MANNY OSMEÑA IS SUCCESSFUL IN OPERATING A HANDFUL OF BUSINESSES. BUT THE LIFESTYLE HE OFFERS IS HIS MOST LUCRATIVE AND REWARDING WORK TO DATE
As Manny Osmeña navigates his photo shoot, you wouldn’t have guessed that just 10 minutes ago he had gotten out of his car to brisk walk through Bonifacio Global City (BGC) gridlock with his blazer on a hanger to get to our interview. After warm greetings and apologies for his tardiness, he quickly disappears to change and freshen up.
My first impression based on his cropped hair, trim physique, and low-key manner (he walked in without an entourage, carrying his own things) is that he’s simple, self-assured, and matter-of-fact. He emerges donning said blazer—a well-constructed, breezy, beige linen number he bought during a trip to Spain—and he calmly and expertly poses for the camera, wine glass in hand, giving the photographer an abundance of options as I casually chat him up about his past infatuation with the medium.
His backdrop is the newly opened Ibiza Beach Club at the W City Centre, a massive restaurant with an enormous dining area, multilevel stage for nightly performances, private salon, outdoor decks with submerged banquets, and a jacuzzi. Like Osmeña, it makes quite a first impression. Looking closely at the finishings of the 3,000-square-meter establishment, everything is well-executed; from the bolts on the floorto-ceiling wooden planks, which are supposed to mimic the bowels of a ship, to the porous stone flooring of the deck, which is an elegant contrast to the clear pools surrounding the recessed sitting areas, and even to the pod-like cubicles in the bathrooms, which, to the ordinary person, are perfect as is. Not to Osmeña. “It’s supposed to have the sheen of an Aston Martin,” he opines. “Well, we’re already open so I don’t know how they can fix that.”
The same focus on well-crafted minimalism extends to the menu. Ibiza offers familiar Continental dishes in various languages. “We have burgers, barbecues, paella,” he enumerates. “It’s comfort food from all over the world. Simple food but good. For me, it’s all about consistency over showmanship.” The piéce de résistance is their Balearic grill (very similar to the Brazilian churrasco Filipinos are more familiar with), which is the theme of their 15-course set menu. It is abundant and utilizes premium ingredients such as lamb chops, Angus rib-eye, and fresh prawns, but it is quite straightforward in its preparation method. Simple but perfectly grilled, and flavored with diverse Mediterranean marinades and Asian sauces.
RUNS IN THE FAMILY
“I’m a perfectionist,” Osmeña candidly admits, and it resonates in how he lives and what he does. He operates a handful of businesses, each as grand as the next; from hotels and a wine brand to airline catering, airport management and logistics.
Though notoriously nocturnal, he spends his late hours working, thinking up new concepts and making what already exists even better. His staff has a habit of checking their e-mails first thing in the morning because they can be sure Osmeña will have fresh instructions for them before he turns in at the break of dawn.
While he admits to always having had a creative bent, his entrepreneurial skill is something he honed from a young age. As the eldest of 11 siblings in a FilipinoChinese family, he surmises that a life in business was inevitable. However, he also grew up in a family that believed in living it up. “We were always eating out, whether in Cebu or Manila. Our family loved to eat and some of us drink,” he recalls with a smile. “We’re such a big family, so we can really fill up a restaurant. We can be loud, but we also order well.”
A self-confessed “nerd,” his vice of choice growing up was traveling. However, it was not the hedonistic lifestyle you would imagine from the scion of a well-todo Tsinoy family. Osmeña would always bring Filipinomade products with him on his travels to Europe, selling anything from flip-flops to women’s sleepwear. “I used that money to finance my travels,” he says.
“While these paint a picture of a life supplemented by solid values and work ethics, Osmeña never claimed perfection. In an interview with Entrepreneur, he was just as cunning and ruthless as the best of them, admitting that he used to be “too money-oriented when he was younger that even his children openly call him a moneymaking monster who prioritized nothing but wealth.” In the same article he admitted to being an atheist, “a persecutor of the church,” more than 30 years ago. It took some personal catastrophes—his wife’s passing due to cancer, financial troubles during the Asian financial
That’s a sign that you are doing
it right. It’s about igniting a feeling. You have a sip of wine or walk into a room
and you are transported.
crisis--to turn his life around and make him the spiritual and generous man he is today.”
Osmeña knows exactly what he wants. He is very particular about his artistry and insists only on the most refined craftsmanship. Ibiza Beach Club, from the ground up, is his vision and design. With a P300 million price tag, he was unrelenting in his vision and refused to compromise. In regard to his partners in the BGC branch, he claims, “I had to make sure that they were on board with my vision.” Talks with a Malaysian partner broke down because the other party had conflicting input regarding the aesthetics as well as other creative differences. However, he is bullish when it comes to his creations. The chairs alone went through several prototypes before he deemed them acceptable for reproduction. And it’s these designs for the furnishings and interiors that act as Ibiza Beach Club’s DNA for possible future franchises.
His efforts are not for naught, as he shares the reaction of the Swiss ambassador, a good friend of his, when she walked into the cavernous BGC establishment. “I feel like I’m on a holiday,” she said. It’s this kind of reaction that Osmeña is always aiming for in his ventures. “It’s about having an emotional connection,” he excitedly says. “That’s a sign that you are doing it right, whether it’s your marriage or with winemaking or with the Beach Club. It’s about igniting a feeling. You have a sip of wine or walk into a room and you are transported.”
Manny Osmeña and his latest venture