• ROBERT DE NIRO IN MANILA TO LAUNCH HOTEL

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    From left) Nobu Hospitality Chief Executive Trevor Horwell, Robert de Niro, Melco Int’l. Development Ltd. CEO Lawrence Ho, founding Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, James Packer and Hollywood film producer Meir Teper.

    From left) Nobu Hospitality Chief Executive Trevor Horwell, Robert de Niro, Melco Int’l. Development Ltd. CEO Lawrence Ho, founding Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, James Packer and Hollywood film producer Meir Teper.

    Hollywood superstar Robert de Niro surprised the local media with his appearance during the launch of the first boutique Nobu Hotel in Asia.

    In a press conference at the National Museum in Manila, de Niro shared the stage with the creative team that conceptualized the famed Nobu Restaurant in New York City, Melco Int’l. Development Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Ho, founding chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Hollywood film producer Mier Teper and Nobu Hospitality Chief Executive Trevor Horwell.

    “It’s my second time in the Philippines, but not in Manila. It’s in an island far from here,” de Niro said when asked of his visit to the country.

    He said he vacationed in Amanpulo, an exclusive island-resort in Palawan. The Manila Times learned that the actor is set to visit the posh resort again tomorrow with his wife, actress Grace Hightower, before he leaves the country.

    De Niro’s partnership with the Nobu brand began when the restaurant opened a branch in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City’s lower Manhattan.

    “I started investing in Tribeca—from the Tribeca Grill and Ago to Nobu, and several other places. I spend a lot of time in restaurants and Nobu has always been one of my favorites,” the award-winning actor said.

    De Niro, who shot to fame for his role as the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather 2, described the hotel launch as the “break of the year.”

    “Nobu food is great,” he said.

    The Nobu Hotel will open at the City of Dreams in Manila, a casino-resort developed through a joint venture between Macau casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. and Belle Corp., the gaming and upscale leisure arm of SM Group headed by the Sy family.

    Despite challenging relations between China and the Philippines, Hong Kong-based Ho said, “I think the beauty is that we are in the industry of entertainment and fun.

    Ultimately, there are much greater political powers at work and it’s really not in our level to resolve.”

    The casino giant chief executive promised “to continue to deliver these amazing and unique experiences [to the Philippines].”

    “The proposition that we have, especially in the introduction of the Nobu brand, is going to be so compelling that people all over the world, whether in China, Hong Kong or anywhere will go to and enjoy. That’s always been our mission and goal so we focus on the fun,” he added.

    For his part, Chef Nobu said he is very excited to serve food-loving Filipinos who have “so much energy.” He described the opening of his Manila outlet as a “challenge to bring something creative yet simple.”

    The hotel, which is scheduled to open in the last quarter of the year, will have 321 trend-setting boutique rooms.

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