Okada Manila makes a splash
MANILA, Philippines – The purple lights, wrapped in all 15 levels of its curvaceous twin Pearl and Coral towers, reflect an otherworldly glow on the 9.2 acre manmade lake. At its center, the 40-piece Manila Philharmonic Orchestra leads classical singer Gerphil Flores to an elegant aria, a team of graceful acrobats performing at her side. Then, as the first lines of Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Donna play, the lake ripples and bursts into a dazzling display, with jets of water streaming out of some 700 nozzles, spewing as high as the buildings on its background.
Soon, the whole lake, the size of 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, explodes into a stunning dance of vivid lights and nimble arcs of water, in perfect sync with the melodies, and at its height, forms a flower of eight petals. This was how Okada Manila made a splash, when it unveiled the world’s largest multicolored fountain right at the heart of Manila’s Entertainment City; a wet, wonderful spectacle that can drench even the best of the Dubai and Las Vegas deserts.
With a final tab of $30 million, “The Fountain,” as it is modestly called, is the tropical casino resort’s star attraction. “Our chairman (Kazuo Okada) wanted that to be his gift to the Philippines. It’s having the most iconic feature that is not only going to draw people from the Philippines, but really make something very similar to what the Bellagio Fountain did to Las Vegas. It created a destination, an attraction,” said Okada Manila property marketing director Bryan Bass, shortly after declaring the multi-sensory spectacle open to the public, free of charge.
Inspired by the country’s national flower, the sampaguita, whose name celebrates the virtues of commitment, Okada Manila’s The Fountain could perhaps fulfill its promise of placing the nation’s capital at the center of the world’s entertainment and leisure scenes. “Our chairman wants us to be aggressive in offering something that is not only regionally unique, but globally unique. Tonight is a big step for us, an opportunity to introduce a large part of the property from an amenity and non-gaming perspective,” shared Okada Manila vice president for entertainment Maxwell Zetlin.
With a show hosted by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and headlined by American singer and producer Robin Thicke, The Fountain’s unveiling certainly set the bar high for the level of world-class entertainment the 45-hectare gaming resort complex aims to hold in its courts.
At the same time, The Fountain’s opening also blurs the lines of who is welcome to tread its purple carpets. For one, it opens the exclusive atmosphere of a casino and resort complex, once strictly reserved for the adult elite, to a broader demographic of families from all walks of life. In fact, Okada Manila expects that the fountain will attract up to 20,000 visitors daily, and, it is up to them to accommodate warmly. “What you’ll see is a lot of the amenities coming that speak to the different audiences and of our ability to offer different experiences to different categories of customers,” Zetlin explained, adding that the casino has only unveiled the first phase of its monumental four-phase development.
The path leading to The Fountain, for instance, is a retail roundabout called The Corridor, which will soon house up to 20 shops featuring everything — from luxury brands to fast food outlets in a 1.5-kilometer walk. “The Corridor is going to be more than just shopping. It’s going to be an immersive experience,” Bass proposed. Its walls of glass will soon feature innovative projection mapping which would mirror The Fountain spectacle from the outside in when it is active, or would highlight the various facets of the Philippine islands through a partnership with the Department of Tourism during its downtime. This would prove a very attractive feature for its visitors since Okada Manila is starting to attract international guests by the droves.
“One thing we’ve been doing is differentiating ourselves from what’s been seen in the market. We really want people to come here and feel that it’s a destination in Manila,” Bass explained of the casino resort’s early brush with success, despite having only opened December of last year.
But more than the lights, sounds, and the splashy spectacle, Okada Manila knows how we Filipinos value warm, genuine hospitality above all. And for that, Bass posited, “We promise everyone that when they come here, they will be treated like VIPs. They’re going to be taken care of. And there’s always something new going on.”
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Okada Manila’s The Fountain shows every half hour on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., during Sundays to Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with performances from the World of Wonders every weekend at the Floating Stage at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.okadamanila.com.