Lost opportunity – IAG

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In one case of what might have been, Melco Resorts & Entertainment guides In Asian games through the smallest details of his vision for an integrated resort in Yokohama after the city’s newly elected mayor canceled the offer.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment announced on September 13 that it was officially ending its search for an integrated resort license in Yokohama and closing its local office after anti-IR activist Takeharu Yamanaka won the mayoral election of the city.

However, Melco, who has vowed to pursue future IR opportunities in Japan and maintains interest through an office in Tokyo and a ski resort in Hakone, wasted no time in making it known what Yokohama is lacking.

An artistic impression of how Melco’s Yokohama IR will look when completed.

One of two companies, alongside Genting Singapore, to have participated in the Yokohama tender before Yamanaka cut the hold, Melco – renowned for its City of Dreams properties in Macau and Manila, Studio City in Cotai and the City of Dreams Mediterranean development in Cyprus – has since released a spectacular visualization video of its IR concept, which was created by world-renowned architectural firm Zaha Hadid Architects. Zaha Hadid also designed the iconic Morpheus Hotel in City of Dreams Macau.

The idea, according to Executive Vice President, Chief Creative and Branding Officer of Melco Frederic Winckler, was to create an iconic waterside landmark that would rejuvenate Yokohama’s offerings while providing a new Gateway to Japan.

“The Yokohama waterfront is not designed for the public, so the first thing we wanted to do with our design was to make the waterfront public and create a space and atmosphere that people would love to explore.” , said Winckler. AGI in an exclusive interview.

“It was done in a way that respected the local culture, but also had to become a landmark. All the attractions we designed inside were landmarks as well, with shows, a museum, an artist-made water park – all to draw people there and in the Melco way, which is premium hospitality for customers. All of our hotels would have been Forbes rated and we would have brought Michelin restaurants back to Yokohama.

“It would have provided a level of hospitality that is not present in the city today.”

Using the combined skills of a local Japanese architect with the global expertise of Zaha Hadid – the same company responsible for Morpheus at City of Dreams Macau and the current development of Phase 2 of Studio City – the Yokohama IR design of the ‘City of the future ”by Melco paid homage to water and natural.

The tallest central tower was inspired by the flowers of Yokohama, surrounded by a series of curved buildings representing waves and around them a few smaller structures to represent ripples in the water.

At ground level, the site would have extended the green areas of the adjacent Yamashita Park to cover the entire length of the pier, significantly increasing the amount of public space and integrating directly with the city. To maintain a sense of openness, a large avenue was provided to cross diagonally across the center of the IR, providing a direct line of sight to two existing landmarks of Yokohama – the Yokohama Bay Bridge in one direction. and the Yokohama Marine Tower in the other.

One of the main features of the Melco IR was to be a visitor center, located at the entrance to the IR and envisioned as a new gateway to Japan for tourists.

“In the IR bid, the emphasis was on IR becoming a tourist hub in Japan,” said Winckler.

“If you look at the ranking of the checkboxes [as per Japan’s stated IR goals] it includes the attractiveness of Japan – pushing people to Japan – so the entrance to the IR had to be something that sent you to Japan to experience the country.

“The Welcome Hub was to offer lots of interactive rides and activities, food, dedicated sections with information about Japan and its regions. It would tell people what to do and where to do it, and the travel agents would have been based there to make it all happen. “

The substantial MICE facility, another key part of Japan’s IR ambition, was designed to meet international expectations – “a level of MICE that does not exist in Japan,” as Winckler explains – with the possibility to convert into a concert space to allow seasonality.

The facility was also to be environmentally focused, with the roof including solar panels, greenery on all sides and the world’s largest vertical garden at 500 meters long and 40 meters high. The use of this garden was to be handed over to local farmers and the herbs and vegetables it produced used by IR restaurants.

A retail space, already agreed to by global luxury brands, is described by Winckler as “similar to building a second Ginza [in Tokyo] – something Yokohama doesn’t have.

“We sought to bring a level of hospitality and tourism that would bring people to Yokohama, allow them to spend time in the city and then continue to visit the country,” he said.

Melco President Evan Winkler said the company “has always believed that Yokohama would benefit from an exceptional, world-class IR proposal that would reflect the city’s lifestyle, culture and characteristics to the world. Our commitment to design excellence, quality and craftsmanship and our focus on combining art, design and architecture in our integrated resort proposal reflects the rich heritage, humanities and aesthetics of Japan.

“With a look to the future, this project would have created a new Yokohama, which could be considered the world’s premier destination for entertainment, recreation, sports and MICE events for years to come. “

In fact, Melco’s IR design saw sport as a key area of ​​contribution to the city’s long-term growth. One of his main initiatives, if his IR came true, was to build a sports center within the complex following the contribution of the company’s brand ambassador, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka.

Naomi had suggested to the developer that it was important to provide a variety of sports options for people, because when she was growing up and when she trains now, she enjoys playing a whole range of different sports rather than just tennis. .

The sports center has reportedly included a football pitch which would have been a training ground for the local teams, as they do not have many suitable facilities. A large tennis organization in Japan is also said to have made the center its training ground.

It was only to be Melco’s contribution to the Yokohama community, the company having worked hard to connect with the local population since the first announcement of its “Yokohama First” strategy in September 2019.

His community initiatives included an event called “Smart Summer” in Motomachi, Yokohama, which aimed to support local tourism and economic growth by drawing crowds to the district.

Likewise, Melco’s sponsorship of the professional soccer team Yokohama F Marinos saw the two organizations sign a partnership contract earlier this year to support some of the city’s shopping streets. The “Stay strong together and support our native shopping streets!” The project saw five streets invited to a Yokohama F Marinos home game where a shopping streets support video, produced by Melco, featured the participating streets on the stadium’s large screens. Supported by free tickets and signed merchandise giveaways as well as social media posts to promote sales, the project aimed to raise awareness of purchasing options in areas affected by COVID-19.

Within the IR itself, Melco also planned to develop a dedicated food and beverage space called Bamboo Village specifically for local restaurateurs to open businesses, as well as a similar concept for local restaurateurs. local retailers.

A senior Melco executive said: “We didn’t want to be the outsiders who came to dictate things.

President Melco Winkler said AGIOne of the things that has always distinguished us is the depth with which we care about our impact on the world we all share. We respect and are sensitive to local ways of doing things.

“Collaboration and partnership with governments and local organizations is a fundamental principle, and we invest in strengthening these relationships with efforts tailored to each of our communities.

“Since Melco began his journey in Japan 10 years ago, we have been committed to being a great partner and a force for good in the community. For 10 years, we’ve worked with government, local businesses, charities, educational institutions and community organizations to create unique programs that address specific local issues and community needs.

“From enhancing the economic prosperity of local suppliers and SMEs to promoting sport and wellness with Yokohama F. Marinos and our brand ambassador Naomi Osaka, as well as promoting Japanese culture and heritage, we are extremely grateful for the friendships we have built with our local community partners in Yokohama and Japan.


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