Jones starts re-development of Saipan’s southern side

A soft and comfortable bed will greet visitors once they check in at the Surfrider Hotel. The newly-built hotel is ideal for those who are already familiar with Saipan and wish some "staycation" to escape the daily grind. (Jon Perez)

A soft and comfortable bed will greet visitors once they check in at the Surfrider Hotel. The newly-built hotel is ideal for those who are already familiar with Saipan and wish some “staycation” to escape the daily grind. (Jon Perez)

Triple J Enterprises Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Robert H. Jones is a visionary who sees the development potential of Saipan’s southern side. At least that’s how Surfrider Resort Hotel general manager Ryuhei Kono sees him.

Surfrider, in Chalan Kanoa, is located at the site of the former Pacific Gardenia Hotel and the former Silver Resortel and sits right in front of Surf Club. It is among the 33-year-old company’s latest projects after opening the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Surf Club in 2016 and Saipan Comfort Homes in March this year.

Surfrider is an ongoing project. It had a soft opening with 21 rooms at its south wing while renovation work continues on the north side of the building and the new lobby. When completed the resort will have a total of 51 total rooms: 11 rooms in the north building and 18 in the lobby, in addition to the current 21.

Surfrider, at present, has nine staff. They cater to people who are here for business or government matters, in addition to the regular budget travelers.

“We target people who come to Saipan either from Guam or other countries. Right now we have a room and car package promotion that includes a room, car rental, and breakfast at Surf Club,” Kono said.

“The breakfast is at the beachfront and you would enjoy your stay with the kind of view that you’re going to see here. It is very attractive not only for tourists,” said Kono.

The room-car-breakfast package costs $148 for a one-night stay, including tax.

The idea behind Surfirder is for light travelers. Its management envisions a client mix of 50-50 comprising tourists and business travelers.

“The place is convenient for travelers who already know their way on Saipan. There’s a store nearby and other shops. We also offer a competitive price,” said Kono, whose career in the hospitality industry spans more than five decades.

The hotel currently has 21 rooms on the second floor of the south building. Plans are also underway to add five to six rooms on the ground floor.

Kono said that Jones and his wife Margaret have been hands-on in choosing the design of the rooms and the furniture used. “The tropical resort theme was the idea of the owners. Margaret Jones, with the help of interior designer Sophie Chin, had a hand in the decoration. The design fits the overall environment.”

Brief history

The Surfrider project began in 2010, according to the company’s website, when Triple J acquired a 55-year lease on the property that included the former Pacific Gardenia Hotel. The property was acquired from the Commonwealth Development Authority, including four prime lots near the beach in Chalan Kanoa.

In 2011, Triple J acquired the leasehold interest of the former Silver Resortel, a 22-unit hotel adjacent to Pacific Gardenia. They combined both hotel properties for Surfrider and Surf Club projects. The project broke ground in 2013 and Surf Club opened last year.

Kono said they had to briefly stop construction at the northern part of their hotel project after discovering items of historical significance on the property. They are working closely with the Historic Preservation Office and professional archeologists to ensure proper handling of the finds.
Southern development

The area starting from the Saipan World Resort to the Pacific Islands Club is expected to have more activity in the near future as development is currently taking place. A new hotel is being constructed in San Antonio beside PIC while the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association is building a soccer field in Koblerville.

“Mr. Jones sees the potential in developing the south side of Saipan. He believes the south area has potential. You have Sugar Dock and a lot of nice beaches there. Just add some new attractions—more restaurants, shops and hotels.”

“Tourism is a booming market now on Saipan and activity is increasing. We want to cater to all: locals, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese.“

“This is what we need to develop. It would decongest Garapan. Apartments are here—Sandy Beach Homes and Tasi. Joeten is also here. It has potential for development.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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