GALAXY MACAU : LAP OF LUXURY
This place was off the hook. I have stayed in some nice 5 star hotels previously, mostly on the coin of my employer at the time, but this place was in a class of its own.
With Macau being the only place in China where gambling is legal, it has now overtaken Las Vegas in regards to gambling revenue. Since gambling is the biggest source of income for Macau, new Casinos are popping up all the time. The Galaxy Casino and Resort opened up in May of 2011 and has quickly earned itself a good reputation.
The first thing that strikes you about this place is the size. It is huge, with two tall 30+ story buildings each lining opposite sides of the perimeter, facing each other. It was designed by an LA based architect who has also designed theme parks and other large scale resorts. The place looks like an Asian Palace and definitely sets the scene for the guests. As you approach the place, the towers are the first things that strike you, then as you get closer you notice the attention to detail as you gaze upon the manicured gardens.
After alighting from the complimentary shuttle bus service from the ferry terminal we are greeted by a tall, beautiful Galaxy ambassador, with her hand on her heart as she welcomes us to the palace. Inside the main lobby the opulence slaps you in the face. The first thing you notice is the colourful water feature in the middle of the lobby with a mammoth 3 metre gem as a chandelier, with lights that continually change colour.
A concierge quickly takes our bags and guides us to the check in area. We are there a few seconds and are offered some complimentary bottled water by another tall, beautiful, Galaxy Ambassador. This place certainly knows a thing or two about customer service. The line to check in continues to grow and another worker unhooks the little rope barricade and ask myself and about five other guests if they would like to follow her and check in at the VIP area.
Checking in is fairly smooth and we are told as we are long staying guests that she will organise a surprise gift for us and asks us when would be an okay time to bring them up. It turns out to be a fruit basket. I ask for a non-smoking room and we are given a room on the 31st floor. She explains that the mini bar is complimentary. Fantastic! I love this place already.
The lobby had its own bridge
The Galaxy is a resort, it is a hotel, and it is a casino. The casino spans the length of the building which I guess would be over 300 metres long, it takes quite some time to walk from one end to the other. The hotel also is perched on top of its own mall. It is filled with high class jewelers and fashion shops for punters to squander their winnings. There is even a McDonald’s. It has its own movie theatre, many bars and a food court. With over 2200 rooms, you need to feed the guests somewhere. If the food court is not your style there is a choice of culinary treats to suit all budgets, including fine European dining.
The food court had a wide selection to choose from
There is an express elevator for the top floors and it quickly whisks us up to level 31. After walking along the long corridors we are at our room. The rooms are on par with the rest of the place and I am not disappointed. The large king size bed that is so comfortable it is hard to get out of it each morning. From the free Wi-Fi, to the living space to the desk and large flat screen TV; it is close to perfection in my book. The bathroom has a glass wall so you can watch TV while having a bath. Being so high, we have a great view of Taipa. The racecourse, stadiums and unit blocks look like Lego blocks.
The view from the room
On the second floor joining the two towers is the Grand Resort Deck. Here you will find a large open space complete with a wave pool which creates waves up to 1.5 metres. There are two other pools, cabanas, jacuzzis and an artificial white sand beach. These are all surrounded by tropical and Japanese gardens. It is a touch of paradise and makes you forget where you are. I spent a day just lazing by the pool with only a handful of other people. The climate is Macau is quite warm with an average temperature in the high 20s, perfect for a day at the (fake) beach.
A relaxing place to visit
The hotel can be quite surreal at times with random performers walking the hallways and corridors. Six foot transvestites decked out in evening wear to rival Mardi Gras, cute cheerleaders with knee high socks complete with pom poms and we even saw space aged characters with white wigs walking around with electronic tablets, giving people the chance to win a voucher if the virtual ticket was a winner. Every night there is a laser show from the roof, every 15 minutes. It is claimed to be the largest in the world and can be seen all across Macau. The roof has 6 Cupolas (a dome like structure, in this case resembling a crown) on top of the two towers covered with enough 24 Carat gold leaf to cover 87 football pitches.
99 with my cheerleaders
We strolled up and down the casino floor many times, filled with Chinese gamblers playing the slot machines or sitting at one of the gaming tables, playing Baccarat or other strange games I had never witnessed before like Sic bo or Fan Tan, but there are also more traditional games like the roulette wheel and blackjack. I was suckered into having a punt on a couple of occasions, but enjoyed my time more in the casino just watching the free shows sipping on a beer, soaking in the atmosphere. The casino had live entertainment on and off for 14 hours a day. Here you could watch a magic show, dancing girls or bands. The down side to the casino was that they allowed smoking indoors. For a non-smoker it was very off putting, both for the health reasons and the fact that it stunk and would actually make my eyes hurt.
The bar in the casino was a great place to catch a free show
The five days that I lived in this fantasy land was one I will never forget. The price to stay there was quite reasonable for the luxury it supplied. My guess is that the casino is a bigger money spinner than the hotel rooms, and they would rather get people staying there, losing money than staying at another hotel/casino. All up the room was a bit over $600 (AUD) for 5 nights. I had paid more per night for cheap motor inns in Australia, so I was not complaining.
If you are in the area and it is value for money you seek, I would recommend spending some time in Macau rather than Hong Kong. I lost about $60 at the Casinos and I hardly played at all, it is easy to see how you can get sucked into the excitement and glamour of Macau and lose a lot of money if you are not careful.