GMA opens flagship resort

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — President Arroyo will formally open today the first phase of a P5-billion resort that is meant to put La Union at the world map of major tourist destinations.

The Poro Point project, a major venture of California-based Thunderbird Resorts Inc., will help spur the growth of the North Luzon Quadrangle, according to a Palace statement.

President Arroyo is expected to lead in unveiling the Thunderbird Resort-Poro Point Hotel and Golf Course marker.

On hand to welcome Mrs. Arroyo are Aloysius Santos, chairman of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority; Narciso Abaya, BCDA president and chief executive; Thunderbird Resorts’ chief executive for Philippine operations Raul Sueiro; La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega;

Rep. Victor Ortega; San Fernando Mayor Pablo Ortega; and members of the board of BCDA and its subsidiary, Poro Point Management Corp.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said that Poro Point, a former US military air station, would be transformed into a prime tourist drawer in La Union and in the whole of Northern Luzon over the next five years.

Abaya said with the tourism infrastructure in place, Poro Point will attract both local and foreign tourists. “Increased tourist spending will augur well for the economy of La Union,” Abaya said.

Thunderbird Resorts has set a five-year timetable within which to complete the 65-hectare Mediterranean- inspired resort. The resort is expected to create 10,000 jobs for local residents and will generate more than P500 million in yearly income for the government. Thunderbird has a commitment to source at least 85 percent of its workforce from San Fernando City and the Province of La Union.

Prior to the completion of the hotel and golf course in Poro Point, Thunderbird already operates a 75-seat fine dining restaurant and entertainment complex.

With Thunderbird’s all-out pursuit of its program to develop Poro Point into an “ideal tourist destination,” complemented by BCDA’s upgrading of the San Fernando Airport to ensure easier access to Poro Point, trade and commerce in San Fernando and its neighboring areas are likely to increase significantly.

Thunderbird has leased some 65.5 hectares of land in the Poro Point Freeport Zone that it is developing into a leisure resort, sports, entertainment and tourism complex.

Thunderbird has so far infused some P700 million in the development of the Poro Point over the past three years. Thunderbird has pledged to invest $100 million over a 25-year period. It has also contributed P55 million for the upgrade of the San Fernando Airport that is expected to enable it to accommodate larger aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 737. The expansion project is slated for completion by year-end.

Thunderbird director for marketing Cheryl Arnold said the resort features 36 well-appointed luxury suites. Each of the hotel’s 45-square-meter suite comes with exclusive amenities such as double-sized beds, a walk-in closet, a bathroom with separate shower and hot tub, hi-speed wireless Internet, iPod with docking station and surround sound system, coffee and tea maker, in-room electronic safe, and a balcony that offers breathtaking view of the South China Sea.

The Cliffs Golf Course, on the other hand, is a nine-hole, par 72 all-weather championship golf course, designed by the International Management Group and maintained by Sta. Elena Properties Inc.