Where is it? It's difficult to miss, given the exterior's brace of 30-metre-high, 180-tonne Heroes of Steel and the battery of searchlights that play across the night sky, but it's at the southern end of the Cotai Strip, next to the replica Eiffel Tower, which marks the entrance to the soon-to-open Parisian Macao resort. For anyone who hasn't grasped the message yet, Bigger is Beautifuller in Macau right now, and Studio City gets an awful lot of bang for the US$3.2 billion it cost to build. The hotel is crescent-shaped, with a figure-of-eight Ferris wheel set into the art-deco facade, a vast kids' playground at the rear and another playground (i.e. casino) in the middle.
What are the rooms like? Rather as a restaurant provides napkins without making a fuss about it, Studio City stacks 1,600 rooms into two towers (Star and Celebrity); you get the feeling their role is almost peripheral. Sleep? Hah - we're the "me" in entertainment. Get on out there! That said, the rooms and suites are eminently comfortable, with such accessories as Bluetooth speakers, 70-channel televisions and access to the 3,700-publication-strong app PressReader.
And the food? Slebs Alain and Alan (Ducasse and Wong) are due to open restaurants here by the end of the year. In the meantime, nobody is going to go hungry. Naturally, the signature restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Italian) pack more than a little flourish, but there are some pleasant surprises elsewhere. Macau Gourmet Walk is a mosaic'd food alley dispensing egg tarts, pork chop buns and all the other necessities of Macanese sustenance. Cosmos is an outer space-themed food court serving Asian favourites beside the Times Square (New York)-style mall, in sight and earshot of an old-time train departure board. Gawpers can enjoy the view over the gaming floor from Spotlight while enjoying a remarkably good and extensive breakfast.
What if we're thirsty? None of Stud City's watering holes can lay claim to vast oceans of character; the most welcoming place to hang out is Cabana Bar, next to the outdoor pool. Hong Pao's tea master, Jody Lao, pairs premium you-know-what from the mainland, Taiwan, Japan and other parts of the world with decent pastries in what is possibly the most relaxing atmosphere in the entire resort.
What's there to do? Just as Las Vegas decided to reinvent itself as an all-round resort destination, rather than somewhere that just repaid a flat 78 cents on every dollar wagered, so Macau's hostelries are aiming to - cue casino metaphor - up their game. Hence the aforementioned HK$100-a-spin Ferris wheel, shaped - with incredible subtlety - like a lucky figure eight, and the merry cavalcade of characters (Bugs Bunny, Tweety Pie, Daffy Duck, et al) disporting themselves at the Warner Bros Fun Zone. And the high jinks don't stop there. A 4D flight simulation ride whirls punters (for HK$150 a time) above Gotham City in pursuit of The Joker and sundry other villains. Equally entertaining, The House of Magic (HK$600 for VIPs, HK$400 for ordinary mortals) delivers a three-act show that's as riveting for its illusions as its jiggling go-go girls. It's difficult to say whether Pacha is attracting the same sort of beautiful people as its sister clubs in Ibiza, Buenos Aires, Sydney and New York as it's pitch dark inside. Still, this sort of designer label can do Macau's club scene no harm. More sedately, there're acres of boutiques on the fringes of the casino, and a 21,800-square-metre outdoor pool (below) with white sand beach. Enjoy.
What's the bottom line? A one-night, two-person HK$1,698 deal, including breakfast, lunch and various other goodies, runs until June 30. For more details, browse www.studiocity-macau.com.