Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
last week led the ground breaking ceremony of Isla Diwaran, Philippines’ premier
integrated island resort in Coron, Palawan.
The project is part of a joint venture agreement
between Singapore-listed Banyan Tree Holdings Limited and its
partner, Salvador B Zamora II of Tranzen Group. When fully
developed, the integrated island resort will feature three
resorts, a total of 600 keys, three award-wining spas, a marina
and a town centre with full-fledged facilities.
To provide a capital efficient strategy for the
group’s investments in the Philippines, Banyan Tree plans to set
up the proposed Banyan Tree-Philippines Hospitality Fund to
finance the development of Isla Diwaran, and another Banyan Tree
resort in the Philippines in a site yet to be identified.
As part of the ceremony, Banyan Tree also signed
a Memorandum of Understanding with BPI Capital Corporation and
First Metro Investment Corporation, for the joint appointment of
the two banks to assist in setting up and raising investment for
the proposed Fund. A second MoU was signed with Tranzen Group for
the proposed investment into the Fund.
Located south of Manila in Palawan Province,
Isla Diwaran integrated island resort is about 20 minutes by
speedboat from the town of Coron. The sprawling 55-hectare
development is surrounded by stretches of white-sand beach in an
area known for its coral reefs and diverse marine life, as well as
some of the world’s best known dive sites.
To introduce its
signature brand of Asian hospitality to the Philippines, Banyan
Tree will master plan, provide architectural and interior design
concepts for the development. This will include Banyan Tree
Diwaran, which consists of 100 keys of beach, hill and water
villas, and Angsana Diwaran, made up of 200 keys of one- and
two-bedroom suites. A third hotel is also being planned. Upon
completion, the development will have a total of 600 keys, three
spas, a marina and a town centre with full-fledged
recreation facilities, retail and food and beverage outlets.
Development costs for the Banyan Tree and Angsana resorts are
estimated at more than US$200 million, and the project is targeted
to open in 2012.
“We are delighted to have found this
ecological haven to plant our first flag in the Philippines. We
are especially proud to be working with partners who share our
core values and who have taken positive steps towards sustainable
tourism and environmental conservation”, said Banyan Tree’s
Executive Chairman, Ho Kwon Ping.
Mr Ho added, “We are
confident that the Philippines will grow as an important
luxury-tourist destination. The integrated resort development of
Isla Diwaran heralds the arrival of Palawan as a serious tourism
player and a new destination in its own right. We are looking to
tap into Philippines' tremendous potential and replicate the
success of our flagship Laguna Phuket in Thailand.”
group has already developed one of Asia’s largest integrated resorts in
Laguna Phuket spanning seven hotels, a golf course and residential
development. A similar project – Laguna Hue – is also being
planned in Vietnam.
Banyan Tree will be pushing ahead with
its expansion plans this year: Following the soft-opening of
Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico in March, six more
resort and hotel openings are scheduled in China, Indonesia,
Mexico, Thailand and the Middle East.
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