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Wednesday, 05 June, 2019, 10 : 27 AM [IST]

Sands Group to invest USD 2.2bn on Londoner Macao

Las Vegas Sands and Sands China Ltd. are revamping their Holiday Inn Cotai Central property in Macao into an integrated London-themed 600 keys all suites hotel renamed as ‘Londoner Macao’. With this transformation, they are also dropping the Holiday Inn brand from their portfolio.

The announcement event of the Londoner Macao was held recently at The Venetian Hotel Theatre in Macao. Robert Goldstein, President & COO, Las Vegas Sands, Dr. Wilfred Wong, President, China Sands China Limited and the brand’s ambassador David Beckham were present at the occasion.

Goldstain shared his insights regarding the project by saying, “We have invested USD 2.2 billion on Londoner Macao. The project is in progress. It will open in phases around 2021-2022. Having said that, Sands is continuing to expand its footprint in Macao. Construction and development work is on at the Four Seasons Tower Suites in Macao, which is scheduled to open later this year.”

The speakers informed, that the Londoner Macao will have a 6,000 seat-arena, 34,300 sq. metres of meeting and convention space, 13 ballrooms, and more than 200 retail shops, out of which, some would be British heritage brands described as exclusive to that resort. Also, 95% of the project will be non-gaming and only less than 5% will be gaming.

The Londoner Macao will also have more than 20 dining outlet options, including the British gastro-pub Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, and an all-day restaurant branded as Churchill’s Table.

Speaking about the Londoner Macao, Dr. Wong stated, “The Londoner Macao will have everything superlative, starting with a 600 suites hotel rooms, a brand new façade which is designed with many of the iconic features of London, a 6,000 seat arena which will be suitable for all kinds of events and, entertainment activities. This is a very challenging project. Renovation at this scale requires a lot of planning. We are working according to schedule. The idea is to create a new total immersion destination for the guests. We have been very successful in creating The Venetian and The Parisian, and we felt that in a city where everyone is competing to give their best to the customers, iconic buildings do have some advantage. The idea behind these properties is to recreate these iconic features so that the guests can visit Europe under one roof, and get excited.“

‘India is our 5th largest market & we plan larger focus here’

Sands Resorts is relaunching their Holiday Inn Cotai Central property as Londoner Macao. Recently, the announcement event of the new property was held at The Venetian Hotel Theatre in Macao. Asmita Mukherjee was present at the grand event and through an interesting tete-a-tete with Stephanie Tanpure, Vice President of Sales, Sands China Ltd, understood about the Group’s offerings for Indian travellers, and future focus areas.

Q How do you plan to attract more Indian travellers?
The Indian market is really important for us. It is our 5th largest market. We organise around 19 city road shows in the country every year. We closely work with Indian corporate companies for MICE business. In addition to that, we also do a lot of work with trade shows such as the South Asia Travel & Tourism Expo (SATTE), and MICE India and Luxury Travel Congress (MILT).

We are also introducing seasonal packages for our Indian guests. We have seen an almost a 40% increase in terms of spending from Indian MICE or FIT groups. These groups are spending more on food and beverage, and activities outside hotels.

As India is a vast and culturally rich country, we try to offer our Indian guests ethnic food chosen from across various regions and states of India. Our Michelin star Indian restaurant, Golden Peacock is famous among our Indian patrons for this reason. All the credit goes to our Head Chef Justin Paul, who himself is from South India, but has chefs belonging to different regions of the country working in his team.

Q Which Indian cities do you typically see travellers from?
Most of our guests come from three key cities in India which are Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. Many of our MICE and FIT clients come from Bengaluru. But for the past few years, we have seen an increase in number of guests coming from Tier-II cities in India, such as Jaipur, Lucknow, Chennai, and Varanasi.

Q Indians have a tendency to travel during seasonal holidays such as summer vacations or festival vacations such as Diwali. How is Sands Resorts positioning itself during such seasons to become an attractive destination for Indians?
We strategically work with our partners to identify travel periods in all our markets. We also have Diwali packages for our Indian guests, which we push through our agents before Diwali.

David Beckham, Robert Goldstein with Dr. Wilfred Wong

Q Considering that most of your properties are themed after European landmark attractions, and in addition to that, your brand ambassador David Beckham is also European. So, would it be correct to assume that it is a conscious effort by Sand Resorts to attract more European travellers?
No, we did not plan these European landmark attractions keeping Europeans in mind. We did a lot of research before creating these attractions themed on Venice in Italy, Paris in France, and London in the UK. The outcome of our research was that these three cities are the top three aspirational cities for tourists from our biggest market in Mainland China. So, we chose these three cities as attractions, to target the aspirations of the tourists.

Q How do you plan to attract millennials?
A lot of our focus is on F&B, as Macao is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, as a city where gastronomy is a strategic growth factor for development, in addition to our government announcing 2018 as the “Macao Year of Gastronomy”. We keep on introducing new restaurants throughout the year, but to truly attract millenials, you need something which is sustainable, fashionable, and attractive.

Q What is the value proposition of Sands Resorts for its customers?
The biggest value we bring to the table is our integrated resorts style. We have extensive retail stores within our properties, as well as swimming pools, and golf courses inside the hotel, and all that under one roof. We have 15,000 entertainment arena seats and with the addition of Londoner Macao we will be able to add 6,000 more seats to the arena, making it 21,000 entertainment seats under one roof.

Our hotels have attractive themes. We have a total of around 12,500 rooms within our property. We have really put a lot of investment in elevating the size of our rooms for our guests, and recently we introduced new suite categories - Premio Royale in Venetian, and The Champagne in Parisian and the Londoner will be an all-suites property. For the last 18 months, our focus has been on suites.

Q Kindly help us understand the various price points across your properties.
We are catering to quite a range of price points. Our price points changes on a seasonal basis. The price hierarchy of our properties is that our most affordable property is the Holiday Inn Cotai Central, which will soon be rebranded as Londoner Macao, an all suits premium property, which is going to be very expensive, after which comes the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, then The Parisian Macao Hotel Resort, then its Conrad Macao, then The St. Regis Macao, and lastly comes The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, which is our most highly priced property. For Venetian, the range is approximately USD 250 for a midweek stay. In the weekends our occupancy is around 100%.

Q Technology has been a game changer in the hospitality industry. How has Sands adopted technology?
We are introducing smart TVs in the rooms. We are not offering any in-room movie services now, but the new technology that we are adopting will allow guests to connect and watch their favourite movies through Netflix, and Google air. We are upgrading and enhancing our Wi-Fi technology as well. We are planning to introduce Wi-Fi to all the public areas including meeting spaces.

We are also introducing AI-based software which can actually lead our guests to their way across our 7 properties and the Shoppes. We have hundreds and thousands of retail stores and the software can help our guests to shop at discounted prices at those stores. We are aware of IoT based platforms too, and though we are not there yet, we will continue to evolve.

“Competition is the key and therefore we never underestimate our competitors. Macao probably has the highest standards of hospitality. Everyone is trying their best to upgrade their standards. To differentiate from others, we need to have iconic buildings which were previously not in Macao, and it is also easy to remember these iconic buildings.” he added.

Speaking about the local market development Dr. Wang said, “We are going to invest a lot in the construction of this large scale project. We are sourcing most of the materials, furniture, and equipment from the local market. We also have a programme of sourcing targeted at global small and medium enterprises. We will also be employing local people which will aid the growth of the economy.”

Beckham has designed the interior of the Londoner Macao, and in fact there are two floors dedicated to David Beckham. Speaking about this, Beckham said, “I love doing interior designing; I love details, and being a part of this project I will help them bring London to Macao. I have noticed that their rooms are all about details and luxury. Through this project, guests will experience the Big Ben, Black taxis, Red Buses, Red Phone Booths and lots of other minute details about London.”

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