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Macau Trip Report!

Last edit: StudiodeKadent on Saturday, 26th February 2011 7:57 pm
Last response by StudiodeKadent 27th February 5:52pm

First, the basic details: this report lays out the facts of a visit to Macau beginning on the 20th and ending on the 25th of February.

Lets be completely honest; the trip was a disappointment. I admit my being pissed off is significantly the product of losing 20k HKD at the blackjack tables.

I took CotaiJet from HKIA to the Macau Ferry Terminal. CotaiJet used to be the most classy of all the ferry operators; now the First Class passengers only receive free cup-o-noodles on their way to Macau. So take TurboJet instead; they're much easier to book too.

So, after arriving at HKIA, we went off to my hotel: the MGM Macau (they're removing the "Grand" from their name).


MGM MACAU
I really wanted to love this place. Equal best BJ Rules in Macau. Easily-navigated, logically laid-out property. The main lobby and the Grande Praca, together, are IMO one of the most beautiful public spaces in Macau.

The main lobby's centerpiece is a Dale Chihuly glass chandelier sculpture called Fiori Di Paradiso. It hangs over a Salvador Dali bronze sculpture, Dalinian Dancer. The sculpture sits atop a carpet with waves of bright colors. The lobby is mostly cream/beige marble and colorful Chihuly art is found on the walls (including behind the reception).

This main lobby is beautiful, elegant and classy without being intimidating or overstated. It truly is great.

Connected to the main lobby is the Grande Praca, which looks a bit like the Mansion's courtyard at the MGM in Vegas. A massive glass skylight allows huge quantities of daylight in to both the Praca and the lobby. At night, the building facades around the sides of the GP are lit up creatively.

Together, I honestly consider the Lobby and GP to be one of my favorite places in Macau.

Too bad the VIP Lobby is not nearly as tasteful. Indeed, it looks like a marble-jade fortress in the middle of Shangri-La. Talk about catering to local tastes.

As for gaming conditions, the casino is very nice aesthetically. Think a smaller, more intimate, more art-deco Venetian and you have a good idea. The lighting is a bit subdued, but this helps give the place a more romantic feel. There's a wide variety of table limits starting at 100HKD and dual-currency tables accepting HKD and MOP. 100/300/500 for Baccarat, 100/200/300 for BJ. High Limit begins at 500 HKD and above.

The big flaw? No free booze on the main floor.

NO FREE BOOZE. ENOUGH SAID.

Also, I lost 20k HKD at the blackjack tables even if I was playing perfect basic strategy. Strangely enough, I consistently had better luck at the Wynn. I hope that my game wasn't rigged... I urge MGM Macau to make sure their blackjack games don't use short decks.

The comp system at MGM Macau works as follows; 100 HKD bet gets you 1 point. At BJ, the casino assumes 50 hands per hour (their tables are nearly always full and the dealers are quite lethargic, plus all plays are checked with the player. This means 50 hands per hour is a fair assumption). Thus, 1 hour at 400HKD means 200 points, and that gets you an 88MOP food comp.

Here's the problem; if you're staying in the hotel, you cannot use your player's card for restaurant discounts and you can't use points you have accumulated to get hotel discounts for that current trip. And after my brutalization at the BJ tables, I wanted a fucking discount! In Vegas I'd have got a few nights comped for my losses, but not at the MGM Macau.

In other words, if you're staying at the hotel, the only comps you can get are food vouchers while you play. If you stay at the hotel, your Player's Club membership is WORSE for you than if you are staying somewhere else.

I shouldn't have to go on about how absolutely fucking stupid this setup is. It quite literally leads to a situation where you should NOT stay at the MGM if you play there, and you should only stay there if you play somewhere else.

As for the hotel itself, its quite nice. The hallways and rooms have an almost Japanese feel to them in some ways... minimalist "modern Asian" decor in warm tones. The rooms have glass-walled baths too!

There are some problems with the rooms though. First, the beds are extremely firm, and I like a firm bed but I know many people would find the beds at the MGM Macau to be very uncomfortable. Second, those glass-walled bathtubs are Vdara-style; step up to get into them, and step down to get out of them. Did I mention the brown marble bathroom floor is slippery when wet?

Also, the mini-bar is very minimal in what it offers.

BLACKJACK CONDITIONS:
6d CSM (cards placed back into the machine after each hand) S17 DA2 DAS RSA Split to 4 ES10 Original Bets Only against Dealer BJ (HE: 0.1%)

CRAPS CONDITIONS:
3/4/5x Odds, 2 tables, 50HKD mins

EVALUATION: MGM MACAU
PROS
+ Equal-best BJ rules in Macau
+ Logically-designed, often beautiful property
+ Nice hotel rooms
+ Friendly service

CONS
- Player's Club is appallingly useless for hotel guests
- No free booze on main casino floor
- Service, whilst good, isn't as good as the Wynn

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
1) Serve free alcoholic beverages on the casino main floor (THIS IS ESSENTIAL)
2) Check those BJ decks and make sure they're fair
3) Get the Lion's Bar back up and running
4) Make the Player's Club more useful; allow hotel guests to use their points to get discounts on their rooms, allow guests to get a player's club discount on food charged to the room, etc.
5) Place a wide variety of snacks and beverages in the mini-bar


WYNN MACAU
The Wynn retains the top spot as the best place to play in Macau.

I started by visiting the new Encore expansion. Its small casino is painted in a very dark orange color, which makes it feel even smaller. To be honest, I don't really like how it looks... even with the windows the dark walls really make the place feel confining.

I hate to say it, but Wynn Macau has one critical flaw; the chambered casino and the corridors everywhere really make the place feel labyrinthe. You feel like a rat in a maze running for the cheese, and the layout is really confusing.

To balance out this flaw, Wynn Macau has one critical virtue: FREE BOOZE ON MAIN FLOOR. You heard me correctly. FREE BOOZE ON MAIN FLOOR. Just like Vegas, albiet you can't really order complex stuff.

The Wynn does also have a 100HKD low roller pit, with Baccarat and Craps tables. I think it needs to have a Blackjack table there as well, but its good to see the Wynn catering to the low-roller market.

The restaurants were great, but Il Teatro deserves a special mention. It was fantastic. Beautiful room, amazing view, welcoming service and the food... OH MY FUCKING GOD the food. Easily the best meal of my trip. It obliterated Circo at the Bellagio.

BLACKJACK CONDITIONS
Same as MGM, but limits start at 200 HKD

CRAPS CONDITIONS
Same as MGM, tables located in the 100HKD pit

PROS
+ Free booze!!!
+ Great gaming conditions
+ Best service in Macau; even low-rollers feel special
+ Food is orgasmic

CONS
- Confusing, labyrinthe property layout
- Encore feels small and confining
- No 100HKD Blackjack tables

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
1) Add some skylights to the casino to make it feel more open; consider lessenning the 'chambering' effect.
2) Add a 100HKD BJ table to the low-limit pit.


L'ARC MACAU
I only popped in for a few minutes. L'Arc is an SJM casino located across the road from Encore. The casino is quite small (at least what I saw of it), and Blackjack mins start at 100 HKD. I asked an employee about the rules, apparently you CAN resplit aces but I think the employee didn't understand me, so I'd suspect standard SJM conditions (no RSA).

The property is remarkably elegant and understated, especially for an SJM property. It looks very much like a French version of the Venetian or possibly Bellagio. Again, very tasteful for SJM.

Craps tables allow 10x Odds!!!


STARWORLD
I only popped in for a few minutes. A Galaxy property with Blackjack starting at 200HKD. I heard from a pit supervisor (with very good english) that they have STOPPED taking split-bets against a dealer Blackjack. Now, you'll only ever lose 1 unit against a dealer BJ, however you still can only split to three hands and I assume you can't resplit aces. This makes the house edge about 0.17%... the worst in Macau but not by much.


CITY OF DREAMS
A similar color palate to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, but lots of curvy metallic shapes... this place really is aggressively pushing itself. It looks fantastic, but the layout inside can be confusing and there aren't enough outward-facing windows. BJ starts at 200HKD (apparently the Venetian next door now has 100HKD tables to compete), 300HKD at the Hard Rock casino.

Hard Rock Casino has very attractive drink waitresses in tight leather. I'm not sure if they serve free alcohol but I doubt they do.

Hard Rock also has its own craps table, 5x Odds.

Food at Horizons was very nice, but not to the extent that Il Teatro was. The service was excellent.


ALTIRA
Table mins start at 300HKD. This place exists pretty much only for high limit baccarat. Boooorrring.


CONCLUSION
My trip was disappointing, but I've learned to stay at the Wynn instead of the MGM. Its unfortunate. I wanted to love the MGM and I love the MGM Vegas joints. Unfortunately, the MGM Macau isn't at that level yet, which is a shame. Fortunately, if they really wanted to seriously go for that level, they could. However, MGM is only half-owner of the property.

Its sad since I liked the MGM's hotel rooms, and aesthetically the MGM is more my taste than the Wynn. MGM's main lobby and Grande Praca are just plain beautiful. But if I can get free drinks and more "yes, your business matters to us!" service next door, as well as a player's club card I can use when I'm staying in the hotel, then yes, I'll gamble with the Wynn even if I secretly want to go around the place with a pair of scissors and cut off every single one of Roger Thomas's oversized fucking tassells.

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 mungroo responded on Saturday, 26th February 2011

Very interesting report. When I was there a couple of years ago, I too preferred the Wynn for a few reasons:

- the obvious one - free booze on the casino floor;

- I liked the chambered layout of the casino floor;

- I won.

I would say the Wynn is the closest a Macau casino comes to providing a Vegas-like experience and that primarily is due to the physical similarity to the Vegas Wynncore property. It felt familiar while much of the Macau casino experience was kind of alien.

I was also obliterated by MGM Macau blackjack tables losing HKD$5K in about an hour but I fortunately won it all back at baccarat. I highly doubt that there is anything improper about their game though.

Did you make it to the Grand Lisboa?

 StudiodeKadent replied on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Mungroo,

I agree the Wynn feels most Vegas-y, but I think that's mostly due to the free booze! Anyway, sorry to hear you too had bad luck at the MGM's BJ tables.

I didn't make it to the Grand Lisboa this trip but I've been there before. It was... well... eye-gougingly tasteless with enough Swarovski crystals all over the place to induce an epileptic seizure. Seriously, there are ropes of them all around every pair of escalators.... AAAAARGH!

 detroit1051 responded on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Great report. It made me look at MGM Macau's site, and it is a beautiful property.
I see the Golden Lion Club has four levels, Gold, Elite, Platinum and Supreme. I would assume Supreme level members would get anything they want.

Where does MGM see the property in comparison to Wynn? Is MGM going after a different market than Wynn?

Wonder why MGM removed "Grand" from the name?

http://www.mgmmacau.com/mgmhomepage

 StudiodeKadent replied on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Detroit1051,

Glad you liked the report!

I think MGM is trying to target day-trippers a lot, but still that doesn't explain why hotel guests get LESS use out of their player's cards than people not staying at the hotel.

I think they removed the "Grand" from the name to avoid confusion with the Grand Lisboa.

As for market, its clear MGM is going for a broader market. They have a huge VIP casino, as well as low roller tables. Wynn has only one small low roller pit. But yes, a broad-market casino should still have free booze!!!

 detroit1051 responded on Sunday, 27th February 2011

"But yes, a broad-market casino should still have free booze!!!"
I'll drink to that!

 nullzero00 responded on Sunday, 27th February 2011

i wonder if you had checked out of MGM, then immediately rebooked (maybe through your smartphone, ie not in person at the front desk), if you would have been able to use your comps on the same trip.

 Dramman responded on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Awesome report, and great to see craps is proliferating. I loved the vibe at the then-recently opened Hard Rock, but bemoaned the lack of a table. Great to see that is corrected. Also good to see odds are now per-mutating between properties.

As for the main topic, I have a clarification. Was the booze available on request? Or did they have cocktail waitresses roaming about? In the past I usually had to ask the pit boss to get something.

I am a bit surprised to hear some aspects of the MGM. I agree it is a fantastic looking place in spots. I always heard their rooms were better. Disappointing.

Good to hear about the L'Arc I was wondering how that turned out.

If I could add one thing of commentary. Macau is not Vegas, and will never be. It has its own charms, revel in them.


 StudiodeKadent replied on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Dramman,

Booze was not avaliable on request. I tried. Basically, MGM had free non-alcoholic refreshments, but no free booze. Wynn on the other hand had free booze on request.

And you're right, Macau is not Vegas. But there are some things from the Vegas experience that I personally consider mandatory in any good casino resort, and "free alcohol for gamblers" is atop the list.

MGM's rooms were nice. I loved the Asian Modern look of the place. Its a shame my expectations were so brutally thwarted.

 Chuckmonster responded on Sunday, 27th February 2011

This is the best trip report ever posted to VT. Concise, to the point, fucking awesome. Thank you SdK!

 StudiodeKadent replied on Sunday, 27th February 2011

Thanks Chuckmonster! Glad you enjoyed the report!