Monday, 29 February 2016

Blink and you'll miss another opening: All change in Macao

There are few places on the planet where things change as quickly as Macau, which is so into re-inventing itself that it has adopted the alternative spelling of Macao as its official title.
And there is no end in sight to the continuing evolution of the former Portuguese colony. 

Blink for one second, and you're almost certain to miss the opening of another attraction, hotel or restaurant. 



In 1999, the year Macao was handed back to mainland China, the enclave boasted 9,469 hotel rooms.
At the end of 2015, there were a staggering 32,608 rooms available, thanks in recent years to the opening of such large establishments as the world's largest Sheraton Grand hotel, Conrad Macao, the Holiday Inn, St Regis, Ritz-Carlton, J W Marriott, Studio City, Harbourview and Broadway, to name just a few.
In two years' time, this figure is expected to eclipse 50,000.
The good news is that, despite the move to ultra-modernisation, the changes have been made without detracting from the Asian centre's treasured five centuries of mixed colonial-oriental heritage - as I discovered on a quickfire visit last year.
Macao's colourful UNESCO World Heritage-listed treasures and traditional festivals ensure that links with the past are maintained. 



The number of annual festive events has grown, so, too, the events themselves. On one day in December 2015, Macao hosted a marathon and mini marathon in the morning followed by a colourful Latin Parade and the launch of a spectacular Light Festival similar to Sydney's popular Vivid.
Many of the recent changes to Macao's makeup, have centred on the Cotai area of reclaimed land linking the islands of Taipa and Coloane, where new ritzy themed precincts have evolved. 

Opening at Sands Cotai in June this year will be a new theme park – Planet J – the world's first player-centric “Live Action Role Play” theme park, where players are immersed in the action.
“As the first permanent theme park in the precinct, Planet J redefines theme parks in the 21st Century,” said Helen Wong, general manager of Macao Government Tourism Office Australia and NZ.
“Macao continues to evolve in 2016, and will do so for years to come,” she said. “The changes to the landscape have been dramatic in recent months, in particular on the Cotai Strip where the Sands, Galaxy and City of Dreams dominate. 
“We are going through exciting times, so swift that if you hadn't been to Macao for a couple of years you would be amazed by the transformation. Yet the old UNESCO World Heritage-listed Macao remains a prime tourist attraction.”



In the latter half of 2016, Macao will see another exciting hotel addition, the Parisian, with the half-size Eiffel Tower already in place for the yet-to-be-confirmed opening date.
In further expanding the Macao Cotai landscape, 2016 will see the opening of the MGM Cotai and the Wynn Palace. 

In 2017, the City of Dreams' new hotel tower will open along with the highly-anticipated SJM's Lisboa Palace, while construction has continued on the above-ground multi-million dollar Light Rapid Transit light rail system which will ultimately link each of these major holiday resorts.
www.visitmacao.com.au 

Cathay Pacific has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities, with direct high-speed ferry links to Macau taking less than an hour. For details see www.cathaypacific.com.au and for fares visit www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_AU/destinations/flights-to-hong-kong.html 

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