Nobu Riche in Manila’s ‘City of Dreams’

Jose Paolo S. dela Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The fast-rising and much-awaited $1.3-billion casino, hotel and entertainment complex City of Dreams in Manila just marked yet another dream come true for denizens of the metro as it announced the entry of Nobu Hotel. Noted for getting the lion’s share of the luxe hotel business in “Sin City,” the only chef- and cuisine-oriented hotel of Las Vegas brings with it the same promise of culinary delight to Metro Manila.

And it comes with big-name tickets to boot. Appearing before some members of the media after staging a faux “technical glitch” during Nobu Hotel’s announcement ceremony at the National Museum on Monday was Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro. He was with Melco Crown Entertainment Limited co-chairs Lawrence Ho and James Packer. Unknown to many, De Niro is part-owner of Nobu and has invested in chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s celebrated restaurant as early as 20 years ago.

De Niro’s star power, while definitely advantageous, is not the be-all and end-all of Nobu. “If people would go because of me, or some celebrity, they’d come once or twice out of curiosity and that’s it. Nobu has stood the test of time by just continuing to be creative yet simple — it is that simple!” said The Godfather superstar. He also announced that he will return to Manila on opening night.

On the local front, Nobu Hotel in Manila is backed by reliable business giants, namely SM Group’s Belle Corp. and Melco Crown Philippines Resort Corp.

Best of both worlds

Inspired by the world-renowned Japanese culinary genius chef Nobu and championed by Hollywood producer Meir Teper, alongside De Niro, Nobu Hotel Manila will rise as a 321-room trendsetting boutique hotel that stays true to the thrilling, celebrity-powered and fun-luxury inspired experience that it has been known for in the West. The project is estimated to come with a $615- to $618-million price tag.

“We’re the only chef-centric hotel in Vegas and the Nobu brand is definitely the unique selling point of this hotel,” explained Teper, in an intimate interview with the Manila press.

While pleasantly surprising, Nobu’s choice of setting up shop in Manila — the first edition of the celebrated hotel in Asia — is not far-fetched. Its hospitality chief executive Trevor Horwell disclosed that the general manager of Nobu Hotel Las Vegas is, in fact, Filipino.

Macau-based tycoon Lawrence Ho also disclosed that the robust economic growth and tourism potential of the Philippines were major factors they considered in their decision. He also pointed out that Nobu and Melco’s collaboration in the City of Dreams is an example of genuine partnership. “It’s not just about Nobu lending us the brand and leaving us to develop it on our own. It’s a genuine partnership that gives us insight on the same techniques, flavors and offerings that Nobu has been known for in other parts of the world,” he said.

It’s an extensive portfolio, too. Nobu has opened 27 restaurants around the globe since its inception more than two decades ago. Nobu Hotel, on the other hand, first opened at the Caesars Palace in 2012, before being followed by Nobu Hotel Riyadh. The hotel is also rising soon in the cosmopolitan areas of London, Bahrain and the Caribbean.

“We want to raise the bar for the City of Dreams once we open the doors of Nobu Hotel here,” added Packer.

In Manila, the Nobu Hotel will be a gustatory destination on its own, armed with its own Nobu restaurant that will feature an outdoor, cabana-styled dining terrace, situated on an exclusive platform deck with views of Manila Bay. The hotel will also offer its guests a special in-room menu crafted by no less than chef Nobu himself. A spa, teahouse and other facilities will also be thrown into the mix.

Aside from a proven track record, Nobu also enters the growing Philippine tourism scene with its secret ingredient: passion.

“Everybody here doesn’t have to be here. They’re here because they want to be here,” said chef Nobu, referring to the executive teams of Melco and Nobu. 

While truly exciting, patience will definitely be a virtue for those whose appetites have already been whetted by this exciting announcement — for a few more months, at least. Ho divulged that the complex is slated to open its doors by the second half of the year.

As Melco Crown Philippines chairman and president Clarence Chung assured, “The development of City of Dreams is progressing well and it is expected to open in 2014. We are thrilled to welcome the region’s first Nobu Hotel to our stellar lineup of world-class accommodation experiences.”

Located within an approximated complex of 6.2 hectares at the gateway of PAGCOR’s Entertainment City, City of Dreams Manila will include the ultimate in entertainment, hotel, retail and dining and lifestyle offerings that come complete with aggregated gaming space. It will also be home to VIP and mass-market gaming facilities of 365 gaming tables, 1,680 slot machines and 1,680 electronic tables.


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