It’s the right time for S Maison

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Why the two-storey luxury mall inside Conrad Manila took a year to formally hold its grand launch
The evening of June 14 had the makings of a grand festivity—colorful lights, upbeat music, overflowing food and drinks and a well-curated fashion show to cap off a program witnessed by hundreds of well-heeled guests.

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It was indeed a welcome party that befitted the high end S Maison, SM Prime Holding Inc.’s 62nd supermall, which albeit belated, finally mounted a grand launch almost a year into operations.

Back in June 2016, S Maison (derived from the French word for home) complemented the launch of SM groups’ luxury hotel, Conrad Manila, with a soft opening.

S Maison shares the exterior of Conrad Manila’s cruise ship-inspired architecture

As such, in the middle of merriment, The Manila Times had one lingering question: Why had the country’s largest retail conglomerate wait an entire year to formally launch this luxury brand?

“We waited for a substantial number of tenants to open before fully launching S Maison because it’s not so gratifying to do a launch if there are still many unoccupied stalls,” Steven Tan, SM’s senior vice president for operations told The Manila Times at the event sidelines.

The executive then happily shared that S Maison now has a 70-percent occupancy and counting.

Having fully addressed the pressing question, Tan went to explain why they decided to build S Maison their enormous Mall of Asia (MOA)—whose floor area is pegged at 400,000 square meters—is just a stone’s throw away.

“It’s a little bit more elevated. MOA of course, is very family-oriented—there are a lot of people [going in and out]but for individuals who want to have a more elevated experience, a more quiet time in a bigger space, well, this is where we play,” Tan opened swept his arms out for emphasis.

The mall’s interior takes off from the image of the Philippines as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’

S Maison shares the hard-to-miss exterior of Conrad Manila’s luxury cruise ship-inspired architecture, occupying the hotel’s first two floors.

Meanwhile, the interior of the 25,534-square-meter mall is even more impressive bearing the romantic idea of the Philippines as the “Pearl of the Orient” for its overall theme. Organically shaped black pears welcome shoppers at the lobby, while lustrous surface treatments around the mall give one the feel of being cradled inside an iridescent shell. Moreover, dining areas have been raised onto pods that resemble pearls out of a clam.

Now, despite the mall’s floor area so much smaller that its sister malls, Tan takes pride in the fact that S Maison introduces merchants and dining concepts that are highly unique.

“It’s very well-curated—we don’t give approval to just anyone who applies for a space, and we really choose the best of the best. As a matter of fact, a lot of the stores here are opening for the first time in the Philippines,” Tan explained, listing Paradise Dynasty, makers of the world-renowned xiao long bao; Taiwan’s Mazendo; and Japan’s Tsujiri as some of the newcomers.

A sitting area that resembles a lustrous clam

In fashion and retail, among the formidable names to open their flagship branches in the country at S Maison include American denim company True Religion and Britain’s Joseph; while iconic aluminum luggage maker Zero Halliburton and Japan’s optical shop Paris Miki have also set up shop at the luxury mall.

For entertainment, there is voluminous space in the lobby to accommodate exhibits in the future, as well as three state-of-the-art Director’s Club cinemas, each with a 38-seater capacity.

Given these—and the continuing promise to visitors something out of the ordinary—S Maison positions itself as an upscale and well-curated retail podium housing pioneering dining concepts, branded retail and well-appointed services. Certainly, the yearlong wait for this grand unveiling was worth it.

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