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By Agnes Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 2) – A Korean-owned firm plans to begin construction this year of a $300 million resort near Tinian International Airport.

The "Matua Bay Resort," a 1,000-room hotel facility, will also feature a golf course and a casino.

The hotel will be the first investment of Mariana Resort Development Co. Inc. in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Kang Yun Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of Mariana Resort Development, said investors from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea and the United States would be helping in the project, which will be divided into two stages.

The first phase will include the construction of 500 hotel rooms and an 18-hole golf course at an estimated cost of $179 million, Lee said. The master plan for Phase I of the project is now complete and work is scheduled to begin on the architectural and engineering design next month, he added.

Guam-based Mariana Resort Development is expected to make an additional investment of $130 million for the Phase II of the project, which will include the completion of the facility, Lee said.

Governor Juan Babauta announced the plan at yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Tinian International Airport departure terminal.

Lee said he chose to build the hotel on Tinian because of the island's "natural environment." Tinian is also the only CNMI island where casino gambling is allowed.

Lee also bared plans to market the hotel in all of Asia, rather than concentrating on the Chinese market.

Further, he said he looked forward to working with Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino in promoting the island and their respective facilities.

"I don't think of them as my competitor. We have to work together. Our guests can visit them, and their guests can play golf at our place," Lee said.

Tinian Dynasty General Manager Tom Liu welcomed the proposal.

"We've been waiting for somebody to come to Tinian for so long. We're very happy that the project is very ambitious and aggressive, with the golf course and all the facilities. Any destination needs to have a joint development to really progress," he said.

February 2, 2005

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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