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'Bring people back to the provinces': New Bohol development to defy urbanizing island cities |

Modern Living

'Bring people back to the provinces': New Bohol development to defy urbanizing island cities

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -
'Bring people back to the provinces': New Bohol development to defy urbanizing island cities
From left: Some details presented about Panglao Shores developement; Alturas Group's Hope Uy and Anna Uy-Deaño together with their international design partners Bill Barnett of C9 Hotelworks Company Limited and John Farrell, Director for XCO2, in developing their new 10-year Panglao Shores project. / Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

SINGAPORE — What makes a real estate property a good investment?

For Bill Barnett, founder of globally awarded hospitality consultancy firm C9 Hotelworks Company Limited, a 30- to 40-square-meter, P2.5 million condominium sold mostly to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) “is not productive real estate.”

Why? According to him, it is because these condos are appraised based on how much an OFW is capable of paying, without totally being mindful on living conditions such as if the condo community is conducive to raising a family or working or doing business from home.

Determined not to create another lure for the holiday or weekend house market, Barnett and an international team of sustainable designers are working on the new world-class Panglao Shores development in Bohol, composed of two properties emphasizing sustainable practices: South Palms, a beach holiday destination; and South Farm Panglao, an agri-tourism initiative.

Barnett said the property’s residential area has been envisioned to be lined with small flats where people can be productive and not just have a good beach view.

“The intention is not be a condo-hotel. It’s not meant to be for coming in as a 30 square-meter investment that is run by a three-star hotel chain that you would try to resell to reinvest,” he said of the residential area designed to have access to the beach and the beach club, with an overall 5,000 people capacity.

While many properties in island cities have been aspiring to become the next Boracay or Phuket, Panglao Shores capitalizes on Bohol as a “pure island soul.”

According to Barnett, “COVID changed everything in terms of how people work and how they work in other places as well” and as such, they envisioned Panglao Shores to be “more pristine” and “quieter” and “not a highly stylized resort” that is also ecologically “responsible” and where “people are warm and friendly.”

While there are 20-storey buildings in Bohol, theirs would be low-rise with only four storeys as highest peak, which is also unlike in neighboring Mactan in Cebu with high-rise buildings. 

“Phuket is really messy right now. The population’s growing, and we have traffic and everything else growing,” said Barnett, who lived in the Thailand island city.

Hope Uy, Managing Director of Alturas Group, owner of Panglao Shores, recalled that traveling abroad made their family dream not to live in a foreign land but to develop their own land.

“It inspired us Boholanos, while we were growing up, when we were planning this property, (after) traveling abroad, going to Phuket, to Bali, to look at integrated resort communities on how they did it. But we were able to see what is inside Bohol actually. Where the opportunity is,” the Filipina business mogul narrated.

“We’re looking outside the box but mainly what we want to develop is just within Bohol. It’s still a very provincial vibe that’s why we want to work with sustainable partners… to make this community (fit for) better living.”

Panglao Shores, he said, is designed for people to engage and make them want to come back and live in Bohol — even for those “thinking of leaving the province for a successful life.” 

“In the Philippines, there’s much of urbanization process like in Manila, in Bangkok… What we’re saying is we’re bringing you back to the provinces and the community,” he elucidated.

Among the reasons why people leave their hometowns is due to lack of jobs or opportunities and/or insufficient access to quality facilities like schools and healthcare, said Barnett. 

Hence, to entice people to return to the province, the Panglao Shores property is eyed to elevate the local lifestyle that could bring people back — and not just as tourists.

“This is a generational business, so we want families to live here as well,” Barnett stressed, noting that the family company owners want their grandchildren to also live there.

It is thus targeted to become a 15-minute community that enables its residents to walk and drive to anything within 15 minutes in an island paradise. So far, it already enjoys an enhanced connectivity as it is less than 10 minutes from the country’s first eco international airport that is solar-powered and well-ventilated by fresh air.

Barnett said they will place a hospital in the community, which is important for families with kids and those who want direct healthcare access. In Phuket, there is a big hospital for international care, which doesn’t exist in Bohol right now, he said. 

In addition, the property is to have its own church and office spaces for people to bring their businesses back to the island. In the the future, who knows, it could also have its own international school, said Barnett.

South Palms, so far, is being supplied with poultry, fruits, vegetables and even aqua culture products from South Farm Panglao, and Uy said they aim to expand the farm to encompass the entire Panglao Shores community and make it self-sufficient. A masterplan is also in place to make the community self-sustaining through rainwater collection and efficient energy supply. The goal for self-farming, Barnett clarified, is not only for the property as a beach destination, but for boosting local agriculture.

“It is a tourism-led project but it is not all tourism. The retail will serve the community,” he said of the property’s retail areas earmarked for sale of locally-made products.

John Farrell, Director for XCO2, said that through the property, they want to set the example for people to see them as flagship leaders in terms of sustainable development. By expanding sustainability efforts like farms to support even those from outside the property, their mission is to also extend the community’s self-sufficiency model inside and outside the island — “We want others to follow the lead!”

RELATED: Filipinas assemble own ‘Avengers’ design team to develop P25-billion Bohol world-class destination

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