A new era of leisure and entertainment is about to begin in the region, where Cebu is set to take center stage in redefining your experiences and truly modern lifestyle.
Making Cebu a premier leisure and entertainment destination, Universal Hotels and Resorts, Inc. will introduce not one but three world-class hotels and the biggest gaming floor outside Metro Manila — NUSTAR Resort and Casino.
Helping to bring to life this next leading lifestyle hub in Cebu, are two dedicated executives. Best at what they do, one handles the gaming operations while the other one is in charge of business development.
In an exclusive interview with CDN Digital, they share a glimpse from the early planning stages, the exciting backstory, and long-term goals, to the adventure that awaits everyone at the resort and casino.
Katrina Mae de Jesus
Katrina Mae de Jesus was employee number two for the group when she started working at Universal Hotels and Resorts, Inc. in 2018 and she is no rookie in handling tough projects.
De Jesus has more than eight years of experience in end-to-end Account and Project Management, specifically in the IT industry, and most recently on Digital Transformation projects for legacy businesses. Her experience in business development has been backed by her knowledge in the phases and processes of managing an engagement from lead generation, contract management, service-level monitoring, and delivery, to project closure.
As the director of Business Development for Universal Hotels and Resorts, De Jesus was in charge of pre-work and planning for satellite gaming facilities in the Southern Region, in partnership with Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). And she shares how they came up with a special name for the development.
Cebu’s New Star
Behind the name of the soon-to-open property is a unique wordplay, which comes from the resort and casino’s fervent commitment to Cebu.
De Jesus shares that their vision to constantly provide new leisure and entertainment possibilities in Cebu City, the province of Cebu, the southern regions, and the whole country is the real meaning behind ‘NUSTAR’.
NUSTAR Resort and Casino not only symbolizes but solidifies the company’s goal of being the ‘new star’ player in the industry.
“We are dedicated to consistently provide new leisure and entertainment possibilities in Cebu, for the province, the southern regions, and the whole country. That’s basically it, we wanted to cement ourselves being the newest player and a star player,”
-Katrina Mae de Jesus
Director of Business Development for Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc.
Trevor Hammond, Vice President of Gaming Operations for NUSTAR Resort and Casino, also describes the meaning behind NUSTAR’s name.
NUSTAR’s name takes its inspiration from the North Star (Polaris), being the brightest, most visible, and inspiring beacon in the sky.
“Something universal or galaxial… to demonstrate that we wanted something extraordinary here on Earth. So is NUSTAR, a veritable island of new entertainment and leisure possibilities,” Hammond adds.
With over 30 years of international casino and integrated resort experience, Hammond is the man behind the Vis-Min region’s largest gaming floor at the resort and casino.
Hammond, who rose from being a senior manager in Southeast Asia to vice president of the table games operations in one of the world’s largest gaming markets – Macao, will oversee NUSTAR Resort and Casino’s 21,000 sq.m. gross floor area that is envisioned to have 1,500 slot machines and 250 tables.
Designed by top-notch developers – HKS Architects and HBA Design Consultants – the casino is one of its kind in Central and Southern Philippines.
Asked why Cebu was their choice for the development, Hammond has quickly highlighted that Cebu is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
“A leisure and entertainment destination like NUSTAR, it is fitting for an equally superb tourism venue that is Cebu. That just says it all in a nutshell, it is a highly sought-after location, it’s almost a no-brainer that we’d put this resort right here in Cebu,”
VP of Gaming Operations for NUSTAR Resort and Casino
A gem of Cebu
Universal Hotels and Resorts, Inc. has been planning to create something beautiful for Cebu City. And like any other big development, several things have to be considered such as the location, current market demands, and timing. Fortunately, these all came to fruition in 2017, when they started planning for NUSTAR Resort and Casino.
“The mere fact that we are building a mega-development and putting together a massive team of around 2,000 people to start with the skill sets that would complement our objective during a time like this, during the pandemic, is something that we really consider as an achievement and something that we’re proud of and will be memorable for everyone who’s taking part in the opening of NUSTAR,” says De Jesus.
The property is carved on Kawit Island in South Road Properties (SRP), strategically situated along the spectacular east coast of Cebu.
The design of the development stems from the Cebuano culture that is linked to the waters that surround the island, even the base of the building is reminiscent of the western ships and galleons that explored the region with three towering buildings designed as its sails.
“There were a lot of steps that we have to look at in planning NUSTAR and the most critical of them all is putting together world-renowned designers and bringing in some of the finest architects, engineers, hoteliers, retailers, dining and hospitality, entertainment, and MICE professionals to work together. Without the input, guidance, and expertise of all these fine professionals, we wouldn’t be able to culminate this beautiful project,” says Hammond.
The development’s sky deck points to the North Star, Polaris, the brightest star in the sky, with a silver finish that looks like the waves of the ocean.
Adventure of a lifetime
Poised to be the first-ever world-class integrated resort development in Cebu, bringing a never-before-seen type of onset in gaming, shopping, dining, leisure, and entertainment, NUSTAR Resort and Casino will mark a milestone in tourism and gaming development.
The three hotel towers comprise 1,000 rooms, all designed to set a new standard in luxury accommodations. Its first tower, the NUSTAR Hotel, will be prepared for our more discerning guests. Its second tower, called Fili Urban Resort, will be the first true Filipino Five-star grand hotel, a new concept from the Robinsons Hotel and Resorts Group.
While its third tower, the Grand Summit Hotel, will cater to Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) professionals.
NUSTAR will be the home of the biggest MICE facility in Cebu, composed of flexible exhibition halls, elegant ballrooms, a convention center, and the first live performing arts theater in the Visayas region equipped with state-of-the-art technology and ultramodern facilities.
Combining Function and Leisure
As the newest landmark attraction, NUSTAR will become the venue for showcasing the global Filipino lifestyle and culture and hosting business conferences and social events.
NUSTAR Resort and Casino will also have a theme park located on the podium level of their gaming building and an iconic viewing deck on top of the NUSTAR Hotel tower, highlighting a 180-degree view of Mactan and Cebu City.
Of course, its sprawling four-floor retail space called The Mall at NUSTAR will house cutting-edge labels, high-fashion boutiques, plush VIP cinemas, and a carefully curated mix of global and regional dining concepts, including Mott 32, a famous food and beverage brand from Hong Kong.
Finally, its marina boardwalk wraps around its pool property where people can enjoy the scenery and the picturesque views that Mactan and Cebu City have to offer.
The property is set to be completed within the next two to three years, with its first phase opening within the first half of 2022 with Fili Urban Resort set to open first, a number of retail merchants and F&B locators, as well as 100 tables and around 800 slot machines on the gaming side.
“We’re very fortunate to have the support we needed to continue construction during these hard times. Of course, taking into consideration all the guidelines that we need to comply with. Our commitment to Cebu, to our partners, to our stakeholders, and to deliver this is much stronger. We really worked towards our 2022 opening and we ensured that proper protocols were put in place for us to be able to do that,” says De Jesus.
Learn more about the very best that life has to offer at NUSTAR Resort and Casino at www.nustar.ph or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NUSTARCebu and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/nustarresort/.