Property giant Ayala Land Inc. is investing P6 billion (USD137 million) to develop within the next five years the first phase of scenic beachfront tourism estate Lio Resort Town in northern Palawan, master-planned as an ecologically sustainable community.
Lio, a 325-hectare development in Barangays Villa Libertad and Pasadena in mainland El Nido town, is envisioned to have a mix of hotels and resorts, commercial developments and residential communities that blend with the natural landscape.
Ten Knots president Laurent Lamasuta added that the group would build only on one-third of the total land area of Lio, which will have a total of about 1,200 hotel, resort and bed and breakfast (B&B) rooms.
The development is thus envisioned to cater to all market segments, from the backpacker-oriented B&B establishments to branded hotels, including Seda, which will offer a resort line with 150 rooms.
Midscale to luxury hotels, both international and local, will be invited to locate in large hotel parcels ranging from three to 10 hectares.
“The [El Nido] town is kind of exploding,” Lamasuta said, “We can’t grow further between the sea and the mountain and population is growing faster than we can bring utilities to to it.”
Visitors to El Nido have grown by an average of 28 percent a year and are expected to reach about 78,000 this year.
As Ten Knots intends to maintain low-density resorts, the Ayala group’s expansion strategy is to build on new islands, such as the Lio tourism estate, instead of increasing the capacity of existing resorts.
Ten Knots operates 192 rooms in four island resorts— Apulit, Lagen, Miniloc and Pangulasian.
When ALI took over Ten Knots in 2010, the latter was operating only two resorts— Lagen and Miniloc.
Apulit, formerly Club Noah, was separately acquired from another group while Pangulasian was newly built on Ten Knots’ unused landbank.
The four existing resorts offer 192 rooms with an average occupancy rate of 70 percent.
Once completed, Lio’s additional 1,200 rooms can accommodate about 20,000 tourists a year.
The initial masterplan for Lio, which has a four-kilometer beach stretch, covers 100 hectares. The group broke ground last March for the first phase of the development consisting of about 25 hectares.
Lio will have its own airport terminal, jetty and lounge as well as road networks envisioned to be pedestrian friendly. It is envisioned to have well-planned infrastructure and utilities including power, potable water, telecommunications, drainage as well as storm water and waste management systems.
The character and design of Lio are guided by the principles of sustainability—land development with the least impact on the environment.