‘The sun also rises in the North’

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

As soon as I opened my car window when I reached the driveway of the main lobby of the newly opened Solaire Resort North to ask the hotel staff where to park, I caught a whiff of Solaire Resort’s signature scent, a citrus fragrance of sorts.

It’s the familiar scent that no doubt evokes memories of one’s experiences in Solaire Resort in Parañaque, tycoon Enrique “EKR” Razon’s first integrated casino resort.

That sweet smell and so much more are now in Quezon City following the opening of EKR’s second Solaire, Solaire Resort North.

The $1-billion casino resort opened its doors to the public at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening after the formal opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in the afternoon graced by President Marcos, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco.

Excited Quezon City residents and nonresidents alike descended onto the new hotel. Solaire Resort North counted 14,000 visitors on the first night, says Bloomberry Resorts Corp. vice chairman for construction and regulatory affairs Donato Almeda.

The following day, on Sunday, there were 4,000 guests as of the 1 p.m. count. When I arrived Sunday night for the Gala Night, a huge crowd filled the lobby; some parking floors were already full and in the restaurants, there were queues of waiting customers.

More than the numbers, the huge crowd of visitors at Solaire Resort North during the weekend – despite the continuous rains – shows that the city’s residents have been craving for unique experiences that a five-star hotel can offer.

Solaire is the first five-star hotel of its kind in Quezon City. My guess is that more than the casino, visitors would be flocking to the hotel to experience the fine dining options because there really aren’t a lot of choices in the city for those who love gastronomic adventures.

The new hotel has every bit of Solaire Entertainment City’s character although the configuration is different. It’s a towering building with DM Consunji behind the general construction of the structure. As for the food options, the signature Solaire Entertainment City restaurants are there, plus one or two that are unique to Solaire Resort North.

A boost to tourism

President Marcos said the opening of Solaire North will help boost the country’s tourism industry. “It is a truly bold and ambitious move that we must take to make the Philippines the perfect destination for tourism, relaxation and entertainment.”

No doubt Solaire Resort North raises the standards of hospitality in Quezon City where there are only a few hotels and some smaller ones, not unlike what you see in Manila or Makati.

More than the opulence and grandeur though, EKR says his latest project is also about spurring economic activity in the city. At least 4,000 job opportunities have been created as a result of the hotel’s opening.

“We hope to bolster economic activity in Quezon City by encouraging visitors – both Filipinos and foreigners – to explore and discover the city,” EKR said.

The hotel sits on a 1.5-hectare site in the North EDSA area, serving northern Metro Manila and adjacent provinces.

Actually, that whole North Triangle area, which includes Trinoma and Vertis North malls, is already well developed and comparable to other financial districts in Metro Manila.

Credit goes to Mayor Joy for allowing businesses to unlock values of that area at the corner of EDSA and North Avenue. The Ayala Group led the transformation of the bustling district. I do hope that people, including informal settlers who have previously been displaced when proponents started transforming the district, have been given employment in the mixed-use area.

With more establishments including the new Solaire Resort North there, however, there is a need to further enhance traffic management so as not to inconvenience motorists.

Fortunately, Solaire Resort North’s traffic management, at least on Sunday night, was very efficient, considering the influx of visitors and the rain. I hope it stays that way.

Revenues from gaming

Marcos highlighted the revenues from the gaming industry, saying that the sector has been contributing immensely to the operations of government agencies such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., the Philippine Sports Commission and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

“It redounds to the implementation of Universal Health Care, Early Childhood Care and Development Fund, Integrated Sports Development Program, the National Endowment for Culture and Arts and the establishment and operation of adequate drug rehabilitation centers,” Marcos said.

Pagcor’s Tengco, for his part, hailed Bloomberry Resorts for its latest luxury development which he said is an instant landmark destination in the city.

‘New dawn’ in Quezon City

It’s a new dawn indeed, as Solaire’s parent company Bloomberry said, adding that Solaire Resort North stands as “a testament to innovation and excellence in the Philippines’ thriving tourism landscape.”
EKR was all smiles during the formal opening. He’s been excited about this for some time now despite the challenges of the pandemic which delayed the opening.

I heard that he was very hands-on throughout the development of his new casino resort and, with his sharp memory, made sure that every design or element of the project that he approved was actually the one that was implemented.

EKR said, “The sun also rises in the North.”

It’s a new dawn indeed in Quezon City which hopefully would translate to better lives for the city’s jobseekers and the unemployed.

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Follow her on X, formerly Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at EyesWideOpen (Iris Gonzales) on Facebook.

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