A $1 million botanical garden — complete with walking trails and exotic flowers and plants — is set to open June 1 at the northern end of bustling Pale San Vitores.
David Su vice president of Manhattan Guam Inc. and manager of the Royal Orchid Hotel is the garden’s project marketing coordinator and landlord.
Su told the Journal he was developing the botanical gardens at the location of the former Wild West Gun Club to provide a relaxing sanctuary for visitors in the heart of the tourism industry. “There has been a lot of talk about eco-tourism. We have decided that we are going to bring to the door of the visitor industry on Guam a place that will show the culture and the flora and fauna without tourists having to spend time traveling across the island — only to partially see what may or may not be a good experience for them ” Su said.
The solitude of the garden will be in stark contrast to the wild excitement nearby in Tumon such as the heart-stopping Slingshot ride strip shows and nightclubs. The garden has not yet been named and entrance fees have not yet been established.
The botanical garden is being developed on a three-acre site across from the Guam Hotel Okura located between The Westin Resort Guam and the Hotel Nikko Guam. Su said the location will be serene and allow people to walk quietly among different motifs depicting early pre-Spanish Chamorro times — including Latte stones and village life up to the colonized era.
“We are going to give the customer a very unique walk through history in the park. They will be able to see what life on Guam was like hundreds of years ago while at the same time enjoying the flowers and vegetation native to the island as well ” Su said.” “It really will be an incredible adventure without some of the heart-stopping thrills and scares that a younger crowd may desire.”
“By creating more attractions for our visitors we are helping everyone in the tourism industry which is what drives our economy ” Su said. “Our research has shown us that there is a need for this type of an attraction and we feel it will be very successful.”
“Just like the botanical gardens in Singapore and in Hong Kong ours on Guam will be an evolving project ever changing thereby ever interesting to visitors and locals alike ” Su said.
The botanical gardens will include a wedding chapel which will have as a backdrop a large waterfall facing the ocean.
“It will be a place where people could spend the entire day ” Su said. “I know it is difficult to imagine what it will be like but I can say it will be a beautiful restful and also very informative place that compliments the Chamorro culture.”
Su said he planned to invite local school classes to come and enjoy the park which he said will have local guides explaining “Chamorro folklore and legends throughout the pathways of the sprawling park.”
The master landscaper is Michael Gonzalez whose work includes the Pacific Islands Club Guam water park the Hamamoto Fruit Garden Watabe Wedding chapels and several golf courses on Guam and Saipan. Additional landscaping is being done by Allen’s Inc. the attraction’s owner.
As part of the research and development phase Su said his company spoke with tour operators and visitors through special surveys and received positive feedback as well as comments that Guam neededs a garden setting and that it will serve a more mature clientele.
Manhattan Inc. owns the Fountain Plaza in Tumon. Su is also representing off-island bidders for the Mamajano Business Park redevelopment project which will be located where John F. Kennedy High and Chief Brodie Memorial schools are and the Oka Point project located at the site of the former Guam Memorial Hospital in Tumon.
In order to expand Guam’s tourism base there is a need to create new attractions he said. MBJ