Macau's latest luxury hotel, the St Regis, will focus on the family, not gambling

Upmarket St Regis to focus on families and conventions, not just gambling, say bosses

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 May, 2015, 5:27am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 May, 2015, 5:27am

A luxury hotel set to open in Macau's latest gambling development zone in the winter says it can attract patrons even without a casino dominating its business, promising to focus instead on family and convention services.

To that end, the St Regis will target big spenders with a taste for luxurious butler service.

Gaming income continues to fall in Macau, as the mainland's slowing economy and anti-corruption drive take their toll. Revenue dropped 39.4 per cent last month from a year ago - the 10th consecutive monthly decline.

Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on has called on hospitality providers to diversify into non-betting businesses.

Joseph Dolp, managing director of St Regis and the existing Sheraton, both part of the Starwood Group, said gaming would not be the focus of the new hotel.

"It's there. If you really want it, it will be there. But it's not in your face," Dolp told the South China Morning Post.

The two Macau hotels are part of the Sands Cotai Central project run by Sands China, which also owns the landmark Venetian. Located on the Cotai Strip, they are set to be surrounded by a slew of new casinos and hotels, including two by the Galaxy Entertainment Group later this month.

Dolp said the government's call for diversification mirrored steps taken by Las Vegas businesses in the past.

"If I depend only on gaming, maybe I cannot really maximise my returns. So … how do we bring people here who didn't come before?"

Referring to the one-time US gaming capital, he continued: "Vegas was always a casino place for a very long time, and then it was diversified to be a destination for families, for shows. And this was the reason for diversification in Macau."

He recalled that when conventions were first offered in Las Vegas, few appeared impressed.

"In the beginning, a lot of people said, 'You are crazy; why do you do this? It will never work. This is a gambling destination; there is nothing else we can do'."

But Las Vegas defied doubters with its tourism push, and Dolp said he was confident Macau would achieve similar success.

"You cannot see Macau in a time lapse of six months or eight months; you need to see Macau in five years, seven years."

Paul Cunningham, general manager of St Regis, said he could see opportunities arising from a new bridge linking Macau with Hong Kong and Zhuhai , home to Macau's neighbour Hengqin . Last month, Hengqin became part of the new Guangdong Free Trade Zone focusing on travel and leisure.