St Regis Macao to introduce Sabre cutting welcome ritual

16 Apr 2015 by Clement Huang

A luxury hotel brand will be displaying a unique and cutting-edge welcoming ritual when it opens in Macau this year.

Executives at St Regis Macao, Cotai Central are set to train hospitality staff on how brandish a cutlass to cleanly sever the neck of a Champagne bottle. The dramatic ceremony can also be used as part of a meetings and incentive event.

General manager Paul Cunningham says the sabring ritual dates back to the Napoleonic wars and has become a tradition among the 34 St Regis hotels and resorts worldwide ever since the brand was founded in New York a century ago by the Astor family.

“Sabre cutting of the Champagne represents the transition from day to evening,” says Cunningham. “We will be training staff in the art of sabring, [just as we] have done at the St Regis in Tianjin where it has been made into a ceremony.”

Sabring joins a line-up of St Regis traditions and services that the Starwood brand hopes will ensure it competes amid cut-throat competition in Macau as more hotel rooms are put on the market in Cotai over the next two years.

The 400-guest room and suite St Regis Macao, Cotai Central, which is due to open in the third quarter of 2015, will have a butler service for all guests with a “24-hour anticipatory service”. It comes as competition among providers on the Cotai Strip will increase with the opening on May 27 of a JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, which will form part of the expansion of the Macao Galaxy expansion, Melco’s Studio City, The Parisian by Sands and new properties from MGM and Wynn.

Josef Dolp, manager director of the St Regis Macao and the neighbouring Sheraton Macao Hotel, says Starwood takes a medium- to long-term view of prospects for Macau. He says the building of the bridge linking Macau with Zhuhai and Hong Kong will help expand the enclave’s potential beyond the gaming industry and into family holidays, and meetings, conferences and events.

A Sheraton is due to open in Zhuhai, on the Chinese mainland across from Macau, on July 1 followed by another St Regis in 2016, both of which will be alongside the new convention centre. Together with Hengqin Island, which has been designated for non-gaming development, the destinations will play a role in a future Pearl River Delta economic zone.

Daniella Tonetto, general manager of sales and marketing for St Regis Macao and Sheraton Macao Hotel, says the Starwood group has found that the luxury segment is the first to bounce back following an economic downturn. Both Cunningham and Tonetto say the butler service is just one of the St Regis products that distinguishes the brand from rivals.

“There’s a new type of traveller who always seeks out these type of services and it’s part and parcel of their experience as a guest,” says Cunningham.

“There are now more billionaires in China than there are in North America – and these are people who are glad to see anti-graft efforts,” says Tonetto. “For them the butler is just one service that differentiates us from the massive array of high-end operators around the world. The butler experience is there to make life easier.” 

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