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MacaoMarch 31, 2008 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent
Move over Las Vegas—here comes competition
That little blip on travel agents’ radar is Macao, and it’s getting bigger and beeping more loudly with every passing day. Macao (also spelled “Macau”) lies 37 miles to the southwest of Hong Kong and is in the midst of a full-tilt construction boom to the tune of billions of dollars. In the process, the island is rapidly transforming into a gambling mecca to rival Las Vegas.
A guest room with a view of the harbor at Wynn Macau
Last year, the top 10 visitor-generating source markets for Macao were mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the U.S., Singapore and Thailand. Mainland China remains the largest source of travelers, accounting for more than 55 percent of total visitor arrivals.
It’s hard to say if Americans will come to Macao in significant numbers. At present, the island which is an engaging mix of Portuguese and Chinese cultures makes a colorful and exciting add-on to a Hong Kong journey.
Macao and the islands of Taipa and Coloane are connected by a reclaimed strip of land called Cotai, which is the cornerstone of a resort area called the Las Vegas Sands’ Cotai Strip. The Cotai Strip has an impressive slate of projects on the drawing board, including hotel properties from Four Seasons, Sheraton, St. Regis, Shangri-La, Traders, Hilton, Conrad, Fairmont and Raffles. When all these projects reach completion, there will be up to 20,000 new guest rooms.
Vegas-Style Casino Hotels
The $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel (www.venetianmacao.com) opened last year to great fanfare. At 10.5 million square feet, it claims to be twice the size of the Las Vegas original. The property has 3,000 rooms, a 15,000-seat sports arena, 1.2 million square feet of convention space and multiple fine dining venues. Visitors will get a hint of Venice in the decor, although gondolas share the waters of the canal with Chinese sampans (wooden boats). Cirque du Soleil is developing a specially designed show for the hotel’s 1,800-seat Venetian Theatre, set to premier this summer.
There are three types of suites in the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. Bella Suites and Royale Suites are both 246 square feet. The main difference is that Bella has two queen-size beds, while Royale has one king-size bed. The Rialto Suites are the largest available at 557 square feet. Suites afford striking vistas, and depending on the location of their room, guests have views of the Grado Golf Course or the Cotai Strip.
The 8,000-square-foot V SPA has 19 treatment rooms, two of which are couples’ rooms. The spa director is Johan Potgieter. Agents can make advance spa reservations by contacting [email protected]. Agent inquiries can be directed to [email protected].
Since opening in 2006, Wynn Macau (www.wynnmacau.com) has been winning accolades for its rooms, restaurants and casino. As the first Las Vegas-style integrated luxury resort in Asia, Wynn Macau comprises a five-star hotel, designer shops, spa, performance venues and three restaurants.
Each of Wynn’s 600 guest rooms and suites in the hotel’s signature bronze tower comes with spacious bathrooms, Italian linens and flat-screen TVs and are a minimum of 183 square feet. All suites also include private massage rooms. The most luxurious rooms are the two-bedroom Sky Suites, with views overlooking Nam Van Lake and Macao city. Sky Suites average 912 square feet of living space with floor-to-ceiling windows; his-and-her bathrooms with dressing areas, glass-enclosed shower and ultra-deep bathing wells; an in-room spa therapy suite; 24-hour personal butler service; special reception through the Wynn Club Entrance for VIP check-in; and access to the exclusive amenities of the Wynn Club. There are 240 sets of connecting rooms at the hotel. The two-bedroom Lake Suites and two-bedroom Sky Suites are recommended for large families. Agent inquiries should be directed to the hotel’s reservations department (853-8986-9966,
Exterior view of MGM Grand Maca
The Spa facilities comprise 14 treatment rooms, including three couples’ rooms, for massages, body treatments, facials and hydrotherapy. The “Wynn Favourite” is a popular spa package that includes a one-night stay at the resort, a welcome healing tea, a spa gift, an Instant Recovery Massage for two persons, spa cuisine for two, a romantic bath therapy of your choice in your room and unlimited access to spa and fitness facilities. The spa director is Melissa Dowell. For reservations and inquiries, contact The Spa at 853-8986-3228 or
The hotel’s three signature restaurants are Okada (Japanese), Ristorante il Teatro (Italian) and Wing Lei (Chinese). Signature dishes include Abalone Mini Hotpot at Okada; Herb-Crusted Milk-Fed Rack of Lamb with Mustard Sauce at il Teatro; and Deep-Fried Almond-Coated Prawns Laced with Wasabi Sauce at Wing Lei. Restaurant reservations can be made through the hotel’s main reservations hotline (853-8986-3663).
Wynn Macau’s proposed expansion includes the $600 million Wynn Diamond Suites hotel tower. The tower will house 400 suites and villas, as well as restaurants, retail and gaming space. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2010.
When guests check into the 600-room MGM Grand Macau (www.mgmgrandmacau.com) they’ll be captivated by a delicate, hand-blown, glass-flower ceiling by American glass artist Chihuly, valued at $1.78 million. The hotel has 52 connecting rooms; large families should opt for one of the suites. Prime accommodation choices include the Grand Deluxe Ocean View Rooms, which have windows looking out over the waterfront with great views of the city and sea. The One-Bedroom Grand Suite and Two-Bedroom Grand Deluxe Suite services include VIP in-room check-in and 24-hour butler service.
A guest room at Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16
The hotel’s spa has seven treatment rooms and one facial room. The most popular treatment is the Six Senses Massage Fusion, which blends Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy and sports massage. E-mail
The hotel’s Aux Beaux Arts Brasserie is overseen by Michelin-star chef Philippe Marc. A favorite choice with diners is Plateau de Fruits de Mer lobster, prawns, mussels, scallops and oysters served on ice for two persons. Travel agents with questions can reach out to Irene Wong, director of sales (
The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel at night
When it opens this April, the five-star Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 (www.sofitelmacau.com
Le Mistral, the hotel’s 24-hour restaurant, serves traditional French dishes, such as Confit Duck Leg and Pan-fried French Sea Bass Fillet. For dessert, diners are urged to try the Sofitel Macau Chocolate Surprise. Farther down the road, the Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 plans to have its own spa. Agents with VIP requests can contact the hotel’s sales and marketing department (
Location: The Macau Special Administrative Region is part of the People’s Republic of China. Macao is off the southeast coast of China, 37 miles from Hong Kong and 87 miles from Guangzhou.
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and visa. Visas can be obtained from the
Immigration Services through Embassies/Consulates of the People’s Republic of China. Visas for a period of 30 days are also available on arrival in Macao at Immigration Services. For further information, call the Macau
Immigration Services of Public Security Police Force at 853-2872-5488 or visit www.fsm.gov.mo.
Getting There: Macau International Airport is located on Taipa Island. Here, it is possible to book direct flights to several destinations in the region and then make connecting flights to the U.S., Asia and Europe.
Visitors from the U.S. traveling to Macao via Hong Kong have a number of options.
High-speed catamarans, jetfoils and ferries make frequent roundtrip journeys between Hong Kong and Macao. TurboJET (www.turbojet.com.hk) journeys will take one hour. Trips are made between the Hong Kong Ferry Terminal (in the Shun Tak Centre at Sheung Wan) and the Macau Ferry Terminal (in the Outer Harbour). First Ferry (www.nwff.com.hk) has catamarans offering roundtrip sailings to and from Macao and Kowloon, arriving at the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. The journey takes about one to one-and-a-half hours. Cotai Strip CotaiJet (www.cotaijet.com.mo) runs ferry service between Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal and Macau Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal.Travel time is approximately one hour. There is also regularly scheduled helicopter service between Hong Kong and Macao, a 20-minute flight, operated by Heli Express (www.heliexpress.com).
Currency: The Pataca (MOP) is Macao’s official currency. At press time, U.S. $1 equaled MOP $8.01.
Language: Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages; Cantonese is the most widely spoken.