With nighttime glitz and neon that surpasses Las Vegas, Macau has evolved from a day trip location into a getaway destination luring visitors from Hong Kong, mainland China, and North America. While your luxury property will most likely be located on the Cotai Strip, where most of the high-end casino properties are found, Macau has a Portuguese history that provides a mix of culinary flavors, architecture, and commerce. The Historic Centre of Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 30 separate buildings and locations in the center.
I stayed at the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, a part of Sands Cotai Central, the largest hotel complex in Macao and the fifth largest hotel in the world. The complex consists of four towers housing, in addition to the Sheraton Grand, the St. Regis, Holiday Inn, and Conrad hotels. The hotel is located mid-strip (think of the Cotai strip as similar to the Las Vegas strip), with easy access to upscale shopping, fine dining, and entertainment. The Sheraton Grand is not the most grand of the properties on the strip, nor the most luxurious in amenities and services it offers, but it strikes the right balance of luxury and price, making it a value luxury choice for visitors wishing to stay on the glamorous strip.
The lobby area is huge, and there are several of them, so if you’re not paying attention you’ll easily head off in the wrong direction. Unlike Las Vegas hotels that require traipsing through the casino to get to a bank of elevators and eventually your room, the Sheraton Grand has the casino area blocked off. You know it’s there, a guard stands at the entrance, but you have to peek over his shoulder to understand that the casino is beyond. Despite its size, the lobby still seemed crowded to me, and the check-in process seemed to take a long time. I was part of a small group and we were checked in via an expedited process, but I watched as the line crept at a snail’s pace. The following morning the lobby had no staffing. It was confusing at first, and I didn’t see any signage, but apparently guests were being directed to one of the other lobby areas. I’m not sure if this was a timing issue, a one-off situation, or a staffing problem, but I recommend allowing plenty of time for the checking in and out process. (Also note, most hotels in Asia require a check out procedure, not merely leaving your key in the room.)
I stayed in a Deluxe King room with a pleasant combination of beige, white, and red accents. The furniture was a combination of black lacquer and a medium colored wood, and while it seemed an odd combination, it worked to create a relaxing space for the end of a long day. One feature of the room that I loved, although didn’t have a chance to use, was a phone. It was plugged in on the desk and was available for guests to take with them as they explore Macau. Unlimited local calls, free long distance calls to a specific list of cities, and unlimited data usage makes this a big win of an amenity in my book.
The bathroom was large and continued the beige, white, and black lacquer decor, with a deep soaking tub, separate shower, and plenty of counter space with good lighting (including a lighted makeup/shaving mirror). Bottled water and an electric kettle with an assortment of teas and (instant) coffee were provided.
The hotel has three pool areas, one for private parties only and the other two suitable for families. The Sala pool on the fourth floor is the pool most suited for younger children who want to do more splashing and playing than swimming. The Java Pool, also on the fourth floor, is a large family friendly area that also features a jacuzzi and lap pool. Both pools have cabanas, daybeds, and poolside dining.
Shine Spa for Sheraton is located on the third floor of the Sky Tower and has 15 treatment rooms, including some for couples treatments. The menu of spa treatments is extensive and features the facials, scrubs, wraps, and massages you’d expect at a high-end spa. The vibe is a mix of Eastern and Western inspired by the elements of Feng Shui. I didn’t have time to indulge, but for a longer stay, this would be on my to-do list.
Restaurants on the property include Xin for hot pot cuisine; Bene, an Italian trattoria with an impressive wine cellar; Feast for sumptuous buffets and afternoon tea; and the lobby lounge, Palms.
Despite being a casino property, the Sheraton Grand is remarkably family friendly. In a partnership with DreamWorks, a variety of themed activities are on offer, including signature DreamWorks characters: Po (Kung Fu Panda), Shrek, Fiona, Puss In Boots, and one of my favorites, Alex the lion and his penguin friends from Madagascar.
A few things to know about visiting Macau:
- You will see two spellings – Macau and Macao. It’s the same place.
- U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to visit Macau, making it an easy add-on to a trip to Hong Kong (where no visa is needed either). If you’re coming through mainland China, however, you will need to secure a visa (now good for 10 years, multiple entries) through an Embassy or visa service company.
- Although Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages, English is widely spoken. Signage usually appears in English.
- The official currency is the Macau Pataca (MOP) is the official currency but Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) and Chinese Yuan are also accepted. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card.
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Note: I received a comped stay at the Sheraton Grand Macau as part of a sponsored press trips. Exterior photo courtesy of the hotel, all others taken by myself.