Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 26, 2008

Macau Trip Report - September 2008

Posted by Hunter

George (Drambuieman) is back with another great report on Macau. Some info on CotaiJet, Ponte 16 and more.

Click through to read and be sure to check out the photos:

Well its that time of month again, time for another trip report to Macau for the crowd at twowayhardthree. My report this month is a little muted since its mixed in with a larger trip that covered five different places, and so many immigration checks I think I need more pages to supplement the supplementary pages I got for my passport recently (Confused? Now you know how I feel).

I took a little different route this time, I took the CotaiJet ferry from Hong Kong to the new Taipa ferry terminal. It looked technically it was operated by another ferry service, but the outward impression it gives is its a LV Sands promotional project. A few comments on the photos. First the black and red building is the Hong Kong terminal. Inside I took the time to snap some pictures of the VIP lounges various casinos maintain. The new empty structure you see is the permeant Taipa Ferry Terminal under construction. Lastly, after taking cues from those in front of me, I found my Sands/Venetian players card gave me my ticket for free. I don't know if everyone gets it, or if qualified players do.

I stayed at the Ponte 16, with a hotel ran under the Sofitel brand name and a casino ran by SJM. The property is a bit out of the way, directly across the Macau peninsula, at a about 10 minute walk from the traffic circle where Grand Lisboa/Lisboa/Wynn meet. As I gathered, the location is a notable pier from when Macau was a crown jewel in the Portuguese Empire (see the photo the old Ponte 16 buidling). As you can see from the photos the actual hotel is beautiful. It reminds me a lot of the Venetian with its Mediterranean cues, but much more understated and evocative of Macau rather than Venice. In short, it looks more organic that many of the other new resort-hotel-casinos in the city. Oddly though the casino itself (or at least the public side) is rather small.

Two interesting design notes. To drive or taxi up to the lobby, you need to enter this parking garage looking entrance to find yourself at this second story entrance area. Second, the buttons on the elevators were not on the walls. They were on this short podium/lampstand construction.

One more new casino note to add, the cute little boutique casino attached to the Four Season Hotel (in turn attached to the Venetian). It is probably the best gaming experience I have had in Macau to date. The facility was wonderful, and the service impeccable. However that could be due to one or combination of three things. One, it IS attached to the Four Seasons after all (sniff!). Two, the place is only a couple of weeks new. Complacency and deprecation will set in, and who knows what form that may take.

Third possibility, this is the FIRST place in Macau I have seen that has higher table minimums in the public area. We are not talking about LV Strip like minimums, but just one Macau level higher (e.g. Craps minimum from HKD50 to HKD100). This may keep out the riffraff a bit (something the Four Seasons may encourage), but its risky based on my observation. A few months ago I noted that the Wynn had much fewer lower-limit mini-baccarat tables than they once had. Now, they have changed that ratio again to favor lower limit tables. We will see how this works.

By the way, the Macau Four Seasons? Half the time I could swear I was in the Bellagio. Either my memory is not that good, or somebody took good notes.

Next, the three towers that will make the St. Regis, the Shangri-La, and a hotel I forget, are coming up fine. However there styling is a little bland in comparison with other projects. Right now they look like three dominos ready to fall at best, or a Soviet-era apartment complex at worst. Let's hope they eventually get some style.

Chuck over at Vegastripping and Macautripping asked to look in on the Studio City project. This was exceedingly difficult, but the eventual photos are each worth the proverbial thousand words. First note the very opaque and solid barrier. It definitely screams "Nope! Nothing to see here! Move along!". Now this is not too unusual for a construction side, but usually these barriers deteriorate quickly as trucks rumble around them, kicking up gravel, and occasionally brushing past them. Yet the Studio City barrier stands resolute. As you get up to it you see something a little unusual, razor wire surrounding the place. I have not seen this, and likely its a safety hazard on an active worksite.

I finally found a small hole in the corrugated steel fence, and I took a picture of a rusty steel rebar standing in a forest of weeds. This lead my to conclude this part has not seen action in a while. I finally climbed up a Venetian parking ramp and got my picture. As you can see, the forest of weeds and rebar extends the entire site, not a worker or piece of equipment to be found.

The rest of the photos speak for themselves. I hope you can excuse me for the lack of photos, or few photos, for some projects. For some reasons, the days I was there were plagued by such torrid temperatures and humidity it made just standing outside uncomfortable (how I long for the dry heat of Vegas, no joke).

Last, a thought about the current discussion of some of the disappointment of the MGM Grand's results. I have had the pleasure to meet a few of the MGM player reps, and have talked a bit with their dealers. I have always find them delightful, and the MGM's casino bar is one of the best places to drink in Macau in my opinion. Yet, I am flummoxed by the operation of the place and the inability to get some of the most basic things right or even make a basic decision.

As some of you may recall, a few months ago I was losing big and asked for a gin and tonic. This required a decision by somebody off the floor, and took over a half hour. This experience in mind, I was again thirsty and lost a several hundred US at the MGM craps table, so I asked for a Coke. Simple and basic right? A glass, some ice, and press a button to watch the fizzy liquid fall in. How long do you think that would take? The table is literally a stone-throw from the bar. The screen likely flashes you have a decent player based on past history. Go ahead make your guess.

The MGM Macau look close to 15 minutes. If that was not bad enough, the Coke was lukewarm, flat, and most of the room in the glass was taken by a quarter of lemon wedge. Hesitancy to comp more than bottled water aside, time aside, distance aside, temperature aside, fizziness aside, choice of garnish aside, I quarter of a lemon for garnish? Reminds me of a quote from the movie Goodfellas "This guy could F! up a cup of coffee". How the heck do you F! up cutting a lemon for garnish.

That little detail, and the rest, says something. I know whales are the main factor in profit, but catering to punters does have a place and a role in the margins. I wonder if this explains why the MGM Macau is having problems with the margins.


Read archived comments (2 so far)
September 28, 2008 4:42 AM Posted by Drambuie_man

Mea Culpa! The quote was from Casino not Goodfellas.

September 28, 2008 4:50 AM Posted by Drambuie_man

I just looked at your photos. Many of the external shots of Ponte 16 you just labeled "Macau". Ironic considering how I mentioned how organic the place is with the rest of the buildings of Macau.