Shanghaiist really needed a break and what better place to take that break than… the Venetian? I know what you’re thinking: biggest casino in the world + gambling Chinese tourists = a big fat headache. Well, it wasn’t that bad, really. The Venetian was fully booked over the weekend so we could only get one night at the Vegas transplant… which was quite enough for us. The casino is an exact replica of its Vegas hotel, except about ten times bigger, and just as gawdy and tacky… which makes it perfect for the throngs of Chinese crossing the border each day. The casino (which looked to be the size of several football fields) was completely packed both Friday and Saturday, and reached a fever pitch around midnight both nights. The big game in Macau is Baccarat, which is a glorified version of high/low, and a electronic version of Roulette called SicBo that is played with dice. The second level was the shopping plaza, complete with false “Venetian style” storefronts, canals and singing gondola drivers (see picture). Shanghaiist doesn’t gamble (except for hold ’em poker, which isn’t offered in any casino in Macau!), but was content just watching other people throw their hard earned money away.
We hung out with Bob of Blue Frog most of the weekend and he gave us some info about the Venetian and the surrounding areas. The hotel is only done with Phase I (which was apparent in the crappy service and pool area surrounded by construction), and Phase II should be done by early next year; the Venetian part of Phase I will include higher end shopping and a wave pool big enough for surfing competitions. The Four Seasons and another huge shopping mall is opening up in Phase II, while Phase III and Phase IV will feature the St. Regis, the Sheraton, two Cirque du Soleil theaters and much more shopping, as well as other features that Shanghaiist can’t remember at the moment. Indeed, it will definitely be a sight to see and will rival the Vegas Strip (Macau has already surpassed Vegas in terms of gambling revenue). Macau is pulling all the stops with its casinos: everything will be bigger, brighter, and tackier than Vegas or any other gambling centers. And from the looks of the crowds from this weekend, the Chinese are loving it.
A quick side note for all you Blue Frog fans: in keeping with the spirit of the Venetian, the branch down there is the biggest one, with a great location by the Venetian arena and conference rooms. The menu is scaled down a bit, with an emphasis on steaks, and combines some favorites from Blue Frog and Kabb. Bob should be proud of his newest baby… it was already drawing crowds and had the best vibe of any restaurant that Shanghaiist visited. A trip down to Macau for the official opening November 9th and 10th should definitely be considered.
Image of the shopping plaza in the Venetian.