London Calling: $2 Billion Londoner Macao Welcomes First Guests
LVS subsidiary Sands China’s new integrated resort, the $2 billion Londoner Macao, opened some of its hotel rooms to guests Friday on Macau’s Cotai Strip. The opening was ahead of its planned official phase-one launch in February. The resort, a rebranding of Sands Cotai Central, is set to open in various phases throughout 2021.
It’s the company’s first new development project since 2016’s Parisian Macao. And like that property, the Londoner brings some ersatz European flavor to East Asia.
The British-themed resort comes complete with a scale facsimile of the Big Ben clocktower. It has obligatory red telephone boxes. And it even has its very own changing of the guard and other crowd-pleasing pageantry.
London Without the COVID
Soon, visitors will be able to dine on fish and chips, courtesy of Gordon Ramsay, O.D. on afternoon tea, and browse the deliberately archaicized “Shoppes at Londoner.” This promises to introduce guests to the “chic boutiques of Bond Street, Mayfair, and Savile Row,” and the “quaint stores” of Soho and Covent Garden.
Predictably, “international businessman” David Beckham is an advisor on the project, although he failed to advise the resort’s PR people that the British find the word “quaint” faintly insulting.
At the Londoner Hotel, “Becks” has allegedly designed the aptly named “Suites by David Beckham,” two floors of high-end, luxury concept hotel rooms.
As Nikkei Asia quipped this week, it’s basically London, but without the virulent COVID-19 mutation.
Unlike the British capital, Macau is happily coronavirus-free. The enclave has been remarkably successful at repelling the pandemic, and has not reported even an imported case since July.
Macau Recovery in the Cards
But this has come at a cost. Travel restrictions designed to combat the virus have shut Macau off from the rest of the world. In 2020, the gambling hub booked its worst financial performance since 2006. Currently, only visitors from mainland China are permitted to enter Macau.
But there are reasons to be optimistic, too. Rob Goldstein, acting chairman and CEO of LVS, said in a statement last month that the company’s investment in the Londoner was “a clear signal that we believe Macao’s future as one of the world’s most important leisure and business destinations remains on course.”
Analysts are also sanguine about the Londoner’s prospects, because Macau is predicted to bounce back this year. China is the only major economy to have recorded growth in 2020, and the rise of the yuan against the dollar suggests Macau’s resorts could soon be in high demand.
And of course, realistically, the Londoner is the only taste of the UK that China’s normally globetrotting middle classes are likely to get this year. The weather’s better, too.
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