Saturday, September 1, 2012

Samal Casino Hotel

Samal Casino Hotel

There used to be a beautiful casino hotel in the southern coast of Kaputian District in Samal Island called Samal Casino Hotel, also known as the Grand Ekran Hotel. I was here on two occasions in 1999: when I investigated the fire loss sustained by portions of the hotel; and the other one was on a social call with an insurance client. The casino hotel then was an impressive structure with first class facilities, complemented by numerous professional staff.

While the structure still exists today, the casino hotel has regrettably remained inoperative since it was forced to cease its operation in 2000 following the Asian financial crisis at that time. Since its closure, there has been serious discussions between the owner, Ekran Berhard of Ekran BHD Malaysia and the city government of Samal to revive the casino hotel considering its operation will generate some 50 million pesos in various taxes, provide job opportunities and boost the tourism industry of Samal. But for some reason, it remains closed to date. 

Samal Casino Resort

Samal Casino Hotel was established under the BIMP-EAGA initiative between Malaysia and the Philippines. BIMP-EAGA is an acronym for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area. It is a subregional economic cooperation initiative between the member countries whose aim is to accelerate economic development through increase in trade, tourism, and investments, inside and outside the subregion by facilitating the free movement of people, goods, services, and the best use of common infrastructure and natural resources involving the governments of the member countries and its private sector. It was was founded and launched in Davao City in 1994.

The casino hotel was Ekran Berhad’s contribution to the East ASEAN Growth Area promoted by private business chambers in the region. It occupies a total land area of 80 hectares out of the 250 hectare property. The cost of development reached $250 million when the casino hotel was completed in 1997 and was valued at 2 billion pesos when it ceased operation in 2000.

Over-the-water Deluxe Rooms

The casino hotel was designed in Malaysian-inspired architecture consisting of 245 luxuriously designed suites of seven different room types: 1 Presidential Suite; 10 Executive Suites; 30 Junior Suites; 18 Over-the-water Deluxe; 16 On-Shore-Deluxe; 26 Inland Deluxe and 144 Terrace Standard, complete with individually-controlled central air-conditioning, private baths and showers, satellite television sets, refrigerators and mini-bars, telephone facilities for IDD/NDD, coffee and tea making facilities, and hair dyers. The facilities were world-class, having facilities for a casino, a souvenir shop, a business center, a playroom, a medical clinic, a gym, and an outdoor swimming pool, as well as services for foreign currency exchange, airport transfers, safety deposit boxes, same-day laundry and dry cleaning, massage and sauna, regular boat shuttle service and Vingcard lock system. The casino hotel also had facilities for island hopping, spelunking or cave exploration, scuba diving, jet skiing, lawn tennis, sport climbing, table tennis, basketball, mountaineering or trekking, billiards,  beach volleyball, mountain biking, water basketball and volleyball, kayaking, weight training, snorkeling, and fishing.

For dining and cocktail, the casino hotel had the Kaputiat Café and the Spices Specialty Restaurant that both served local and International dishes a la carte as well as buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Casino Lounge; the Exotika in a jungle-bar setting that served food and cocktail drinks with live band entertainment amid tropical interiors; the Dee n’ Sip Poolside Bar - a sunken bar that served cocktails poolside; and the Lobby Lounge where light snacks and drinks were served. The hotel also had convention and banquet facilities that can accommodate up to 3,000 participants.  

Samal Casino Hotel is situated in Kaputian District of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) in Davao del Norte. It is accessible via a 30-minute ferry boat ride from Davao City.


  1. Should it open again, I'm sure it would be a hit. . .

  2. Hello,,somebody now operating the resort from the local people here in Samal


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