>>>The ace tucked up Macau’s sleeve
Photo: Nattee Chalermtiragool / Shutterstock.com

The ace tucked up Macau’s sleeve

To visit Las Vegas and Lisbon at the same time you only have to travel to China. Welcome to Macau, the capital of extravagance.
S
ome $44 billion are gambled every year in Macau, seven times the amount wagered in Las Vegas. Macau is, quietly but surely, the world’s gambling capital. In its 30 square kilometres, it has over 30 casinos and the city’s tallest building, at 261 metres, in the Grand Lisboa casino-hotel, a mammoth-size 58-floor development, with 800 gambling tables, and 1,000 slot machines. In the lobby, protected inside a circular display case, is the 218.08-carat Star of Stanley Ho diamond, the largest cushion-shaped diamond in the world. Only in Macau will you find four Michelin star restaurants in the same hotel, the Lisbon Hotel. Another record.
The final cost of The 13 is estimated to have been 1,4 billion dollars.
Photo: The 13

The Asian Venice

Italy can also be found in Macau. The Venetian Macao is the largest resort of its kind in Asia. A gigantic complex that includes a hotel with just under 3,000 rooms. The largest suite measures 355 square metres. The design is inspired in Venice, with replicas of its canals and best known buildings.

Macau makes no attempt to hide its determination to be “the world’s mostest”. Wang bungy jumped 233 metres from the top floor of Macau Tower, the highest ‘bungy jumping’ feat ever on the planet. “It`s much the same thrill as having thirty 10,000 dollar chips on the table”, says Wang as he checks his safety harness.
But these are not the best of times for gambling in the Las Vegas of Asia. The crisis in China, from where the majority of the clients come, has affected Macau’s economy. However, that isn’t frightening away luxury developments. The hotel The 13 will open its doors in September, an experience for those who can afford $129,00 for one night. Not too much when compared to the $7 million that it would cost to purchase one of the French-style design suites. Each room can be accessed by private lift. Even the butlers will be exceptional. They will all be trained to exacting standards by the Guild of Professional English Butlers.
There is a replica of the Venetian Macau in St. Mark’s Square covered over with an artificial roof.
Photo: GuoZhongHua / Shutterstock.com
Stephen Hung, the man behind the project, has made the largest ever purchase of Rolls Royce cars, and these will be at the disposition of the hotel guests: a total of 30 personalised Phantom models, including the first two gold and diamond encrusted Rolls Royce, the two most expensive commissioned Rolls in the world. A $20 million whim with the goal of creating “one of the leader luxury brands in the world”, in words of Hung.
Macau is one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
Photo: Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock.com
The designers Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace are following in Hung’s footsteps. Lagerfeld has chosen Macau for the first hotel completely designed by him. It will be completed in 2017. Also in that year, Versace will see his third Versace Palace in operation.
Macau’s future will always be linked to its Portuguese colonial past. For 500 years right up until 1999 this southern China peninsula was under Portuguese rule. Today it is a mixture of old and new. The colonial Leal Senado (Loyal Senate) plaza in the historic centre is the oldest part of the city, and has been declared a World Heritage Site. It preserves an air of Mediterranean nostalgia with its remains of fortresses, colonial mansions and the Barroque churches of St. Laurence and St. Augustine. Of all Chinese cities, Macau has the greatest number of urban historic buildings. The Portuguese years are palpable in the 400-year old wall tiles, and in the smell of cod that hangs in the air. The ruins of St. Paul’s church are a landmark of the city and the most photographed building of all. Three fires have been the cause that only the Barroque granite facade and the 68 steps leading up to it have survived. The ruins of what was Asia’s most sumptuous Christian temple of worship live on untroubled in today’s city of exaggeration and excess.

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