Reports of Macau’s demise as the gambling capital of Asia have been greatly exaggerated.
At least according to international casino magnate Steve Wynn, who last week opened a new $4.1-billion casino resort in the autonomous territory on the South China Sea—a city nicknamed the “Las Vegas of China.”
The 1,700-room resort sits in the heart of the Cotai Strip and boasts features unlike those at any other resort in the world. Among them: air-conditioned gondolas circling a man-made, 8-acre lake; a $100-million water fountain show synchronized to music; a spa with a $450 facial that uses gold leaf and crushed diamonds; and about $200 million in art and Chinese antiques displayed throughout the property. There also is a rooftop garden, and a retail space with shops from Chanel, Cartier, Hermes, and Prada, to name a few.
Overall, the property represents Wynn’s most expensive casino resort to date—almost double the $2.3-billion price tag for Encore Las Vegas, which opened in 2008.
Under the auspices of Wynn Resorts, Ltd., the 74-year-old Wynn built a number of other resorts in Las Vegas, one in Mississippi, and another, smaller resort in Macau. He currently is building a hulking resort in a suburb of Boston, scheduled to open in 2019.
Still, in Macau, the opening comes at a precarious time. Following a government crackdown on corruption, the territory has endured a gambling slump for more than two years. The government is also in the midst of rebranding the destination to make it more family-friendly. Two other big casinos will open in the next calendar year—Las Vegas Sands’ Parisian Macao, a $2.7-billion, French-themed resort is expected to open September 13; and MGM China, a $2.5-billion project expected to open in early 2017. With roller coasters and giant aquariums, both of these casinos will cater to wealthy families with kids.
Wynn has different plans. The billionaire noted in a recent interview with Bloomberg that his new resort is “an adult resort” that’s “not for children.”
To demonstrate this point, Wynn noted that the resort is doubling-down (see what we did there?) on high-rollers. Wynn has promised that 60 of his new resort’s 400 table games will be high-stakes and has vowed to lure Asian whales who may have stopped playing altogether back into the fold.
Only time will tell if this strategy is successful. Until then, gold-leaf facials for everyone!
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com