Situated along the waterfront of the stunning Bay City area in Entertainment City, Philippines, is Solaire Resort and Casino. Designed by internationally acclaimed architecture firm Steelman Partners LLP, Solaire Resort and Casino is the first of four integrated resort projects completed in Entertainment City—formally known as Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City. The aforementioned district is the Philippines’ new Las Vegas-like gaming and entertainment complex built along Manila Bay in the city of Parañaque.
Phase one of Solaire Resort and Casino, completed on March 16, 2013, saw the creation of a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, four VIP villas, a 175,000-square-foot gaming space, 10 restaurants and bars, a health club complete with a pool, a spa, a conference center and extensive VIP gaming areas.
The exterior of the hotel is designed with a crisp horizontality that provides shaded terraces and protected views. This is contrasted by the undulating articulation and verticality of the hotel tower. These visual and experiential contrasts are rendered most apparent along the porte-cochère as visitors are drawn across the entryway and under the tower.
Upon entering the lobby, one cannot miss the juxtaposition of three different finishes that serve to bring reflection, depth and contrast to the space. The walls are a light cream color, natural tan marble was used on the portals and floor, and there are dark wood veneer panels with accent metal trim. The main attraction is the grand chandeliers that add an air of elegance and grace, and convey the impression of being somewhere important.
Guests will be pleased to know that Solaire Casino and Resort offers a variety of dining options and each space is designed to reflect its cuisine, transporting diners to international locations. Strip Steakhouse, one of the property’s signature restaurants, is a sophisticated, modern steakhouse featuring an open kitchen that can be viewed from anywhere in the restaurant. With a unique and dramatic wall of white wood planks, a bold marble-like carpet pattern in vibrant purple, red and black, and modern ceiling pendants, patrons can enjoy a relaxing American-style dining experience.
At Red Lantern Chinese restaurant, the design embodies both old- and new-world Chinese architecture through the use of bricks that resemble those in older buildings, combined with sleek black marble. Chinese modern art and laser-cut oversized graffiti are used as screens for private dining rooms.
The concept of a traditional Tokyo style Robatayaki restaurant with a modern twist is seen in the property’s Japanese restaurant, Yakumi. Guests can choose to dine on the sushi bar side, sit under wooden canopies or in a private teppanyaki room. The use of teak wood was the main aspect of the elegant and simple design inspired by the beauty of a Japanese forest.
For those looking for a meal at any time of day, they need look no further than Fresh Buffet, a 24-hour restaurant resembling a modern international food bazaar. The design was inspired by international-style architecture and creates the feeling of being in an open-style street market.
When patrons are full, content and ready to relax, the pool area is a perfect spot. One can kick back under the bright Manila sun, sip a refreshing cocktail and soak up the warmth. Guests can also head over to the spa and wellness center to enjoy a variety of exotic treatments that will leave them feeling invigorated.
It is truly amazing how quickly the architects, construction and design teamst were able to get this project completed. Steelman Partners began the design of the project in January 2010, and pilings—the foundations for the structure—followed soon after in June of that year. In order to better facilitate design work and to help expedite construction, Steelman Partners opened an office in Manila and staffed it with full-time designers and architects. These employees worked daily with ownership, contractors and vendors, cutting down on the time it would have taken for processes to be accomplished from the Las Vegas office. As Steelman Partners sees it, their presence on-site was invaluable to keeping their design intent intact. They wanted to be sure they created a superior building product.
In planning the resort layout, Steelman Partners took a new and innovative approach. “We created a stratified design where each of four market segments has its own entry/lobby, its own casino with games tailored to the customer, its own restaurants and bars and its own support space,” shared Paul Steelman, CEO of the firm.
The market segments to which he refers are: mass “local” gaming; Gen Y gaming, mass VIP gaming and VIP gaming—mass VIP is within the casino proper, whereas VIP gaming is a designated area. The firm also needed to adhere to the criteria of the master plan for the Entertainment City district. Steelman Partners oriented 60 percent of the hotel, all of the VIP suites, VIP Gaming and the high-end restaurants to have views of Manila Bay.
Steelman acknowledges that a number of players contributed to the planning and execution of the project and had this to say: “I am very grateful for the individuals who played a big part in the design and construction of this facility, including: Creative Owner, Chairman and President of Bloombery Resorts and Hotels Inc., Enrique K. Razon Jr.; the Bloomberry power team that has been behind this project for years: Vice Chairman, Jose “Chito” Alarilla, Director, Don Almeda and Director and Treasurer, Estela Tuason-Occeña; the casino management team of GGAM: Bill Weidner, Brad Stone and Gary Saunders; Solaire Sr. Vice President of Gaming Operations, Dennis Andreaci; and lastly, Ria Bornilla and Ricci Uy, the storm troopers on the site from Steelman Partners.”
Keeping Solaire Casino and Resort’s unique location in mind, Steelman Partners worked to adapt to a style of architecture that would appeal to the local market and entice foreign visitors. “There were two markets we designed for: the local market and the VIP tourist market,” said Steelman. “We used all of the design techniques we have developed to provide a five-star experience for both groups.” The modern beach-style exterior provides a familiarity for those coming from both west and east. A Las Vegas influence is evident in the casinos area, but the use of Filipino colors and carpet designs situates the resort firmly in the Philippines.”
When asked which elements of the property are the most unique, Steelman shared: “The daylit casino, the casino VIP villas and the stratified casino are the most unique design elements of the property. They do not exist in any other casino in the world.” The resort’s daylit casino is a design choice that reflects the increasing gravitation toward the use of natural light. Aside from saving money on energy, the provision of natural light is said to extend patrons’ gaming hours as people—especially youth—naturally enjoy being in the sunlight.
Truth be told, the casino itself is one of the most unique in the world, and undoubtedly the first step in creating a district that will become a major Asian tourist destination.