Where would we be without tycoons? Ask that in Hong Kong and – depending on who responds – the feelings about titans of capitalism these days are rather mixed. In Macau, however, the moneymen and women seem to be pointing the way. And the direction is towards what lies beyond a bridge and customs point known locally as Lotus Bridge.
The very name conjures a dreamy Chinese garden with the fung shui set in the right place. Studio City Macau’s side entrance is conveniently opposite the start of the bridge that leads to Hengqin island and beyond that Zhuhai to the huge market of Guangdong with its links to the rest of China.
But the garden is undergoing cultivation and the view across the Cotai Strip from a cabin on Studio City’s figure-8-shaped Golden Reel is thrilling, but not aesthetically pleasing when taking in the huge brown construction site out front. The view on the other side, down towards the resort’s lagoon and poolside areas, does make up for the work in progress on the other side
“Old-money” Wall Street brokers Sterne Agee have now weighed in with a note to investors that infrastructure projects outside Melco’s latest offering are hitting the property’s ability to drive in more business. Melco boss Lawrence Ho has said that despite his optimism about Macau’s transition towards a more leisure and business events market rather than one with a gaming focus, there will nonetheless be “tough times” in the interim. All this despite the fantastic product inside that more recently includes corporate boxes that can be branded during events at the Studio City Events Centre.
Galaxy Entertainment chairman Lui Chee-woo could’ve been tempted to throw his hallmark cloth cap into ring when he made a call that the Macau gaming market has reached a bottom after two years of continuous decline. Macau could do with more of this morale-raising stuff as Cotai faces a huge supply of rooms and meeting inventory in the midst of a fall in visitors from mainland China. All this with The Parisian and Wynn Palace set to open this year adding 4,706 rooms between them. Then there’s the turn of MGM’s venture into Cotai… and more to come too.
Steve Wynn, who also makes a late entry to Cotai, rolled out his PR machine with a media event at The Peninsula Hong Kong on May 16. The Vegas tycoon’s properties were positioned as oil paintings with a personality cult being softly woven around his “works of art” with the Wynn Palace his latest masterpiece. This would rankle not a few Hongkongers, but perhaps it’s the vision Macau needs.