Ayala Land executive vice president Bobby Dy is asking if we remember how the old Glorietta 1 entrance looked like.
Well, yeah, it was just a glass door and a wooden table where security guards inspected your bags before letting you in.
“If you look at the experience of just going in, it already defines what the new Glorietta is all about,” Bobby says. “It’s not the same Glorietta you knew in the past, this is nowhere close to that. It really feels better and looks better. The specs we used now compared with the old one are better. Palm Drive, which is inside Pasay Road rather than on it, is now the main entrance of Glorietta. It’s a new road, between Fairmont Hotel and The Landmark. The outdoor garden feels very open and green; the grand entrance has a three-level ceiling that gives you a sense of spaciousness; and wood panels are used on the interior walls, which is not very common to malls; and a water feature runs from the third level to the ground floor.”
Four year after it closed for renovation, Glorietta recently reopened its doors.
It has changed — and so have the consumers. They are now more selective of where and what to spend their money on. While they love a great bargain, they also appreciate well-designed spaces and nice surroundings.
That’s what the new Glorietta is — it still is for the hardcore shoppers and offers affordable shopping and brands that serve a broad market, unlike the market that Greenbelt 4 and 5 cater to.
VP and head of operations and support services Rowena Tomeldan says, “We’ve always said that Glorietta is the jewel in the crown. Even if you talk to retailers they always put their flagship stores in Glorietta: Bench, Bayo, Kamiseta, Mango, and National Book Store is opening a three-level store.”
New concept stores include Bershka, Stradivarius, Vince Camuto and Gant Shirtmakers, and gadget centers powered by Switch, Avid Sony, and Digital Walker. She also cites new names in the dining scene: the first Chuck E. Cheese’s in the Philippines is opening in Glorietta, so will the Hong Kong restaurant Watami and Singapore’s Modern Shanghai restaurant.
Glorietta also has a new and large Activity Center where Christmas events are already lined up for the season, and the Christmas tree was lit up yesterday, Nov. 16.
Rowena waxes nostalgic about the Activity Center that Glorietta first opened in 1992. “We had Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion as guests.” This Christmas, the likes of Lea Salonga will be performing in Glorietta for its Christmas concert.
The new Activity Center provides a relaxing atmosphere with natural light, opening up what used to be an enclosed space to the outdoors — at least visually.
Glorietta is part of Ayala Land’s phase-one P20-billion redevelopment, which includes Glorietta, Fairmont Hotel and Raffles Residences, Holiday Inn and Suites, the three residential towers Park Terraces, and two eight-storey office buildings, which are now practically leased out to two BPOs. Also part of phase one is the P6-billion Garden Towers residential project.
“The Ayala Center redevelopment is our largest undertaking and our most ambitious to date,” says Bobby.
Will there be phases 2 and 3 in the foreseeable future? Yes, of course. “Because we are constantly redeveloping and staying relevant to our consumers.”
Rowena and Bobby say they hope that Glorietta, which was hitting a daily foot traffic of 350,000 people while it was being renovated, can go back to its old numbers before the closure: almost 500,000 people.
Rowena calls that mad rush to and from people’s offices and homes the “office super highway,” where Ayala Avenue workers walk from their office buildings through pedestrian underpasses and overpasses, or through Greenbelt, through Landmark and Glorietta and eventually to the MRT or bus stops on EDSA.
“They pass though the mall to go to the MRT and almost always emerge with a shopping bag,” she says. “They have so many options now, they can buy online already, so we have to give them a unique experience. We are also fortunate that we have very loyal shoppers. We tailor-fit our offerings to the office workers. We always commit to offer something new in terms of concepts so they have more reasons to go to our malls. Our customers are time-starved so we have to make everything convenient for them and make our malls accessible, make transportation accessible, and we look at the traffic circulation.”
The Glorietta renovation wasn’t only above ground, but underground as well. Bobby explains, “We tried to replicate the road network above ground, underneath. If you’re coming from the Pasay Road area, you can weave your way through the underground parking and get out of Ayala Avenue. We’ve basically interconnected the parking areas. The idea is to decongest the traffic above ground. We have some intercept ramps, like one at Intercon, where once you enter you can weave your way through so we can minimize the traffic above ground. ”
This is part of Ayala Land’s philosophy of sustainability — make it easy for people to not use their cars, or if they do make it easy for everybody else — of bringing people closer to their workplaces, to restaurants and shops, and other leisure destinations.
Dy says, “Ayala Center, which includes Glorietta and Greenbelt, is really the premier shopping, dining and entertainment district in the Philippines. Every kind of redevelopment and renovation we have done is to upgrade the total experience of our customers.”
The whole idea of mixed-use development made sense from the very beginning. The merging of convenience, variety, and comfort was the blueprint in transforming Glorietta.
“People wanted to live near Glorietta and Greenbelt, they wanted to walk when going to the mall to shop or to eat or watch a movie, so we moved our residential towers near them.”