Last week Grace and I had an appointment in Macau so we flew over for a short visit. We arrived on Wednesday evening and were picked up by a limo that drove us to our hotel. We had decided to stay at the Cotai Strip, the new area with all the casinos, and we got a reservation at The Galaxy.
The last time I was in Macau (for the Macau Marathon 2006) the whole Cotai strip did not exist yet, so we had no idea whether the hotel was a good choice, but a business connection had booked it for us and it turned out to be an excellent one. We got a big suite on the 29th floor with a great view over the Cotai area from all the rooms, and even from the bath tub in the main bathroom.
The hotel itself is part of a larger complex, with a huge pool/beach area on the rooftop above the casino, that they share with the Okura Hotel and the Banyan Tree resort. The pools are amazing and they make this an excellent location for a vacation with kids. The resort has the biggest rooftop wave pool in the world, and of course this pool comes with its own white sandy artificial beach. If you need some more space there are even some pool villas built on the rooftop (all with private pool), they are part of the Banyan Tree resort.
I am not a gambling man, so I wasn’t that interested in the casino, but of course we went there at night to take a look. I had seen quite some casinos in my life, but never one as big as this: I would guess the main area is at least a few hundred meters long and completely filled with gambling tables and slot machines. And most tables had people playing! It seemed almost every player was from mainland China and in the 30 minutes that we spent there I did not see one other non-Asian person. Of course the real high rollers don’t come here but spend their money in one of the many VIP rooms in the complex, the place where the real money is made (or, more likely, lost).
We had dinner at Yamazato in the Okura Hotel, a very good Japanese restaurant. Our plan was to just have a light meal of sushi and sashimi, but in the end we still wanted to have something more to eat so we went for the Wagyu beef. Generally I am not a huge fan of Wagyu (a bit too fat for my liking), but this one was so well prepared that it melted on my tongue. In case I should ever come back here I will order it again!
After dinner we went over to the Venetian, which is just down the road. Another huge complex, but a bit lower end than the Galaxy. The place has not one but three indoor Venetian canals, complete with gondolas and with 24 hour day light (just like in Las Vegas). The shopping mall is much bigger than the one at the Galaxy and the casino blew me away. I thought the Galaxy was big, but this one is even bigger. Later I found out it’s actually the biggest casino in the world with a playing area of 546,000 square feet (to put this in perspective, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has 170,000 square feet). But the Galaxy plans to double its size in the next 2 years, so in 2015 they may be the biggest in the world.
Thursday we had an appointment in downtown Macau and were picked up from our hotel early in the morning. We were done by lunch time and walked around a bit in the old town looking at some of the sights, before having a late lunch at a nice Portuguese restaurant. We still had a few hours before our flight back, so we took a car to the Venetian to look at 2 of their exhibitions: Titanic and Human Bodies. I had read a lot about both of them and it was great that we could see them here.
Titanic was very well made, with among others original artifacts from the ship several cabins that were rebuilt. Interesting to see how life on board was in those days, with complete segragation between the different travel classes: not only the rooms but also the restaurants, bars and relaxation areas. The part that describes the sinking of the Titanic was quite scary, because it was completely dark and they had some pretty good audio effects. There was even an iceberg that you could touch to get a feeling for the cold.
Human Bodies was a different experience. The exhibition has been in the news for years and is quite controversial, but that did not stop me from taking a look of course. Seeing real human bodies in different poses is quite scary, especially because you can see them up close (there are no glass cages or so, theoretically you could touch the corpses). When I saw a pregnant woman with a baby inside her I had seen enough though and left the exhibition. An interesting experience, but seeing it once is more than enough for me.
After that we walked back to our hotel, had a coffee and were picked up by a limo to drive us to the airport. There we found out that our flight would be delayed… But the Air Macau lounge turned out to be pretty good and had good wifi, so we spent the next 3 hours there online while tasting some Portugese wines. The flight back was uneventful and we were home by 10:30 PM.
More pictures of our trip to Macau here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chijs/sets/72157632607518016/