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July 2013

 

                                                       July 31, 2013

To Members and Friends:

The month of July surprisingly, despite the occasional thunderstorms that always come with the rainy season, has been a very busy month at Balesin.  We had several major events (including a wedding!), several birthday parties, and the grand 40th wedding anniversary of my partner Babes Oreta and his wife Babot.  We have tried to capture the highlights in the photographs that are in the end of this update.

Villages and Villas

We have also been busy on the construction side and in addition to the Casa Grande at Costa del Sol which we inaugurated a month ago, we have now completed the six other casas namely:  Estepona, Fuengirola and Malaga on the north side of the Casa Grande and on the south side Marbella, Ronda and Torremolinos.  The final debugging process is ongoing and we are now able to accept villa reservations for Costa del Sol.  We realize that our members and guests want to try out every new village and Costa del Sol, I know, will be a pleasant experience as each villa averages over 100 square meters, and each with an unobstructed Pacific Ocean view.  

The Mykonos Beach Villas are also being constructed simultaneously with Toscana.  As I have mentioned before, Mykonos Beach Villas will be finished before the complicated construction of Toscana.  But I have no doubt that both villages will be completed long before the Christmas holidays. 

Thus, our total villages and villas available for the Christmas holiday will be 296, double that of what we originally promised our members.  The following is the complete listing:



Aviation Services

We continue to assiduously work on improving our aviation services.  So far, despite the inclement weather and the new CAAP restrictions, we have been able to provide our members and their guests the aviation services they require. 

We have now decided to acquire our own BAe 146-200 with its passenger capacity of 94.  This should be operational within the next month and by Christmastime, with our five-plane fleet, we will be able to accommodate up to over 800 passengers a day, with the BAe 146-200 able to do five round trips a day, when required.  Thus, we will not have to turn down any request for bookings either because of flight or villa availabilities.

Island Transportation

We had a problem with the “tuk-tuks” in both quality and delivery aspects.  We are now exploring other possibilities.  In any case, on busy weekends, we supplement our existing system with leased vans whenever required.  We still haven’t given up on the “tuk-tuks” and other forms of electric-powered vehicles that can transport our guests to their destination at much faster speeds than our existing golf carts.

Meanwhile, we now have 60 bicycles on the island of various types and sizes.  They have proven quite popular among our members and guests and we may have to acquire more within the next few months.         

Regarding the Segways, I am pleased to inform you that we have had much better luck, and six of them will be on the island by next week and available for rent by our members.  Both Mike Asperin, the island CEO, my son Julian and several others have tried the Segway and have enjoyed it immensely.  They believe that our guests will too.

Food Quality

As you know, we have always been proud of the food quality standards at Balesin.  Speaking for myself, because I want to try out every new dish, I have put on quite a few more pounds!  Fortunately, our new General Manager Rene Verhulst, has had extensive food and beverage experience in resorts and hotels which he has managed worldwide and I hope to be able to transfer some of my extra kilos to him!

We recently added to our roster of chefs, Chef Sau (full name:  Rosauro del Rosario), who spent seven years in France and other countries, working as Executive Chef in several well-known Parisian and Côte d’Azur restaurants, including the Jules Verne, Le Divellec, both Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and the Restaurant L’Univers in Nice, also a Michelin-starred restaurant.  With the arrival of Chef Sau, you can expect the quality of our food at the restaurants in St. Tropez to improve dramatically.

Because of the popularity and unequaled quality of the food of Chef Edo San which he serves at Sakura on Balesin, I have had to agree to his desire to manage his own Sakuras in Manila so that his guests do not have to fly the helicopter to the island to eat his superb Japanese food.  Thus, Chef Edo San will be in charge of two of our restaurants in Makati, one at the City Club and one in Southgate Tower, which started operations last week.  But don’t worry, he will make sure he is in Balesin every weekend. 

City Club

Finally, I would like to inform our Balesin Island Club members, many of whom are also members of The City Club at Makati Place on Ayala Avenue, that The City Club will be inaugurated during the month of August.  We will provide you with the exact date as soon as Rico Sison (whom I have had to pull out from Balesin for the last three weeks), completes the finishing touches at The City Club, and I am able to make sure that we will not disappoint the members.  But this will definitely be during the month of August. 

Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges Project

Additionally, as promised, in last month’s update, the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges Project planning process has proceeded very well.  Joel Jones, Principal of EcoPlan of Florida, who planned Balesin Island Club for us, has visited the Baguio site twice and by mid-August, we will be discussing the final lay-out of the various log homes. 

Below are some pictures of the views from the log homes to be built in this 75-hectare property, which is now a mere 10-15 minutes from Baguio City on an all-weather cemented road. 

Every month, I will give our Balesin Island Club members a brief progress report on this project.  As I see things, at this point, we shall be able to break ground on the Baguio Project and actually start work on it at the end of the rainy season in Baguio in November, just as we fully complete Balesin.

 


ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Chairman