PHOTOS BY JM SEBASTIAN
Thunderbird Resorts—dubbed ‘Santorini of Asia’—launches new casino
Poro Point in San Fernando, La Union was the site the United States’ Wallace Air Station until its turnover to the Philippine government in 1991. It then became a special economic zone in 1993.
With its rocky cliffs and commanding view of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and with the Spanish lighthouse as a central attraction, the place was ideal to convert into a destination reminiscent of Greece’s Santorini Island in the southern Aegean Sea.
True enough, from the idea and vision of Chief Operating Officer Angel Sueiro, Poro Point has become the “Santorini of Asia” with its imposing structures of blue dome roofs, white wide walls, endless steps going down to the sea. Besides these, it also features a verdant nine-hole golf course amid luscious greens, and a 1,000-meter infinity pool.
The 65-hectare Mediterranean-inspired resort further boasts of 63 hotel rooms and 62 two- and three-room villas with the “most beautiful sunset in the world” adding magic to the surrounding at dusk. There are also 14 presidential suites, each with three bedrooms, a good number built as beach front villas.
In addition to the facilities are specialized areas namely the Zaphira Spa, Kids Club, Teenagers Club, Gym, Basketball court, Jogging path at the Boardwalk, Water Sports, Restaurants, Bars, Convention Halls and Function Rooms, Agora Events Center.
Still to come is a three-hectare modern driving range that has eight bays of covered synthetic mats to protect players from the sun and rain. The golfing area is specifically 350 yards long with natural grass and artificial turf good for long hitters.
On February 18, Thunderbird Poro Point held a grand launch for its casinos with A-list performers gracing the event to entertain high profile guests from the business and international communities, media and politics. Most endured a five-hour trip from Manila to La Union but were rewarded with a top notch experience laid out by the resort executives and staff.
Actor Dingdong Dantes, riding high on the success of his GMA Network primetime series Alias Robinhood, arrived on a motorcyle for the red carpet. He was one of the VIPs invited to cut the ribbon for the casino’s grand opening.
The program had a James Bond Agent 007 for its theme and introduced Billy Crawford of the ABS-CBN daily noontime show It’s Showtime as host. Adding sizzle to the hot, humid night was Wildflower actress-singer-dancer Maja Salvador.
Crawford quipped that his favorite James Bond movie was with Halle Berry [Die Another Day with British actor Pierce Brosnan] and the American actress, and former model-beauty queen could have graced the affair.
“But the talent fee for Halle Berry went instead to Mr. Dantes,” he joked, eliciting laughter from the well-heeled audience.
Capping the night of extravagance and opulence was Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha who started her repertoire with a medley of James Bond movie themes. She segued to her well-loved covers like “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” and originals like “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin” accompanied by musician-composer Jimmy Antiporda.
Well-loved by fans, the now-Las Vegas-based world-class Filipino artist mingled with the audience, saying, the reason why she was at Thunderbird was “para mag-pa-picture” (to have photos taken) to the delight of those in attendance. One generous guest handed the singer a handful of around one-thousand-peso bills, which The Manila Times later learned to total P30,000, that the singer slid into her bosom, blurting it was the first time such an experience happened in her entire career.
Whether the generous guest won at the slots or tables that night, no knows, but for certain, Misalucha experienced Thunderbird Resorts and Casinos’ promise that it is “Where luck finds you.”
As if the celebrities’ performances were not enough, the grand launch was made more colorful with a Dragon and Lion Dance around the 1,766-square meter gaming area, which is adorned with 304 slot machines, 28 table games and 25 electronic table games, and a 239-square meter private gaming area for high rollers.
More thrills await foodies as well as The Manila Times sample three food and beverage outlets namely: Ouzo Restaurants which offers a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine; Mian Bar which serves delicious Asian fare; and Ivy Lounge, which is the combines good food, drinks and entertainment.
In his speech before proposing a toast, Sueiro promised that Thunderbird will continue its expansion and encouraged families and groups to experience total relaxation in “the best place now found in the north.”