Macau's roll of the MICE

1 Dec 2006 by intern22

Inspired by Las Vegas’ spectacular success in going beyond its gaming reputation, Macau’s stakeholders are offering a host of dazzling meeting facilities and leisure diversions to extend visitor stay and spend, says Margie T Logarta.

What makes a destination attractive to today’s conventioneer? Abundant shopping options? A chance to score at the gaming table? Savouring the handiwork of a celebrity chef? Catching a musical hit?

Inspired by Las Vegas’ spectacular success in expanding its appeal beyond casino activities to the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) arena, Macau’s stakeholders are not only competing to offer attractive venues but also a plethora of diversions to extend stay and spend.

According to Wolfram Diener, vice-president of conventions and exhibitions of The Venetian Macao Resort, once the requirements of a high level of convenience, efficiency and seamless transport logistics are met, there is the “emotional component”  to attend to.  “People are looking for excitement and opportunities to do things once meetings are done.”

Diener adds that it’s easy to design and produce good hardware but  “to fill it with life is the challenge”.

The dust has yet to settle in once-sleepy Macau, and when it does, expect some 32,100 hotel rooms to come online in the next three years and a host of meeting options, led by the Venetian development on the Cotai Strip (opening date: mid 2007) with 74,682sq m of new exhibition space and 15,000-fixed seat theatre space.


THE DEAL: Steve Wynn, the big daddy of Las Vegas – credited with reviving the city’s image in the 1990s – wants to replicate his success in Macau with his signature Wynn Macau.

Currently the biggest entertainment complex, its target, Wynn executives are quick to stress, is the high-end traveller or conventioneer.

MICE INVENTORY: The convention area is on the first floor (enter through the main lobby and make a left) and accessed by escalator or dedicated lift. It features 2,200sq m of flexible, multipurpose meeting space, comprised of a pillarless grand ballroom (pictured above) equipped with a technically supported theatrical-standard stage, six meeting rooms and a boardroom. An expansion is already in the works. Besides state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, broadband and Wi-Fi capabilities are offered, as well as the services of a business centre, dedicated catering sales team which can suggest a variety of themed events and creative meal setups.

AFTER THE MEETING: Where to begin? There are six restaurants serving up Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Macanese, Mediterranean and international; three bars, including the faintly erotic Tryst (open only at night), a spa featuring a menu of over 45 treatments, salon, an ultra high-end shopping arcade studded with the likes of Bvlgari, Chanel and Tiffany & Co. and 9,300sq m of entertainment space. Accommodation is of the all-suite variety. 

The casino boasts 200 gaming tables and 380 slot machines. The classics Black Jackand roulette are the mainstay games with Caribbean stud and fantan providing some niche excitement.

CONTACT: Rua Ciadade de Sintra, Nape, Macau, tel 853 2888 9966, or Melanie Foo-Tiplady, director of sales & marketing, email [email protected], www.wynnmacau.com


THE DEAL: The sprawling themed leisure complex, next to the Macau Ferry Terminal and Heliport, is open 24 hours and charges no admission fee.

It is sectioned into three zones: Dynasty Wharf, East Meets West and Legend Wharf, and consists of a cornucopia of venues representing different cultures and international experiences such as the Tang Dynasty and European/Latin-style architecture. Perfect for the visitor in a hurry.

MICE INVENTORY: Located in the basement of the East Meets West Zone, the Convention & Exhibition Centre features an elegant foyer which leads to the pillarless main hall measuring 2,740sq m and its ceiling height, 6.3m. It can comfortably accommodate 2,800 guests cocktail style or 168 round tables.

For smaller functions, it can be divided into three sections.

There are five function rooms which, when opened up, can take up to 1,000 guests cocktail style. A VIP Lobby Lounge and two VIP rooms cater to the needs of special guests and can also be used as a boardroom. For large outdoor events, the 2,000-seat Roman Amphitheatre performance venue is the perfect staging place, whether day or night.

AFTER THE MEETING: A wide selection of restaurants serving a variety of cuisines; shops and bazaars galore, street performances, the 600-seater De Gama Water World showcasing exciting aquatic shows and a 40-metre “erupting” volcano with two indoor thrill rides among others. The complex boasts its own 72-room boutique hotel, Rocks, opening soon.

CONTACT: Avenida de Amizade e Avenida Dr Sun Yat-Sen, contact sales & marketing department, tel 853 222 200, email [email protected], www.fishermanswharf.com.mo


THE DEAL: Not content with just one casino in the former Portuguese colony (Sands Macau), mogul Sheldon Adelson is on the way to realising a mega project that is certain to raise the stakes of Macau’s future.

The first phase involves the launch of The Venetian (older sister is the 3,000-suite Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas) in mid-2007 – anchor feature of the Cotai Strip. Inspired by the life of fabled explorer Marco Polo, it will exude the ambience of Old Italy, complete with a network of canals, gondolas and renaissance architecture, plus a touch of China like sampans.

The Cotai Strip makes up the second phase, consisting of resort casino properties occupying an area of reclaimed land between the islands of Taipa and Coloane. The collection include the 1,200-room Hilton Hotel, 400-room Four Seasons Hotel, 500-room Shangri-La and 1,000-room Traders Hotel, 1,500-room Fairmont Hotel & Resort and Raffles Hotels & Resort and the 1,200-room Sheraton and 300-room St Regis Hotel.

MICE INVENTORY: In total, convention and meeting facilities of The Venetian will take up 111,483.65sq m, and consist of a 15,000-seat events centre with a 1,800-seat theatre showroom, while the individual hotels boast their own MICE alternatives, which have yet to be announced.

AFTER THE MEETING: At The Venetian, try your luck at any of the 6,000 slot machines designed for the Asian customer, and over 700 gaming tables, 20 fine dining restaurants, 5,574-square-metre spa and wellness retreat. The Sands Casino Macau, featuring 21,346-square-metre gaming space, has seven restaurants, bars and entertainment areas.

CONTACT: 11th Floor, Blocks I-K, Zhu Khuan Building, Av Xian Xing Hai, NAPE, Macau, tel 853 883 311, or Wolfram Diener, vice-president of conventions and exhibitions, email [email protected], www.sands.com.mo


THE DEAL: Don’t count out Stanley Ho, who held the monopoly over Macau’s gaming industry for years. He’s launching an even bigger version of his old classic, Hotel Lisboa, called the Grand Lisboa, to be linked by an air-conditioned underground tunnel. Probably opening in mid-2007.

MICE INVENTORY: Stage and a ballroom without pillars accommodating 60 dining tables.

AFTER THE MEETING: Six restaurants, a spa and fitness centre, rooftop swimming pool, 430 rooms and suites and a casino.

CONTACT: Henry Kong, Hotel Lisboa’s director of sales, tel 853 2888 3888, email [email protected]


THE DEAL: Another Ho offspring, Pansy Ho shows the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree (her brother Lawrence’s company Melco is behind the six-star casino complex Crown Macau Casino Hotel). Located in the Nape waterfront precinct, the development will feature an enormous Portuguese garden conservatory.

MICE INVENTORY: Function rooms and a grand ballroom.

AFTER THE MEETING: Accommodation is provided by the 210-room Mandarin Oriental, spa, nightclub, nine restaurants, shopping and casino.

CONTACT: John Latter, owners’ representative, tel 853 875 0766, email [email protected]


THE DEAL: Trading on Macau’s Portuguese heritage, this integrated resort will be located along the city’s inner harbour.

MICE INVENTORY: Convention and exhibition space measuring 1,858sq m.

AFTER THE MEETING: Sofitel Macau @ Ponte 16 is the anchor hotel, casino, fine dining, spa and outdoor performances.

CONTACT: tel 853 3102 8998, email [email protected], www.ponte16.com.mo


THE DEAL: An underwater casino is the highlight of this entertainment complex in Cotai (not part of the Las Vegas Sands project though).

MICE INVENTORY: Meeting and conference options are planned.

AFTER THE MEETING: Three hotels, including the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt are taking care of accommodation; and there are retail, dining and nightclubs to occupy spare hours.

CONTACT: tel 852 3151 3777, email [email protected], www.melco-group.com


Before the buzzword “IR” (integrated resort, if you weren’t listening), there was Genting Highlands, a 45-minute drive east from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.Built by canny entrepreneur Lim Goh Tong (also the man who introduced Asians to the world of cruising through his Star Cruise lines), who managed to secure a rare gambling licence in the 1906s from the conservative government, the resort was primarily known for its gaming tables, then amusement park attractions and finally, MICE facilities.


THE DEAL: The resort and its facilities are set in a densely wooded area and 2,000m above sea level. Once there, you wouldn’t want to leave, thanks to the year-round pleasantly cool climate.

MICE INVENTORY: The Convention Centre consists of a full-serviced business centre with three meeting rooms and three boardrooms, a column-free grand ballroom (pictured left) for up to 2,000 banquet style and 4,000 theatre style and 18 meeting spaces, three of which are equipped with embedded LCD projectors, motorised screens and a touch panel control. Other facilities meeting planners can choose from are the Resort Hotel which has a smaller convention hall and five function rooms; the Theme Park Hotel also with meeting rooms; the 6,000-seat Arena of Stars, a fully roofed ampitheatre with state-of-the-art sound and lighting; Pavilion Hall in the First World Plaza which takes from 2,000 to 6,000 persons and the Genting International Showroom for 1,700.

AFTER THE MEETING: The casino of course, continental dining at award-winning The Olive and a variety of cuisines at the Coffee Terrace, international shows and therapies at M Spa & Fitness.

CONTACT: Chow Wei Heng, Genting Highlands’ vice-president marketing, tel 60 3 2333 6678, email [email protected], www.genting.com.my


With Macau going all out to burnish its reputation as the gaming mecca of Southeast Asia, how will Singapore – not exactly known for its let-down-your-hair groove – compete?

Admittedly, the former Portuguese enclave has the benefit of the enormous Mainland Chinese market (a population of one billion lives within a three-hour flight), but the tiny island-state has some aces up its sleeve.

In the area of MICE, Singapore has the chops to outshine Macau. Singapore is recognised global crossroads for air traffic (its jewel Changi Airport is adding a third terminal and has a dedicated low cost carrier facility) and boasts a secure and crime-free environment.

To leverage further on these strengths, the Singapore government on May 26 this year, chose as its partner in its first integrated resorts project in Marina Bay, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS), an operator with a solid MICE track record. It was Sheldon Adelson, LVS chairman, who conceptualised the Computer Dealers Exposition (COMDEX) and nurtured it to become one of the world’s most successful trade shows.

For its Venetian Macao Casino Resort, LVS is constructing 111,483.65sq m of expo space, while various hotels in the dazzling Cotai Strip (also backed by LVS and meant to duplicate the Las Vegas strip) will also provide their own meeting space and casinos. Together, the Singapore government and Adelson and his team make a winning combination.


THE DEAL: A uniquely designed resort (pictured above) will be dominated by hotel towers with 360-degree views, topped by a “Sky Park”. The low-rise buildings fronting Marina consist of MICE facilities, casino and theatres.

MICE INVENTORY: Exhibition and meeting space amounts to 110sq m of gross floor area.

AFTER THE MEETING: World-class entertainment will take place in two 2,000-seat theatres, while visitors can enjoy the ArtScience Museum, luxury retail outlets, dining pavilions and public spaces showcasing various activities such as a skating rink and indoor canals.

CONTACT: Wolfram Diener, LVS vice-president of conventions and exhibitions, tel 853 883 311, [email protected]

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