gotten funds through a casino, Philippines every time. I'd guess those alone will make the business viable.
Rich.Young
Just look at the new Solaire Resort at this so called City of Dreams is not making money. Empty everyday and on the verge of not making it. Lousy dimsum buffet for PhP 888.00 net (HK$ 153.00). The flies are way more than the people on Saturdays & Sundays, well everyday. I have pictures to prove everything. The dimsum tastes like a Chinese-Malaysian dimsum, not really authentic Cantonese dimsum. If you wake up early in the morning, you can smell the CANAL of Manila Bay, because according to WHO (World Health Organization), Manila Bay, where the City of Dreams is located has a fecal content of 90%. Wait till rainy season, Manila Bay will overflow. This is why the properties at the bay area is cheaper than its downtown core. Look at Sofitel Philippine Plaza, her lobby would be in deep floody situation and the entire hotel will be in chaos and NO water for your shower. All the hotel management will do is "apologise for the inconvenience". Any advertising will not work for PH because the basic facilities such as improvement of sewage system, street lights, peace and order, police corruption, too many poor people begging for money on the streets, and airport facilities are not properly addressed by local filipino govt. If people would like to visit PH, the famous Amanpulo Beach Resort, NOT Boracay would be your best bet. Otherwise you would be extremely disappointed and total waste of money.
tfrodrigo
The image shown in the article (impression of the resort) is not the City of Dreams Manila but that of Okada's Manila Bay Resorts. SCMP should correct this.
Rich.Young
This is a false advertising. I handle PH as part of my sales territory for 10 years now. I visit PH and other South East Asian countries often to check on its progression.
The City of Dreams is ONLY a DREAM. PH can't even fix or upgrade its own International Airport to a world class tier id est: Hong Kong, ShangHai, Singapore, Vietnam, BangKok and even Cambodia have way better airport facilities than NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport). It has been voted in three consecutive row the worst airport in Asia. WiFi is intermittent. Toilets has NO toilet paper and needs upgrading. Customs Officers will harass you to get $$$ from both locals and foreigners alike. Traffic is horrendous. 3-mile radius on EDSA, the prime highway of Metro Manila will take you 1 hour (if you are lucky), otherwise a day or two. All major streets are lack of lighting or NOT working. Department Stores & Supermarket Counters of SM and Landmark : five ladies serving you with one item and will take you 30-mins to get out of the lane due to price check. This proves the locals efficiency.
The target market of this project is wealthy Mainland Chinese. However, PH govt is NOT in good terms with BeiJing, hence NO group tours are allowed to visit PH except FIT at your own risk. If they know you are of Chinese ethnicity, they will harass ya by customs officers. One thing good is, Filipinos have good customer care to a certain degree, which I like, aside from that, it is not worth your while to visit.
lexishk
Buddy. Have you tried the Macau ferry terminal lately?!
zvichadashote
Wow, big plans! Do the resort plans include housing for the multitudes of girls, ladies, and lady-boys who will flood in from Angeles City, Olangapo, Cebu, and other places to offer their beautiful bodies tto the gamblers and engage in the world's oldest profession? They will also need mass (I don't mean religious mass but mass as in SIZE and NUMBERS) confession booths to handle the good Catholics who will work 6 days and confess to the priests on the 7th day. But it will be great for the church, the gangsters, the casino owners, and of course the government! Maybe not so good for the girls -but what the hell, at least they won't need to always travel to Hong Kong when the U.S. fleet comes in!
lexishk
Seems logical. As Korean men are already well aware, the Philippines is much cheaper and easier than Singapore for a weekend of golf and whoring. When gambling is added to the mix, Chinese men ought to attend in droves.

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