Daesik Han, Chairman and CEO of Hann Philippines, said he plans to spend a further $1 billion over the next five years, adding a larger casino and more hotels and golf courses at his properties.

Hann, which was formerly known as the Widus Group, unveiled its plans to revamp the Widus Resort and for a new lifestyle brand, Hann Lux Lifestyle Resort, in 2020, with an initial investment of about P20 billion.

The rebranded Hann Casino Resort reopened in December last year, and in March it rolled out the Philippines first Swissotel. The property is located in the Clark Freeport Zone, a former U.S. military facility, while the Han Lux is on 450 hectares in New Clark City. It has 800 slot machines, 88 electronic table games and will have 865 hotel rooms. At present 763 are open with 102 Swissotel suites in the works.

Daesik-Han, Hann Resorts
Daesik Han, CEO, Hann Casino Resort

Han said the feedback on the new-look Hann had been positive, although at the beginning there was still considerable uncertainty about the course of the pandemic due to the Omicron outbreak. 

“From March this year, we feel like we have strongly bounced back,” he said, pointing to the performance of the Clark Marriott hotel at Hann, which is one of the top five performing in the Asian region and has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“In terms of the casino operation, we have also broken the record of prior to the pandemic and especially this coming month (June), I think we’re going to have almost double our pre-pandemic performance.”

Han said the resort is enjoying strong pent-up demand from the local market, which at present makes up about 90 percent of its clientele.

However, South Korea, which is traditionally one of the strongest tourism source markets for Clark, is also expected to begin returning after the government in Seoul lifted flight restrictions. 

“So from now on out I’m expecting a pretty good influx of the Korean market,” he said. 

Clark already benefited from U.S. military infrastructure, but facilities have been improved, such as a new high-speed rail link between the capital Manila and Clark, as well as a new airport terminal.

“I strongly believe that the market has just started to grow and will take many, many years before it becomes mature, like the Manila market or Macau market,” he said. “That’s what I see, so I plan to invest a significant amount here.

Han said his plans include another golf course at the New Clark City property, as well as luxury hotels. The resort already boasts a Banyan Tree. He also has plans for a larger casino in Clark City. 

Han said his concept for the resort was based on two main factors. Even prior to Covid, he said he believed the hospitality industry would begin to focus more on natural themes. This is a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic.

The resort is colorful and luxurious, but without the intimidating grandiosity of some of the larger properties in the country. 

With a strong domestic market, he said he also wanted to bring in a more European feel and therefore had chosen to partner with the Swissotel. 

The city already has a different feel from some of the countries’ other urban destinations and the addition of a European touch gives the local market a feel that there are somewhere very different, even without leaving the country. 

At present, the resort is attracting primarily the local mass market, but Han said it does believe that the Philippines will benefit from the ongoing turmoil in Macau, regarding travel restrictions and the collapse of the VIP market.

“I strongly believe that the Philippines will get a chunk of this, especially the junket, or VIP market and that’s why I’m adding quite a significant number of tables there,” he said, explaining that the jurisdiction initially is likely to benefit as high-end players cannot enter Macau, but further ahead he still believes that there will be high-end demand from China. 

“I don’t think that means that the urge for these players to play will go away with that kind of restriction by the Chinese government. They’ll find a way, some of them may go underground, and some will try to look for different jurisdictions.”

Singapore may benefit, but is highly regulated and it is difficult for junket operators to function, so they are likely to go to the Philippines, he said.

Han also plans to take advantage of the Philippines’ casinos ability to offer online gaming through a POGO license. 

Hann Casino Resort, Casino Floor