The dodgy cabbie pulled up onto the cobblestone drive and up to the portcullis that looked like a palace that Ghengis Khan would have been proud to call home. Tall columns and grandeur with an air of dynasty about it. Marbled floors that reflected the overhead lights like stars and people coming and going despite or in fact because of the late hour. This is not your typical Holiday Inn.
The Holiday Inn Cotai Central in Macau is unlike any Holiday Inn or any other IHG property that I’ve encountered. It’s large, it’s grandiose, and yet it’s still slightly understated. The lobby is modern and classy with an unbelievably friendly staff that treats everyone like a High Roller.
Check in was quick and efficient in a way that only Asian hotels seem to be able to accomplish, and once I gave them my IHG card, I was treated even better, given coupons for free drinks in the lobby bar as well as being greeted even more warmly.
Between the front lobby and the lifts to the guest floors in the hotel’s long, narrow tower, you must pass the large casino on the ground floor. Macau is the Asian mirror of Las Vegas and arguably the gambling capital of the world, despite what American braggadocio would have you believe. Macau, and especially the growing Cotai strip, is home to many world class casino resorts like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the MGM Grande, the Crown and several others.
Essentially, Macau is Vegas with fewer rules. Unlike Vegas, the casinos are not an assault to your ears with the noise and clanging of various video poker and slot machines. In Macau, Baccarat is the game of choice and the casinos are all delightfully quiet in that respect. Slot machines are the least favorite way to wage your money on skill and chance. Also unlike Vegas, prostitution is perfectly legal.
Similar to Vegas, however, the casino is not the only way they part you from your paycheck. High end shopping abounds as do world class restaurants and shows.
So if shopping, gambling and escorts are your thing, Macau is the place to be. If you want anything else, however, you may want to try a different place, perhaps Hong Kong, Seoul or Tokyo. Macau’s economy is almost entirely related to casinos and gambling, and that shows in the limited range of things to do that are NOT related to those pursuits.
Just passed the casino we arrived at the lifts and proceeded up to our floors. The bell hop showed us to our rooms and unloaded our luggage before heading back down to help the next wayward traveler.
The room was spacious and the king bed was comfortably firm with a hint of give, just the way I prefer. They provide a selection of both soft and firm fully down pillows with high thread count sheets. Interestingly absent, however, was a second chair. There was one chair and a table, but not a second for any guest you may have.
The bath was large and marbled with both a shower and a very deep tub. The water was warm and soft, not harsh, and refreshing after a long day of work and travel. Freshly cleaned and near dropping from exhaustion, I fell into the bed and promptly asleep while the shimmering facades of the Crown, Hard Rock and Dream hotels danced through my window.