Panglao Shores CEO Hope Marie Uy has always considered the province of Bohol her home. She and her siblings were born and raised in this beautiful, bucolic destination. They lived the island lifestyle since they were kids. The Uys are rooted here, which is why they wish to develop and preserve its riches for future generations.
The family is behind the 50-year-old Alturas Group of Companies (AGC), which is engaged in retail and several other businesses. They run a chain of malls and supermarkets all over Bohol, and operate a rice mill, piggery, poultry and aquaculture business. They are also behind the widely popular pasalubong cookie brand Peanut Kisses.
Panglao Shores, where 34-year-old Hope is CEO, is first mixed-use community development venture of AGC. Within a 10-year timeline, six hotels and resorts, 37,000sqm. of retail and commercial space, over 1,000 residential units, and an international medical facility will rise on a 57-hectare property in Bohol. “Sustainability and social responsibility” will be “seamlessly woven into the fabric” of the low-density mixed-use estate project, claims their press release.
To prove the company is serious with its vision, Panglao Shores tapped six leading architects, interior designers, and green development specialists to lend their unique expertise to Panglao Shores. They are award-winning designer Patricia Ho Douven (White Jacket); Princeton University-trained architect Patrick Keane (Enter Projects); resort masterplanning expert Chris Singer (SCSY Studio); multi-disciplinary design consultant Phillip Pond (Atelier Pond); sustainability specialist John Farrell (XCO2 Energy); landscape construction, resort design connoisseur Drew Anderson (TOPO Design Studio); and hospitality, tourism and real estate advisor Bill Barnett (C9 Hotelworks).
“It was an epiphany for us, a real moment of awakening,” Uy says of the venture. “The realization was that here was an opportunity to create a generational product, inspired by Bohol, on a scale that would enable a fully-integrated community to flourish with sustainability at its core.”
The project, according to the press information, will employ “eco-building standards and materials, such as high-performance glass, natural ventilation and solar harvesting, along with smart technologies, electric transport, water treatment and waste reduction,” which the group promises to integrate in the design from the onset.
Phase 1 of the project, which involves the construction of the 188-room South Palms Resort, is currently ongoing and is scheduled for completion in 2024. Dubbed as an “eco-sensitive resort,” the five-star destination, says Uy, will “introduce the unique culture and community spirit of Bohol to visitors from all around the world.”
Nestled in a 6.4-hectare beachfront lot on the south coast of Panglao, South Palms Resort / MGallery will also have four restaurants, a swimming pool with a bar, a fitness center, spa, a meeting space, a ballroom, and a club for children.
It must be pretty overwhelming to be on top of such a large-scale undertaking. But Uy, who assumed the CEO post ten years ago—she was only 24—says growing up in Bohol, her fondness for the beach lifestyle, her interest in design, and her academic and work experiences groomed her for the position.
“I’ve been sketching, drawing hotels and layouts since I was about 11,” she offers. This interest inspired her to pursue Hotel and Restaurant Management. She was part of the wait staff in a restaurant at Shangri-La Mactan, a gig that motivated her to gain more work experience abroad. She was a front desk personnel at Mariott International, North Carolina and Sea World in Orlando Florida, where she was one of only two Filipinos working at that time.
“The front desk is the brains of any operation,” Uy tells us. “Since I can run a 500-room accommodation all by myself, that's when I knew that I’m already capable of managing [a resort property.]” She worked in the US for almost two years.
Since her family acquired the Panglao beachfront property during her college years, Uy saw her work experiences as a preparation to embark on AGC’s flagship leisure development project. Now she’s managing an ambitious undertaking with 400 employees. “When you love and enjoy what you do, everything would just follow,” Uy offers. The CEO says she treats her employees as equals. “I listen to them and learn from them.”
It's also important, says Uy, to be surrounded with the best people whom she can trust. She considers Barnett, sales and marketing director Fe Ginete, and her father Marlito Uy her mentors.
AGC says it has a vision to forge a strong and sustainable future for Bohol and Panglao. With South Palms Resort / MGallery and future developments, they are hoping to not only build a great escape but an icon “that will tell the story of our homeland and its people.”