Melco Crown Entertainment is in expansion mode in Macau and the Philippines. Co-Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho talks at large about the company’s plans and place in the market
Melco Crown Entertainment has established itself as a leader in Macau’s coveted premium-mass segment at its flagship resort, City of Dreams, and is on track with its local expansion plans. The company’s second Cotai resort, Studio City, is slated for a mid-2005 opening and construction on a fifth hotel tower at CoD is moving forward.
Regional expansion is also on the cards for MCE. Through its Melco Crown Philippines subsidiary it has partnered with the Philippines’ richest man, retail and property tycoon Henry Sy, on the development of a US$1.1 billion mixed-use resort with a casino— City of Dreams Manila—to open in mid-2014 as the second of four IRs licensed for Manila’s Entertainment City resort complex. It will feature 1,000 hotel rooms and suites, 1,900 electronic gaming machines, 350 table games and what promises to be a vibrant assortment of nongaming attractions.
Inside Asian Gaming asked Melco Crown Entertainment Co- Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho about his company’s positioning and development pipeline.
IAG: Melco Crown Entertainment’s recent strong profit growth has been driven in large part by surging mass-market revenue. City of Dreams was arguably the first Macau property to seriously court the premium mass and remains a leader in the segment, though all the operators are now feverishly trying to attract premium-mass players. How will CoD stay ahead?
Mr Ho: With a world-class array of hotels, entertainment attractions and other non-gaming amenities, as well as its advantageous location in the fast-growing Cotai region, our flagship integrated entertainment resort in Macau, City of Dreams, has positioned itself to cater to the increasingly discerning Macau visitors who demand a more sophisticated leisure and tourism experience.
City of Dreams provides an extraordinary entertainment experience through its two world-class entertainment attractions—The House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water extravaganza and a must-see experience for all visitors to Macau, and TABOO, the only cabaret show exclusively shown in Macau at City of Dreams. These two unique and world-class attractions, together with a wide variety of entertainment options to suit every taste, have redefined the entertainment experience in Macau. The House of Dancing Water show has already entertained over 2 million guests.
Targeting the premium-mass market segment, City of Dreams will continue to create more fascinating gaming, dining, shopping and entertainment experiences to cater to a wide array of customers who are seeking a broader leisure experience. The new iconic fifth hotel tower at City of Dreams represents another powerful addition to our wide array of amenities and attractions that City of Dreams already offers its premium-mass and high end customers, providing another tool to further extend the property’s leading position in this key segment. We envision City of Dreams as a complex that features not only Vegas-style gaming and entertainment facilities, but also provides a multi-dimensional, family-oriented resort experience, differentiating itself from other international resort destinations in Asia.
Is construction on the fifth hotel tower at City of Dreams going to commence by the end of this year? What will it include?
Melco Crown Entertainment continues to move forward with the construction of the fifth hotel tower at City of Dreams and is expected to open in late 2016, early 2017. More details on this exciting project will be provided in due course. We are confident that this new iconic hotel tower will represent another outstanding addition to our wide array of world-class amenities and attractions that City of Dreams already offers its premium-mass-market customers, providing another asset to further consolidate our leading position in the mass market segment.
Is Studio City still expected to open in mid-2015? Are there any new developments or details you can share?
Studio City remains within budget and on schedule to open in mid-2015 with clear progress made on the main superstructure following the successful completion of the foundation and piling work.
This new property is to be a cinematically themed integrated entertainment, retail and gaming resort located in Cotai, which is designed to capture the increasing important mass market segment, with its destination theming, unique and innovative interactive attractions, and strong Asian focus. Studio City complements MCE’s current portfolio of operating assets in Macau, offering a unique array of entertainment attractions which will cater to a broad range of customers in Macau and help drive diversification of the Macau economy.
Is City of Dreams Manila still on track to open next summer? How will it stand out from the other developments at Manila’s Entertainment City complex? Who are the target customers?
The development of MCE’s Philippines project is progressing well and is targeted to open in 2014.
In October this year, our property in Manila was officially named City of Dreams Manila. As the namesake of MCE’s world-class flagship integrated resort in Macau, City of Dreams Manila aims to replicate its success in Macau and herald a new era of entertainment in Manila. It comprises six hotel towers, including a luxurious Crown Towers branded hotel, and will provide visitors with an exceptional world-class gaming and entertainment experience, delivering international standards of retail and food and beverages, together with diverse and innovative lifestyle and entertainment offerings. City of Dreams Manila is also expected to feature three distinctive entertainment venues, including Manila’s first branded Family Entertainment Center, a central live-performance lounge inside the casino, and a nightclub situated at the Fortune Egg, an architecturally unique structure that is destined to become an iconic landmark of the Manila Bay area.
City of Dreams Manila is expected to diversify MCE’s exposure to the rapidly developing Asian gaming and entertainment industry, targeting the Asian middle class and the increasing disposable income and consumption of this important target market. We believe our experience in developing and operating integrated resorts in Asia, our competitive position in the VIP segments and experience in delivering world-class entertainment, together with our strong local partner, means we are in a unique position to capitalize on the economic growth in the Philippines and the region, and support the Philippine government’s leisure and tourism objectives.
Melco Crown Entertainment and Sands China have done a lot more to develop entertainment in Macau than the other operators. How do your entertainment offerings help boost the other parts of your business?
At Melco Crown Entertainment we pride ourselves in our innovative approach to doing business, particularly our leadership in entertainment offerings. The House of Dancing Water show has dramatically redefined the entertainment landscape of Macau and meaningfully contributed to Macau’s tourism and economic diversification. The introduction of Macau’s first-ever cabaret experience, TABOO, has also become a must-see experience in the City. Melco Crown Entertainment not only strives to bring truly world-class entertainment to Macau and any future jurisdictions we operate in, but also to provide unique and never-been-seen attractions to the cities.