Ten years ago, to hear Century Properties Group (CPG) vice chairman John Victor R. Antonio talk about his idea for a man-made beach property within the city was to think he was crazy. He laughs in recollection about how he had to convince people that he could pull it off.
Now, nine years later, it has inaugurated the final residential tower of what has become a landmark development in the south of the metro. The inauguration marked the full completion of the six-hectare Azure Urban Resort Residences with the Bahamas tower joining the other eight buildings that were named after world-famous beach destinations: Rio, Santorini, St. Tropez, Positano, Miami, Maui, Maldives and Boracay. This comprises 5,355 condominium units that are already 98 percent sold out at a total sales value of P22.55 Billion.
To hear him talk about how Azure was built on a crazy idea is a lesson in innovation and marketing. “When we were offered the land for development here in Bicutan, we knew that we had to come up with something different to attract the market. When we brainstormed I started thinking about what Filipinos wanted and what can’t they find in an urban setting? That was the beach, because everyone loves going there, but there wasn’t one that was nearby. That’s when I came up with the idea for a man-made beach.”
This maverick way of thinking is company credo, he explains. “At CPG, we don’t just create buildings that are easy to replicate and then give them bland names. We put our hearts, passion, and dream into it.”
He then gathered his team to look for inspiration, touring Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the Maldives, and they found that there was nothing all over the world that was in the scale of what he had in mind. “There were little features here and there, and we amalgamated everything and planned it, then gave it to the designers and architects, who asked us, ‘What is this?’” he laughs. “They couldn’t understand it in the beginning, so we showed them the photos that we took.”
The plans were very detailed, down to the type of sand that would be used; the same sand that was hauled into the showroom for prospective buyers to see. The beach slowly took shape and came into completion in 2013. Antonio was very happy with it and so were the buyers. “To see something that came from your imagination come into fruition makes us very proud.” Sales went up and the property value rose, much to the satisfaction of early investors who brought their units at pre-selling prices of P1.8 to P1.9 per 30 sqm., which has since doubled.
To describe their market, Antonio says, “They have champagne tastes on a beer budget.” So, they poured on the champagne. Aside from the man-made beach and wave pool, the development also has two lagoon pools, a lap pool, children’s water play area, beach volleyball area, basketball court, and pocket gardens.
Its Beach Club was designed with the help of celeb personality and famous heiress Paris Hilton herself. “When we were looking for someone who personifies the beach resort lifestyle, we thought of Paris.” They reached out to her, and she, together with local interior design doyenne Chat Fores, put together elements that incorporated modern European luxe. “She was here twice and the first time she saw the manmade beach, she too was very happy with it, because like the others, she was only able to visualize it through CGI renderings,” Antonio shares.
To fit that market’s budget, what they did was to listen to what buyers were looking for. Initially, they offered units that were already fully furnished, down to the coffee tables and microwave ovens. “We realized that what people wanted was to buy it bare, so we adjusted to that. We also had more two-bedroom units but found out that our one-bedroom units were doing better, so the succeeding towers had more one-bedroom units than before.”
With many unit owners investing in the property as rentals through entities like Airbnb, they have also given owners the option to enrol their rooms at Siglo Suites, their own property rental management company that takes care of bookings.
At the launching of the Bahamas tower, CPG President and CEO Marco R. Antonio also thanked the Azure homeowners and recognized the hard work of the Century team of employees and consultants who helped bring the project concept to life. “The Azure is a product of our passion to continuously push the envelope in real estate and give our clients extraordinary experiences. To our homeowners, thank you for your trust. To our hardworking team, thank you for your help and commitment,” he said.
With the success of the Azure Urban Resort Residences in the South, they have already started replicating the formula in Pampanga, with Azure North as part of its strategic expansion outside of Metro Manila.