LEADING developer in Visayas and Mindanao, Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) is bullish in the most progressive province in the Visayas region as far as tourism is concerned. CLI recently launched the P2.5-billion Abaca Resort Mactan. The expanded luxury boutique hotel is set to be completed in 2024.
“We have always wanted to contribute towards making Cebu a thriving economic and tourism destination,” CLI Chairman and CEO Jose Soberano III said in a recent webinar.
“Abaca Resort Mactan will put Cebu on the radar of this emerging breed of global travelers seeking world-class, authentic, and unique holiday experience,” Soberano added.
Jason Hyatt, the Abaca Group’s founder, managing partner and executive chef said the partnership with CLI will boost their stature and branding as one of the high-end resort hotels in Cebu. “As one of the country’s preeminent developers, we are honored that CLI has chosen to partner with us once again through their hospitality arm. Being added to their portfolio of established global brands like Accor, Radisson and Ascott are so inspiring.”
Büro Ole Scheeren, principal architect of the Abaca Resort Mactan pointed out the 125-room all-suite accommodation featuring exclusively panoramic ocean views is going to provide the need for luxury resorts in Cebu’s aimed to attract global travelers. It will rise 17-stories high on a 4,500 sq m—the property formerly occupied by the multi-awarded Abaca Boutique Resort in Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City, a tourism growth center.
“It will create a sense of exclusivity and become a special place for the transformation of privacy,” Scheeren said.
He said the guests of Abaca Mactan Resort can share their collective experiences and create a sense of magic and mystery.
Some of their notable projects are CTBUH Urban Habitat Award 2020 Winner DUO in Singapore, the World Building of the Year 2015 The Interlace in Singapore, and MahaNakhon Tower in Bangkok, a mixed-use high-rise development that upends the conventional typology of the skyscraper. The resort’s design is also locally supported by the Philippines’s leading architectural firm AIDEA.
CLI purchased the property in 2019 and has signed up the Abaca Group to continue operating the hotel and providing luxury experiences tailored for local and global tourists.
Soberano said CLI is expanding its hotel portfolio to 1,433 rooms by 2025. He said this is in line with CLI’s strategy to build up its recurring business contributing 10 percent to the company’s topline.
“We see tourism in the Visayas and Mindanao driving the economy once global mobility is restored,” according to Soberano. With direct flight connections all over the world, Cebu will be the natural gateway to the Philippines for many travelers seeking to enjoy the country’s world-acclaimed beaches and other attractions. “We will be ready for that boom.”
A huge potential for tourism
In an e-mail interview with the BusinessMirror, Lobien Realty Group (LRG) CEO Sheila Lobien stressed that investing in Cebu’s tourism sector is a logical move for developers as it is one of the major destinations in the country of both local and foreign tourists. Moreover, it has a seaport, an international airport, and has the existing infrastructure to support tourism.
“Cebu is very reliant on tourism and is second to Boracay as the country’s top tourist destination. Based on Department of Tourism 2019 figures, foreign tourists numbered 1.4 million which is only 200,000 less than Boracay,” Lobien said.
“Bureau of Immigration statistics showed that around 3.5 million passengers arrived in the Philippines in 2020, an 80-percent drop compared to the 16.7 million in 2019. For Cebu, an 80-percent drop in tourist arrival translates to around P150 billion in foregone annual revenues from tourism; thus, tourism is very important for Cebu’s economic recovery,” Lobien added.
Barring the existence of new Covid variants that may be more transmissible and more lethal, Lobien said the confidence to travel will probably be back in two years pointing out the Philippines’s current agreements for Covid vaccine supply are enough to fully vaccinate close to 70 percent of Filipinos.
“However, there are three items that may complicate the target timelines:  the dates of the deliveries of these vaccine supplies,  the need for booster shots for vulnerable members of the population, and  the inclusion of younger population to the vaccination program. These three items will require more vaccine supply and will need more time to vaccinate which may further slide our herd immunity goal and timelines. But two years is a reasonable timeline if we are able to ensure we have sufficient vaccine supply that can be rolled out in time and no new variants will appear to spoil our efforts,” she said.