The Mandarin Oriental, Macau
What's the story? The familiar old Mandarin Oriental, Macau, was rebranded as the Grand Lapa in August last year and its replacement opened this summer, a bit closer to the town centre on the Nape waterfront.
What's it like? As luxurious as you would expect, with a good waterfront location, the new Mandarin's big selling point for many will be the absence of an in-house casino. Walking into the Mandarin's low-key lobby from the neighbouring MGM Grand or Wynn complex is a refreshing experience for the traveller in search of tranquillity and sophistication. Looking from the outside rather like the bow of a cruise ship, the hotel has accommodation that increases in size at the front end as the building curves out towards the top. Panorama suites (below) on the upper floors offer the most space and the almost best views (second only to the Presidential suite) of either the outer harbour and beyond or Nam Van Lake and what's left of the Praia Grande. Each of the hotel's 213 rooms and suites offers one or the other view, even those on the lower floors. The hotel has a 25-metre outdoor pool, a whirlpool, a steam room, an indoor jacuzzi and a fitness centre equipped with technology that includes the Kinesis Personal and Wellness System.
Any special touches? Nespresso coffee makers with a half dozen coffee capsules in each room are a classy touch and some guests will appreciate the thick yoga mats provided. In-room entertainment is hi-tech but easy to use, with large widescreen LCD televisions and NAD sound systems. Beds are made with goose-down and feather pillows and duvets with 480-count satin covers and sheets. Bathrooms are equipped with small LCD televisions, large tubs and separate multihead showers. Amenities are provided by Aromatherapy Associates, whose products are also used downstairs, at the Mandarin Spa.
What's on the menu? Vida Rica Restaurant & Bar is the hotel's sole restaurant, serving a comprehensive breakfast buffet till 11am, and Chinese, Japanese and European fine dining for lunch and dinner. The restaurant environment is tasteful with a low-key ambience and it has semi-private rooms and an exclusive chef's table, attended by the hotel's amiable and innovative executive chef, Dirk Haltenhof. The adjoining bar area is worth a visit on your way in or out, if only for a look at its spectacular design.
Anything else? The hotel is within walking distance of the historic town centre and several casinos, should you feel the urge to splurge. Both the MGM Grand and Wynn casinos and the adjacent One Central mall house enough upscale brand-name stores to relieve you of any winnings.
What's the bottom line? Room rates start at HK$3,500 per night, rising to HK$6,700 for the Panorama suite, but it's worth checking the hotel website for lower rates and special offers. The Mandarin Oriental, Macau is at Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, Nape, tel: 853 8805 8888; www.mandarinoriental.com/macau.