Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central

17 Nov 2019 by Michael Allen
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Background

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central opened in December 2015. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific last reviewed the property in April 2017, praising it as “an oasis of calm and refined style, with top-quality service, rooms, dining and leisure options”. Our writer in 2017 stayed in one of the hotel’s 105-sqm Metropolitan suites. During a recent visit to Macao, I had an opportunity to stay at the hotel and wanted to find out what it was like to stay in an ordinary room.

Where is it?

In the heart of the Cotai district on the main drag, facing the Venetian hotel. Macau International Airport and the Taipa Ferry Terminal are both between five and ten minutes’ drive away (earlier this year, I reviewed the business class service on ferry operator Cotai Water Jet). Macau’s city centre is 15-20 minutes away by road.

What's it like?

My experience started off with a pick up from the Taipa Ferry Terminal by one of the hotel’s butlers and a driver. The butler helped carry my luggage to a waiting Toyota Alphard, inside which St. Regis branded bottled water was provided, as well as English and Chinese newspapers, and the St. Regis’ in-house magazine Beyond.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Within minutes (the Taipa ferry drops you very close to the casino hotels of the Cotai Strip) I arrived at the St. Regis lobby.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

With its low-key elegance, refinement and sophistication, the St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central contrasts quite starkly with some of the more flamboyant hotels on the Cotai Strip. While these themed hotels like The Venetian, The Parisian and Wynn Palace certainly have their place in the market and often do a roaring trade, the average business traveller to Macau is likely to want to stay somewhere more low-key, away from the crowds of tourists here for gambling (sorry: “gaming”). As someone who travels frequently for business, I found the St. Regis to be one of the most agreeable properties I have stayed at on the Cotai Strip. And if you’re a serious business traveller looking to get some work done, while enjoying luxurious surroundings and service, I think you will share my opinion.

I think the enormous 4,000-room Sheraton next door, where I’ve stayed before and which has the same owner as St. Regis though the properties don’t co-brand, offers a good product at its price point.

But due to its vast scale and lower price-point, it’s simply not able to offer the same refinement and personal touches as you get in the St. Regis, a spokesperson for both hotels told me during my stay.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The St. Regis Macao lobby is set on two levels, with the main check-in desks upstairs and accessible by a grand spiral staircase (see above photo). When you enter the lobby, you see a gold, circular art piece (see below photo). During the first day of my stay, I saw a female model having a photoshoot in the lobby.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Hanging from the ceiling are dozens and dozens of sparkling gold and silver tubes.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Pictured below is the main check-in area. I was led to a check-in desk immediately, without having to wait. The check-in service feels highly personalised, and you remain seated during the check-in process. I was also given a fruity non-alcoholic (it wasn’t even 11am yet) welcome drink served in a small, thin glass.

A hotel spokesperson told me the drinks vary from week to week, and the hotel doesn’t generally offer alcohol as a welcome drink “as there could be guests who don’t drink for whatever reason”.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Rooms

I was staying in a Deluxe King Room on the 32nd floor. The elevators are fast, rarely busy and whisk you up to your floor in no time — and the doors shut pretty quickly after someone leaves the elevator, making “close” button bashing unnecessary. My floor was very quiet when I arrived. I very occasionally saw other guests, as well as St. Regis staff members. It’s worth noting that staff were extremely courteous whenever I encountered them in hallways, they always greeted me and moved out of the way to let me pass.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

My first impressions upon entering the room were good. It was nicely decorated and all the furnishings looked sturdy and of high quality. The room was decorated with some artworks that blended subtly into the overall design of the room.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Welcoming me was a platter of fruits and a welcome note in an envelope.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

There was a large widescreen television mounted onto the wall, though I didn’t make use of it during my two-night stay.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I did enjoy the view out the window though. The blinds and thick blackout curtains were easy to open and close using switches next to the bed. From the window, I could see the aforementioned neighbouring 4,000-room Sheraton, as well as the mock Eiffel Tower of The Parisian, and The Venetian.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

In the corner of the room, by the window, was a lounge area with two comfortable chairs and an ottoman (on which my welcome fruit was placed).

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

On a table in between the two chairs stood a lamp, as well as copies of Hong Kong Tatler and Sands Style.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Behind one of the chairs were two framed pieces of art.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Opposite this sofa area, there was a table with two different styles of chair. On top of the table was a copy of the St. Regis’ in-house magazine, as well as a note about potential noise pollution from building works next door (I barely heard a thing during my stay though).

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I enjoyed how easy it was to operate the lights in this room, as well as to open and close the curtains. To the right side of the bed (when you are facing it), there were six switches.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Below is a closer look. The left two switches controlled the two bedroom lights; the centre-left switch controlled the night light, the centre-right switch was the master switch; and the centre-left and centre-right switches controlled the curtains and blinds, respectively.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

On each side of the bed, there was an easily adjustable reading light.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Back to the bedside table. There were a couple of notable items here. Firstly, a Bose bluetooth speaker. I gave this a whirl using my iPhone 8s and my Spotify Premium account, and found the sound quality to be very good. The volume can also go pretty high if you want it to.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

There was also a Philips alarm clock, into which you could plug your phone. Mine wasn’t compatible though: it’s only compatible with Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola, HTC, Asus, Archos and Acer. It wasn’t a problem though as I could use the Bose speaker and I imagine the sound quality from that would have been better.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

There were two telephones in the room, one beside the bed and one on the other side of the room. I used these for calling the hotel’s butler service and was never kept on hold, with my calls answered promptly. The hotel also provided a St. Regis-branded pen and some note paper.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

There was also a stationary box in which a pen, a pencil, a highlighter, sticky notes, an eraser and paperclips were provided.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

In addition, there were envelopes and post-cards in a drawer by the bed.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

For in-room dining, besides the extensive room service menu, there was also a well-stocked minibar of chargeable items. The hotel’s target audience of mainland Chinese travellers was apparent in the fact that one of the items was a bottle of Maotai, a famous brand of baijiu liquor. Full-size bottles of this stuff tend to go for over US$130 and it’s not uncommon for multiple bottles to be drunk at a single business dinner.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

There was also a selection of six chargeable snacks: candy fruit slices, dark chocolate almonds, jelly beans, chocolate chip cookies, jumbo cashews and festival snack mix.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Tea and coffee making facilities were available. including four types of TWG tea.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

A Nespresso machine was provided with Nespresso capsules.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

For something a bit stronger, there were also two wine glasses and two highball glasses, as well as a corkscrew. Presumably (though I didn’t test it), the St. Regis butler would come and uncork your wine for you.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I was impressed by the size of the in-room safe. In some hotels, the safe is rather tiny. However, this one could fit my 15.4-inch MacBook Pro fairly comfortably.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Last but not least, below is a look at the wall mounted device that controls the room temperature. I found this very easy to use and never had any problems with the in-room temperature. It’s worth noting here that the windows in the room don’t open.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

On to the bathroom, which was spacious and had two sinks. I was provided with a range of disposable toiletries, including two toothbrushes with toothpaste, a disposable razor with shaving foam, a comb, ear buds, dental floss, an emery board, cotton pads and a shower cap.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Colgate Plax Peppermint Fresh mouthwash was also provided, as well as body lotion by Laboratoire Remede.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

To the left of the sinks was a magnifying mirror.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The shower was spacious and had good water pressure from the main shower head.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I found the secondary shower head’s water pressure to be somewhat lacking; when you tilted it upside down, the water pressure wasn’t strong enough. But it didn’t bother me that much.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Shower amenities were by Laboratoire Remede and include body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The bathtub was large and spacious.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

It came with a disposable loofa and bar of soap. A St. Regis-branded bathrobe was also provided to slip into after towelling off.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The toilet was situated in a separate room, decorated with a painting.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I liked the fact that the bathroom was decorated with a small plant in a vase.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Beneath the sinks, there was a set of glass bathroom scales.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Outside the bathroom was the wardrobe, which provided ample space to hang my clothes — not that I had many for this short trip.

I needed a shirt pressed for an evening dinner party and so asked the butler to do this. I placed the shirt in the wardrobe, went down for breakfast and came back only 45 minutes later to find the shirt ready. The pressing was perfect; I’ve never been able to get that shirt looking so neat with my iron at home.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Hanging inside the wardrobe was a natural lavender air freshener.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Furthermore, there were four shoe trees, a pair of slippers for both men and women, as well as a shoe brush, shoe horn and shoe shine cloth.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Food and beverage

In the evening before dinner, I went for a Bloody Mary at the St. Regis Bar, though it won’t be around much longer. The bar will move to a new location on Level 2 in “early 2020”, the hotel spokesperson told me. The exact timeframe will be “dependent on required licensing”, he said.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central

Fans of the St. Regis brand will know that each property crafts its own unique Bloody Mary. The signature Bloody Mary at St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central is called Maria do Leste (Mary of the East).

The Filipino bartender, who had previously worked in Dubai and Jordon (he told me), seemed to have a genuine passion for his craft. He guided me through how the drink is made, crafting a Virgin Mary (non-alcoholic) for me and allowing me to add the Grey Goose vodka myself to modulate the strength. I could also add lime juice, tabasco, salt and red peppercorns to my drink to change its flavour.

While making small talk with the bartender, he told me his favourite cocktail to make is a Negroni. He then proceeded to whip out a small flask of Negroni that he had made as a surprise present for a guest staying at the hotel who is particularly fond of Negronis.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

For dinner on the first night of my stay, I dined at the in-house restaurant The Manor, located on the first floor (the same floor where I checked in).

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central - The Dining Room at The Manor

I tried the special six-course “Stories of the Sea — The Third Chapter” menu, which was mostly seafood based. This menu is priced at MOP 788 (US$98) per person without alcohol, and MOP 1,188 (US$147) with a cocktail and wine pairing – which I had. For an extra MOP 88 (US$11), you can add about three grams of “extra freshly shaved” black truffles.

The meal started off with a Bramble cocktail, consisting of blackberry gin, plum syrup and rosemary. It was crisp and refreshing, and not too strong.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

For bread, we were served honey bread in the shape of a pinwheel, as well as seaweed bread. The honey bread was especially moreish. These came with two types of butter: one salted and the other blended with dried apricot. Pictured below is the seaweed bread.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The first dish was a langoustine with french plum, Chinese yam and pistachio.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The second dish, which I thought was rather creative, was a Hokkaido sea urchin cappuccino with potato, served in a small coffee cup.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The third dish, and the last of the starters, was Kamchatka crab with grilled cream corn, hazelnut brown butter and black truffle.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

This was paired with a rather innovative Popcorn-tini, a martini made with vodka, cream or truffle popcorn. It was surprisingly unsweet. While I’d take a regular martini over this any day, and can’t imagine James Bond ordering such a concoction, it was definitely interesting to try and has a certain novelty factor.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The first main dish was seared Hokkaido scallop and Georges Bruck Foie Gras with red shallot and black pepper. This was paired with a glass of Domaine Bechtold, Obere Hund Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France.

(In my haste to gobble it down, I forgot to take a photo, so here’s one of the hotel’s press photos instead.)

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central

The second main dish was French turbot and Brittany blue lobster with salted egg yolk lava and pumpkin flower sea asparagus. I pressed my fork down on the flower in the middle of the plate and a generous portion of liquid salted egg yolk oozed out.

This was paired with a glass of Domaine Jean Chartron, ‘Clos de la Combe’ Chardonnay, Burgundy, France.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Dessert was quite the surprise. Simply called Pearl, this dish consisted of Curacao granite, lemon cream, Chlorella seaweed tuile, vanilla crème brûlée and lychee tapioca.

I couldn’t fault them for effort. I even thought initially that the shells were real (they’re made of dark and white chocolate, a bit like a Kinder egg). Overall, I felt more effort was put into this dish to make it “Instagrammable” than tasty, but it was a decent enough way to round off the meal.

What was quite amusing was that once the steam from the dry ice had subsided, my plate started to make intermittent gurgling noises from the air bubbling up beneath, as though some small creature were trapped underneath it.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

When I awoke on the morning of the second night of my stay, I was pleased that my request for newspaper delivery to my room had been met and I returned to The Manor with a copy of the Financial Times in tow to have my breakfast.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central - The Verandah at The Manor

I was seated promptly by a staff member and offered a hot drink. I chose a coffee (Kimbo coffee is served here).

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I always like to try the egg station at breakfast buffets to test the chef’s skill at whipping up an omelette. Pictured below is the result, which tasted great and was served with some ketchup without my having to ask for it.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The buffet also had a great selection of hot and cold foods, including an impressive cheese table, as well as cold cuts. However, I fancied something bready and so sought out these bagels, known as Schragels, a Hong Kong brand of bagels. On offer were onion, poppy seed, sesame and “everything” bagels. Toppings included plain cream cheese, spring onion cheese, peanut butter, Nutella, lemon, whitefish salad, smoked salmon, Gravdlax, smoked fish, cucumber, baby radish, red onion rings, capers and gherkins.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

You need to toast them yourself, though I suppose a member of waitstaff would assist you with this if asked.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

If you’re not into bagels, there is also a selection of other bread products, including a gluten-free choice (though I found this rather dry).

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

On my second morning, a Saturday, I had been out late at a work event and didn’t feel like going downstairs to eat, so decided to try the in-room dining for breakfast. My food arrived around 15 minutes after I ordered (which was how long the butler told me it would be) and a chirpy staff member wheeled it in on a room service table, asking me where I would like it placed. I opted to have it facing the window so I could enjoy the morning sunlight and the view.

I’d chosen the Continental Breakfast, which consisted of five types of breads and pastries, a fruit platter, a choice of juice (I chose watermelon), a yoghurt and a hot drink (I chose a latte). It was a perfectly nice breakfast and dining in-room is certainly a luxury, though you’ll definitely be able to eat more and have a wider selection if you go down to the buffet.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Leisure facilities

On the eighth floor, the hotel has two seasonal outdoor pools and two oversized whirlpools, as well as a lounging deck and Pool Bar.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

Non-hotel guest can buy a day pass for MOP 188 (US$23). Guests can reserve cabanas (pictured below), otherwise it’s a first come, first served approach. Throughout the day, the hotel offers refreshments to all pool patrons: cool non-alcoholic drinks, ice creams, fruit, etc.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

The gym, called the St. Regis Athletic Club, is also on the eighth floor and is spacious and well lit with natural light from large windows.

The gym is stocked with Technogym equipment, from elliptical machines and treadmills to stationary bikes. Each machine is integrated with individual television sets and cardiovascular monitors. The gym is also furnished with wall mounted televisions.

In the multi-function room, classes such as aerobics, pilates and yoga are conducted, though I didn’t find time to join one of these (nor is it really my thing). This room also offers space for warm-up and warm-down sessions after your workout.

A team of fitness instructors offers personal training sessions for both individuals and groups and can tailor specific programs depending on your requirements, though I didn’t opt for this service either given the short duration of my stay.

After the workout, you can head to the sauna, and soothe any fatigued muscles in the whirlpool. The reception desk can provide Bluetooth headphones and wi-fi is accessible throughout the facility.

The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central / photo by Michael Allen

I also tried the hotel’s Iridium Spa, located on the 38th floor. I had a 30 minute massage treatment, focusing on my head, neck, and back. Before the treatment, I was asked to shower and change in a private room, and given disposable underwear and a robe to wear. I was then sat down with my feet in hot water and given a tablet which had an app that helped me choose which gemstone would be most suitable for my treatment. My answers yielded aquamarine.

I lay down on the massage table and the masseuse held a bowl of some kind of smelling salts over my nose and asked me to take a few deep breaths, which did relax me a bit. Overall, the massage on my back and shoulders was great and removed a lot of tension that tends to build up there. However, I found the head massage a bit too enthusiastic and there was too much pressure around the temples, so much so that my head felt a little sore for several days after. Possibly that’s my fault for not telling her to ease up, though.

After the massage, I was offered some hot tea and some delicious cookies. I sat eating and drinking in front of the 38th floor window, and it was nice to enjoy this view after the massage.

Verdict

Macau is known more for its flamboyant casino hotels aimed primarily at the mainland Chinese gaming and family tourism markets than its suave and sophisticated business hotels. For those seeking a quiet retreat right in the heart of Macao’s entertainment centre, the Cotai Strip, I don’t think you can go wrong with this hotel. The service is highly personalised, the room has all the amenities and comfort you could wish for, and the in-house dining and leisure facilities are also top-notch.

Quick facts

  • Best for… a quiet and luxurious retreat in the heart of Macao’s entertainment district
  • Don’t miss… having a Bloody Mary in the St. Regis Bar
  • Price A weeknight stay in mid-January in a Grand Deluxe Room starts at US$227, though a weekend stay starts at US$352 in the same room type
  • Contact Estrade do Istmo, S/N, Cotai, Macao SAR, P.R. China; marriott.com/hotels/travel/mfmxr-the-st-regis-macao-cotai-central/
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Business Traveller December 2019 / January 2020 edition
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