MANILA, Philippines —  The grand plan, shares Alphaland Corporation President Mario Oreta at the recent Asia CEO forum, is to make a statement. “When we started Alphaland, Bobby Ongpin and I had the vision to be destination developers. We didn’t want to be run-of-the-mill; we were going to be unique,” says Oreta.

Barely five years into the real estate business, Alphaland Corporation has done exactly that and is poised to become the nation’s leading developer in “Destination Real Estate.” Funded by the deep pockets of the Ashmore Group, a U.K.-based private equity firm, Alphaland has seen the rise of projects that range from the luxurious to the audacious, with its most talked about project to date being Balesin Island, a 500-hectare paradise touted to be the “ultimate island getaway” with its six themed exclusive resorts.

“It’s our best bet,” shares Oreta. “Balesin is wonderful and fantastic, and it perfectly captures the vision of our chairman, Bobby Ongpin,” he says, adding that the company separates itself from property developers who just want to make money. “We do not want to just look at our bottom line. Our vision is to be different—to develop high-end and internationally competitive resorts because we believe tourism is the next big thing that will happen to the Philippines,” he says.

Bright Prospects

According to Oreta, Alphaland will complete P11 billion worth of projects in the next three years to take advantage of the economic and tourism boom.

The company aims to finish the P3 billion Balesin Island development this year, which will feature six Asian- and European-inspired resorts offered exclusively to members “initially at R1 million, now it’s at P2.5 million, but by September it should be at P3 million per share,” informs Oreta, adding that shares are currently offered locally. “We sold 300 shares to the local market first without touching the foreign market,” he says, “but Balesin is very attractive to foreigners. Soon we would have our own CIQ (Customs Immigration and Quarantine) in Balesin and foreigners can fly in directly from Singapore or Hong Kong. We currently own two planes—Cessna Grand Caravans—that shuttle our guests to the island from Manila, but later we will be able to accommodate bigger planes.”

Another noteworthy project is the Alphaland Bay City, a marina club that is located between the SM Mall of Asia complex and the PAGCOR entertainment city. “The area is 32 hectares and we will build a top-class, high-end yacht club,” Oreta shares. Other projects include the residential Alphaland Makati Place, the Alphaland Makati Tower on Ayala Avenue, and its first development, the 20-storey Alphaland Southgate Tower on EDSA, which was once an old decrepit building that the company has transformed into a hub for call centers and outsourcing companies, and a retail and commercial center. Others in the pipeline include the Alphaland Boracay Getaway, a 500-hectare estate development near Caticlan Airport in Aklan. And by 2015, Alphaland also expects the completion of the Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, where it has a 20 percent stake.

All of its properties are built using sustainable practices. “Because going forward, that’s how you should be,” puts in Oreta. “All our buildings are LEED certified. Right now, the young people who are our market would look for sustainability. The times of the old people who do not care about nature and going green is passé. Now people think of less carbon footprint, less energy, recyclable energy…and all of this we have taken into consideration,” he says.

Going Too Fast? 

Since its inception in 2007, Alphaland has grown quite extensively. “We made P1.2 billion in 2010, and for 2011, we have improved that number. Okay naman, but what we’re saying is that you shouldn’t look at the bottom line immediately,” asserts Oreta.

“In business, my theory is to just do the right thing and the profits will follow. Some of our critics are saying that we are going too fast and that we are headed for a spectacular fail,” shares Oreta. “It was really because we’re the new kid in town—they were quite skeptical. But we’re not exactly new—Bobby and I built Tagaytay Highlands and we know what we’re doing. We may be non-conformists, yes, but I don’t think we’re going down anytime soon. I don’t think so. We have the resources and the passion,” he says.

Published May 7, 2012 in the Business Agenda section of the Manila Bulletin. 

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