E Land, through Micronesia Resort Inc., announced yesterday at least a $40 million, multi-year investment plan for Coral Ocean Point Resort Club that includes a “minimum” $4 million renovation that has just started.
Taeho Kim, chief operating officer of Micronesia Resort Inc., said the “very strong” tourism activities these days play a key role in the overall investment plan.
“We are here to stay,” Kim said in an interview with Saipan Tribune at Coral Ocean Point yesterday afternoon.
Besides the renovation of existing facilities, the overall investment plan will include construction of a new suite hotel, terrace villas, pool villas and luxury residences.
“Ultimately, the total number of rooms available will be increased from 94 rooms to 443 rooms. And we strongly believe that COP will make a big contribution in the growth of CNMI’s tourism market,” Kim said.
The overall development plan will take three to five years to complete.
When the number of hotel rooms at Coral Ocean Point goes up to 443 as planned, that would require at least 800 employees and that would mean employment for hundreds of additional employees.
Coral Ocean Point operations manager Kwangwon “Dennis” Seo served as translator for Kim during the interview.
E Land Construction Co., E Land Design Co., and E Land Development Co. will be fully involved in this development project, Kim added.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday the administration always welcomes new development, especially when it stands to benefit the economy and most especially tourism, the Commonwealth’s primary industry.
In recent months, the CNMI has been experiencing tremendous upticks in visitor arrivals.
“In fact, some charter flights have had to be canceled due to a shortage in hotel rooms. Thus, the addition of 80 more rooms at COP would certainly help the visitor industry address the shortage and pave the way for more tourists to visit the CNMI,” Demapan said.
The overall plan seeks to increase total COP rooms to 443 in years’ time.
E Land/MRI’s announcement yesterday of its $40 million investment plan for COP came a few days after Department of Public Lands Secretary Pete A. Tenorio said DPL received, reviewed, and approved Suwaso Corp.’s renovation plan for Coral Ocean Point.
Suwaso and E Land/Micronesia Resort Inc. are leasing the land where COP sits. E-Land is reportedly the new majority owner of COP.
Kim said there is $4 million readily available for the renovation of existing facilities at Coral Ocean Point. A bank has certified the amount, and DPL also received such certification.
“We believe that COP will be reborn as a resort facility to give enjoyment with full service to our customers,” he said.
Kim said DPL asked that the renovation be completed before the “high season,” but possible delays as a result of shipment of construction and other materials may push back the completion date.
“We are going to do our best to finish the renovation as early as possible… As you know, there are not enough hotel rooms in the CNMI at the moment so once the renovation of COP is completed, they will add more to the available rooms in the CNMI,” the official said.
They secured a permit for renovation from the Department of Public Works on Aug. 27.
They have also obtained approval from related agencies such as the Zoning Office, Historic Preservation Office, Division of Environmental Quality, and Coastal Resources Management, he said.
“Now we are very excited about our renovation,” Kim said. “We already submitted a certification that [we have] $4 million in a local bank. It is not all, but a part of our investment for renovation plan for COP.”
The renovation plan covers 80 hotel rooms, the central building, the swimming pool, the golf cart parking lot, golf carts, and public beach improvements.
The central building has a front desk, a golf shop, lobby, restaurants and café. Kim said this will be one of COP’s landmarks, along with a beautiful golf course.
At present, only COP’s golf course, golf shop and restaurant are operating.
Kim said the facility currently has 40 employees.
Once the renovation is completed, they would need at least 40 additional employees.
Demolition at hotel rooms has started, Kim said. They have also received some construction materials from Korea and China. Other materials will be coming from the U.S. and Japan.
DPL’s Tenorio said last week that without a renovation plan, the COP land lease may be terminated.
Coral Ocean Point is located on a 735,023-square meter property at Agingan Point.
Kim said E Land/Micronesia Resort Inc. has also plans for its other hotels on Saipan—Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio and the former The Palms Resort in San Roque—but said he will discuss these plans at a later date.
Micronesia Resort Inc. was also one of the seven investor groups that responded to DPL’s request for proposal to lease public lands in Marpi and San Antonio to build hotels with at least 200 rooms each.
An ad hoc committee has yet to review the proposals from the seven investor groups.
The CNMI currently lacks hotel rooms to meet the demands of steadily increasing tourism arrivals to the islands. Gov. Eloy S. Inos earlier said it would be best if the offline hotel rooms will be in operation again, complemented by new hotel developments to meet the demand.