By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino
Special Features Writer
APPLEONE Properties, Inc. (API) plans to expand its portfolio by putting up more hotels in Cebu and Bohol, banking on the country’s robust tourism industry.
“I’m really bullish on the tourism industry in the Philippines. [For] our next projects, we’re buying properties in the prime locations right now, some in Mactan, some in Cebu; and it’s our first time to buy a lot in Panglao, it’s a very good location,” Ray Go Manigsaca, API president and chief executive officer, told reporters on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony for its integrated complex, Mahi, in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
“We’re heading there, in putting up more hotels, because I believe we still lack rooms for our visitors,” Mr. Manigsaca added.
Asked why API continues to pour in investments in Cebu, Mr. Manigsaca said — in addition to familiarity — the company sees the growing potential of the province compared to other areas.
“After Manila, it’s Cebu,” he noted. “We’re very comfortable here.”
As a homegrown company based in Cebu City, API prides itself with more than 25 years of real estate mixed-use and residential development experience.
The Manigsaca-led firm’s entry into vertical developments started with the launch of AppleOne Equicom Tower in 2010. The 19-storey structure is the first mixed-use development in the region’s premier business district — Cebu Business Park.
Following the success of AppleOne Equicom Tower, API in 2013 launched AppleOne Banawa Heights, the first gated condominium in Cebu and the first to utilize the private cluster concept, keyless access, and multiple swimming pools in condominium.
The 2.8-hectare residential development, inspired by the San Francisco Bay Area’s Pacific Heights, features three residential concepts: the Towers, Villas and Mansionettes.
Barbara P. Cabo, API senior vice-president of sales and marketing, said that the three 12-storey towers of AppleOne Banawa Heights were completed and the units were already turned over to the owners.
For Villas and Mansionettes, Ms. Cabo said that turnover of units at Villas 1 and 2 and Mansionettes 1 and 2 is ongoing, while Villas 3 and 4 and Mansionettes 3 and 4 are still being constructed.
API expects to complete the whole development by 2021.
Meanwhile, AppleOne Mactan, Inc., the premier development arm of API, is looking to open its five-star resort hotel, Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort, before the year ends.
Located in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort will offer more than 250 guest rooms and suites. It is the first resort in the region to be built according to international brand standards.
Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort will feature an all-day dining and specialty restaurants, ballroom and function spaces, and recreation facilities, among others.
Dottie V. Wurgler-Cronin, general manager of Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort, said that the resort hotel brings additional value to the island of Mactan as a tourist destination.
“It is being welcomed by the community in Mactan and also in Cebu as a province, because this is a return of Marriott International into this medium,” Ms. Wurgler-Cronin said in a March 20 interview.
AppleOne Mactan also targets to turn over units of its luxury condominium development, The Residences at Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort, a year after the resort hotel opens.
The Residences is a 22-storey tower with four-storey courtyard villas, which will house 190 residential units. It is the first Sheraton-branded residence in Southeast Asia.
Amenities include courtyard lagoon pool, fitness center, multi-purpose function room, dedicated parking and access to private beach club.
“It supports the Filipinos who would like to have a different kind of environment, the lifestyle of being able to relax by the beach,” Ms. Wurgler-Cronin said.
Citing a report from the firm’s sales team, Ms. Wurgler-Cronin shared that The Residences has only 51 units left in its inventory. Around 70% of the demand for the project comes from local buyers, while the rest are from foreigners, primarily Japanese nationals.
“When you put up an international brand, [it] doesn’t mean that you’re only catering to the foreigners. We have recognized in the past five years that domestic tourism has really increased, and then the spending capacity of domestic market is also increasing,” Ms. Wurgler-Cronin said.
TARGETING MICE MARKET
API’s subsidiary Sunsky Development Corp., on the other hand, is looking at increasing its room inventory by constructing another Diamond Suites & Residences in Cebu City to cater to the growing Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) market and tourism industry.
Kathy S. Angala, general manager of Diamond Suites & Residences, said that its current branch of Diamond Suites, fronting the Cebu Business Park, enjoys an average of 85-90% occupancy rate.
“That explains why we need more rooms,” Ms. Angala said in a separate interview.
Ms. Angala said that the new hotel is planned to have 60 to 70 rooms, and will be located near its first branch. The construction is expected to begin by the end of the year or early next year.
To cater to the growing needs of the market, Ms. Angala said renovations at Diamond Suites are ongoing.
“Within this year, we’re renovating 34 rooms on the fourth floor. And, year after year, we’re going to renovate the other floors,” Ms. Angala said, adding that there are also plans to improve hotel’s pool area and lobby lounge.
API has also established its footprint in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental through its subsidiary, Brickwall Construction & Development, that operates Apple Tree Resort & Hotel. It also operates Boardwalk City Residences in Mandaue City, Cebu and a mall under the Double Dragon Properties’ City Mall chain, CityMall Danao in Danao City, Cebu.