As the young PR type said with some relish, “Macau is the new Vegas”. If you’re headed there, chances are you’re looking for some gambling, some over-the-top glamour complete with name-brand shopping and big-ticket visiting acts and possibly some discreet sin. And you’ll get all of this in the ‘Cotai Strip’. The Strip itself is across the water from Macau proper. American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson had a dream where he saw a line of mega-hotels coming up where none had been before, in what was essentially nowhere. So, in the first decade of this century, between the islands of Coloane and Taipa, was born the Cotai (Co, Tai, geddit?) Strip. Certainly others have bought into his grandiose dream; his tenants here include a Hard Rock Hotel and a Grand Hyatt, while his own Venetian rubs shoulders with a Four Seasons. Across the road are a Hilton and a Conrad, next to which sits the brand-new Sheraton. The reason for all this development: mainland Chinese are insatiable gamblers, to the point that it is claimed that Macau’s revenues are now outstripping both Atlantic City and Las Vegas in terms of dollars dropped on its tables.

The Strip’s central attraction is Adelson’s baby, the utterly indescribable Venetian, which has fat angel babies on the ceilings and gondola rides everywhere else. It created a stir when it opened five years ago and launched Adelson’s dream project. But the dream run aground with the worldwide recession that followed. The shiny new Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, where I stayed, finally launched after several delays and is distinguished mainly by massiveness. At almost 4,000 rooms, it’s the biggest Sheraton in the world; it also has three restaurants, three pools, a gigantic spa and its own casino ( Now all it has to do is fill those rooms.

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