Batman, figure-8 Ferris wheel to the rescue for planners in Macau

Meeting planners say Macau will have taken big strides in diversifying its entertainment options away from gaming once a cinematic-themed integrated resort opens in Cotai.

Event organisers and DMCs were given a special preview of the opportunities for post-conference thrills and entertainment at Studio City. Planners say the project by Melco is a further step towards widening the choices for MICE groups in Macau with the attractions on one site and “where the gambling side clearly takes a second role”.

Johanna Nordell Axelsson, Senior Project Manager for Imagination, one of the event specialists who attended the preview, said: “I believe Studio City is the new destination for families and MICE events – it’s all about the experience and offering a total solution under one umbrella.”

Brooke Beales, director of marketing and communications for MCI Hong Kong and Macau, said: “Studio City brings so many new elements to Macau: magic, action rides, Golden Reel, themed dining, theatres with VIP suites, new family and children’s areas all wrapped up in a Hollywood theme and stunning art deco design. It strengthens Macau’s position as one of the best MICE destinations in the world. MCI Macau is very excited about delivering outstanding event experiences for groups in this new destination.”

Alongside the cinematic and cartoon-themed leisure attractions, the US$3.2 billion Studio City will have a 5,000-seat events arena, 4,000 sqm of function space – including a 1,800 sqm pillarless ballroom – eight event salons and outdoor areas available for hire.

Golden Reel
A centerpiece of the art deco-style main hotel building will be the Golden Reel, a Ferris wheel in the shape of the figure eight, which will be the highest of its type in Asia. The wheel will be illuminated at night and is set to become another landmark in Cotai, the reclaimed land that has seen the bulk of Macau’s integrated resort development.

Grant Johnson, vice president, sales and marketing for Melco Crown Entertainment, says the attraction will also be available for event and conference groups using what will be the latest property along Cotai Strip.

An opening date later in the year for the 1,600-guest room hotel and integrated resort is expected to be announced in July.

Johnson told an audience of Hong Kong-based industry representatives at the Renaissance Harbourview that private access to the wheel can be arranged for a two-hour period. 

Jay Dee Clayton, who heads Studio City Macau as property president, has returned to Asia from the United States where he worked as a consultant. He was previously an executive vice-president of operations at Wynn Macau.

Clayton says Studio City will contribute to Macau’s overall strategy to diversify its attractions into family entertainment and leisure tourism. This drive to take the emphasis off gaming also entails widening the products available to organisers of meetings, incentives, conferences and corporate events.

Di Caprio and Brad Pitt
Entertainment options available for use by meeting and event groups at Studio City include the Batman Dark Flight, an immersive flight-simulation developed in collaboration with Warner Bros and DC Comics. Johnson says arrangements can be made for groups of 72 to enjoy the Batman flight digital ride prior to a banquet where they will be met by “Alfred the butler”, the maitre de of Bruce Wayne’s mansion in the DC Comics series.

Master illusionist Franz Harary has also given his name to the entertainment offerings at Studio City with a specially designed theatre that will feature the world’s top magicians.

The Audition, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro,  Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt, will be premiered at Studio City’s opening. The stars play actors vying in front of Scorsese for a heavyweight role. Johnson says the production is set to be the biggest short film production in cinematic history.

“We’ve tried to pull out all the stops with this property, but what we do that is totally different is about bringing diverse entertainment choices to Macau,” says Johnson. “MICE is really about more than ballrooms: it’s about what goes on outside those ballrooms and we are opening that to event planners and DMCs.”

Restaurants such as the Shanghai Magic and the Pacha nightclub brand will also be available to event planners in addition to space around the “Lazy River” aquatic area.

The development comes amid sharp declines in casino revenue largely brought about by the Chinese government’s crackdown on corruption and lavish spending by officials. Studio City’s neigbhouring properties on Cotai have also announced projects that take the emphasis away from gaming. These include the Phase 2 development of Galaxy Macau, which includes the Broadway retail street, and JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels. Sands Macao also signed an agreement with a Chinese property developer to explore the sports market in China and leveraging the events such as basketball and boxing that have been staged at the Venetian Macau.

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