• Makati Place’s City Club: The ne plus ultra of membership clubs

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    Tony Lopez

    Tony Lopez

    ‘Walk into the City Club at the fourth floor of the 43-story Alphaland Makati Place at the northwest end of Ayala Avenue in upscale Makati and you will find seven restaurants, each offering a specialty cuisine, from the exquisite to delectable local favorites. You might think the City Club has one restaurant too many.

    Not even the new East Wing of the Shangri-La in EDSA has that many full service restaurants on a area much smaller than a single floor of the Mandaluyong mall. True, Shang’s East Wing’s Lower Ground has eight restaurants but they include a bakery, a donut shop, a juice joint, and an ice cream nook.

    If you include the TWG tea corner on the fourth and two more dining places on the sixth floor—a Filipino and a poolside restaurant, you can say the City Club has at least 10 restaurants with the first eight having a combined seating capacity of 357. Judging by the excellence of the restaurants, they may not even be enough in the future to accommodate the huge throngs of diners.

    The largest of the restaurants is Chinese, Hai Shin Lou which can seat 92 diners. Next is the ultra high-end Sakura Japanese Restaurant which can accommodate 60. The Mona Lisa Italian restaurant is good for 45 while the Spanish Costa del Sol has seating for 42. The French restaurant Taste of France and Salathip Thai restaurant are each good for 40. The steakhouse Mark’s Prime Rib takes in 38 paxs. Nearly all the restaurants are top grade so customers are advised to book online.

    The City Club opens today with no less than Vice President Jojo Binay gracing the event.

    The Sakura boasts of being the best Japanese restaurant in the business district. A dinner for two can easily cost P20,000 if they order the Japanese Miyasaki Beef which is easily P6,000 per 150g, the Honmaguro Torio blue fin tuna belly (starting price P2,000), grilled unagi (eel) at P1,200, and Ise-ebi (lobster) at P500 per 100 grams. In charge of the restaurant is Chef Edo San, a Filipino, one of the best Japanese cuisine specialists in town.

    Alphaland’s City Club is neither a mall nor a food court, however. It is a membership club. Nobody can just walk in without a digital ownership card to open doors for him.

    It is today the most exclusive membership club. Even without a golf course or a polo field, City Club will scare the daylights out of the likes of Manila Golf (membership: P35 million) and Manila Polo (membership: P15 million, four restaurants).

    City Club’s exclusivity up to this writing had cost members P1 million (about $22,700). Most of the more than 600 members signed up at this price. Some were lucky to buy at the startup tag of P500,000. By September this year, a share will fetch a 50% premium—P1.5 million.

    “Excellence of food and facilities is the key to the success of a membership club,” observes Arthur Lopez, one of the country’s eminent club and hotel operators. “If the quality is not good, you lose patronage and the club will wither,” he warns. He cites the case of Tower Club also in Makati. Individual membership used to be P350,000.

    The price has come down to P100,000, with no takers. Tower Club now has only one restaurant, a Chinese, and limited sports facilities.

    Tycoon Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin envisioned the City Club to be the best in the Philippines and one of the best, if not the best, in the region. “There is nothing quite like it,” Bobby beams with pride. He spent more than P1 billion providing for just the restaurants and the club’s other amenities.

    Ongpin has hired among the best chefs in the Philippines and around the world to provide the excellent cuisine for the most discriminating gourmands and gourmets among the club’s members. As GM, he has commissioned the multi-awarded Swiss-educated Ian Gray, 58.

    A City Club membership has doubled in price in the past one year while the three-story facility was under construction.

    Bobby is the builder of the high-end Tagaytay Highlands, once the best mountain and residential resort in the country before it went middle end and the P20-billion 500-hectare Balesin Island Resort whose beach rivals that of Boracay.

    Ongpin’s company Alphaland Corp. owns 100% of City Club which sits on a one-hectare land it acquired in a joint venture with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

    Aside from the restaurants, the City Club has at least 14 meeting rooms or function rooms—eight at the fourth floor and six at the fifth floor. They can accommodate people from a minimum of two to a crowd as big as 120.

    City Club has perhaps the most complete health, fitness and sports facilities integrated in a single place in any building in Makati or in any vertical structure in the Philippines for that matter: a sprawling gym, two dance studios, an aerobics and yoga studio, a Pilates studio, a martial arts studio, a boxing ring, a table tennis room, and—a first and the only one of its kind in the Philippines— a high definition virtual golf where one can play the best championship courses in the world, with instant feedback, complete with the drift of water, rustle of leaves and the chirping of the birds.

    There is also an airsoft range where one can practice his marksmanship, a games station, a Wii room, a health bar, a Body Shop, a salon and barber shop, and of course, a clinic.

    The Club’s sixth floor has the main swimming pool, a four-lane lap pool, a children’s pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi area, a spa, a children’s outdoor playground, a children’s indoor play area, a children’s activity room, a learning center, and a daycare center.

    City Club has five basement floors of parking good for 1,000 cars. The lower floors of the six-story Podium will house a mall with 40 shops carrying designer brands.

    With City Club, Ongpin has outdone himself again, having built the ne plus ultra of membership clubs.

    Bna.biznewsasia@gmail.com

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