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The MICE momentum

The opening of the world's largest Sheraton in Macao gives fillip to the destination as an important MICE hub in the region that has the inventory and infrastructure for large events. By Sudipta Dev

The opening of the biggest hotel in the world this year – the Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, coincides with a milestone in the history of Starwood Hotels and Resorts – the largest property in the portfolio in the fastest growing focus market. The celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the Cotai Strip also coincided with the 75th anniversary of Sheraton. “This is a wonderful event for Starwood, not only because of the 75th anniversary but also as this is the largest Sheraton,” said Frits van Paasschen, president and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “The Cotai Strip has witnessed remarkable development in the last couple of years. The latest chapter is opening of Sheraton Macao,” added Edward Tracy, president and CEO, Sands China.

The large repository of rooms is targeted at the MICE area of business. “Our aim is to bring to Macao MICE based strategy. Las Vegas is a big venue for trade shows and conferences. We have tried to do that here. This is a MICE based market and the reason why we chose Sheraton is because they are leaders in MICE,” said Sheldon G Adelson, chairman, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Sands China, not forgetting to add that he saw more growth in Macao than in Las Vegas. Pointing out that the integrated resort model is unique, he stated, “Today Las Vegas is not just about gambling, a trend that is different from the 60s era, and has different entertainment opportunities. It is the same in Macao.”

While it is a known fact that a large percentage of people go to Las Vegas to shop and watch shows, a recent survey for Macao also indicated that 43 per cent of the people who came here wanted to do shopping and indulge in gastronomical delights. “Sheraton is a part of the transition,” said Simon Turner, president, Global Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. He mentioned that Starwood had been waiting to bring Sheraton to Macao. “This has not happened by accident. There is no brand stronger in China in terms of footprint than Sheraton. We have great optimism that we will establish ourselves as true leader in the market. We have more capacity to service our elite guests. No club lounge anywhere in the world has such facilities like here,” he remarked.

Kashgar Grand Ballroom in the hotel offers 52,646 square ft of pillar-less space. There is an option to divide the floorspace into 16 smaller conferencing rooms. There are six junior ball rooms with access to three additional ones with seating capacity of 2,000 people in theatre style. The F&B options include three restaurants - Feast for world cuisine; Bene for the best in Italian, Xin for Asian hotpot and seafood. The Pacific-themed Palms Lounge offers all-day snacks and high tea while poolside dining is also available in the three pool areas - Sala, Jaya and Tiki. The casino has 400 tables to begin with.

The first phase of the property has opened with the Sky Tower that has 1,829 rooms; the remaining 2,067 rooms will open in early 2013 with the opening of the Earth Tower. The room categories range from Deluxe King to Executive and Ambassador Suite to Presidential Suite. The property has the largest Sheraton Club globally with 570 guestrooms and an exclusive club lounge that has a seating capacity of 274.

The next full size project on the Cotai Strip will be the Parisian that will be built 50 per cent the true scale of Eiffel Tower. Work on the the project is expected to start in the next two months. This project will have a major shopping component.

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