As if the Cotai Strip wasn’t big and brash enough already, next year will witness further phenomenal growth as a plethora of new hotels, casinos and pleasure palaces either open or break ground. Sands China is set to throw open the doors in 2015 to its The Parisian Macao – the company’s fourth property on the strip. Built at an estimated cost of US$2.7 billion, it will feature a replica Eiffel Tower, about 3,000 rooms and suites, a casino, entertainment complexes, a mall and MICE space. Joining The Parisian will be Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Galaxy Macau Phase 2, another mega project that it’s calling the “New Palace of Asia”. The development includes Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels, with expanded gaming and retail space.
Wynn Resorts is also building on the success of its first project in Cotai, the Wynn Complex, and is set to open in 2016 what will be its second integrated luxury resort, the Wynn Palace. Looking further ahead, a 15,000-seat entertainment venue called the Wynn Diamond Coliseum is also being discussed. Meanwhile, City of Dreams recently revealed project details and the design by Zaha Hadid Architects of its fifth hotel tower. Expected to open in 2017 the innovative building has an exposed exoskeleton and comprises 40 floors, with about 780 guestrooms, suites and villas, casino and sky pool. Finally, Hollywood royalty arrives in Macau next year when Studio City opens, as it will feature a short film directed by Martin Scorsese and reportedly starring Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. The large-scale integrated entertainment, retail and gaming resort has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, but the red carpet is being readied nevertheless.
In May, Sands China celebrated ten years since opening its first property on the Cotai Strip – a stretch of reclaimed land that has filled the peninsula with integrated resorts, casinos and shopping outlets. The opening of Sands China piqued interest among other property magnates, who have since developed over 120,000 sqm of casino space, 9,000 hotel rooms and more than 600 luxury and mid-market retailers. This growth has turned Macau on its head, transforming it from a quiet weekend destination to a colossal gaming hub that has eclipsed Las Vegas in earnings. Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Conrad opened properties this year, but next year is going to be big – even by Cotai standards.
With this surge of foreign investment came the demand for greater events and meetings facilities, and new and unique venues have mushroomed. Thankfully, Macau’s culture and heritage sites have not been ignored by the region’s MICE developers, and profits from the gaming industry have been ploughed back in to historic venues such as the Albergue de Santa Casa de Misericórdia. Renovated in 2003, the former Elderly Ladies’ Home was opened to the public in 2009, offering its courtyard and whitewashed galleries for photo exhibitions, poetry readings and open lectures. Built in the early 20th century, the Albergue’s yellow exterior is a telltale trait of its colonial roots – a charming characteristic of Portuguese buildings around Macau’s historic centre.
One of the few properties to have retained some of Macau’s former tranquillity is the 208-room Grand Coloane Beach Resort, formerly the Westin Resort Macau. Located on 150 acres of verdant land, the hotel’s 18-hole championship golf course is popular among delegates crossing the border from Hong Kong and China. Aside from its panoramic coastal views, the Grand Coloane is known for its outdoor venues and patio space, shrouded in hanging vines and ideal for relaxed cocktail receptions. The hotel’s 300 sqm garden marquee is the only structure of its kind in Macau, and has been used for conferences, product launches and business seminars. In addition, the poolside and two courtyards are popular venues for corporate fairs, live performances and teambuilding cooking classes.
The Cotai Strip has become Macau’s prime destination for meeting planners looking to buy in bulk. Luxury hotels such as the Conrad, Sheraton and Four Seasons are linked via a mega maze of retailers and restaurants known as The Shoppes. Bringing it all together is the Venetian Macao, the largest integrated resort in Asia, which houses over 120,000 sqm of convention and meetings facilities including the 15,000-seat Cotai Arena, which hosts product launches, sporting events and concerts, from Céline Dion to the Rolling Stones.
Integrated resorts are Macau’s lifeblood– following the example of Cotai Strip Resorts, City of Dreams opened in 2007 with three hotel brands that include the Grand Hyatt and Crown Towers and an assortment of dining and shopping outlets. The resort is also known as Macau’s entertainment destination, touting acclaimed shows like The House of Dancing Water and Macau’s largest nightclub, Club Cubic. Galaxy Macau sets itself apart as a hub for ‘Asian hospitality’. Home to the Banyan Tree, Hotel Okura and the Galaxy Hotel, it has the world’s largest rooftop wave pool, measuring 4,000 sqm. At Hotel Okura’s Yamazato restaurant, groups can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony while sat inside an otherworldly paper pod. For something a bit stronger, groups can enjoy a sake tasting experience with 50 varieties of sake.