By Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1:07 am | Monday, December 10th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—For the first time in nearly two decades, the Makati central business district boosted its upscale hotel portfolio with the debut of renowned brands Raffles and Fairmont in the Ayala group’s crown jewel, Ayala Center.

Raffles added 30 all-suite rooms while Fairmont opened 280 rooms to expand Ayala Land Inc.’s growing hotel portfolio.

“I think the launching of the new Fairmont and Raffles, two wonderful brands, in Makati is symbolic also of the turnaround economically that the country is going through,” Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and chief executive officer of conglomerate Ayala Corp., said in an interview. “We have a fresh new product for the city at the time when the country is also trying to encourage new tourism. It’s good for Makati, good for the country.”

Fairmont and Raffles, which share a 30-story structure, opened their doors to the public Monday last week with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez joining the Zobel de Ayala brothers and ALI officials during the inauguration.

“There is really a need for a new product in the country…We’re building up the (hotel) portfolio,” said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Land and president of Ayala Corp.

He said the group was able to scale up its investment in the hospitality industry at this time because of record-low local interest rates.

Raffles offers accommodations starting at $350 per night while Fairmont sells rooms at the $200 to $220 price points.

The Makati property also hosts high-end serviced apartment Raffles Residences with 237 units, of which 110 units will be included in ALI’s hotel inventory.

Raffles Residences will occupy the 11th to 30th floors, Raffles Makati 9th to 10th floors while Fairmont will be at 3rd to 8th floors.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts is an award-winning luxury international hotel company with history dating back to 1887 with the opening of Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Apart from the historic property in Singapore, it has seven other luxurious properties in Cambodia, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Paris and now, the Philippines.

Fairmont Hotel & Resorts is likewise a celebrated hotelier with a collection of more than 60 luxury properties around the globe including Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel, The Plaza in New York and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It is owned by FRHI Holdings Ltd., which also manages the Raffles and Swissotel hotel and private residences brands.

By April 2013, another hotel brand—the 348-room mid-budget Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, which will be directly connected to the Glorietta hub—will also open for business.

ALI’s AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts (AHRC) also announced it would soon operate its first wholly owned hotel brand with the soft opening this December of Seda Bonifacio Global City.

Seda, a rebranding of the earlier planned “Kukun” chain, is an urban lifestyle hotel brand envisioned to offer good location along with excellent service and great value.

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