Whatever happened to Puerto Azul?

Posted at 04/10/14 5:58 PM

MANILA – It was once dubbed “Asia’s Paradise Resort” and the “World’s Golfing Capital” and with good reason.

Puerto Azul, a 3,300-hectare resort complex in Ternate, Cavite, which was developed by the Ternate Development Corp. and designed by Sea Pines Associates back in 1980, was that rare natural gem that offers both mountain and beach attractions.

Just 90 minutes by car from Metro Manila, Puerto Azul quickly became an exclusive tourist destination for moneyed locals and foreigners, particularly among golfers.

The old and new logos of Puerto Azul.

The Puerto Azul Golf & Country Club hosted some of the most high-profile tournaments from the prestigious Philippine Open to the celebrity studded Goma Cup organized by actor Richard Gomez.

Its 18-hole, par-72 golf course, designed by golf legend Gary Player was both picturesque and challenging with the course layout taking the players through natural forests. The signature Hole No. 17 plays against a stunning view of the Manila Bay as golfers shoot across the sea to reach the green.

But even non-golfers have much to enjoy. The Puerto Azul Beach Club boasts of a large clubhouse with a gigantic swimming pool, while sprawled along Caysubic Beach were cottages, reserved exclusively for the use of its members.

The Gary Player-designed golf course has dried up due to lack of irrigation.
A Korean guest blasts from the bunker almost bare of sand.

Also in the complex was the Puerto Azul Beach Hotel, with 340 rooms scattered across 17 concrete clusters. The hotel was also known for its food at its restaurants La Parilla and Café Ternate.

Even up until the late 1990s, Boulevard Holdings Inc. (BHI) of the Panlilio family had grand plans for Puerto Azul, including creating an exclusive residential community with waterfront retail outlets and restaurants and a ferry service to Manila.

But not much has been heard of these grand plans in the years that followed.

Meanwhile, a boom in golf saw the opening of several designer courses in Laguna, Cavite and Batangas competing with Puerto Azul, while exclusive property developments such as Punta Fuego and Pico de Loro in Batangas have become the new playgrounds of the elite.

Not for members only

Throwback: One of the many amenities for guests near the clubhouse.
Today: The Locsin-designed main clubhouse is a shadow of its old self.
Today: A Korean lessee sells Korean grocery items on the second floor.

With its aging facilities and black sand beach, Puerto Azul is banking on its proximity to Manila and its mountain-and-beach setting to compete with newer and more posh resorts.

"In terms of location, Puerto Azul is near. Compared sa other resorts sa south, when they ask how many hours ang travelling time, lagi nilang comment is 'Ah okay, so malapit ang Puerto Azul,'" Puerto Azul sales and marketing manager Ditee Manalo said in an interview with ABS-CBNNews.com.

"We're complete when it comes to beaches and swimming pool. They love the nature talaga dito dahil mountainous kami, maraming puno, maraming halaman. Isa kami sa mga beaches na hindi raw mainit... pag nakita nila yung vicinity namin, parang presko," she added.

Throwback: A guest leisurely poses on the beach near the bungalow cottages.
Today: Some of the cottages have been transformed into concrete rooms.
Today: The native cottages are slowly being replaced with concrete ones.

Although the resort continues to operate as an exclusive club for members, it is now open for associate status, which can be renewed on a yearly basis.

“We're prioritizing the members of the club. What we accepted before are guests of members, or 'yung mga customers endorsed by our members. Priority sila,” Manalo said.

But what Puerto Azul badly needs is a major refurbishment given the rundown state of its facilities.

After several starts and stops, it seems the re-development of this once luxurious getaway is again on track after BHI disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange last month that it has entered into a deal with property giant Ayala Land Inc. for parcels of land worth P2.3 billion in the Ternate property.

The once luxurious hotel, now abandoned.
A sign announcing the reopening of the hotel.

In its disclosure, BHI said Ayala Land would develop "a high-end mixed-used community" using the Ayala Land Premier brand.

Ayala Land is said to be conducting due diligence but BHI said it expects to close the agreement within the next two to three months.

For promos and more information, you may visit their page at https://www.facebook.com/puerto.azul.9