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Macau’s Gamble

Macau is well known as the world’s biggest, most over-the-top gaming capital. Where else could you enjoy an indoor gondola ride followed by the world’s tallest bungee jump? But its latest attempt at reinvention might be its biggest gamble yet.

Stunned by plunging revenues as a result of the Chinese leadership combating corruption and prolific spending, venues are scrambling to diversify their casino-led offerings, creating more family-friendly spaces, entertainment options and enhancing meetings and incentive travel.

As a result, Macau’s glittering Cotai strip now offers a Batman-inspired digital ride, a house of magic, a giant Ferris wheel and a 40,000 square foot Warner Bros-themed fun zone – and that’s just Studio City…

Hollywood Glamour

Melco Crown’s Macau Studio City, the city’s first cinematic-themed integrated resort, opened in October. One of the resort’s highlights is the iconic Golden Reel, a Ferris wheel in the shape of a figure eight set in the center of the hotel’s towers.

The fun doesn’t stop there, with a Warner Bros and DC Comics collaboration offering an immersive flight-simulation ride called the “Batman Dark Flight.” This 4D, sensory overload experience, allows riders to join the masked crusader as he fights Gotham city’s super villains.

Joining the line-up of Macau’s shows is the House of Magic, a three-theatre arena pitched as a hub for the world’s leading magicians. Hosted by leading illusionist Franz Harary, it features daily live magic shows, including Harary’s resident show Mega Magic. Ibiza import Pacha nightclub has also debuted at Studio City, adding to the region’s growing nightlife scene.

Paying tribute to the resort’s Hollywood inspiration, a short film directed by Martin Scorsese was unveiled at the Studio City launch, starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Alongside these big-ticket names, the 15-minute corporate-sponsored film features plenty of promotional shots of Studio City.

Besides the cinematic and cartoon-themed attractions, the $3.2 billion Studio City has a 1,600-guest room hotel housed in two towers, the Celebrity Tower and the all-suite Star Tower.

Red Carpet Entrance

At the impending Wynn Palace, it’s all about a grand arrival. Guests will be transported over a lake via cable cars to check into the hotel. Casino magnate Steve Wynn invested $4.1 billion in the development of his second property in Macau. The 1,700-room Wynn Palace, due to open later this year, will be his first foray into Cotai.

There will be a casino within Wynn Palace, but $3 billion of the total investment has been pledged to non-gaming developments such as the eight-acre “performance lake.”  With 300 water nozzles and 800,000 gallons of water, guests will be treated to spectacular shows of water, light, color and fire set to music. Art installations, such as a large jellyfish aquarium and Dragon of Fortune statue, are also featured alongside retail space and luxury restaurants as alternative entertainment options.

International Experience

With a taste of Italy already established at the Venetian, it seems almost natural to add a flavor of France. At a cost of $2.7 billion, Sands China is developing its fourth property, The Parisian, with a half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower as its main attraction. The 3,000-room hotel will also feature a Versailles inspired rooftop garden and a 300,000-square-foot retail mall like Paris’s Champs-Elysees, expected to open in the latter half of 2016.

Sands China is also expanding its entertainment repertoire across existing properties, having put on Broadway shows including “Cats” and “Beauty and the Beast” in 2015 at the Venetian Macao.

With its signature 24/7 butler service, the 400-room St Regis Macau added another first to the city. Additionally, the property offers The Manor with its five unique dining experiences, while the Iridium Spa on the 38th floor overlooks the Cotai Strip.

Expanding the Galaxy

Three new properties at the integrated resort Galaxy Macau (JW Marriott, The Broadway Hotel and Ritz-Carlton) present additional accommodation options in the city. Galaxy has also extended its spectacular Grand Resort Deck, which now spans over 18 acres and features the world’s longest skytop aquatic adventure river ride, “Skytop Adventure Rapids,” a breathtaking 1,887-foot long thrill.

“At the JW Marriott we have over 1,000 rooms and increasing rooms in the Galaxy complex is a positive because we can offer additional brands,” says vice president of operations for the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Macau, Rauf Malik. “I don’t see any issue with the increase in capacity – it’s going to hand us our business.”

The first all-suite hotel from the Ritz-Carlton has 254 premium hotel suites and is being marketed to planners looking to host managerial executives, with the JW Marriott as partner host to larger groups of accompanying associates.

Adjoining the hotels is a new shopping arcade called “The Promenade,” which is home to more than 200 retail outlets. Featuring a hawker-style street market, The Broadway delivers authentic Asian flavors, and also plays host to a twilight market selling hand-made crafts every Friday from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM.

Galaxy has also extended its fine dining experience with the addition of 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, whose sister restaurant in Hong Kong has three Michelin stars. Often lauded as the best Italian chef working in Asia, head chef Umberto Bombana is a global ambassador for the white truffle – and what could be more luxurious than that?  

By Marisa Cannon