By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Associate Editor

WHEN Century Properties Group, Inc. (CPG) launched Azure Urban Resort Residences in 2010, not a few scoffed at its plan to create a man-made beach in the middle of Bicutan in Parañaque.

Nine years later, CPG has now completed Azure’s nine residential towers, alongside the man-made beach, a wave pool, beach club, a lap pool and other amenities.

Azure is a joint venture between CPG unit Century Limitless Corp. and Columbian Autocar Corp., which owned the six-hectare land.

“When it was offered to us by Columbian, (the lot) was nice and contiguous but it was in Bicutan…That’s why we had to come up with the insane idea of making a beach and all these resort amenities to make Bicutan a destination,” CPG Vice Chairman John Victor R. Antonio told reporters on Nov. 16 after a ceremony marking the completion of Azure.

With the “beach-within-the-city” concept, Mr. Antonio said the company was betting on Filipinos’ love of beaches.

“We thought what do Filipinos love most? And what can’t they find in an urban setting? The beach… But there’s no beach in the city. So this was a crazy idea of mine, why don’t we create a beach? Because to create a building is easy but to create something that would last for generations and our buyers would be proud of would be difficult,” he said.

Azure is composed of nine 20-storey towers all named after famous beach destinations — Rio, Santorini, St. Tropex, Positano, Miami, Maui, Maldives, Bahamas and Boracay. The towers have a combined 5,355 units with a total sales value of P22.55 billion.

Around 98% of the inventory has been sold out.

For the towers, CPG offered one-bedroom (30 square meters), two-bedroom (45 sq.m.) and penthouse (50 sq.m.) units.

“We starting at P90,000 to P95,000 per sq.m., and it went up to P180,000 per sq.m.,” Mr. Antonio said.

The CPG vice chairman noted they originally offered more two-bedroom units in the first few towers, but later towers focused more on one-bedroom units due to market demand.

“They want champagne taste on a beer budget. They want the amenities and the lifestyle, but on a budget,” Mr. Antonio said.

With the man-made beach and wave pool, Azure has become a tourist destination, especially among staycationers.

Owners have started renting out their units on Airbnb or through CPG’s own Siglo Suites. This allows the owners, most of them who live abroad, to generate revenues from their units. Around 100 Azure units can currently be rented directly through Siglo Suites.

The rise in short-term rentals caused overcrowding in the beach and wave pool, leading the company to implement measures to control the number of users allowed per unit.

“It gets full during the summer. We had to implement a system because people were bringing in their families, so there was overcrowding. We created a system together with the unit owners and they respected the plan,” Mr. Antonio said.

Most amenities are exclusive to unit owners. The Paris Beach Club, designed by socialite Paris Hilton, features the gym, locker rooms, residents’ lounge, playroom, movie room, dance studio, game room, function rooms, spa and café.

Outdoor amenities also include two lagoon pools, lap pool, children’s water play area, beach volleyball area, basketball court and pocket gardens.

Mr. Antonio said the success of Azure has prompted CPG to replicate it in San Fernando, Pampanga. Azure North features three residential towers, along with a beach lagoon and wave pool.

“We will be completing the first two towers and amenities next year. There was a lot of demand, so why not create it for the north? Azure North had brisk sales because they didn’t have a masterplanned beach community in Pampanga,” he said.