DPL picks HK-based Honest Profit

Firm aims to build $120M, 300-room hotel in San Antonio

Department of Public Lands Secretary Pete A. Tenorio awarded Friday to Hong Kong-based Honest Profit International Ltd. the chance to lease a piece of property in San Antonio for its initial $120-million plan of building a 300-room hotel complex, months after DPL closed requests for proposals for both the San Antonio and Marpi lots.
DPL hopes to expedite the preliminary negotiation of a land lease for 40,827 square meters of public land in San Antonio, at a time when the CNMI needs additional rooms to accommodate an increasing number of tourists to the islands.

After reviewing the proposals and background, DPL picked Honest Profit and its joint venture partners over South Korean investment giant E Land’s Micronesia Resort Inc.

The DPL decision came on the same day E Land announced a partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. to renovate and reopen the former The Palms Resort in San Roque under the global hotel brand Sheraton. E Land also owns Coral Ocean Point on Saipan.

“I am pleased to inform you that your company, Honest Profit International Ltd., and its joint venture partners have been awarded the opportunity to lease the subject public land on Saipan. The evaluation committee selected the proposal you and your joint venture partners submitted for the award,” Tenorio said in his one-page March 14 letter to Sam Chan of Honest Profit International Ltd.

Tenorio said the decision came after an exhaustive effort expended during several discussions with the firm and its joint venture partners to determine their ability to undertake the scope of work, including financing and construction of a hotel resort complex in San Antonio.

The DPL secretary himself with to Hong Kong to check on Honest Profit and joint venture partners’ operations and financing ability.

Tenorio said they arrived at the decision with the consent of Gov. Eloy S. Inos.

Honest Profit plans to add $60 million in investment for an additional 300 rooms, and this was stated in Tenorio’s letter.

“Your confirmation to undertake the project and pursue it to completion with an initial investment of $120 million for a 300 hotel room complex, and an additional investment of $60 million for an additional 300 hotel room complex, if additional public land is available in the future, is acknowledged,” Tenorio told Honest Profit’s Chan.

DPL’s RFP for the San Antonio lot called for the development of a minimum of 200-room hotel.

In his Friday letter, Tenorio also told Honest Profit that DPL wishes to expedite the preliminary negotiation of a land lease.

Tenorio sent a separate letter containing DPL’s draft lease for Honest Profit’s review. The DPL secretary said he hopes to meet with the investor group as soon as possible to negotiate the terms and conditions of the lease.

“Congratulations on your selection, and I look forward to a mutually productive relationship as you venture to assist the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas improve its economy with your significant investment of capital into our economy,” Tenorio added.

Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) said yesterday he’s glad that DPL has arrived at a decision, pointing out that his and Sen. Pete Reyes’ (Ind-Saipan) earlier letter was to ask DPL to do its due diligence “to make sure that whoever is selected for the San Antonio land will be able to finish the project and comply with all the requirements of the lease agreement”—whether it’s E Land or Honest Profit.

Rep. Antonio Benavente (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, separately said yesterday it’s good to hear that DPL has already made it decision.

“Hopefully, DPL can start negotiating with the investor so we can see their proposed development plan for San Antonio land area,” he said, adding that the CNMI needs more hotel rooms “as soon as possible.”

The three other investor groups that didn’t make it to DPL’s short list for the San Antonio lot RFP were KSA Corp., INNOASSET, and Future Ent. Inc. & Reading Investment & Securities and Korea Asset Investment Corp.

DPL had already earlier picked Tan Holdings over E Land’s Micronesia Resort Inc. for a long-term lease of almost 10 hectares of public lands in Marpi. Tan Holdings proposes to build an over $133-million, 455-room high-end hotel resort.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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