Suncity to develop its own hotel brand

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Suncity to develop its own hotel brand

A leading Asian casino and hotel development business is planning to launch its own hotel brand, to coincide with the launch of its new $1 billion hotel in Manila’s Entertainment City.

Inside Asian Gaming reported that the hotel brand, whose name is yet to be officially announced, will become a consistent brand through all properties operated by Suncity Group.

The flagship first hotel of the brand will be located at Manila’s Westside CIty Resorts World, where Suncity is majority shareholder in the casino and hotel development, scheduled to open in late 2023.

News of the company’s hotel ambitions represents yet another significant step as it transitions further away from its roots as a VIP operator and into the world of integrated resort operations.

In 2020, Suncity held a preview opening of its maiden integrated resort project, Hoiana, located near Da Nang Vietnam, with plans for a grand opening when the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

It is also finalising designs for the Phase 2 expansion of Tigre de Cristal, located in the Primorye Entertainment Zone, near Vladivostok, Russia.

Tigre de Cristal is 77.5 per cent owned by Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings, which is in turn 69.66 per cent owned by Suncity.

The Westside City development is being conducted by a local Philippines entity, Suntrust Home Developers, of which Suncity acquired a 51 per cent stake in 2019 as part of a three-way agreement with Philippines construction giant Megaworld Corporation and Resorts World Manila operator Travellers International Hotel Group.

The project is set to include 400 gaming tables and 1200 slot machines, while Suncity’s hotel will offer 400 five-star rooms.

The plan for a unified hotel brand to be rolled out across the continent, in the midst of not only the pandemic, but other industry headwinds, seems to demonstrate Suncity’s long confidence in and plans for the pan-Asian integrated resort and hospitality market.

Tough times for Suncity

It’s been a challenging year for all casino operators, including Suncity, who posted a two-thirds revenue drop for the 2020 financial year, netting just $30.3 million.

Suncity Group had to ensure forced venue closures, which took a toll on the company, most notably in Vietnam.

The flagship property was slated for a grand launch on June 28, but it was revised to a partial opening due to the pandemic.

The resort recorded net revenue of $4.8 million and normalised earnings before adjustment of $30.8 million, in what the company called an “extremely challenging business environment due to COVID-19”.

While the financial year results are below initial expectations, the group is forecasting for strong future growth.

Investments continue to be made across the portfolio, including ongoing preparation for the Hoiana full launch, gaming upgrades at Tigre de Cristal and the continued construction of the Suncity Westside City project, in Manila, slated to open in 2023.

The junket operator has also seen its rolling chip volume recover to only one fifth of pre-COVID-19 levels.

A memo from Goldman Sachs reported in January that the Suncity brand, namely Suncity Group Holdings, has seen its rolling chip volume recovery to about 20 per cent of pre-virus levels.

The institution suggested that VIP gross gaming revenue in the Macau market only recovered to circa 20 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 level in December, “lagging behind” the overall Macau gross gaming revenue recovery pace for that month, which had moderated its year-on-year contraction to just under 66 per cent market wide.

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