Lio Estate raises bar for sustainable tourism

With the continued growth of the country’s tourism sector, property companies are increasingly dipping their hands into leisure-oriented developments.

While it is not unusual for developers to venture into tourism projects, Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) is setting the bar high in tourism-oriented developments as it dedicates an entire master planned community for tourism activities.

The Lio tourism estate, ALI’s first venture into such projects, boasts of an expansive 325-hectare complex in El Nido, Palawan. The project is being developed by ALI subsidiary Ten Knots Development Corp.

While the beauty of the southern island remains the main attraction for tourists, ALI emphasized the importance of preserving the natural resources of the community.

Lio Estate project head Mabel Reyes said only 55 percent or 179 hectares of the entire area will be developed, while the remaining 45 percent or 146 hectares will be retained as nature reserves and open spaces consisting of forests, mangroves, wetlands and waterways, which are all integrated into the estate’s master plan.

“I think the guiding principle here in the development of El Nido is you ride by plane or you ride by boat, we don’t want you to see any of our buildings, we want you to see our beach, we want you to see our water, our sand. So we’re trying to blend as much as we can,” Ten Knots chief operating officer Javier Hernandez said.

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Despite almost half of the estate being untouched, the master planned community will still offer all the elements essential in a township development such as hotel or accommodations, retail, commercial and as well as residential developments.

Reyes said the first phase of the integrated resort community is almost complete.

“We’ve already started with the development of the roads and the infrastructure. But ultimately, the estate will  be composed of hotels and resorts, lodging and other accommodation types, residential communities and commercial establishments,” she said.

Reyes said the first phase of development involves the construction of all of the roads coming from the national highway and the ones going to the beachfront.

Also, included in the first phase is the development of the Lio Airport Terminal and Lio Pier, which has been operational since April.

The tourism estate will also feature a transport terminal for land-based transport, which is set to open in October this year.

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In order to offer convenient travel around and outside the estate, electric vehicles will be also made available as shuttles to transport guests to and from El Nido town  which is about seven kilometers away.

Guests will also be offered internet connectivity as ALI sister firm Globe Telecom will install fiber optic cable throughout the development.

“All utility lines for power, water and telecommunications are developed underground and designed for full build-out,” ALI said.

Meanwhile, tourists will also be offered various accommodation options, as the development is set to feature at least four hotels.

Lio opened its first hotel accommodation, called Casa Kalaw, last December, offering 42 Filipino-inspired theme rooms. The hotel targets the family and balikbayan markets and offers an average room rate of P7,000 per night.

Two more hotels are set to open this year, Balai Adlao and Hotel Covo, which will offer 20 rooms each.

Balai Adlao is set to be opened by August and will cater to young professionals, while Hotel Covo is expected to open by October and targets European backpackers and millennials.

Also, Seda Lio targets to open by the end of the year, offering 153 rooms in a sprawling four-hectare development.

In addition to the hotels being developed by Ten Knots, the company is also encouraging local businesses to set up small accommodations in the estate, particularly in the commercial spaces being sold inside the integrated community.

Lio began selling 32 commercial lots last year, which range in size from 800 square meters to 2600 sqm.

Reyes said almost all of the lots have already been sold. Price points for the commercial lots are from P25,000 to P30,000 per sqm.

Hernandez said the company encourages commercial lot buyers to put up their own accommodation business or small bed-and-breakfast inns in the estate to help the company address demand from tourists.

“The idea is for them to put up small hotels,” Hernandez said.

Apart from the estate’s commercial lots, retail options are also available through the [email protected]component. At present, the 3,000-sqm gross leasable area is fully leased with 21 merchants, 50 percent of which are from Palawan.

[email protected] aims to provide guests with a unique shopping and dining experiences by the beach,” Ten Knots said. “Restaurants and bars offer various choices of local and international fare, while non-food retailers including tour operators, boutique and souvenir shops, and a spa are also available.”

The [email protected] component is expected to expand its offerings in the future with more choices and services for the convenience of both guest and locals.

Reyes said the estate also intends to bring residential offerings, as it targets to launch projects under the Ayala Land Premier brand by next year.

ALI is set to invest a total of P11 billion over the next five years for the development of the Lio tourism estate.

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