Staying at Macau’s MGM Cotai

Thomas Bywater checks into Macau’s MGM Cotai.

Getting there:

Nowhere in Macau is far away. However, the road system was so new it took a good 15 minutes of circling and false turn-offs to reach the hotel.

Check-in experience: Guarded by a 38-tonne gold-plated lion, the MGM check-in experience was a grand affair.

Room: The heavily stylised room was in keeping with the hotel’s exterior Lego-like design. On the bedside table, there was even a model built out of plastic blocks highlighting the fact. However, there was nothing childish about it. Touch controlled panels managed everything from the lighting to the curtains. Though I couldn’t find an ironing board for the life of me.

Price: From HK$1430 (NZ$250) per night

What’s so good about this place? The central atrium is jaw-dropping. A cavernous, glass-roofed cavity — “the Spectacle” serves as central public space, linking the casino, shopping arcades and assorted restaurants. Wall-to-wall screens beam a series of shifting landscapes and at its centre is a 26-foot tall chocolate fountain, sprouting from chocolatier Janice Wong’s shop. There is something Willy Wonka about the whole thing.

And the bad? The windows look out on to reclaimed land, now mostly building site. I had a view of the Wyn Palace gondola and the giant construction of the Grand Lisboa Palace hotel. What’s in the neighbourhood? Cotai strip is home to Macau’s mega-casinos. A scale replica of the Eiffel Tower and Venice’s Piazza San Marco, just across from the hotel, add another layer of novelty and disorientation. If you can draw yourself away from the bright lights, go to Taipa village. (Not the one near Cable Bay.) It is a charming mishmash of colonial Portuguese, Chinese old town and delicious street food.

Food and drink: AJI is the hotel’s star restaurant, serving Nikkei Peruvian sushi. Normally there is no phrase more stomach churning than “fusion food”, yet the highly spiced, elegantly presented plates are mouth-watering. If you are feeling less adventurous, there are four restaurants serving Chinese cuisine and even a franchise from MasterChef’s Graham Elliot.

Bathroom: The bathroom was extremely well equipped, with both a bath and separate shower unit. Also not one but two sinks. However, I did manage to set off the fire alarm at six in the morning with escaping steam from the shower.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes

Noise: Mostly me.

Exercise facilities: As an extension of the MGM entertainment empire, the gym offered a variety of classes. This included “surf simulation” and yoga more ways than you can shake a chakra at.

Contact: MGM Cotai, Avenida da Nave Desportiva, Cotai, Macau

The bottom line: Perfect for a wild weekend away on the Cotai strip.

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