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Las Vegas-type hotel-casino resort opens in QC; PBBM leads inauguration; Belmonte bans officials, employees

By Claire Morales True, Managing Editor

QUEZON CITY – Yes, Quezon City now has its Las Vegas-type hotel-casino-resort complex north of Manila.

After reckoning for years with the oppositors, including the Church, the Quezon City government finally gave the go-signal for the opening of a Las Vegas-type modern hotel-casino-entertainment center in the city.

At present, similar casino resort complexes are confined mostly in Pasay City, Paranaque City, Las Pinas and Manila.

On May 25, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led officials of the casino owners, Enrique Razon and the Bloomberry Resorts Corp. in the grand opening of the complex, called the Solaire Resort North, so named after the Solaire casino resort in Pasay City by the same group.

 Marcos welcomed the opening of the resort as a new development that would create more jobs and bolster tax revenues in Metro Manila’s largest city. The Solaire Resort North houses 14 restaurants, 530 rooms and suites, and 4 gaming levels with 2,600 electronic gaming machines and 160 tables. 

Marcos gave the statement during the opening of Bloomberry Resorts Corporation’s (BRC) Solaire Resort North, a  $1-billion project that hosts a 5-star integrated resort in a 1.5-hectare location.

“With Solaire Resort North hiring more than 4,000 Filipino employees, this will not only boost our economy but also empower our people to reach their full potential,” the President said in his speech. 

“Beyond the revenues that pour in from leisure activities and tourism, this industry has provided jobs to our people and has contributed to social development,” he said. 

Marcos Jr. also described the new casino-resort as “another game-changing global hospitality industry,” underscoring that tax revenues from BRC’s latest venture is expected to fund several government projects in the coming years. 

“The revenues from these ventures contributed huge funding for the operations of government agencies such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, the Philippine Sports Commission, [and] the Dangerous Drugs Board,” the Chief Executive said. 

“It redounds to the implementation of the Universal Health Care, Early Childhood Care and Development Fund, Integrated Sports Development Program, the National Endowment for Culture and Arts, and the establishment and the operation of adequate drug rehabilitation centers,” he added. 

The contribution of the gaming industry “is more than what has been understood in the traditional sense,” the President said, noting that several casino-resorts in the country have also “expanded into crucial sectors, including hotels, retail centers, movie theaters, and dining establishments.” 

“This resort, features not only first-class amenities but also world-class Filipino talent, is going further to raise the country’s image on the international stage,” Marcos Jr. said. 

“More than the best tourist destinations here in the Philippines, it is our people that keeps bringing tourists back. Our smiles, our generosity, our excellent hospitality,” he said. 

Bloomberry Resorst Corp. Chairman and CEO Enrique Razon guaranteed that his company is committed to showcase Filipino hospitality at its best to help boost tourism in Northern Metro Manila both for locals and foreigners. 

“We envision Solaire Resort North to be a destination resort of choice. We hope to serve the burgeoning tourism demand north of Metro Manila and nearby provinces that enjoy rapid commercial and residential development,” Razon said. 

“We hope to bolster economic activity in Quezon City by encouraging visitors — both Filipino and foreigners — to explore and discover the city,” he said. 

“Beyond the opulence and grandeur lies our unwavering dedication to service,” he added. 

Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire Resort North is located inside a Diliman property near the present SM North and Ayala Mall, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Philippine Science High School complex once an eyesore teeming with informal settlers.

Before that opening, Quezon City Mayor Josefina Joy Belmonte  ordered a ban on all QC officials and employees from the casino.

Belmonte said that the city government had coordinated with Bloomberry to “create a databank of photographs of all city government personnel”, in order to enforce the ban. The list would cover circa 19,000 employees, she added.

The lady mayor announced the ban at the inaugural “International Conference on Responsible Gambling and Gaming Addiction”, held in Quezon City and backed by the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).

According to Ms Belmonte, an electronic device posted at each entrance of the casino at Solaire Resort North would identify any city government official or employee, barring their access to the gaming venue. Quezon City public servants would still be allowed to visit other areas of the resort, she added.

“Even if one wears a wig, a mask or a hat, one’s face can still be detected using a very sophisticated system,” the mayor said, as cited by the media outlet.

Actress and television host Anne Curtis has been shown lately campaigning for the opening the casino resort complex on May 25. Reports from Bloomberry and local media showed that Solaire Resort North, spanning 1.5 hectares, boasts 38 floors and was designed by architecture firms Aedas and Casas+Architects. Its interiors were crafted by the Habitus Design Group.

Bloomberry said that Solaire Resort North has created 4,200 direct employment opportunities. It is the first five-star destination in Quezon City.

“With Solaire Resort North, we uphold the same mission in the hope that the property’ presence and operation will support Quezon City’s endeavors to enhance and promote tourism, generate employment for Filipinos, and further attract opportunities for economic and social investments,” Bloomberry Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Enrique K. Razon, Jr. said.

“At the same time, we anticipate that our presence in Quezon City will positively impact our growth, widen our market footprint, and reinforce our brand’s strength,” he added.

Solaire Resort North has 526 guest rooms and suites, 2,669 electronic gaming machines, and 163 tables across four casino levels. It also houses various signature restaurants including Italian cuisine at Finestra Italian Steakhouse, Japanese delicacies at Yakumi, and Chinese fare at Red Lantern.

The resort will also have casual dining options featuring regional Filipino, Asian, and international flavors, as well as bars and lounges that have a wide selection of spirits and cocktails, the company said.

Solaire Resort North will feature event venues, spa, saunas, plunge pools, gym, pool area for children, an interactive kids club, and a curated art program and display.

“Quezon City is a highly urbanized city with a population largely comprised of locals with a wide range of demographic interests. We saw an opportunity to provide more exclusive experiences not just to our existing Northern clientele but to a larger untapped market,” Bloomberry, Solaire Resort Entertainment City, and Solaire Resort North President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Arasi said.

“We want to bring the signature Solaire experience closer to our valued guests, and introduce what and who we are as a brand to a larger audience,” he added.

Bloomberry saw an 85% growth in its 2023 net income to P9.5 billion. Consolidated net revenue also rose by 24% to P48.4 billion.

Razon said the Solaire North opening takes advantage of emerging global economic upturn aftet the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company’s financial and operating results for 2023, “reflect a resilient Philippine economy amid a challenging global economic landscape,” Razon said.

“Driven by a strong domestic market, our annual EBITDA and net profit grew by 35 percent and 85 percent year-over-year, respectively,” he  said.

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