Intensifying competition from hospitality and convention service providers in Macau and Singapore has triggered a wave of renovations across Hong Kong's hotel and exhibition facilities. Some hotels, especially those in the neighbourhood of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and those lining Nathan Road, are masking their properties with scaffolding or suspending services to make way for thorough facelifts. The need for a rejuvenated image and enhanced services is pressing after the opening last month of the US$2.4 billion Venetian Macao casino resort, which has a one million square foot retail mecca, 1.2 million sq ft in convention space and 3,000 hotel rooms. The resort is the first of 13 casino hotels Les Vegas Sands is developing on Macau's Cotai Strip. Adding fuel to the cut-throat competition is a US$3.6 billion gaming, conference-cum residential project in Singapore, another Sands project, due for completion in 2009. 'The real threat should come from Singapore,' said Hong Kong Hotels Association executive director James Lu. 'Macau will create some competition in leisure tourism in the short-term but don't underestimate Singapore.' He pointed out that Singapore and Hong Kong, which are more comparable in terms of tourism, financial development, infrastructure and logistics, will enter a fresh round of competition for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) in two years when Sands finishes a 100,000 sq ft facility for this purpose and a 1.2 million sq ft space accommodating 52,000 visitors. Sarah Benecke, executive director of Global Sources, a business-to-business media firm organising trade shows, said Hong Kong had a niche in sourcing and trade fairs due to its proximity to the mainland, and that buyers and sellers were so busy attending trade fairs in Guangzhou and Hong Kong during the April and October sourcing seasons that she doubted they had time to attend any in Macau. Nevertheless, to fend off competition, Hong Kong's government is forking out HK$1.4 billion to add 194,000 sq ft at the convention and exhibition centre in Wan Chai for a total of 900,000 sq ft, an increase of 28 per cent, according to the centre's marketing and sales manager Monica Lee Muller. The expansion, scheduled for completion in early 2009, was focused on enlarging the three existing halls to attract more trade mega-exhibitions, she said. The four-star Novotel Century Hotel on Jaffe Road, near the convention and exhibition centre, was close to wrapping up its US$10 million refurbishment programme, said Maarten Boers, general manager delegate for Hong Kong at French hotelier Accor Group, which manges the hotel. 'Everybody is doing the same and wants a refreshed look,' he said. 'The major aim [of our renovation] is to maintain market share.' Mr Boers added that 70 per cent of the hotel's guests were corporate travellers. The four-star Renaissance Harbour View Hotel attached to the convention centre was also touching up its public areas to stay competitive, its spokeswoman said. Across Victoria Harbour on Nathan Road, Mr Boers said the 380-room Majestic Hotel, which hospitality investor LaSalle Investment Management purchased in June for HK$1.6 billion, would be revamped and converted into a Novotel hotel at a cost of HK$188 million. The Majestic will temporarily close its doors in mid-November for the revamp before its re-launch in April, he said. About 500 metres away, the four-star Miramar hotel will soon embark on a HK$300 million overhaul, including its facade, about 500 guest rooms, restaurants and ballrooms, over the next 12 months.