IAG JANUARY 2015 - page 25

January2015
inside
asiangaming
25
Fly-Drive
Special
Entertainment City is barely six kilometers from
Manila’sNinoyAquino InternationalAirportyet the tripcan takemore
than an hour in the Philippine capital’s legendary traffic. However,
work is well under way on an elevated toll road that will connect the
airport to Entertainment City, as well as the main business district
Makati andMetroManila’s highway network.
TheEntertainment Cityportion couldbe completedby theendof
this year, and Solaire President andChief OperatingOfficer Thomas
Arasi can’twait. “The trip from theairport, youcanhardlycall it a trip.
It’s going tobeunder 10minutes,” he says.
In September, Caesars Entertainment pitched Philippine
President Benigno Aquino on a US$1 billion integrated resort
in Manila directly adjacent to the airport. Caesars President for
International Development Steve Tight believes Entertainment City
is too far away, but Mr Arasi maintains, “If you look at those roads
coming in, howmuch closer could you get to the airport?” He also
suggests being adjacent to the airport could subject guest rooms to
jet noise.
“There’s no other major gaming destination where you have a
critical mass of integrated resorts like Entertainment City where the
airport is as close,” he asserts, although he concedes that the south
endof theLasVegasStrip isnearer to that city’sMcCarran International
Airport. “If you’re at the north end of the Strip, then it’s a dogfight”
with Entertainment City for the shortest distance from tarmac to chip
rack. “Point is, that’s really important,” he says of airport proximity. “It
providesa low-frictioncoefficient” forbringingguests to the resort.
The Cotai Strip is awfully close to Macau International Airport,
Mr Arasi acknowledges. “But I believe the vastmajority of [air travel]
customers come into Hong Kong,” he says. “So they’ve got to go
intoHongKong, then they’vegot toget over to the ferry, then they’ve
got toget on the ferry, then they’vegot toget off the ferry. It’s all very
efficient, but it’smore friction for the international customer.”
up to 1,200.Meetings can be a profitable niche business for Solaire,
Bloomberry director of investor relations Leo Venezuela believes.
“There aren’t a lot of good meeting facilities inManila,” he points
out. Other attractions will open later this year, including 10,000
square meters of luxury retail, a destination spa, karaoke bar and
nightclub.
Mr Arasi says that’s all just the first course. “Where it becomes
transformational for the non-gaming business is when Phase
2 comes in,” he says. Preliminary plans for Phase 2 call for “a lot
more of what we currently have,” including hotel rooms, casino
space, entertainment and retail. A decision on whether to proceed
withPhase 2 fromMr Razon and theBloomberry boardof directors,
whereMr Arasi holds a seat, could come as soon as the completion
of theSky Tower.
“What the Bay Tower and the Sky Tower have done is given us
an incredible property that is of global luxury standard, and we’re
in there, we’re in that global top echelon,”Mr Arasi says. “Phase 2
enhances that top echelon position of what’s already open, [and] it
actuallygivesusmoreglobal scale. Itgivesusa lotmoreof everything
again, sowe just have a lotmore facilities and supply to offer, sowe
can really scale up, andwe can leverage the brandwewill have built,
we can leverage our position, our marketing presence, our loyalty
programs, our goodwill, our management expertise, and of course
our site.”
Cover Story
TheTheateratSolaire spotlights the
property’smove towardbecominga true
IR.BuiltBroadway-stylewitharelatively
narrow footprint, the1,760-seat theater
hasabalconyandorchestrapit, plusa
theaterbar in its lobby.
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