Solaire's extravagant plans for $1-M launch

MANILA, Philippines - The opening ceremony for the March 16 launch of Solaire Resorts and Casino, the hotel-casino development from Enrique Razon-led Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, will cost about $1 million.

Solaire chief operating officer Michael French disclosed the company's budget for the launch during a media briefing on March 13.

"It'll be close to a million dollars -- US dollars," he replied when asked how much the company will spend to launch its grand project at the Entertainment City in Pasay.

The casino will open at exactly 2:28pm. Feng shui experts decided on the time of the opening, according to one of the hotel's marketing managers. President Aquino is scheduled to lead the opening ceremony. There will be no ribbon cutting, though, as feng shui experts have say the practice brings bad luck.

Fine dining

Solaire will have 7 restaurants and 3 bars. The hotel's fine dining options cover Japanese, Italian, Cantonese, Asian and Western cuisine.

The hotel brought in chefs from the around the world. However, it decided against putting up a celebrity chef-branded restaurant. "You can get a name, but you don't get the quality, " said Karsten Roettger, the hotel's food and beverage director.

The hotel gave reporters access to 4 restaurants; international buffet at Fresh, Italian cusine at Finestra, Cantonese food at Red Lantern and American prime cut meats at Strip Steakhouse. The food varies from pancakes to fancy steaks. The hotels' chefs promised authentic cuisine with ingredients shipped in from Italy and Japan.

Roettger attempted to sell reporters on the hotel's extensive wine list. He made his pitch at Strip Steakhouse, which has a floor-to-celing glass-covered cellar containing over 3,000 bottles of expensive wine.

With just 3 days before the grand opening, guests had to tiptoe around workers finishing construction work on the property.

Wolfgang Fischer, Solaire's culinary director, said prices at the hotel's restaurants will be comparable to competing fine dining options. Fischer, who was once named as Gourmet Abu Dhabi's executive chef of the year during his stint with 7-star luxury hotel Emirates Palace, also said that the property is batting for Michelin star status.

Currently, no restaurant in the Philippines is rated by the Michelin guide.  

Exclusive for VIPs

Exclusive gaming rooms are allocated for high-rolling VIPs. Lorraine Koo, the casino's vice president for business development and VIP services, said that a substantial buy-in amount is necessary to gain access to the rooms.

She declined to give the minimum amount to enter a game, but said that VIPs can spend anywhere between P2.5 million to P50 million. VIPs will be provided with everything. They will be flown in on private jets and will be booked in the hotel's most expensive rooms. 

The most exclusive of the private gaming rooms provide players with a view of Manila Bay. 

Dennis Andreaci, the hotel's senior VP for gaming operations, said that the currency in the VIP area is Hong Kong dollars, not Philippine pesos. This is to accomodate their main VIP demographic, which he described as "not necessarily Chinese, but Chinese-speaking."

Andreaci added that the most popular game among VIPs is the card game baccarat. He expects 50% of the casino's premium gaming revenue to come from the game.

Solaire is the first hotel-casino property to open in Pagcor's 100-hectare Entertainment City location. The $1.2 billion property sits on reclaimed land on Manila Bay. It has 500 hotel rooms, 300 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines. - Rappler.com; Photos by Aya Lowe