It’s Venice, it’s Paris – it’s Macao!

Payel Majumdar Upreti | Updated on November 29, 2019

Make-believe: Tourists from neighbouring countries as well as locals throng the place on weekends

If you are looking for excitement and luxury, head for the Sands Resort

The emerald green waters of the South China Sea take us past troubled Hong Kong to Macao.

Far from the madding crowd, we head for the Sands Resort for what sounds like a weekend of fun and fantasy. The resort has three hotels — and they have earned quite a reputation for grandeur. The Venetian, a luxury casino and resort, has recreated elements from Venice, and the Parisian has a replica of the Eiffel Tower, almost as big as the real deal. Like the original, it sparkles with lights, and tourists buy tickets to take a lift to the top for the stunning view from up there. The third hotel is the Cotai Central, a small business hotel.

The Venetian has the grandest hotel foyer that I have ever seen, and it takes some time getting used to all the glitz and glamour. The resort, almost as big as a town, has a carpet space of 980,000 sqm. While the ground floor is dedicated to the 24x7 casino, the floors above are a shopping haven, replete with high street and luxury brands. Shopping is duty-free in Macao, and between the Venetian and the Parisian (next door, connected internally), it is possible to shop till you drop, quite literally.

Tourists from neighbouring countries as well as locals throng the place on weekends, to let their hair down, play a hand of Mah Jong, or attend their favourite celebrity concert — all inside the premises. It is one of the favourite destinations of Indians, too, as is reflected in the numerous Indian restaurants inside the property. We had lunch at the Michelin-starred Golden Peacock during our stay.

It is impossible to be lonely inside the resort — or to know how time has flown by, between the countless dimsum houses, the Valentinos and Versaces, or perhaps while counting money inside the casino. I am told that there’s even a movie theatre somewhere, and a fellow companion identifies a state-of-the-art spa with a stream, and a false sky that is always sunny with fluffy clouds.

There is a stream flowing on the ground floor of the resort. Gondolas with charming boatmen from Venice serenade you as you pass the shops on the floor above, quite like the hanging balconies of the Italian city. You could even take a ride with them, if you like. Even rooms have been built in a similar fashion, with a Venetian balcony railing separating the seating area from the bedroom. It is over-the-top, yet all very elegant.

But, for me, it’s the food that is the most memorable part of Macau, a special administrative region of China. I recall the perfect Portuguese meal at Chiado at Sands Cotai Central (one of the shopping areas) and the Canton food at the very Shanghai red-and-black restaurant where I had the best-ever Peking duck lettuce wraps, with crispy typhoon shelter crabs and pan-fried scallops.

Dining under the Eiffel Tower replica is quite an experience, too. At the French-influenced Chinese restaurant housed inside the tower (it incorporates the steel frame of the structure into its design) we have some great wine. The buckwheat flour crepe with ham and cheese at the French restaurant Brasserie makes me feel as if I am somewhere in Europe. Indeed, the Sands Resort in Macau is someone’s perfect European fantasy –– away from Europe, that is. Walking outside on a balmy night after a particularly long day of enjoyment, as I stare at the shiny lights in the distance, reflected on the dark waters of the Venetian, it is easy to believe in the heady romance that the resort wants to provide for its guests.

(The author was there on invitation of Sands Resorts Macao)

Published on November 28, 2019

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