Mariana Zobel de Ayala unveils her new ‘clubhouse’

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TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

There is truly much reason to celebrate the New Year for Mariana Zobel de Ayala, a third generation scion from the prominent clan of Filipino-Spanish developers. Just a month shy of her first wedding anniversary to Danel Aboitiz—the only child of Cebu’s shipping magnate Endika Aboitiz and wife Valerie—she is embracing her first taste of motherhood with the birth of her eldest child shortly after the holidays. Then just on Thursday, the Harvard-educated 28-year-old marked the grand opening of Ayala Malls The 30th in the heart of Pasig City and Ortigas Center.

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“Everything was happening at the same time,” exclaimed the unassuming bespectacled beauty as she sat down to chat with The T-Zone before she led her team in a news conference for the property launch.

“The baby’s doing very well, thank you, and I’m so happy everything worked out,” the Ayala Malls general manager added as she motioned toward the window of Morganfield restaurant. From the mall’s second floor, our table overlooked a beautifully green outdoor space that is known as The 30th’s “corte” and the property’s centerpiece.

(From left) Zobel de Ayala with her team Ayala Malls Group Vice President and Head Rowena Tomeldan and Senior Division Manager AC Legarda

Talking more about the celebration at hand [although the young mom was happy to share she named her son Agusto after her father Jaime Agusto Zobel de Ayala 2nd], Mariana excitedly noted the very encouraging turnout of visitors on opening day.

Barely lunch time, there was already a constant flow of moms with little kids in tow and groups of office folk eager to check out the metro’s newest lifestyle hub.

“People seem to be excited to see the place, don’t they?” Mariana enthused again with a very hopeful tone. “I’m happy to see them come in because you see, when we stared this project, everyone was asking me why we were building a mall in an area that already has so many malls in the first place.”

Ortigas Center, as everyone knows, is home to the humongous SM Megamall, the upscale Shangri-La Plaza and the well-appointed Podium; while further down The 30th on Meralco Avenue [the site’s actual address, by the way]is the still fairly new Estancia at Capitol Commons and several other strip malls in between.

Explaining this new Ayala Malls concept, she continued, “I saw this area very simply as a dense and mature market what with long-time condominiums like Renaissance Towers and Alexandra literally beside and across the property; then the gated communities of Valle Verde and Corinthian Gardens, as well St. Paul’s Pasig, and countless office buildings in Ortigas.

Ayala Malls The 30th sits on a two-hectare land in the heart of Pasig City and Ortigas Center, a mere walking distance from condominiums and gated communities

“The question we had to answer was, ‘What else was missing in this area?’ Is there still something new we can offer this market that’s new to them? And the answer, we’d like to think, is this more compact retail and leisure experience where families, students and young professionals can enjoy the breathing space that is the corte with its greenery; dining destinations that are not commonly found in the bigger malls; and select retail brands targeted at the different realms of everyday life.”

Moreover, Mariana likes to think of Ayala Mall’s newest baby as a lifestyle destination that offers a “cozy clubhouse feel” given its close proximity to residential communities.

“I’m hoping this clubhouse feel will create a ‘walking market’ in Pasig and Ortigas; that is, people who will eventually choose to leave their cars at home or their place of work to go out for a meal, go shopping, or run quick errands here.”

Indeed, there is much promise to this possible “byproduct” of a small community mall what with the horrendous traffic situation from day to day along Meralco and Ortigas Avenues.

All this in mind, Lizzie Zobel’s bright and grown up girl, with her team, took great pains in planning the layout of Ayala Malls The 30th, which is apparent in several features. For T-Zone, most clever on the list—because of its sheer practicality—is the “Service Avenue” that gathers together basic services such as laundry, courier, money exchange, and banking in an annex near the entrance for those who only require quick in-and-out stops to the mall.

The outdoor space that is the ‘corte’ brings nature in the middle of the bustling city, as well as a ‘clubhouse feel’

“We like to think we’ve thought about the smallest details for our patrons. Like here at the corte,” Mariana went on to cite a second example, “you will only find dining destinations around it—no shops at all—so that people can enjoy their meals and coffees in a relaxed space, either in the outdoor area itself or like what we have now, with the green landscape as their view.”

As for the rest of the retail brands and entertainment choices, they are strategically distributed among a total floor area of 28,000 square meters in three mall levels.

Getting down to specifics, Ayala Malls The 30th houses four state-of-the-art cinemas, a Rustan’s supermarket, and the Filipino’s can’t-do-without icon brands like National Bookstore, Mercury Drug Store, and BPI among others. There is a 40- to 60-percent ratio of dining and retail brands, many of which Mariana personally invited to come into the mall herself.

“Especially in dining, like I said earlier, we’d like The 30th to offer unique choices.”

As such, foodies are sure to discover a new world of bold flavors with the opening of Mamou, Genki Sushi, La Maripili, Lartizan, Basil and the highly anticipated ribs resto Morganfield’s; as well as new Asian culinary concepts such as Akimitsu Tendon (Japanese), Sibyullee (Korean) and Toast (an Asian Fusion bar). Oh, and believe it or not, Makati Med’s famed Floating Island Restaurant—popular for its adobo, salpicao and pancit dishes—now has a branch at The 30th!

Fashion lovers, shopping addicts and hobbyists, meanwhile will also have their fill of favorite brands, among them Mango, Bench, Penguin, Harlan + Holden, Melissa, Cole Haan, Fully Booked, Datablitz, and the Lego Store, among others.

For movie buffs, rejoice over the fact that two of the four cinemas are fitted with recliner seats; and finally, for the active set—the kids most especially—there are three dedicated activity areas (one outdoor and two indoors) for play, with Timezone and Gold’s Gym thrown in the mix.

“Eventually, Ayala Mall’s The 30th will also merge business with pleasure when we open up 20 floors of office space. We’re already assured of 9,000 seats for lease to BPOs,” Mariana cited another captured market.

Optimistic over the many opportunities Ayala Malls The 30th will bring to Pasig City, now and in the near future, the insightful general manager told The T-Zone she looks forward to working closely with the local government unit to further enhance visitors’ experience to the property

“Hopefully we can work with them to establish more walkways so people can come over more easily; and we also hope to nurture, besides this closer feeling to nature within the bustling city, arts and culture like we’ve constantly done in our properties in Makati. This being a highly residential location, we promise our patrons many exhibits and shows at the mall very soon,” she outlined.

And so, baby-sized as Mariana’s new clubhouse is compared to the existing lifestyle destinations in the area, it certainly doesn’t lack in big ideas and offerings for its surrounding communities. Nevertheless, the grounded heiress veers from over confidence, despite her family’s decades’ long success in developing malls, and says she is counting on people’s feedback to assess if their concept is indeed going the right way.

“Please, let us know what you think whenever you come to visit,” requested the Zobel de Ayala.

And with that, you know that her cozy clubhouse is very much yours as it hers.

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