Friday, May 09, 2008

Cotai Strip; The Asian Vegas?

Apparently, in Southern China, trade shows mean Spring the same way that crocuses do in the Midwestern U.S. Our mini tour through China continued with the Mega Macau trade show at the brand new Venetian Hotel on the Cotai Strip.

Macau has long been a gambling destination, but some big players are moving in with an eye to turning it into the Asian Vegas. They aren't messing around. Construction is frantic and everywhere.

Rome is arising from the mud and they are doing their very best to make it happen in a day. The Wynn effect is visible everywhere. This building will house Chanel, Hermes and Cartier shops. The Venetian itself houses a giant high end shopping mall, including Missoni, Bulgari, Harry Winston and Prada stores.

I'm not sure if the photos really capture the scale of all of this. Imagine the entire five mile long Vegas strip being built virtually overnight, with each casino racing to beat out its competitors. Vast temporary cities have been erected to house hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. Bundles of cables the diameter of a bus power the cranes, torches and electric lights that allow construction twenty four hours a day. It is awe inspiring and forces you to remember that the house always wins. There is no other way to account for the extravagant financing. It's also the reason I don't gamble.

The Mega Mecau Show is relatively new one and is the group promoting it offered Eric and I a free stay at the Venetian Hotel for the night. We jumped at the chance, and after the vile Blog Inn, it was the most wonderful treat. It is currently the largest hotel in Asia and the second largest building in the world. The double suite we stayed in usually goes for around $600 USD per night.

To paraphrase the inestimable Ferris Bueller; "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend you pick one up."

Monogrammed hotel robes? So Wes Anderson. Trade shows are horribly dull, neon lit affairs in airless convention centers, but our stay in the Venetian was pure heaven.

A parting view from our hotel room window.

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