Cover features

Jewel in the crown

Ben Blaschke
Written by Ben Blaschke

WGM takes you on a guided tour of Macau’s newest integrated resort, MGM Cotai, which was unmasked to the world in February.

Macau’s newest casino resort, MGM Cotai, opened its doors to the public on 13 February 2018 with the spectacular US$3.4 billion hotel and entertainment precinct completing one more piece of the Cotai jigsaw puzzle.

Located just off the Cotai Strip alongside Wynn Palace and City of Dreams, MGM Cotai – with its unmistakable “jewelry box” design – claims to be the most innovative integrated resort in the world, with hi-tech MGM Theater and indoor art and nature space Spectacle among the standout features.

MGM Theater is Asia’s first “dynamic” theater, seating up to 2,000 people in more than 10 possible configurations. It is also boasts the world’s largest permanent indoor LED screen covering 900 square meters – equivalent to the size of three tennis courts – and displaying a massive 28 million pixels.

MGM Theater is home to two resident shows including The Experience, described as “a 10- minute mind-bending and harmonious technological symphony that showcases the Theater’s engineering and architectural dexterity” and Destiny, “An electrifying, action-packed immersive theatrical production that is inspired by the concept of TV game shows and adventure video games.”

MGM also says that many of the company’s resident performers in Las Vegas, including Lady Gaga and Cher, will perform in Macau with MGM Theater’s 2,000-person capacity to provide a uniquely intimate experience.

Spectacle, the expansive epicenter of MGM Cotai stretching four stories high and the length of a football field, brings together thrilling elements from the natural world via an array of digital art and a massive indoor art garden. The aim of the column-free, long-span diagrid structure is to feel like it is alive by continually evolving and responding to changing conditions such as visitor behaviors, weather, time of day or season.

This is partly achieved via 25 large LED screens with over seven hours of exclusive content featuring several UNESCO World Heritage Sites of China. The footage was compiled by a number of renowned artists with the goal of capturing and highlighting the beauty of the natural world. Complementing Spectacle’s digital art is the world’s largest indoor art garden, home to more than 100,000 plants and 2,000 plant species including more than 200 different orchid species, many of which are native to Macau and Hong Kong. Incredibly, MGM has brought several extinct plant species from the 19th and 20th centuries back to life using botanical garden seed banks in Hong Kong and Europe.

Continuing the artistic theme, MGM Cotai is also home to its own art collection worth more than HK$100 million. The 300-piece collection includes modern and contemporary Asian paintings and sculptures by renowned artists, freshly-commissioned works by local and regional rising talents and large-scale installations, among them 28 Chinese imperial carpets dating from the Qing Dynasty that previously adorned the Forbidden City in Beijing.

“Many people over the past six years have asked us to describe MGM Cotai and I don’t think we’ve ever done it justice because this is a property that you have to experience,” says MGM China CEO and Executive Director Grant Bowie.

“This is a property we’ve designed with the intention of being able to transform constantly and continuously to be always relevant to the rapidly changing expectations of the Chinese consumer.

“The challenge was how to create something that is truly new. MGM Theater is an example of architectural and engineering excellence which allows us to create a venue to host many different creative opportunities.

“We are not trying to be everything to everyone, we are just trying to be important to those people for who high quality, innovation and most importantly passion is an important attribute of creating their experiences and their interests.”

On the gaming side, MGM Cotai’s casino has opened with 982 slot machines and 177 gaming tables, with the government to grant another 25 new tables from 1 January 2019. High roller offerings are limited for now, with MGM to launch VIP junket operations in the coming months.

Likewise, MGM’s “The Mansion” VIP villas – a concept that has proved hugely successful at MGM Grand in Las Vegas – are scheduled to open mid-year, comprising 27 luxury villas ranging in size from 215 to 570 square meters each.

MGM Cotai has opened with around 500 hotel rooms but when fully operational will boast a total of 1,390 rooms and suites including 1,248 Resort Rooms from 43 to 51 square meters, 99 Suites from 87 to 94 square meters and 16 Skylofts at 128 square meters each. Skylofts residents will have access to MGM Cotai’s Sky Lounge, an exclusive meeting place located on the 33rd and 35th floor above the hotel tower.

Dining is another core feature of MGM Cotai with nine dining concepts and four celebrity chefs providing a wide array of local and international options.

Among them is Grill 58°, with a menu designed by Chef Mauro Colagreco; Aji, the first authentic Nikkei restaurant in Macau by Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura; Coast by Top Chef TV personality Graham Elliot; and pastry shop Janice Wong MGM.

Other options include fine dining Cantonese restaurant Chún, Sichuan specialist Five Foot Road, seafood hotpot Hǎo Guō, 24-hour noodle and dumpling house Miàn Duì Miàn and cocktail lounge Bar Patuá.

Guarded by MGM’s signature Golden Lion, which towers over guests as they arrive at 11 meters in height, MGM Cotai provides another unmissable destination in  the Asian entertainment hub that is Macau.