If you haven’t been to Macao in a while, or perhaps at all, the first image to come to mind is probably not the Eiffel Tower, or London’s Big Ben for that matter. But here they are, neighbours in fact at Sands Resorts Macao’s three integrated resorts – The Venetian Macao, The Parisian Macao and The Londoner Macao.
Integrated resort doesn’t really do it justice. This is more a bend in space time that allows you to slip effortlessly from one reality to another without even stepping outside.
The former Portuguese colony was handed back to the Chinese in 1999, where upon it was turned into a quasi-Vegas, Chinese style.
As the money poured in, so the island expanded, literally, with Sands Resorts Macao in Cotai, a neighbourhood built on reclaimed land from the sea between two former islands Coloane and Taipa.
Back to the Eiffel Tower. It’s a half scale replica, and from it you can see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament over the road. It’s one of those ‘pinch me’ moments – one of many.
Let’s begin with the Londoner Macao. If pulling up outside the Houses of Parliament isn’t enough, once inside the lobby you are transported to the glass-topped atrium of Crystal Palace. Time your arrival and you might be welcomed by Queen Elizabeth I, complete with a fanfare and dance number worthy of an Austin Powers credit sequence – this is more a movie set than lobby, filled with union jacks, red phone boxes, Grenadier Guards and English bobbies set against a soundtrack of British golden oldies.
Nothing is done in half measures, with the staff on hand to make you feel just as welcome as a member of the British Royal family. The suites in the Londoner don’t disappoint either. They are spacious, starting at 75sqm, come with amazing amenities and a sense of classic luxury. They even give the exclusive suites co-designed by David Beckham a run for their money. Set aside for high rollers these suites come with framed pics from the Beckham photo album. If you need to scale up though, sister property Londoner Court comes with yet another level of exclusivity and dedicated butler service for each suite.
Take a wander past the high end luxury retail outlets and you reach Europe, with the Venetian offering 3,000 suites, 111,000 sqm of meeting facilities as well as the 15,000-seat Cotai Arena, stripey shirted staff and even a gondola ride through the mall. Next door is the Parisian complete with Eiffel Tower and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.
Sands Resorts Macao also do events as well as they do hotels and they want the world to know. A recent ‘Sands Lifestyle #ReDiscover Macao 2023’ Famil gave 200 global event planners an immersive insight into what can be achieved.
“The carefully curated itinerary gave attendees an immersive experience of all that makes Macao a world-class MICE destination and showcased our ongoing support of the Macao Government Tourism Office’s ‘tourism + MICE’ initiative,” said Kris Kaminsky, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations at Sands China.
“We also showcased our comprehensive MICE capabilities, which are needed for seamless and successful MICE events, to our business partners from all around the world.”
And showcase them they did – with a Welcome Cocktail reception held at the Observation Deck within The Parisian Macao’s Eiffel Tower, an unforgettable dining event within The Venetian Macao’s breath-taking Colonnade at the Showcase Dinner (which also included a catwalk fashion show from Macao designer Nuno Lopes), and the London Jubilee Gala Dinner held at the Londoner Arena, which combined the resort’s show-stopping in-house entertainment with a guest appearance by Australian Idol winner and songstress Casey Donovan.
“The Sands team understand creating a memorable event is all about the full customer experience and making the experience unique,” said Sharon McClelland, General Manager Membership at Master Electricians, who was also a panellist at the #ReDiscover Macao 2023 Forum. Held at The Londoner Macao’s Smart Stage, the forum showcased Macao’s first hybrid meetings space, with professional broadcast quality live-streaming capability and hologram functionality.
“I loved the British themed night that commenced with fanfare trumpets blasting from the balcony of the crystal palace atrium, a wonderful introduction for the night ahead.
“This was only just topped by the ambience of the Venetian night. The food, wine, lighting, and table settings were perfect. I felt like I was living the life of a celebrity, viewing a VIP fashion launch and wouldn’t have been surprised if Anna Wintour had been seated next to me!”
There was also the chance to explore Macao with an array of bespoke activities on offer, from iconic heritage site visits to gems such as the Ruins of Saint Paul’s to culinary tours that showcase why Macao is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Sands Resorts Macao is also no slouch in the culinary department with a huge range of restaurants from Gordon Ramsay traditional British pub fare to delicious examples of regional Chinese cuisine.
Justin Voigt, Conference & Events Manager at The College of Intensive Care, says Sands Resorts Macao has plenty of options for all group sizes and any type of event as it has “so much to offer”.
“The spacious rooms, the high level of service that was provided, the attention to detail and the overall atmosphere in the air. It felt like home,” said Voigt.
“Then there were the exceptional experiences we enjoyed, from the welcome drinks at the Parisian and the Eiffel Tower to the last night spectacular at the Londoner which was just mind blowing. It was surprise after surprise.”
Macao is technically a Special Administrative Region of China, and most will have to come via Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific has plenty of daily direct services from the East and West Coast. But it still retains its sense of self-identity – they drive on the left, signs are in Portuguese and you can use WhatsApp.
Macao is a destination that for many is waiting to be discovered – and Sands Resorts Macao is ready to welcome them when they do.