MANILA - On June 15, Newport Mall at the Resorts World Manila entertainment and gaming complex in Pasay City reopened its doors to the public after a lockdown due to the attack last June 2.
The mall shut down for almost two weeks to give way to minor reconstruction and upgrading of security facilities.
On Thursday, Newport Mall held an event for the media to reintroduce the shopping center and clarify that its operations are separate from the casino, where the attack happened.
A total of 37 guests and employees died in the incident, while the lone gunman killed himself.
The casino was closed until the day of the media event, where Resorts World Manila announced that the ban was just lifted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Safety is, first and foremost, top priority.
Upon entering Newport Mall, one would notice tighter security measures. Cars entering its parking lot must submit to a tight security check—rolling down car windows and an inspection of the vehicle’s trunk by the K-9 unit are a must.
One would also notice the line outside the mall’s entrances. These entry points are now equipped with airport-grade, albeit smaller, x-ray scanners. Security personnel also conduct more thorough frisking.
Police are highly visible and still on watch.
Newport Mall marketing manager Abi Garcia said the mall is making sure that security is at par with global standards.
The shopping center hired a third-party security agency called Blackpanda, a Hong Kong-based agency that specializes in providing its services in high-risk areas using military expertise.
“We combine international military operations experience, methodology and technology,” the agency says in its website.
For regular mall operations, nothing is out of the ordinary except for some stores that are still closed due to ongoing renovation.
Most of the shops located on the ground floor sustained water damage from the sprinklers triggered by the blaze during the attack. These stores, just to name a few, include Tommy Hilfiger, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Cartier, and Pandora.
The mall expects to be fully operational by this month.
“Hopefully, we’re fully operational within July. Some store renovation takes time like Bulgari, the paint, even the screws have to be approved by the principal, and their contractor is from Italy,” Garcia said.
Before the incident, Newport Mall had an average of 25,000 customers on a daily basis. But in the first few days since it reopened, foot traffic has been low. According to different store staff, this has translated to low sales.
Customers of Newport Mall are mainly players from the casino, hotel guests, residents in the immediate area, and even airline passengers who come from the airport just across the complex.
Garcia said that as of last Thursday, or 14 days since the mall reopened, foot traffic has increased, reaching almost 50 percent of its daily average.
To win back customers, Newport Mall is going full speed ahead in offering various promos. For the entire month of July, shoppers can get up to 70 percent discount from various retail brands the mall houses. Some favorites include Mango, Adidas, Res Toe Run, Bench, Giordano, Lacoste, Call It Spring, and Travel Club.
The restaurants also have special deals for its customers, and Newport Mall is not short of dining options. The shopping center is home to Recipes, Ichiba Japanese Market, Wolfgang Steakhouse, Red Crab, Mr. Kurosawa, Cafe Creole, and many more.
What makes its operations different now are the nightly performances at The Plaza located at the mall’s atrium. Every night, casino performers treat guests to various musical performances starting at 7 p.m.
Eateries around The Plaza also set up dining areas at the atrium. Some of the performers include Primo, “Tawag ng Tanghalan” singers, and Juan Miguel Salvador & the Authority Band.
To further entice mall-loving Filipinos, Newport Cinema is offering lower ticket rates. This July, a movie ticket would cost P170 for adults, and P150 for children. The discounted prices are available daily, but only from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The mall, however, temporarily stopped the 24-hour schedule of cinema operations.
The parking flat rate is now only P50, but it is free if customers present a single or accumulated receipt of P500.
After recent setbacks, the mall operator is optimistic that it will make a full recovery in the coming months. Proof of that recovery is the steady increase of foot traffic. The nightly shows have helped a lot in bringing in guests and shoppers.
“With what we are doing right now, the proper push and the effort to bring back the excitement, especially we are already approaching the second half of the year and towards Christmas, we except we will recover. We are very, very optimistic. It’s just a matter of making people aware and getting themselves familiar again [with] Newport Mall,” Garcia said.