Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 27, 2007

UPDATED: Venetian Macau Opens - Reader Review

Posted by Hunter

I'm just back from a little vacation and I'm beat but this is something I need to report - Las Vegas Sands have opened their second property in Macau, The Venetian Macau - the first hotel to open on the Cotai Strip.

Some links:

Update: Read the comments for a review from reader Chris B.


Read archived comments (13 so far)
August 28, 2007 4:45 AM Posted by detroit1051

Welcome back!
The NY Times has a long story on Venetian. Macau's infrastructure is having a tough time keeping up with the commercial growth.

"Government problems are tougher. The government of Macao has moved slowly to expand customs facilities to keep up with the torrent of visitors. The territory�s casinos are busiest on weekends, but even at lunchtime on Wednesday there was a 35-minute line of people snaking through a handful of immigration lines to have their passports stamped for entry at the main ferry terminal for boats arriving from Hong Kong and the mainland.
The Venetian Macao is buying its own ferries to serve a second ferry terminal being built with more lines for passport checks."

August 28, 2007 8:33 PM Posted by Gregory_Zephyr

I am starting to come to the conclusion that you could build a casino in Antarctica and make people swim from Argentina to get there and it would be a success. Seriously, though, is there any level of hassle that would keep people away?

August 29, 2007 9:26 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

If you've ever self parked at Venetian you'll know the answer to that is no, there is no level of hassle that will keep people away.

August 30, 2007 9:48 PM Posted by Chris B

I stayed at Venetian Macau last night. Took the bus service from the ferry terminal - they have those buses going through pretty regular so there was no line and within 10 minutes of getting off the ferry we were sitting on a bus headed for Venetian. The drive took around 20 minutes due to traffic and dumped us out the back at the bus depot area. Fortunately they have a smaller check-in there. Very long lines of people waiting to catch the buses back to the ferry terminal and the mainland China border. Waited in line about 15 minutes to check into the room, which was horribly inefficient. Didn't like the pastel colors in the check-in area. The panels in the lift up to our room were dirty and the lift areas smelt like fresh (cheap) paint - it had the same smell as the not-so-great-quality apartment my wife and I bought in Taipa a few years back, so was very familiar. First impressions on the room were good (my wife was not expecting the larger "suite" format, so was very positively surprised). Nevertheless, no shortage of signs that the rooms were thrown together very quickly. Some of the painting already dirty, cracked or chipped. Other things just messily painted around (like the airconditioning dial). The table in the bathroom (with a metal top) had all sorts of discolorations on it because it has obviously just been sitting in a humid unused hotel room for too long without airconditiong. No integration whatsoever with the lights, phones or electronics - they've just plugged everything in separate so you need to switch on and off all lamps individually, which I think is a fairly low-end way to go for a modern "5 star" hotel. Liked the bed. Nice flatscreen TV and separate not-flatscreen TV in the sitting area. For the price being charged, the size and comfort of the rooms does make them very good value by comparison with what else is on offer in Macau (though for not a lot more Wynn is much better quality and it is difficult to find any of the sorts of blemishes that are already visible in the Venetian rooms because of the lower build quality).
The casino is staggeringly large, and there was a very silly number of people gambling - not that all tables were full or anything, but it was an impressive number of people given its size. The shopping areas are far bigger than in LV - a massive array of retail stores and restaurants. I thought the food court area (like in a shopping mall) was a smart touch - a fairly low-grade touch but nevertheless a smart one because it gives all the lower-end punters a place to eat and relax. There were a lot of people walking around the canals - in fact when we walked through again closer to 11pm there were still a lot of people (why do these people have kids with them on a weeknight in a shopping arcade in a casino hotel????). Didn't gamble much because my wife was with me, but played some blackjack (the "cheapest" tables were minimum bet HK$200 - which surprised me since Wynn has a lot of HK$100 minimum tables). The dealer was very slow and not much English (I speak mandarin, so not a huge problem for me). At one point I hit on 13 and got an 8 but she still took my money, so had to get the pit boss over to take a look. Not so sure about the canto pop and other Chinese music getting played throughout the casino - much prefer something neutral like the stuff in Wynn - but I'm sure the locals and the mainland Chinese prefer it. The airconditioning was way too cold - I even heard some of the locals complaining. Some of the soap dispensers in the toilets were already broken. I also saw areas where paint had already been chipped off and wallpaper torn. We were going to opt for eating at Mortons because we were in the mood for beef, but it was full. So we tried a place called "Blue Frog Bar and Grill" and, in short, were disappointed. We shared a salad, I had a 12 oz steak, my wife had a burger and we had a drink each. The steak wasn't anywhere near worth the price, came served very plainly with some uninviting vegetables and at the end of the meal I couldn't help but think that we could have gotten a far better meal WITH entree and dessert at the Copa steak house (in the Sands) for the same price or less. We ordered breakfast to our room, which was nicely done (the juice was freshly squeezed orange - which exceeded my low expectations). Wandered through the pool area at 630am - it didn't open until 7am but one of the friendly staff asked me if I wanted a tour, which was very nice of her. I was surprised by how small the main pool was - no longer than 20 metres. The pool area is kind of jammed between a lot of buildings (including the under-construction 4 Seasons), and was a bit less inviting than I imagined, though I am sure if I had have been staying longer I would have used it. We checked out at the front entrance - the walkway between the front check-in and the casino is, I must admit, very very impressive and not just because of the sheer size and shiny polished marble floor - some of those paintings on the roof must have required a fair bit of effort to get done. Check out was efficient and there was no line for taxis, so we got back to the ferry terminal in advance of our ferry and were able to get on an earlier one through the standby line. So in summary, the meal was disappointing, the sheer size of the place was impressive but the fine details were not, and the number of people was a surprise (on the high side). I can see how people are going to go to Macau and just never leave the Venetian for several days, simply because they won't need to unless they really want to see some of the other sights in Macau.

August 31, 2007 5:36 AM Posted by detroit1051

Chris B, thanks for the first report from Venetian. It sounds like LVS hasn't changed its construction standards. Same disregard for quality as at Venetian Las Vegas. We'll find out in a few months, when Palazzo opens, whether LVS is capable of building a first class property.

Based on your comment about the high number of people, it will be successful. Adelson doesn't care about quality; he knows the mass market and conventioneers will still show up and spend.

August 31, 2007 9:36 AM Posted by Hunter

Thanks Chris.

Given this, I'm not sure I am expecting Palazzo to be any better... I mean, why would they suddenly amp up the quality juice when they know they can get away with this and still get glowing reviews and people's money?

Palazzo will be the same quality as the Venezia Tower at The Venetian - not terrible but the discerning eye will find flaws.

August 31, 2007 9:22 PM Posted by Mike E

Thanks Chris! Vegas' Venetian opened unfinished and we're all pretty sure Palazzo will. Did you see any sign of Venetian Macau still undergoing construction?

August 31, 2007 11:28 PM Posted by Chris B

Yes - still a few bits and pieces being worked on but not parts that most people would notice - eg, some exterior facade work being done above the pool area and what looked like either a villa or an outdoor restaurant type area under construction at the rear of the hotel tower above the main podium level. On the other hand, I was surprised by just how much of it was finished and fully up and running - particularly in terms of retail and restaurants.

September 1, 2007 7:43 PM Posted by Alan M

I just like to say how much I enjoyed Chris's review.
I have lived in Macau for 2 years and I am sure the majority of reviews or articles are from people who have never been here. They usually start with " the sleepy little former portugese enclave"
Anyway I also went to the Venetian on Friday night and was totally blown away by the size of the place, I just wondered if it was too big. It really lacked any type of atmoshere, the slots had no volume so they were about as much fun as playing in a morgue. The air con was freezing and my wife and I spent most of the time trying to find a warm spot.
I really hope the Venetian goes well as it will help all of Macau its just with the City of Dreams across the road and all the other mega resorts I wonder if the people will come. The locals won't - just try getting a bus!

September 4, 2007 3:03 AM Posted by Chris B

Alan, I suspect that the locals will all just end up taking casino buses like everyone else. Public transport in Macau hasn't improved in many, many years and the government is procrastinating so badly with all of its infrastructure projects presumably because of the Ao Man Long fiasco (despite having more than enough money to develop them all several times over) that LVS will quickly become a bigger transport provider than any of the Macau government franchisees.

September 5, 2007 8:16 AM Posted by DavidF

Interesting article in the LA Times about Venetian Macau...,0,5342830.story?coll=la-home-center

September 6, 2007 7:29 AM Posted by Chris B

An interesting piece of info I thought might be worth adding : everyone who stayed at the Venetian Macau on Saturday night got their room for free because service was extremely bad. I heard this from two separate friends who stayed there Saturday. Apparently they were just so unprepared for servicing so many people and so many rooms (including housekeeping not being able to clean rooms properly in the time provided) that there was a huge number of complaints, resulting in the free for all.

June 6, 2008 9:15 PM Posted by Andy James

My Aunt went to the Venetian Hotel and had her handbag stolen by the staff in the toilets.
The Security guards were hesitant to help, and when asked to call for asistance claimed their walkie talkies wouldn't work.
Then, when she said she would call the Police they panicked and suddenly and miraculously found her handbag, minus her handphone and minus $100.
Watch out, the Hotel cannot keep their guests safe.