With the opening of the second phase of Sands Cotai Central last month, Cotai 2.0 was realized— comprising Sands China’s SCC, Venetian Macao and Four Seasons properties; Melco Crown Entertainment’s City of Dreams; and Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Galaxy Macau.
Although a few more additions to SCC’s second phase—including additional hotel rooms and retail offerings—will only be unveiled over the coming months, the current landscape of Cotai will remain essentially unchanged for the next three years, ahead of the arrival of the third wave of Cotai properties, likely to get kicked off with Galaxy Macau Phase II, and followed by Studio City and Steve Wynn’s Cotai opus.
The coming three-year supply gap bodes well for Sands China, as it has by far the greatest capacity in place on Cotai to capture an outsized share of the strong and sustained mass market growth that analysts expects will continue in the shortto medium-term.
Our cover picture this month shows the eager mass market throngs rushing to be among the first to experience the latest facilities at SCC’s second phase, which opened 20th September, following on from the 11th April first phase opening.
Some half a million visitors thronged to Sands China Limited’s various Macau properties during the SCC second phase opening weekend, setting a new record for the company, and surpassing the previous all-time high visitation during this year’s Chinese New Year weekend.
SCC’s second phase includes the world’s largest Sheraton Hotel—over 2,000 of the 4,000 Sheraton-branded hotel rooms are now online, with the remainder expected to open over the next few months—as well as new restaurants and retail outlets, and a new Polynesian-themed gaming area, Pacifica.
“We are very pleased with the customer response to our new facilities at Sands Cotai Central and it bodes well for the long term growth of Cotai,” said Sands China President and CEO Edward Tracy at the opening. He added: “The addition of Sheraton Macao to Sands Cotai Central means Sands China’s integrated resorts on the Cotai Strip will soon have a combined 9,000 rooms on offer—a significant step towards developing Macao into a world center of business, tourism and leisure.”
Mr Tracy remarked on the continuing development and realization of Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson’s vision of a fully integrated resort destination on Cotai: “We’ve come a long way from that muddy swampland that Mr Adelson first surveyed. And there were plenty along the way who said it couldn’t be done. But here we are today, marking yet another grand achievement.”
The following pictures show highlights of the opening ceremony and offer a glimpse of the amenities now on offer at Sands Cotai Central.
Sheraton Macao hotel lobby
Dynasty 8 restaurant Main floor eatery, Lucky Express
Sheraton Macao Ambassador Suite Sheraton Macao deluxe Cotai view room
Entrance to Grand Orbitrestaurant North restaurant off the Himalaya casino floor
Cotai Lights Up
Red carpet arrivals at the ceremonial opening of Sheraton Macao included Macau Chief Executive Chui Sai On, government officials, company executives from Sands and Sheraton, international film star Zhang Ziyi, and the stars of the hit reality TV show The Voice of China.
The main ceremonial event for the Sheraton and Sands Cotai Central second phase opening featured Maori Haka and Tahitian dancers performing at Sheraton Macao’s lantern-lit Jaya pool deck, followed by the seating of the attending dignitaries. A large goddess-accompanied heliosphere then delivered a ceremonial flame, which ignited fiery logos of Sands Cotai Central and Sheraton on the façade of Sheraton Macao’s Sky tower, and set off a huge, choreographed pyrotechnic display that included fireworks illuminating all the Sands China properties on Cotai: Sands Cotai Central, The Venetian Macao and The Plaza Macao.
High limit Ruby Room at Pacifica Pacifica main floor
Gaming With a South Pacific Twist
The Polynesian-themed Pacifica Gaming area at Sands Cotai Central features entertainers from around the Pacific Rim—including Tahiti and New Zealand—as well as costumed ambassadors greeting guests not only at the casino entrance, but also throughout Macau, from the border gates to the open-top Pacifica Party Bus which travels around the Macau peninsula and Taipa from 11a.m. to 7p.m. daily.
Apart from the entertainers and greeters, however, the Pacifica’s décor is decidedly Western, and stands in contrast to the Eastern influenced tones of the neighboring Himalaya casino, which opened as part of SCC’s first phase.
Pacifica occupies 104,000 square feet and offers close to 200 mass market gaming tables and over 1,000 electronic gaming machines. Owing to the government-imposed cap on the number of gaming tables in Macau—5,500 market-wide in 2012—the table count at Pacifica was made up by reallocating tables from other Sands China properties. As of 2Q 2012, the Himalaya casino offered 217 mas tables, while SCC housed a further 145 VIP tables.
In a recent note, Union Gaming’s Grant Goversten shared his thoughts on the Pacifica: “The new casino has a much more modern feel to it, and is generally much brighter / more spacious than its peers. It generally isn’t compartmentalized like most Macau casinos (e.g. even if a traditional Macau casino doesn’t have physical segmentation via walls / columns / walkways, the ceiling often demarcates the casino floor) but is much more free-flowing. While it will take some time for the property to ramp and for its full potential to become known, we think this styling is likely to hold notable appeal—not unlike Galaxy Macau’s mass market floor (also quite different than traditional Macau casinos)—which we believe will generate in excess of US$300 million in EBITDA this year (prior to contribution from VIP). We also believe the completion of the overhead air-conditioned walkway between Venetian and Sands Cotai Central should be a meaningful driver of cross-property foot traffic (per our proprietary Cotai foot traffic survey, we estimate that Sands China already has a two-thirds share of Cotai foot traffic).”
Shoppes Cotai Central
The Total Offer
In addition to 300,000 square feet of gaming space in two, uniquely themed gaming centers, the complete Sands Cotai Central package is shortly set to offer approximately 6,000 hotel rooms and suites, and 1.2 million square feet of retail, entertainment and dining facilities, and meetings and convention space. With over 90 retail outlets, Shoppes Cotai Central joins Shoppes Grand Canal and Shoppes at Four Seasons to offer a total of over 600 luxury duty-free stores to choose from—the most in any one single location in all of Macau. And with two spas, three health clubs and myriad F&B options, SCC can lay claim to truly diversifying the offer available to visitors to the city.