The Venetian is a top-of-the-line hotel and casino located at Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Macau. It is simply the most beautiful hotel I have ever set foot in and left a powerful and lasting impression.
Nobody has put a bigger bet on Macao, the only place in China with legalized gambling, than the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which has just opened the 3,000-suite Venetian as the cornerstone of a 20,000-room complex of 14 interconnected hotels. Built to handle Macao’s 55 percent annual growth in gambling, the Venetian’s casino is three times the size of the largest casino in Las Vegas.
More than half the tables were empty on a recent Sunday evening. A dance show by four young Western women in microskirts had just three spectators, as grim-faced Chinese gamblers preferred to hunch over baccarat tables and slot machines. Above the casino, the Venetian’s 350-store mall has a full range of lingerie stores, luxury jewelers and clothing retailers plus three indoor canals with gondoliers singing arias. Four outdoor swimming pools have opened, but looming over bathers are cranes building an adjacent Four Seasons hotel and a permanent Cirque du Soleil theater.
Macao is a tropical destination on China’s southeastern coast. It is a humid furnace from late April through early October; temperatures can fall into the 50s in midwinter. An hourlong ferry ride separates Macao from Hong Kong.
Reservation and Check-In
Making a reservation was a nightmare. My wife had to call repeatedly, waiting on hold for 20 minutes or more each time. The reservation clerks spoke mostly Cantonese, the language of southeastern China, and very little English; they also insisted that a rate still being advertised on Hong Kong television had not existed for nearly a week. Once we arrived, the receptionist did speak fluent English, admire our baby and scribble directions to our suite on a map. He did not offer to send one of the handful of bellhops to help us navigate the labyrinth. When we tried to follow the map, we were accosted by security guards in bright yellow suits who said we could not take our infant daughter anywhere close to the casino because she was younger than 18.
Our 1,830-square-foot Rialto Suite was cavernous. The living room looked as if it was ready for a party for 30. The bedroom, with its French drapes over the head of the bed, resembled the setting for a Las Vegas bacchanalia. The rooms were so large that the bulky dark-wood furniture was lost. The bedroom desk lacked electrical plugs for my laptop — I unplugged the fax machine on the desk — but the living room desk had them and Internet access was free.
The living room had its own two-room bathroom; the bedroom’s bathroom area was the size of a Manhattan studio apartment. The toilet looked silly in its own echoing, marble-floored room, which measured eight by eight feet and was otherwise empty except for a small black wastebasket and a wall painting of red flowers.
Breakfast was superb, from the Macanese breakfast of eggs and dried meats to the Chinese dim sum. Three Filipino waiters delivered it with flair, arranging it beautifully on the table. Breakfast prices range from 95 to 140 patacas, or $11 to $17 at 8.4 patacas to the dollar.
The Venetian is a true Las Vegas transplant in China, but beware the security guards. Choose one of the Rialto Suites to feel like a Chinese Communist Party boss embracing capitalism, although it is not cheap at about 3,000 patacas, or $360, plus 15 percent in taxes. The 750-square-foot Bella Suites are about 2,000 patacas. The Venetian, The Cotai Strip, Taipa, Macao; (853) 2882-8888; http://www.venetianmacao.com.
Original NY Times article: http://goo.gl/HXhY12
The Venetian website: http://www.venetianmacao.com/index.html