Philippines President Benigno Aquino hailed the opening of Manila’s Solaire Resort & Casino on March 16 as the start of a new era for the country’s tourism industry.
“Macau and Singapore are always competing for bigger pieces of this industry’s very lucrative pie. Your presence in the country is proof positive that, above all else, the Philippines works,” the chief executive told a crowd of political leaders, local dignitaries and industry bigwigs at the unveiling of the US$1.2 billion resort.
Solaire, owned by Bloomberry Group, a PSX-listed entity controlled by Philippine ports tycoon Enrique Razon, features 500 hotel rooms, 300 table games and 1,200 slot machines, several gourmet restaurants and a high-end food court in its $750 million first phase. Another 300 rooms, a spa, a pool, a nightclub, an 1,800-seat theater and 30-40 retail shops are planned as part of a $400 million expansion already under construction.
Solaire employs 4,500, with 500 more people due to be hired in the second phase, management says. Four hundred or more are returning Filipinos from Macau, Singapore and other resort markets who have assumed management positions at the new casino, which is operated by Global Gaming Asset Management, a U.S.-based company founded by two former top executives of Las Vegas Sands, William Weidner and Brad Stone.
Solaire is the first of four large-scale casinos—representing a total of more than $5 billion in capital investment—licensed for 120 hectares of government-owned reclaimed land on Manila Bay known as Entertainment City. The second of these, a joint venture between shopping mall giant SM Investments and Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014. The others are joint ventures between Philippine companies and Malaysian conglomerate Genting and Japanese pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada.