December 13 – 15, 2016
The past few years have been tough for Macau. A decade of exponential growth of more than 10% per annum later, the gate has come crashing down on the inflow of money due mainly to the Communist Party’s anti-graft campaign and the slowdown of the Chinese economy. To combat the conspicuous decline of high rollers, gambling operators see the mass market segment as their potential golden ticket back to growth. More entertainment options, more conventions, more F&B revenue — in short, mimic the Las Vegas model and transforms Macau into a multidimensional destination with the chops to attract a broad spectrum of visitors.
It is too early to tell if the new strategy will deliver, but the gambling hub’s outlook has brightened considerably by the end of 2016 due to Chinese capital outflow and the opening of several high-profile resorts. One of the new comers is Steve Wynn’s US$4.2 billion Wynn Palace, the most expensive resort in Macau to date.
Plenty of fantastic deals could be had amid this glut of hotel rooms. I scored a bargain of a deal, $1,300 per night for two weeknights at Wynn Palace, and due to a lack of non-smoking room I was upgraded to the Parlor Suite, a room which costs $2,650 for a typical weeknight. Frankly I have never gotten a better cost-to-value ratio for accommodation.
Most of the new resorts, including Wynn Palace, are located in a 5.2 km2 piece of newly reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane islands called Cotai. Once all the projects are completed this will become the Macau version of the Strip, though as of now there is very little interplay between the resorts. Things might improve once the light rail system runs in 2019.
On the outside Wynn Palace looks similar to Wynn Macau — a half-hexagon tower of brownish reflective glasses, and the 30,000m2 musical fountain at the entrance is another Steve Wynn’s fixture. What stands out is the Skycab, a 34-cable car system that orbits around the performance lake in 10 minutes. There is a noticeable bump when the car navigates around the mouths of the two golden dragons on the corners. Round trip costs an unfathomable $100 for all non-overnight guests.
Compares to Wynn Macau everything is on a larger scale at the Palace. Luxury retail again takes on a prominent role as over 50 brands have set up shops, but both statistics and anecdotal evidences both point to a declining demand.
Wynn Palace’s theme is floral. No matter where you turn, there are bouquets hanging on the walls and ceilings. Large scale floral displays designed by Preston Bailey, a New York-based event designer, are showcased in the atriums. During my visit the themes were hot air balloons and a hatching phoenix.
Several pronounced art pieces decorate the public area, such as Jeff Koons’ Tulips and Buccleuch Vases from the Qing Dynasty. This overall tone is posher than its more mass market competitors such as the Venetian.
Compares to the top-notch hardware, service from the staff still has a way to go. Nobody seems certain on anything. Check-in takes more than half an hour. Direction requests are met with blank stares. Ticket redeem at the Skycab counter is unnecessarily complicated. Restaurant waiters are often slow to respond. Although it is not yet smooth sailing, the staff is generally friendly.
The 1,460 square feet Parlor Suite can be divided into three sections: living room, bedroom and bathroom. The largest is the living room — more spacious than many Hong Kong apartments and makes the 75-inch HD television feels almost underwhelming. Our floor-to-ceiling windows face the rear part of the hotel and not the performance lake.
Even with a king-size bed, the bedroom leaves plenty of space to move around. The gold and white color tone makes a subtle pairing. Even with the abundance of gold the living space doesn’t project an unbearable ostentatiousness.
The bathroom, though, is quite over-the-top. You can’t hide from the full-length mirrors, which fill seemingly every available inch of the bathroom’s walls. I felt a little uneasy taking a shower while being surrounded by mirrors. One can probably make better use of the space by throwing a hot tub party here, with all the amenities imaginable like two dressing tables, a chair, a 22-inch television and an air-jet soaking bathtub.
The preference for gold is not limited to interior design. The complimentary toiletries, a combination of golden toothbrush, golden shaver and a golden comb would probably make even Donald Trump blush. Actually, probably not.
My booking excluded breakfast, which cost $220 per person at Café Fontana. I am not a fan of buffet, especially the usual breakfast variety of cold cuts, fried eggs and toasts, but I thoroughly enjoyed Wynn Palace’s. There are ten stations, including pastry, cold cut, omelet, noodle, dim sum, rib, fruit, sweet and chocolate. The range of options is the most I have ever encountered, and quality is not compromised by quantity in this case.
The price is a little steep but I wouldn’t say it is unjustified.