So much has been written about New Clark City (NCC), the country’s newest center for government, commerce, sports and leisure. What has largely been overlooked, however, is the fact that this modern urban center happens to be situated amid such picturesque hills.
Portions of the city are located in the town of Capas in Tarlac province, which has a panoramic view of the Zambales mountain range.
At least one major property developer has acknowledged the splendor of the natural landscape that surrounds NCC: The Widus Group, owner and developer of the Widus Hotel & Casino and the Clark Marriott Hotel. Both hotels are located in Clark.
The Korean group has signed a lease agreement with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the development of the Hann Lux, a luxury mountain resort. It’s going to be nestled on these hills.
As described by Mr. Dae Sik Han, president and CEO of Hann Development Corporation (which is part of Widus), Hann Lux will have golf courses, various sports and leisure amenities, hotels, and an upscale residential neighborhood. It could well be Central Luzon’s answer to Tagaytay Highlands, which is situated on a ridge overlooking Taal Lake.
But Han is underscoring a major selling point of NCC, which he said would also greatly benefit Hann Lux. He said, “Clark is very accessible. It’s just an hour’s drive from Metro Manila. The traffic is lighter than the traffic we experience when going south of Metro Manila.”
“It will be easier to visit Hann Lux. It’s also a change of scenery. When you think of luxury resorts, Boracay and El Nido come to mind. But to get to those destinations, you have to book a plane ticket. Driving to NAIA is a hassle because of the traffic and your flight could be delayed or even cancelled. But Clark is so near. You avoid the stress one goes through when traveling by plane.”
Han envisions the resort to be the go-to place for luxury vacations and upscale living. Among the establishments to be developed are global hospitality brands such as the Banyan Tree Hotel, Angsana Hotel, Westin and Luxury Collection by Marriott.
He stressed that this resort is bent on avoiding the mistakes of the other tourist destinations — here and abroad — that became ecological disasters. He said Hann Lux is being developed to be a place that celebrates its natural surroundings. Only a small portion of the total leased land will be occupied by buildings.
“Of the more than 400 hectares we’re leasing from the BCDA, only 20 hectares will be allotted for development. So, we’re going to make the most out of those 20 hectares,” he said.
The resort is adopting a mantra; embracing the environment and empowering people. It’s about luxury living but it’s also about minimizing the carbon footprint. It’s going to be less a concrete jungle and more of a glamorous enclave for nature lovers. Glamping, biking trails and zip lines will be just among the several outdoor leisure activities that will be available.
The first phase of the resort shall include the development of the Angsana Hotel and the Banyan Tree Hotel — a leading global hospitality group that is rooted in its ethos of sustainability. There will be an 18-hole championship golf course, and a clubhouse. The first phase will be completed in five years at a cost of P5 billion.
Phase 2 includes the development of Westin and Luxury Collection by Marriott, two 18-hole championship golf courses, the outdoor recreation facilities, premium villas and residences, a mixed-use commercial center and a 10-hectare public park for a total investment of P7 billion.
Han expressed his optimism for this venture and hopes it will draw even more visitors to New Clark City. Its primary market would be tourists from Metro Manila and an affluent market composed of families who might want to live in a beautiful natural setting without forgoing the luxuries they’re accustomed to.
“We’re putting a limit on the number of villas we’re building. We want the density to be low. We want to establish exclusivity,” he explained.
Born and raised in Korea, Han and his family have been living in the Philippines for 14 years now. He said the golf courses will be popular with Koreans who love to play golf. With the direct flights from Seoul to Clark, Hann Lux has a captive market.
“Koreans who fly to play golf can always stay in our hotels; the Clark Marriot or the Widus Hotel & Casino. Likewise, those who fly to Clark to play at the casino can arrange to visit Hann Lux. For future events such as golf tournaments, we would be inviting K-pop stars to participate,” he said.
He stressed, however, that the resort’s guest list isn’t going to be predominantly Korean, since they’re also targeting the affluent market in Metro Manila.
“It’s going to be a Filipino destination. The local culture will be preserved and put on the spotlight. We’re allotting 2 percent of the resort’s total budget to preserve and spotlight Philippine culture.
That two percent is equivalent to almost P250 million. We don’t have any specific plans yet on how we’re going to do that. It could be focused on art and the local culture,” he said.