Macau Update in Images

Last year I worked for a client on a market assessment for a project in Macau. This week was my first visit since the opening of Galaxy Broadway and Studio City. I thought I would take a few shots and share a few thoughts on the destination.

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The LRT looks like it’s progressing well. It will link the Lotus border gate (to Henqgin Island) to the various resorts on Cotai and the airport. Completion is expected by 2017. Not many construction workers when I was there; is the government going to delay because of the big slow down in visitorship and casino revenue?

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This is Galaxy Broadway’s main street. Advertised as a ‘vibrant street and entertainment district showcasing the creativity and artistry of the Macau people… delivering a new landmark destination’ it is merely a few shop houses featuring outlets from Macau’s most famous eating places and a fairly poor program of shows (stilt walkers, basking musicians, pedi cab) operated with little conviction. I had lunch there and the crowd was mostly people working on doing business in Macau, very few tourists!

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The entrance of Studio City is very majestic. Here you can see the much talked about 8-shaped ferris wheel.

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Inside the main hotel lobby (on Cotai side) not much difference with other casino hotels. The same heavy luxury interiors with chandeliers, velvet seats, marble, etc. The only difference is the theme is slightly art deco. Although Macau was very quiet that day there was a queue to check-in, which I guess were mostly Hong Kong residents coming to try the next big thing in Macau!

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After walking around the casino (at the centre of the resort of course) through a sophisticated movie-studio themed shopping avenue with not a single shopper at sights inside the shops, you get to the other side of the resort, where the LRT and coach stations are located.

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Here is a mini NY Times Square, which is supposed to put you in the mood for the ‘entertainment’ offering. I was surprised to see a food court facing this square and right at the entrance on top of that; quite a contrast with the high-end shops. The theming is quite well done and it feels different from any other casino in Macau.

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Going up the escalator to the entertainment floor you discover a big empty marble space with a few ‘gates’ leading to the various attractions: Batman Dark Flight, House of Magic and Studio 8 (not open yet). What a let down from the promise of ‘next generation of entertainment driven family leisure destination’. Have the designers been to a theme park? No soundscape, no theming, no greeting staff, and the list goes on!

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This is the entrance to the House of Magic show with a magic themed Chinese restaurant for evening combos. I have no idea how the show is performing and I have not had time to see it. It looks though like they haven’t pushed it as much as Melco’s other show House of Dancing Water; maybe due to budget cuts?

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Another escalator takes you to the Warner Bros Fun Zone. I was not able to go in because not accompanied by a child (Image courtesy of Thinkwell Group). But definitely not impressed with what I could see: a basic kids playground with cut-outs of famous characters from DC Comics, Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera. This is another major let-down; I was expecting something much more interesting for a concept designed by Thinkwell and under license from Warner Bros! And where are the 4,000sqm; they must be joking, it’s tiny!?

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Moving on to the Parisian, which is due to open mid 2016, construction looks very advanced but the building lacks a bit of excitement from the outside, don’t you think? It will feature a high-end European shopping street, a range of family entertainment and possibly a resident show.

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And of course a replica of the Eiffel Tower; here with the majestic statue of Studio City in the foreground. Actually, this picture looks almost good; maybe I am being too critical and influenced by the overall Macau tourism/economic gloom and after all Cotai will eventually emerge as a leading family tourist destination and the Las Vegas of Asia. Time will tell!

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