“I hope I’ve presented my property well enough,” says Jose Torres Badelles with a smile. “If I became overly excited talking about my country, the location and bright prospects for the years ahead, it’s because I’m a citizen hopeful for his people.”
Bespectacled, cheerful Jose (left) is Marketing Communications Manager for the new (opened February 2015) Hyatt Hotel in the City of Dreams complex in Manila, Philippines, and he’s as enthused about his property as he is about his nation. “It’s an exciting location now and it’ll be exciting in years to come,” he exclaims.
His colleague Charisse Chuidian (below), Vice President Public Relations for the City of Dreams complex, agrees. “If you’re attending a conference you’re spoilt for choice here,” she says. “[There’s] gaming, entertainment, dining and shopping.”
Just three kilometres from Manila’s airport – a boon for travellers familiar with the local traffic – the new City of Dreams complex, a sister property to the one in Macau of the same name, does indeed have some extraordinary features. To outside observers it looms as a gold-glass-walled monolith close to the Manila Bay foreshore, with the “Fortune Egg,” a dome-like structure housing nightclubs, serving as an architectural oddity. Inside the complex, a kind of twenty-first-century leisure and gaming wonderland reveals itself the moment guests step into the airconditioned interior. “Once I’m inside, I feel I don’t need to leave for any reason till my holiday’s over,” one guest told me.
It’s one of several “integrated resorts” in the Philippine islands. Occupying 6.2 hectares, it incorporates three upscale hotels jointly offering some 950 rooms – the Hyatt, a Nobu, the first outside the US, and a Crown Towers – a massive casino with 380 tables and 1,700 slot machines, nightclubs, 21 restaurants, ritzy branded shops and a quadrangle-like centrepiece of gardens, walkways and three discrete swimming pool areas, each attached to its respective hotel.
The enterprise, costing over USD 1 billion, has already become a significant source of jobs for local people. It’s part of James Packer’s Melco Crown joint venture with Lawrence Ho, the son of Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho. It had its official opening earlier in 2015, plugged by a short and expensive TV ad featuring actors Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio and director Martin Scorsese.
Balls and banquets
Events including weddings, dinners, product launches and corporate functions are a big part of the marketing strategy. An onsite ballroom can cater for up to 700 seated and is supported by a generous-sized pre-function area, two fully equipped board rooms with a capacity to seat 24, and a banqueting kitchen equipped for Filipino, Chinese and Western fare.
The grand opening celebration in February encompassed a press conference for 150 foreign and local media, the arrival of guests on a red carpet, a fireworks display and gala dinner for 400 in the ballroom, with American R&B singer Ne-yo providing the entertainment. The foreign VIPs were housed in the three hotels.
Though it’s primarily aimed at entertaining families with kids, the 5,000 square-metre “DreamPlay” facility (pictured below) additionally serves as an onsite attraction for delegates and incentive visitors, with a variety of team-building exercises including climbing. “The incentive business is a key target area for us,” says Charisse Chuidian.
Great cuisine and service is offered in over 21 food and beverage outlets in the three hotels and those operated by concessionaires, says Charisse. There are two night clubs – Chaos, accommodating up to 2,000, and Pangaea (4,000) – a bar on the gaming floor featuring local and international artists, a gym in each of the hotels and spas in Nobu and Crown Towers.
Certainly the 365-room Hyatt, set in two towers, is as classy as other properties of the upmarket marque, if not more so, with muted, warm-hued interiors and marble-lined bathrooms with twin vanities and luxurious standalone tubs. (Hyatt room pictured above). For guests staying in the 45 club rooms, breakfasts are served in eclectic Asian tradition in the club lounge, ranging from fluffy omelettes, coconut prawns and smoked salmon to bread and dim sim baked and steamed on site.
At the main eatery, The Café, robust Filipino fare on offer recently included sinigang na salmon, a sour fish broth, kalderetang baka, a tender beef stew, and cochinillo, roast pork.
From around USD 330 a day
What does it cost to stay here? Jose Badelles says a room at the Hyatt plus conference package including meals kicks in at around USD 330 (PHP 15,000) a day. “I’ve read a lot of comments about us on TripAdvisor and the consensus seems to be it’s a reasonably priced destination for MICE visitors for what it can offer – something new and different, and close to Intramuros, the historically interesting area of Manila,” he says.
“It was developed to meet the needs of the growing number of leisure seekers in the Philippines and Asia, but also to satisfy organisers looking for an events venue that’s beautiful and great fun. I think you’ll agree the strategy’s working well.”
Prices for room-only at the Hyatt on the Internet (via Trivago) were around USD 153 per night in June. (http://codmanilahyatt.com).
Prices at the 321-room Nobu City of Dreams Manila and 254-room Crown Towers are available at www.cityofdreams.com.ph.
The Siteseer was a paying guest at the Hyatt, City of Dreams.