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Mice Net : August 2009
macau Macau’s airport is conveniently located right near the all-new Cotai Strip where The Venetian Macau and the City of Dreams is now located. It’s so close in fact that you could think that you might end up right at the door of one of the resorts if the pilot forgot to apply the brakes. No sooner were we out of the aircraft and through customs in about 10 minutes (read it and weep business travellers sick of queuing at Australian airports for one hour or more), we met up with our Macau Tourism hosts who whisked us right past the Venetian Macau where we would be staying that evening to a small local Portuguese-style restaurant where the sangria (wine punch) was icy cold and thoroughly refreshing. It went down maybe a little too easily along with the variety of dishes that kept coming from the tiny kitchen and attentive wait staff. The food that night was proof pudding – or I should say Portuguese tart – that Macau has got it together when it comes to cuisine. Our little posse of famil participants didn’t have a bad meal the whole time we were there. And we had a lot of meals in a lot of restaurants – from the small shoe-box local ones to the big Chinese restaurant at Crown Macau. In each of them the food was simply stunning. Another point of note is the service in Macau. People are friendly but not over the top. In the local restaurants they are laid back and come as you are. In one in the Old Taipa Village there was a box of ratsack in a corner of the restaurant not far from our table. No big deal. At least they were doing something about them. Did I mention the food? Simple and tasty! In the shops – and I’m not talking about the pretentiousness of the designer shops here – I’m referring to the ones that are near to the historic Senado Square – there is no hassling, no haggling, and no real angst. You come, you look, you buy, you don’t buy. Doesn’t matter. Laid back as you like. It’s a different story in the hotels of course. It’s all about the service. And for the most part they’re getting the hang of it. On our second night our group stayed in the all-new Crown Macau, the first hotel in the City of Dreams which includes the just-opened Hard Rock Hotel, and the soon to open Grand Hyatt Macau. All three are just across the road from the Venetian. I had a small chuckle to myself when, on entering my room, on my mega-huge flat screen TV it said “Welcome Mr Frost”. Breakfast in the hotel was a little slow the following day but after being open for less than a month you have to expect that there are going to be a few teething problems. It’s a great hotel, very much in the style of the two Crown properties in Melbourne. The neighbouring Hard Rock Hotel is another thing entirely. This place is cool – rock star cool – right down to the concierges who, it must be said, probably aren’t discouraged from getting multiple facial piercings. They are, after all, in keeping with the style of the property. Crown has another property in another part of Macau that has been renamed Altira Macau for reasons possibly only known to some marketing people. For anybody considering Macau for an upcoming meeting or incentive I do urge you to visit this place. It has a bar and outdoor area with spectacular views of Macau that I’m told is a popular place for anybody who is trying to score a few brownie points – especially with a potential new suitor. What recession? Visiting Macau in June this year I found it hard to imagine that there was any global financial crisis in this part of the world. Casinos appeared busy, restaurants were full, people were shopping, and tourists were climbing like a large army of ants all over the very photogenic Ruins of St Paul’s in the historic part of Macau. As I said, I liked the place. Even the all-new Caesars Golf Course was impressive. What I like most, I think, is that I can see how a four or five day conference or incentive would pan out in Macau; how you can hold your meetings in the luxuriousness of the new resorts but if you do a little digging, search a little through the backstreets of the older parts of town you really could do some great things here. Maybe this is why Off Site Connections has set up shop here. Peter Kinnane and his team can also see the potential. And what I also like is that it’s not too big or scary like some other Asian destinations. In Macau I could introduce my young kids to what life is like in Asia without totally freaking them out with too many people, too many cars, and too many unfamiliar smells and sounds. As I said from the outset: Macau you win! To learn more contact the Macau Government Tourist Office in Sydney on (02) 9264 1488, email macau@ worldtradetravel.com or visit www.macautourism.gov.mo. 116 mice.net