The PH’s City of Dreams officially opens on Feb. 2
Macau, Las Vegas, Singapore, Monte Carlo, Atlantic City. The list above makes for the top five gaming and entertainment hubs in the world, each city located in—or city state itself—a First World nation.
Just under a decade ago, it seemed almost impossible to think of the Philippine capital of Manila to be mentioned in the same breath or written about in the same article as these globally famous playgrounds. But the impossible has lately become possible, thanks to the impressive and breathtaking development aptly called “City of Dreams,” just off the southern side of Roxas Blvd.
All set for its official launch on February 2, City of Dreams is the second of four integrated casino resorts programmed to rise in the erstwhile ambitious Pagcor Entertainment City.
As an article in Business Insider India titled, “The World’s High Rollers Are Abandoning Macau—Here’s Where They’re Going” reported, “Manila is the Philippines’ answer to Macau and Singapore. It opened its first high-end casino, Solaire, in 2013. Following Solaire, Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment opened its own $1.4 billion casino this year, City of Dreams Manila. The two luxurious properties are an attempt to lure in more overseas visitors and there are a couple more property plans already in the works.” [www.businessinsider.in, January 25, 2015].
A sneak at success
Sprawled beneath an imposing golden “Fortune Egg,” visible from the Manila Bay, the 6.2-hectare City of Dreams has reportedly drawn in over half a million visitors since running a soft launch on December 14, 2014.
“More than 600,000 visitors have had a first experience of the stunning new resort during its ‘sneak preview’ period, with some 20,000 people visiting on its first day,” said property operator Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corpor. (MCP) in a press statement released on January 27.
Shortly before the figure was released, The Manila Times had the opportunity to meet with the general managers of the property’s three major luxury hotel brands—Crown Towers, Nobu Hotel and Hyatt City of Dreams Manila—who each led tours of their “corner” in what is certainly an exciting leisure and entertainment destination.
“We were 70 to 80 percent full during New Year’s Eve, with hardly any marketing efforts for the holidays,” said Marlon Hirsh of the internationally acclaimed Japanese-inspired Nobu Hotel. The property, by the way, is the brand’s first hotel in Asia, and only the second worldwide. The original is located in Las Vegas, and third one is currently being built in London for a 2016 opening.
“I would have to attribute the very promising turnout [of visitors]to this strong sense of curiosity surrounding the Nobu brand,” Hirsh added, without needing to go into the impact of a surprise visit, which Nobu co-founder and Hollywood bigwig Robert De Niro made to Manila. De Niro himself—accompanied by partners, Hollywood producer Mier Teper and Japanese culinary genius Chef Nobuyuki Matsushisa, after whom the luxury restaurant and hotel chain was named—officially announced the property’s opening exactly a year ago in January 2014.
As for Hirsh’s counterparts in Crowne and Hyatt, Brett Hickey and Stephen Radcliffe, respectively, the turnout of guests to their properties over the past month and a half has also been just as promising.
“To have these three very distinct hotels within the complex truly makes City of Dreams an exciting destination,” reinforced Radcliffe, who guarantees patrons of the former Hyatt hotels in the Philippines the same brand of hospitality they experienced decades ago in Baguio City, and more recently in the former Hyatt properties along Roxas Blvd. and Malate.
“Guests can experience very Asian flavors in Nobu and the height of luxury in Crowne,” he continued. “The Hyatt as you know has always been renowned for its F&B, which visitors will certainly continue enjoy in our property. After all, we take pride in being the only Hyatt Hotel in the Philippines today.”
Hickey, for his part, dutifully confirmed the kind of experience awaiting guests to Crown Towers at the City of Dreams—certainly at par or even a cut above multi-awarded forerunners Crown Towers Australia and Macau. He elaborated by simply stating that among the three properties at the City of Dreams, everything in his hotel is grander in scale.
“From the largest sense of arrival by way of the expanse and height of the lobby, the widest halls, to the most spacious suites, and certainly, the very exclusive gaming rooms, the Crown Towers truly offers the height of luxury,” the general manager related.
More to be had
Besides these distinct hotel experiences, there is more to be had at City of Dreams Manila. With the Entertainment City’s vision to lure tourists to the Philippines, and not just gamers, Melco Crown Philippines has made sure to include features within the complex to attract entire families.
Off the bat, the first DreamPlay by DreamWorks—the American animation studio behind such blockbusters as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar among countless others—is sure to be a hit among children and movie fans of all ages. Still to be unveiled on a later date, it is described as “the world’s first DreamWorks-inspired, education-based interactive play space.”
There is also Centerplay, a contemporary entertainment bar on the gaming floor with top live performances from local and international artists; Pangaea, a luxury ultra-lounge, and another unique club called Chaos, both promising to revolutionize the metro’s party scene; and of course a glamorous shopping via The Shops at the Boulevard, which during The Manila Times’ visit already had such high-end labels as Linda Farrow, Assembly, Art of Scents, Rolex, Montblanc, and Roberto Cavalli all ready for retail.
Dining, is of course, another category all together with the hotels’ eclectic range of world-class restaurants and eateries, led of course by the Nobu Restaurant, and reinforced by The Tasting Room at Crown for lavish European Haute Cuisine, and Crystal Dragon for premium Cantonese cuisine, among others.
With a plethora of sights, sounds, flavors and experiences to be had at City of Dreams Manila, there is no doubt that the excitement for its grand launch on February 2 has reached its peak. For besides what the public already sees standing magnificently at Entertainment City, there is also that high wattage Hollywood TVC featuring big shots Robert De Niro, Leonardo Di-Caprio, and Martin Scorcece playing over and over the airwaves.
Naturally, much is expected of the opening day activities, which according to MPC include the Concert of Dreams, headlined by act international R&B star Ne-Yo and top local artists Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Kyla, and Jed Madela; a VIP and celebrity red carpet entrance for the exclusive affair; a gala dinner; and the official opening ceremony that will apparently light the skies of the Manila Bay with a “Dreams-inspired” pyrotechnics display.
The grand launch will be officiated by the visionaries behind City of Dreams namely, co-chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho, co-chairman James Packer, and MCP president Clarence Chung.
But of course, the 1.3-billion dol-lar question to use the development’s reported cost, is this: Will the elite Hollywood trio of De Niro, DiCaprio, and Scorcece fly into Manila for the momentous occasion?
The public relations team only replied with a collective and meaningful smile when The Manila Times asked. But as everyone who has witnessed the rise of the City of Dreams Manila knows, it is certainly possible to dream the impossible.