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September 2012

Members and Friends:

Today is Sunday and as usual, I am at Balesin Island.  We had an Alphaland Management Committee meeting here yesterday (in which we reviewed the progress of the various Alphaland projects) together with the Balesin Management staff in which we had a detailed review of the progress of Balesin.  The members of the Management Committee of Alphaland based in Manila, headed by Alphaland President Babes Oreta, stayed in the Bali villas last night and they tell me it was a truly memorable experience.

I would now like to move on to the topic of the moment, which is the Aviation services, between Manila and Balesin. Yesterday, (Saturday) was the inaugural flight of our chartered Bombardier Q400 from Manila to Balesin and, other than the hassle of having to check in at the AirPhil Express Terminal 3 counter and having to undergo the usual security procedures, everyone I talked to enjoyed the flight on this comfortable twin engine turbo prop.  I would now like to respond to some comments that we have received from a few of our members, as follows:

1. Regrettably, we have been turning down quite a few reservation requests to come to the island because of lack of available seats on our two 9-seater CESSNA Grand Caravans.  This is a most undesirable situation and was headed toward an even more serious problem as the villas in the various villages are completed (more on this later).

2. This is the reason why I felt that a quick and interim solution needed to be put into place, especially during weekends.  Together with that and terminal fees, our fare round trip committed cost to AirPhil Express is Php300,000 per round trip.  This committed cost is regardless of whether we have one passenger or a full flight of 74 passengers.  Based on an average paying passenger load of 40 per trip (and this is optimistic), the increased price of Php6,000 round trip (as opposed to Php4,000 previously) would still require us to subsidize the flight service.  

I am also unhappy with the flight schedule which requires that the return trip leaves Balesin at 10:15 on Sunday morning which gives our members very little time to enjoy the island if they stay only for the weekend.  But taking into account AirPhil’s lost revenue if we schedule a later Balesin/Manila return flight, it would have cost us more than Php400,000 per round trip and this would have resulted in an unacceptable cost to our members or otherwise subsidies from the Club.

3. The other point which should be made known to our members is the fact that we have been subsidizing the existing CESSNAs at a cost of Php1.3 million per month, without any provision for the normal depreciation charges and, at the old Php4,000 per round trip price, this simply could not go on.  Incidentally, as some of you may know, the round trip fare to Amanpulo is Php15,000 per passenger and the normal average round trip fare to Boracay is Php9,000.

4. We fully realize the inconvenience which our members are forced to undergo during the security checks at Terminal 3 as opposed to the comfort of our own Alphaland hangar.  However, as I have pointed out to a few friends, the inconvenience of going through Terminal 3 will be the same if one were travelling to Boracay, Baguio, or even Cebu or other domestic destinations.   

5. But as is our usual reaction to these issues, we always endeavor to do our best for our members and so I would like to inform you of the various moves that we are in the process of undertaking:

a) We are exerting our best effort to get our hangar qualified as a check-in venue for our AirPhil Express flights.  This will involve, in addition to government approvals, the installation of x-ray machines for baggage which we are quite prepared to spend for in order to spare our members the hassle of the long security check lines at Terminal 3.Thus, our passengers will be able to go through by coaster or bus to the AirPhil flight from our Alphaland hangar.  But let me be candid and say that this may take a few weeks to accomplish.

b) We are also seriously considering acquiring our own larger twin turbo prop aircraft so that we can determine our own departure and arrival times.  The AirPhil Express departure time to Manila on Sundays is quite unacceptable as it is too early and our members cannot even have lunch on the island.

c) With our own aircraft, we can also have as many flights on any day of the week that best suit the requirements of our members.

d) More importantly, we will be able to depart and arrive from our own Alphaland hangar.

e) The process of acquiring the aircraft and qualifying our own pilots may take 1 to 2 months, although we are trying to cut this to the shortest possible time.  But I want to assure our members that we will try our very best to meet your expectations.

The other exciting event this weekend was the arrival of Thanasis Koumpiadis and his wife Stavroula,  who own the best restaurant on Rhodes Island in Greece and whom I invited to spend a few weeks with us as my guest so that we can have genuine Greek food.  Both Thanasis and Stavroula are enchanted with the island and in fact as I write this, they are busy at Mykonos, already teaching our chefs authentic Greek cooking.  

They are so enthused with the potential of Balesin Island that on Saturday the 29th of September, they are going to have an “Open House” at the Mykonos Taverna where Thanasis and Stavroula will invite all members on the island to have a real Greek party where he will serve his specialties, teach all comers traditional Greek dancing (no breaking of plates however,  too expensive!).  

I am also delighted to inform you that we have made progress on the 4 villages under construction.  As you know, Balesin Village opened 6 months ago.  Costa Smeralda and Costa del Sol I am hoping to finish before the end of the year, or early next year.  However, the 4 other villages are practically complete and we will be accepting reservations for them as follows:

Date when reservation
will begin to be accepted

October 1, 2012 Bali Village
October 15, 2012 Mykonos Village
October 31, 2012 Phuket Village
November 15, 2012 St. Tropez Village

Meanwhile, the restaurants in these 4 villages, including the private dining rooms, are already even now operational and our members are already enjoying their very authentic culinary delights.

I wish to also inform our members that, whereas heretofore, our reservations group have been ultra conservative in accepting bookings for the Christmas holidays, I have now instructed them to be more liberal.  This is simply because I fully expect that we will have about 200 villas and rooms operational by Christmas time and I hope that we no longer have to turn down those planning their Christmas holidays now.  I should point out, however, that as we now have over 600 members, reservations still have to be on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Sports Facilities

The Sports Center will be operational by mid-October, with its 6 badminton courts, 2 basketball courts (1 covered and 1 open air) and 2 tennis courts (also 1 covered and 1 open air).  Additionally, the fully equipped gym is now operational and a few members have already been trying them out.  As you know, the Paintball Course has been in operation for some time and quite a few “battles” have been waged there.  The Stables with our new Australian quarter horses are proving very popular with members and so is our Archery facility.  Our Golf Driving Range is also now operational and to all you golf enthusiasts who cannot live without hitting a golf ball on a weekend, you can at least practice on the driving range!

We have delayed the Zip Line facility to the two small islands on the Pacific side of Balesin.  In addition to safety concerns, we have been shocked by the astronomical cost of this facility and we are in the process of re-engineering it to make it available to our members at least before the Christmas holidays.

Our aquatic sports facilities are now fully operational and in addition to the Aquatic Sports Center near the Clubhouse, we are building a secondary facility at the Mykonos cove on the Pacific Ocean side so that depending on the winds and the waves, our members will have a choice where to engage in their favorite water sport.  

You will also be pleased to know that we will have a new restaurant which we are calling Balesin Fish Fun, where members can actually fish for their lunch or dinner and have them grilled right there.  This is to be located at the Aquatic Sports Pier, about a 200-meter walk from the Clubhouse.  I expect Fish Fun to be operational by the end of October.

Those of you who have visited the island in the last few weeks have been amazed at the almost indescribable beauty of the new Nusa Dua Bar at the Bali Village.  

The Mykonos cove is quickly taking shape and in fact will be operational by the first week of October.  It is a unique facility with a Souvlaki Bar and 4 jacuzzis, lounging areas, and dining areas, sitting on a platform on top of the cove adjacent to Mykonos.  I predict that this will be one of your favorites in Balesin.

The Phuket Sala is now fully operational and I am sure that you will agree that my design partner, Rico Sison has done a superb job with it.  

Rico has also been working hard on the St. Tropez Village, which is slowly taking shape.  On my forthcoming trip to Europe, he has given me a thick shopping list of artifacts and ceramics which he wants me to buy, and of course I have no choice but to follow his order!

In the past few weeks, we have had several expert photographers take shots of the various villages and, without further ado, I am showing them to you so that you see what we have actually accomplished --  in only 18 months after we started working on the airstrip!


ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Chairman


September 23, 2012

Inaugural Flight of Q400 at Balesin Airport on Saturday September 22, 2012 

The Clubhouse From the Air 

Kiddie Pool at Clubhouse 

Sea View From Clubhouse 

Bridge to Sea at Clubhouse  

Balesin Village From the Air 

The Balesin Spa 

Balesin Spa at Night 

Balesin Spa Reception 

Bali Village From the Air 

Rice Terraces at Bali Village 

Entrance to Bali Warung 

Bali Warung 

Entrance to Private Dining Room at Bali Warung 

The Nusa Dua Bar at Dusk 

Nusa Dua Bar at Bali Village 


Bar at Bali Village 

Wayang Kulit at Bali Villa 

Interior of Bali Villa 

The Outdoor Day Bed at a Bali Villa 

Aerial View of Mykonos Village with Mykonos Cove Deck at Left 

Thanasis Taverna 

View of Mykonos Taverna From the North 

Mykonos Taverna 

Mykonos Taverna 

The Bar at the Mykonos Taverna 

Upper Deck of Mykonos Taverna 

Mykonos Village Villa 

Interior of Mykonos Villa 

Phuket Sala From the Air 

Phuket Sala at Night 

Entrance to Phuket Sala 


Entrance to Phuket Sala 


Giant Wood Carving at Phuket Sala 

Phuket Sala 

Phuket Private Dining Room 

Another Phuket Dining Room 

Beach at Phuket 

St. Tropez Village Nearing Completion 

Aerial View of St. Tropez Village 

Costa del Sol Beach 

The Sports Center 

The Sports Center-Opening Soon!