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July 28 2014

July 28, 2014

To Members and Friends:

As I said in my last email the day after Typhoon Glenda made a direct hit on Balesin, there was no structural damage at all at the island but there was a lot of debris, cogon blown away, and banana trees flattened.

I am now delighted to report to you that only a week after the typhoon made a direct hit on Balesin, we have just completed our first weekend with over 800 members and guests on the island. We had our usual good luck of sunny weather, and everyone was happy that all the facilities were operating properly; the food was at its usual high standard and the villas were all as they used to be. I would like to congratulate Mike Asperin and his crew who worked almost 24/7 during last week, to get everything back in shape. So if you see Balesin today, it is like nothing has happened.

I am also pleased to let you know that we have had the good fortune of having found a most qualified GM for Resort Operations for Balesin. His name is Aris Alcuaz, and he has some 20 years of experience in top resorts and hotel chains such as Banyan Tree, Mandarin, Crowne Plaza, and Intercontinental. The solid experience of Aris Alcuaz, who joined us just over a week ago, has proven a valuable addition to our resort operations and service standards at Balesin. I am delighted to welcome Aris as our New GM for Resort Operations, reporting to Mike Asperin. All of the village managers and the other resort operations managers now report to him.

Aris has worked in the Seychelles, Maldives, Sanya at Hainan Island in China, Shanghai, Phuket and a number of resorts in Indonesia, not to mention the Philippines. I am sure all of you will be pleased to meet Aris. He is a genuinely serendipitous acquisition for Balesin Island Club, and heads and shoulders above every previous GM we have had on the island. I would encourage all of you to meet him during your next visit to Balesin.

I am sorry to inform our members that Johnny Velasquez, my favorite crooner, will not be able to perform on August 16. Several members of Johnny’s group are overseas, and I have agreed with Johnny that we will schedule him when his entire group is available later this year. However, I am delighted to inform you that Eric Santos, who Mike Asperin tells me is the younger version of Martin Nievera, has agreed to perform on August 16. I will be back at Balesin by that time, and will look forward to attending the Eric Santos concert.

I am also pleased to tell you that the Balesin Royal Villa is fast coming up and you should take a look at it during your next visit to the island. The rebar shortage was worse than expected, and it looks like it will not be until late September or early October when it will be ready.

Typhoon Glenda also delayed the expansion of the Thanassis Taverna at Mykonos, but we will be completing it in just a couple of weeks from now, and we can expand our seating capacity at Mykonos to almost 100 guests.

I am in Europe as I dictate this to my secretary, and I am looking forward to inspecting several ATR-72s turbo props, to add to our fleet. The ATR-72 is a very reliable aircraft and is still being manufactured in France and Italy. It is widely used by several regional airlines all over the world. Several thousand of them have been built over the last 30 years and they are the mainstay of many regional airlines in Europe and in the U.S.

Each ATR-72 seats as many as 78 passengers, depending on the aircraft’s configuration. Thus, we will be able to schedule, even during the peak periods, only five round trips to the island because of the aircraft’s large capacity, and we will ensure our members and guests much more convenient, comfortable and prompt schedules from Manila to Balesin and vice versa.

In fact, Cebu Pacific operates several of them today and therefore, there are trained Filipino pilots and mechanics and a service facility in Clark, in Singapore and in Bangkok. While the acquisition of the ATR-72 will require a large investment, I have no doubt that at the rate at which our members and guests are visiting Balesin now and in the months to come, the ATR-72 will be a very good investment for us and very much welcomed by our members and guests.

Finally, I just want to make the observation that as usual, Balesin has had the good fortune of having sunny weather during most of the day and consistent rains at night. As a beach resort, we could not be more fortunate with this weather pattern.

I have been in Europe for only a few days, but I can’t wait to get back to my beloved Balesin. I miss it so much!

 

Roberto V. Ongpin
Chairman

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