Experience excellence: Torre Lorenzo makes high-end accessible to everyone

Posted April 4, 2024

By: Philippine Star

Visiting a new place is both humbling and powerful. Humbling because you realize you really should take negative press and hearsay with a grain of salt; powerful because once you realize you don’t get the whole truth from (sensationalized) news, your soul opens up to new discoveries, experiences, and friends that change you forever.

Such was the case with this visit of ours to Tierra Davao in Davao City and Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort in Davao de Oro. Two days and two nights with President and CEO Tomas P. Lorenzo, COO Cathy Casares-Ko, and their Marketing team were enough for us to see how they are upgrading the lifestyle scene, boosting tourism, and uplifting the economy in the region.

This perfectly aligns with Mr. Lorenzo’s vision of elevating lifestyles for everyone, from north to south. It is this vision that guided their planning and strategic partnerships which, in turn, contributed to TLDC’s success and growth in their first 25 years. Their Davao developments play a key role in shifting their journey to include hospitality, and they’re just getting started.

This is what you call driving impact. 

Tierra Davao: Capturing the vastness of Davao in an integrated-use development

“Can you imagine how big Davao really is?” asked COO Cathy as we waited for our luggage at Davao Airport. “There’s Davao City, and around it are Davao Occidental, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Davao De Oro, and Davao Oriental,” she continued, counting on her fingers.

Geography being one of this writer’s weakest points, we immediately Googled Davao, and took particular note of its shape on the map. Upon learning more about Tierra Davao, we realized that, upon completion, its shape will actually mirror the shape of all the Davao provinces around the Davao Gulf. 

(When we get to the part where we understand how CEO Tomas P. Lorenzo’s mind works, we will understand that — deliberate or not — this is all by design.)

Tierra Davao is where the TLDC-Dusit developments in Davao City will be, as well as the upcoming Crown Residences. At its full development, Tierra Davao will be a P3.2 billion integrated-use development with two residential towers called the Crown Residences and the Crest Suites, a future office and commercial tower, anchored by the dusitD2 Hotel and Dusit Thani Residence.

Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort
MARINE SANCTUARY. Lubi takes care of its surrounding waters and marine life (they also provide livelihood to surrounding communities).

dusitD2 Davao hotel and Dusit Thani in Davao City opened in 2019, along with Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation in Davao de Oro. These are TLDC’s flagship hospitality developments in partnership with Dusit International: TLDC owns these developments, while Dusit International is the operator.

Dusit Thani Residence Davao: A PREMIUM 5-STAR RETREAT YOU CAN OWN

Do you dream of owning a suite in an elegant five-star hotel or enjoying five-star amenities and services and calling it home? 

Dusit Thani Residence Davao (DTRD) is where this dream can come true, starting with an entrance and café with all the Dusit hallmarks — an elegantly designed lobby with fresh, earthy tones, light wood finishes, and soft neutrals. You won’t miss the beautiful, fresh flowers that lead you to the lobby café, and you will immediately see the inviting courtyard with swimming pools that pull you closer.

Dusit Thani Residence Davao
HOTEL + RESIDENCE. Dusit Davao gives us an exciting preview of how Tierra Davao will bring the city back to its former glory.

DTRD was our first stop for breakfast on day one. We got to meet the rest of the weekend’s entourage, including Bobby Horrigan, TLDC hospitality consultant, and CEO Tomas who had just come from a morning half-marathon run. He arrived at our breakfast table cradling a freshly peeled pomelo in his hands. Striking was his unassuming simplicity: white polo, dark blue shorts, slippers, and a cap.

“For me, everything is high-end,” Tomas began, sprinkling what looked like pepper on a saucer and dipping his pomelo onto it. “I just want to deliver something better for everyone. If it’s budget, I’ll give you value for money. If it’s high-end, I’ll give you the works.” 

And by “the works,” he meant the works: DTRD immediately comes off as a premium retreat; a luxurious urban oasis. It is warm and welcoming, with streams of sunlight seen and felt through tall glass windows accentuated with modern shutter partitions. 

Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort
REST AND RECREATION. Lubi is designed for rest and activity, perfect for groups and even solo travelers. 

And of course, the views: head up to their balconies and be welcomed by breathtaking views of the Davao Gulf and the nearby Mt. Apo — the highest point in the Philippines.

“This is something that a lot of people don’t realize: successful, wealthy people who’ve ‘been there, done that’ look for quality, but they’re not into everything screaming this and that,” Tomas continued matter-of-factly. “They’re actually into the simple things, but done well. This is my version of it.” 

Dusit Thani Residence Davao offers 174 Dusit residences and suites that range from studio (35 sqm) to 2-bedroom suite (153 sqm), complete with:

Tastefully furnished living and dining areas, a modern kitchen with a built-in oven, induction stove, range hood, and dishwasher, an elegant bath with a free-standing tub, a wardrobe closet with a full-length mirror, a flat screen IPTV.

Residents have access to the state-of-the-art DFit gym, the rejuvenating Namm Spa, and a 24-hour concierge. Upscale dining options are abundant: from the all-day Madayaw Café, Dusit Gourmet (deli), Benjarong Thai specialty restaurant, and the Siam Lounge – the newest place to be in Davao City.

They also have an exclusive residential pool and residents may enjoy preferential rates to access the courtyard-style swimming pools (lap pool, shallow-wading pool, children’s pool).

All these are complemented with high-quality, personalized service, completing the experience that is TLDC and Dusit combined. As a resident, you get to live this every day or have guests enjoy extended stays. 

dusitD2 Davao: The best of Davao City for tourists and visitors

Us weekend media guests were blessed to have stayed at dusitD2 for a night and a day, enjoying meals at Madayaw Café and attending “Archipelago,” the Dusit Davao Charity Gala held February 3 at the Dusit Thani Grand Ballroom that can accommodate up to 800 people. The “arts, fashion, and culture event for a cause” featured designs from Jun Escario, Kaayo Modern Mindanao, Emilia Sitjar Jewellery, and the divine Renee Salud. Proceeds went to SOS Children’s Village Davao and Field of Dreams Children’s Charity Foundation.

As a hotel guest, how we were welcomed in our room mattered to me: the personalized note, the fruits, the minibar treats. This writer has no words to describe the clean smell, the actual cleanliness of the room, the perfect sleep-inducing temperature, and the wonderful balcony view of the courtyard teeming with energy (and beautiful, beautiful guests). At some point, one can only stop taking photos and videos with our phone, close our eyes, breathe in the Dusit Davao air, and say a quiet “thank you.” (This Davao first timer probably uttered seventy-times-seven “thank yous.”) 

dusitD2 Davao is 15 minutes away from Davao  International Airport, the hotel is the practical choice for those staying for the weekend, whether for leisure or business. It shares the same amenities as DTRD, with the addition of the Kids Club that leads to the Grand Ballroom. 

Facilities and services include:

  • Wi-fi throughout guest rooms and public areas
  • 24 hours in-room dining
  • Concierge service
  • Business centre
  • Medical services
  • Safety deposit boxes at front desk
  • Indoor and outdoor car park
  • Limousine / transportation / car rental services
  • Laundry / dry cleaning services
  • Currency exchange
Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort: Paradise in the heart of Davao Gulf

Our day and night at Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort (or Lubi for short) was the highlight of the trip for this writer. On the 40-minute catamaran ride to the island, Tomas continued to tell us more about Davao (while enjoying some kakanin served by the attendant).

“It is the back door of the Philippines,” he said. “We have direct flights that bypass Manila.” 

According to Tomas, Davao is now insurgency-free, with a huge expat population. “Communities benefit from our developments. We bring progress,” he posited. “We do it the right way, and you immediately see the benefit of doing business correctly.”

Once we get to the quay, he points to the water surrounding the floating bridge.”This is a marine sanctuary,” he said. “And while we do not exploit the word ‘sustainability,’ we invest a lot on local and sustainability practices.” 

The man prefers to walk his talk, and walk we did: our arrival to Lubi was immediately followed by a tour that drew oohs and aahs from us journalists. 

Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort is a five-star island resort located in Davao de Oro. It is TLDC’s flagship leisure development, whose design is inspired by the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, the principal force behind what is today known globally as “tropical modernism.” 

“It is designed like an old Sri Lankan coconut plantation,” said Tomas. Lubi offers a unique lifestyle experience – pampering amidst coconut trees, white sand beaches, and access to a thriving marine life. COO Cathy told us about the turtle-hatching season which we hope to experience in our next visit.

It is the only resort on the island, ensuring privacy. Guests get to stay at luxury seafront villas that come with an alfresco tub surrounded by lush gardens, and a private terrace and pool overlooking the Davao gulf. Both Tomas and Cathy admitted that they get high-profile guests not only from the Philippines, but their identities are guarded by the Lubi team like cards held close to the heart.

Lubi has first-class facilities including a fully-equipped gym, tennis court, arcade games, billiards, giant chess board, mini golf, a pitch and putt, and a recording studio. It is a perfect setting for destination weddings with the following venues to choose from: the Holy Family Chapel, the Tamsi Wedding Hall, or the beachfront. Lubi has anything and everything for guests who need total rest and reset.

“I built this resort because there was a need. I knew that the demographic shift in Davao and the increase in income will require that,” he continued. “There is a lag time. You need six years to build this. And by the time it’s finished, this market — that’s probably five years old — will be ready to travel.”

Tomas, a fan of observing, learning, and doing, shared how one line from the show “The Blacklist” proved cathartic. “James Spader had the best line I’ve ever heard. He said, ‘What I’d give to be able to sleep as well as I did as a boy.’ When I heard that, I was like, wow.”

“So how do I connect that to what I do? I find a way to get people to relax,” he said. “Even my whole concept of the island — I wanted it to feel like something old, something from another era when time was slower. So when you get there, you slow down. You’re not staring at something super modern, super glitzy.” 

“I’m assuming that the people who go there want to feel relaxed, enjoy the space, all of that. All those little things, I hope, will help them sleep very well,” Tomas added. “If they say they slept very well, just because they heard the birds, or they saw the ocean, or they saw a manicured lawn that they could walk barefoot on — it means I’ve already succeeded.”

The dining choices at Lubi are as vast as its sister properties in the city: the resort offers local and international options from the Filipino Tarictic Grill to the Burger Bar at The Mill, and the Ga-ti Thai Restaurant.

The overall experience on the island embodies Dusit’s distinct brand of Thai-inspired, gracious hospitality blended with the warmth of the Filipinos for a truly unique resort experience that will leave you wanting more. “That’s the feeling I want our guests to bring with them when they leave,” Tomas said with a smile. “That feeling that they haven’t had enough, they want more, and they will return. Hopefully, with their loved ones or even colleagues.”

Lubi’s layout is also perfect for corporate activities such as team building, retreats, or simply “being.” (Yes, it is very safe for solo travelers.)

Recreational amenities include:

  • The Warehouse for day experience guests
  • The Mill Game Centre which houses various entertainment options
  • The Dive Centre for those who want to enjoy the marine sanctuary and water sports
  • Sports and wellness spots like the tennis court, private beach, infinity pool, and more

Turtle hatchlings at Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort

Facilities include:

  • Wi-fi access everywhere
  • Parking at Dusit Mabini Davao de Oro Welcome Centre
  • Private check-in/out
  • Babysitting services
Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort is for everyone. “Everyone is a VIP,” said Tomas.

How does one get to Lubi? Let us count the ways: 

1. Via catamaran, recommended because of the wonderful captain and attendant (30 to 45 minutes)

2. Via land travel, not recommended after a typhoon because of possible floods and landslides (1 hour and 45 minutes)

3. Via private transpo (helicopter), recommended for guests who prefer to fly in and out quietly

Solar power, self-sufficiency, and sustainability: How TLDC walks their talk

Sustainability has been a marketing by-word of a lot of real estate and hospitality establishments for many years now, with some even citing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Solar Farm at Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort
THE PROMISE OF SUSTAINABILITY. Solar energy and a safe space for hatching turtles — Lubi is a sanctuary in more ways than one.

At Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort, sustainability is literally everywhere.

1. Powered by clean and renewable solar energy

“That’s our solar farm. We are off-grid, so we need gen sets to supply our power requirements,” Tomas said, pointing to their solar farm during the press tour. “Our solar farm now works in tandem with our gen sets so we lower our fuel costs. When the sun is up, we get as much as 70 percent of our power from solar.” 

He added, “We’re increasing the solar panels to produce even more, and we’ll have storage batteries so we can really store the power to be used even on cloudy days and at night.”

2. Water management systems

“There’s water underneath us. There’s an aquifer that’s like a balloon that’s from three feet to 68 feet. We draw on that water,” Tomas said. “In Mindanao there’s hardly any typhoon, but it rains a lot. The rain refills our aquifer; it’s like having a balloon that gets refilled every day.” 

“We draw on that water and we have a full reverse osmosis plant to clean our water to Agua Vida level. You can actually drink water from the shower and the tap.”

3. Energy saving systems

Lubi uses heat from the air conditioning systems to produce hot water for showers. Outside their rooms and villas, guests will see the aircon and heater side by side, exposed, for them to see and appreciate.

“It costs us zero to produce hot water. That saves power equivalent to 287 plantsas,” said Tomas. 

4. Environmentally friendly materials

All sidewalks and pathways are made from crushed seashells that have washed up on the shores. “We have Bermuda grass all over, because it grows so well on the island. We’re using local grass, local plants to make sure that you keep that local flavor.” 

“See this sea lettuce?” Tomas asked, pointing to a plant seen everywhere in the resort. “This just grows on the seaside, pero we started to use it for fencing.” 

Lubi also prides itself in their waste management systems and health related features. They are also self-sufficient. “We have our own herb garden. We make our own pandan for Benjarong,” said Tomas, pausing and looking at a small part of the 21 hectares he has developed. (The island where Lubi is situated is 87 hectares big.)

“Everything that we can grow, we grow.” 

Tomas Lorenzo: The man behind the name

Tomas Agustin P. Lorenzo, founder and CEO of Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation, is an enigma. He can go from being a nerdy information bank (he can talk just about anything and everything thanks to his natural curiosity) to being a strict businessman with high standards he does not apologize for.

When you have the chance to connect with Tomas, rise up. His persona is palpable in every TLDC development. This writer had to do the same in a one-hour chat over coffee, where the conversation went from his college degree to Gen Z and AI. We’ve taken note of his Tomas-isms on different aspects of his life.

On his humble beginnings

“We didn’t grow up wealthy, but there was enough hunger to better ourselves. We all received a good education (in the family). So when you marry that with hunger, there’s something to draw from when faced with big breaks.”

Torre Lorenzo Development Corp.

Tomas shared three secrets that he believes make people successful, borne from his experience dealing with them and his knack for observing.

“First is skill or intelligence, which means that they’re good at something. Smart at something. Something to get them ahead. 

Torre Lorenzo Development Corp.

“Second is hunger. You can have a very smart person, very gifted, but not hungry — that’s when the entitlement comes in, and it’s actually counterproductive.

“Third — which is really out of your control — is luck. Big breaks. The right place at the right time, whatever you wanna call it.” 

“I come from a big family, and nobody was spoiled, because everybody had to work, and our future was basically in our hands. The only thing my parents gave me was an education,” he said.

On why he founded Torre Lorenzo Development Corp

“I’ve always been starting businesses. So right after college, I was already here in Davao doing agriculture-related businesses. But my businesses were always connected to whatever our family was doing. I would figure out, ‘What can I do that’s different?’ and then I’d do it.”

Tomas took his master’s degree in Wharton and while there, the observant entrepreneur’s vision began taking shape. “I saw how well all the students were living, and wished there was something like that in the Philippines.” 

“I believe in always improving, and my motto is, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way.’” So being an entrepreneur, I didn’t just implement it. I adapted it. I came back to the Philippines, and that’s where we started: real estate, mostly for students.”

On what he is proudest of in the first 25 years of TLDC

“Number one, people know us. People now know who we are. People now know the brand, and they are more than happy to be our residents, stay in our projects, or even work for us. I’m proud of that,” Tomas began.

“Second, of course, I’m proud of our projects. Even our oldest project is as well-maintained as the day it was turned over. Meaning we set out with certain goals and we’ve stuck to those goals. We did not dilute. We were pragmatic, but we did not dilute our standards.” 

“The third is that we’ve broken out and we’re not just doing university residences, we’re actually doing more than that. And, we’ve been able to come up with projects that help improve the lives of people,not just in Metro Manila, but also outside of it.”

After a full two days spent with Tomas, the most poignant answer he gave this writer was when we asked him our final question during our proper one-on-one.

Writer: “Last question, Tomas. I wonder, every night, before you fall asleep, what your last thought is.” 

Tomas: “Please God, let me sleep. Totoo. At the end of the day, it’s just that. Trying to be at peace with yourself, and hoping that you’re using the right pillow.” 

Torre Lorenzo Development Corp awards and recognitions throughout the years:

For the company

Best Boutique Developer, PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards
2019, 2022, 2023

HR Asia’s Best Companies to Work For in Asia 
2022, 2023

HR Asia’s Most Caring Companies Award
2022, 2023

For the projects

PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards 2019

  • Best Condo in PH, Best High-end Condo – Dusit Thani Residence Davao
  • Best Hotel Interior Design – dusitD2 Davao
PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards 2022

  • Best Resort Development – Dusit Thani Lubi Plantation Resort
  • Highly Commended for Best Branded Residential Development – The Suites at Torre Lorenzo Malate
PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards 2023

  • Best Co-Living Space and Best Alternative Accommodation – lyf Malate Manila
  • Best Integrated WFH Development – 3Torre Lorenzo