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January 2015

To Members and Friends:


The last two weeks of the holiday season which ended on Sunday was the longest ever, at least, as far as I can remember.  For a period of almost two weeks, there was only one working day, December 29 and thus, Balesin Island was inundated with a very large number of members and guests averaging about 500 a day, including two days which were just under 1,000 people.  Although the weather was not very cooperative (of the 14 day holiday period, we had five rainy days), the management and staff of your Club did a yeoman’s job in managing this influx of guests.  Except for the inevitable occasional hiccups in the service, we received very minimal complaints and almost unanimous kudos from members and guests.
 
 
The Balesin Royal Villa
 
The Balesin Royal Villa, which we finished in just 3-1/2 months and which we opened a week before Christmas, was clearly the most admired and the most applauded.  I and the other members of management of Balesin have received many letters of praise and gratitude, some of which are so effusive that they are not appropriate to be reprinted.  In fact, there was only one notable criticism from a prominent member who shall remain anonymous that the Royal Villa was really fabulous except for the mirror above the bed which was not quite centered over the bed so that it forced him to do difficult acrobatic positions in order to fully enjoy this errant mirror!
 
There were never-ending requests to tour the Royal Villa during the holidays.  As a result, we are now being bombarded with many requests for reservations at the Royal Villa.  In order not to overly burden Debbie Ledesma’s Reservations Group, we have assigned the reservations function for the Royal Villa alone to:
 
          Aris Alcuaz, General Manager
          Tel Nbr +63908 899 5606
          Email aaalcuaz@remove-this.alphaland.com.ph); and
 
          Alex Cenzon, Operations Manager
          Tel Nbr +63999 887 8248 
          Email accenzon@remove-this.alphaland.com.ph
 
 
Balesin Staff Sterling Performance
 
I must commend our village managers and all our staff for their sterling performance in servicing our multitude of guests.  Many of them went with very little sleep, some days no sleep at all, in order to ensure the high standard of service and comfort for our guests.  In order to show my gratitude and appreciation, I held a party last night for our senior staff totaling 60 people.  As you know, operating a 314 room resort, spread out over eight locations, is not the easiest thing in the world but I am proud that our staff did a magnificent job and came away with flying colors.
 
 
Jose Mari Chan Concert
 
We had the pleasure of a concert by the inimitable Jose Mari Chan on the 28thof December.  I am embarrassed to say that, while Jo Mari has been a friend for quite a few years, I have never heard him sing in concert.  My entire family totally enjoyed every minute of his concert which lasted, with the continuous clamor for encores, almost two hours.  Especially endearing was the way Jo Mari, who incidentally is one of the original Balesin Island Club members, enlisted almost his entire family in his performance.  It was really “An Enchanted Evening.”
 
 
Balesin Music Lounge
 
New Year’s Eve was something else again.  Our newly opened Music Lounge, which someone told me is better than most night spots in Manila, was packed to capacity and was standing room only.  The after-hours dancing and revelry at the Music Lounge, which is located on the Ground Floor of Costa del Sol, lasted until 5:00 am!
 
 
Jon “Bon Jovi” Joven
 
We were also fortunate that for the entire holiday season, we had our Resident Trio (The Highlights) and Jon Joven a.k.a. the Prince of Broadway, perform at family parties and also at the Main Clubhouse and the Music Lounge.  Jon is now with us full time and he will be at the Club Lounge at The City Club during weekdays and at Balesin during weekends.  If you have not heard him yet, I have no doubt that you will enjoy his amazing singing voice, mostly doing songs from Broadway musicals but surprisingly, he can also switch over to rock & roll.  That is why I have christened him Jon “Bon Jovi” Joven.
 
 
Remaining Projects
 
After the holiday period, we have only a few remaining projects which should be finished before the end of January.  Among these are the second elevator at the Clubhouse which actually should have been finished before Christmas, except that the technicians decided to take off during the holidays.  They are now back to assembling it and it should be operational in a couple of weeks.
 
The Korean Restaurant is also ready with all of the equipment and furniture and Rico’s design except that we have yet to find a good Korean Chef.  The Korean Chef that we had lined up chickened out at the last minute.  Any of you with any suggestions, please get in touch with our Island CEO Mike Asperin or our GM Aris Alcuaz.
 
 
Rico’s Resto
 
Last Friday, while I was doing my usual visit to the various villages, I chanced upon a really charming structure which I didn’t even know existed.  As some of you may know, Rico Sison, my Design Partner, is the only person on the island who lives in a house and much to my surprise, he had surreptitiously transformed an unsightly old house into a most charming home.  It is located not far from the Bali Village but has its own unique character.  Much to Rico’s dismay (but since he will be kept busy with new projects outside the island), I have decided to turn it into a restaurant/bar which I have dubbed “Rico’s Resto.”  It will serve our very popular Mongolian barbecue for lunch and other “ihaw-ihaw specials.”  At sunset, it will function as a bar.   Dinner will not be served but will instead be offered at the nearby Warung of the Balinese Village.
 
 
Use of Credit Cards
 
I am sure that many of you have noticed our system of encouraging our members and guests to use their credit cards.  The simplicity of this system has been a life-saver during these past holidays as it prevented a lot of the usual billing errors.  As a result, we have had a very smooth check out system during this busy period despite the very large number of guests.
 
 
Mike and Rico
 
I will close by letting you know that my right and left hands at Balesin, namely Mike Asperin and Rico Sison, will be spending less time there but certainly not abandoning Balesin.  I will need them to ensure that we complete on a timely basis the Residences at Alphaland Makati Place, where The City Club is located.  Delivery of the first units will start in August and be completed by October. 
 
 
New Sales Director
 
With the appointment of a new and experienced Sales Director, Edward de Castro, who will have his own experienced sales team, we expect this project (which is already one-third sold) to be completely sold out by the end of this year.  I should also let you know that, as we near completion and delivery of the units, we intend to adjust prices to be at par with the market prices of other comparable units in the Makati market.  As those of you who have seen our model units readily realize, our units, which are fully furnished and come with the complete set of top-of-the-line appliances and accessories, are truly superior to our competitors.                                      
 
 
Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges
 
I will also need Mike and Rico for our Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, the plans for which we commenced last year but which we would like to officially launch before the summer season.  Located only eight kilometers from the City of Baguio on the Ambuklao Road, it is a 70-hectare property which used to be a citrus plantation which I operated for the last 30 years.  Last year, the eight-kilometer stretch of road was completely cemented and it now takes only 10 minutes to get from the project site to reach the city.  We will build five model houses and prepare all the home sites for the project, and invite those who are interested to choose the model that they wish to have.  It will be a completely self-contained and gated community with a foolproof security system. 
 
Many of you who were caught in the gigantic traffic nightmares during these last holidays when you went up to Baguio will probably think that we are crazy for starting this project.  However, you should know that the North Luzon Extension Project which will extend the four-lane expressway all the way to Rosario, La Union, which is the entrance to Kennon Road and the Marcos Highway, will be completed by the end of this year.   The plan is to make Kennon Road one-way going up to Baguio and Marcos Highway also one-way going down from Baguio and thus it will be possible to reach Baguio in three hours (obviously not during the very busy days, but on normal days), and therefore making it a real weekend destination.  Additionally, we plan to have our own helicopter service to the project, plus our own fixed-wing service to the Baguio airport and then a shuttle service to this latest project of ours. 
 
I have attached a photo of the site taken by my daughter Anna when she spent a couple of days there last week.  Also enclosed are pictures of the Royal Villa and some of the revelry during these past several days.             
 
In closing, I am very optimistic not only for Alphaland, but for the country itself for 2015, and I would like to wish all of you a great New Year!



ROBERTO V. ONGPIN
Chairman                      




 

Site of Baguio Project showing existing
loghouse on top of the mountain (red roof)

 

The Balesin Royal Villa

   

Picture of The Royal Villa at night

    

                                   Entrance to The Balesinn Royal Villa 

 

                               The Balesin Royal Villa warrior statue    

 

                                     The Balesin Royal Villa Salon   

 

                                                     The Fountain   

 

                                       The Balesin Royal Villa Salon   

 

                                              One of the lounges   

 

                                                     Formal Dining   

 

                                                  Grand Staircase   

 

                                                       Main Deck

 

                                        Another view from Main Deck   

 

                                            One of the two pools   

 

                                               Maharlika Suite Deck   

 

                                  Another view of the Maharlika Deck   

 

                                                   Stairway to beach   

 

                                           Jose Mari Chan & Family   

              The Three Tenors (Mike Asperin, Jose Mari Chan & Babes Oreta)   

 

                               Jon Joven Concert at the Clubhouse   

 

                               The Music Lounge at the ground floor   

 

                                                      More revelry   

 

                                           The Music Lounge DJ   

 

                         Balesin countdown to 2015 at the Clubhouse   

 

                                              The Highlights Trio   

 

                             Monica and Bobby Ongpin at Staff Party   

 

                                              Family Picnic Grove