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Macao opens $2 billion resort with giant replica of London’s Big Ben

  • Macao – often referred to as Asia’s Las Vegas – has added yet another luxury casino resort to the Cotai Strip. And this time it’s a British theme called The Londoner Macao.
  • From Big Ben to the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, visitors are transported to London on the city’s Cotai strip.
  • Las Vegas Sands owns The Londoner Macao, and the developer’s stock has risen 16 years to date.

This photograph taken on October 20, 2022 shows a replica of the Big Ben Tower at the Londoner Casino resort on the Cotai Strip in Macau. (Photo by Eduardo Leal / AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO LEAL / AFP via Getty Images)

Eduardo Leal | Afp | Getty Images

Tourists in Asia no longer need to take long flights to visit Britain’s Big Ben or to take a photo of London’s iconic red double-decker bus.

They can now do the same in Macao, the so-called Las Vegas of Asia.

Londoner Macao, a British-themed luxury casino resort in the Chinese gambling hub, held its grand opening ceremony on Thursday.

And English football star David Beckham was there to grace the event.

The Chinese gambling city has added another luxury casino resort along the Cotai Strip, a term Las Vegas Sands uses to refer to an alley of hotel casinos, shopping malls and theaters.

“You can’t get a better hotel room than what we’ve put into Londoner. You can’t get a better spa experience, you can’t get a better dining experience,” Las Vegas Sands CEO Robert Goldstein told CNBC on Thursday.

He said the opening of the hotel “exemplifies our commitment to quality,” adding: “The rooms are as good as they are anywhere in the world.”

The resort has been in operation for the past two years, but the opening was delayed due to strict Covid-19 restrictions and travel regulations.

The $2 billion resort features replicas of Britain’s iconic buildings. They include the Palace of Westminster, the British Prime Minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street, and the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, among other monuments in London.

Las Vegas Sands owns The Londoner Macao, along with The Venetian Macao, The Parisian Macao, Sands Macao and The Plaza Macao & Four Seasons Hotel Macao – all located along the Cotai Strip, the company’s website showed.

Replicas of famous European landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Venice’s Grand Canal can be seen at the other hotels.

Goldstein is proud that the luxury hotel developer has brought Italy, France and England to Macao, a Chinese special administrative region.

“Who doesn’t love Paris? It seemed natural to me to end the triumvirate of Italian, French and then English,” Goldstein said.

Londoner Macao casino resort and the Venetian casino resort, along the Cotai strip in Macau, China.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The biggest highlight for visitors to The Londoner Macao is undoubtedly the “Changing of the Guard entertainment extravaganza,” according to the resort’s website. It was launched on Thursday night during the opening ceremony.

Taking cues from the Changing of the Guard ceremony that takes place at Buckingham Palace, the performance at the resort will take place six days a week and involve over 20 dancers and musicians.

Visitors can also get a taste of London by indulging in an Alice in Wonderland-inspired afternoon tea, or hop into the classic black cab for a virtual experience where Beckham drives through his favorite spots in the city.

When one thinks of Macau, the first thought is often gambling in casinos. But the city has transformed beyond that, and now offers a different experience for every visitor.

Goldstein said that 20 years ago people in Hong Kong could not imagine that Macao could have retail, restaurants, spas, conferences and hotels.

Today, no one questions the growth of Macao anymore, he said, stressing that Macao is a very “dominant and important” market.

The casino operators awarded the concessions agreed to invest about $15 billion over the next 10 years to help Macao diversify its reliance on gambling and boost international tourism.

“Gaming is not a difficult business to build, and the government is right to focus on the growth of tourism,” Goldstein told CNBC. “Non-gaming feeds gaming … These non-gaming facilities are incredibly important to both sides.”

“What we’re trying to do is build hotels that work together. The players will come and the non-players will come here to shop or go to the spa for three days. So we’ll be in business for three days and they never have to go to the casino,” he added.

Shares in Las Vegas Sands have risen more than 16% so far this year.

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