In this day and age its commonplace to throw around phrases like historic, groundbreaking and revolutionary," said Sheldon G. Adelson, Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of The Venetian Macao. "But it is no overstatement to say that the opening of The Venetian Macao represents a massive paradigm shift for Macao and the future of tourism development in Asia."
He hopes the complex will transform Macau from a gambling pit stop for Chinese tourists to a vacation and business convention destination, where visitors shop, watch shows - and roll the dice.
The moment it opened, the us$ 2.4 billion Venetian Macao became the largest single structure hotel in Asia and the second largest building in the world. Like its sister-property in Las Vegas, its decor is Venice inspired, but with a Chinese touch. Chinese-style sampans as well as gondolas will sail down canals. The resort also features a replica of Venice's St. Mark's Square.
The hotel has 3,000 all-suite guest rooms and with 92,903 sqm of retail space, which is more than any shopping mall in Hong Kong, The Venetian Macao now becomes a major destination for the region's top shoppers. The casino floor, at 51,096 sqm, is the largest in the world and is home to 870 table games and more than 3,400 slot machines.
The facility also features the 15,000-seat Venetian Arena. In the coming weeks, it will play host to a pair of NBA exhibition games and a match-up of tennis greats Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. The arena's seating capacity and state-of-the-art equipment instantly make it the top entertainment facility in the region.
The Venetian Macao also has 111,483 sqm of meeting, convention and exhibition space. The facility features the largest pillar-less ballroom in Asia and has the catering facilities to provide a five-course banquet for 15,000 guests. Early next year, the 1,800 seat Venetian Theatre will open featuring an original production from world-renowned Cirque du Soleil.
"All of the amazing offerings inside The Venetian make it not only the first fully integrated resort in Macao, they make the building the first-of- its kind anywhere in Asia," said William P. Weidner, President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands. "The Venetian Macao is truly a destination within itself and its presence will help Macao realize its future as a multi-day stay leisure and business destination for millions of people across the region."
Weidner said The Venetian Macao represents, in one location, all of the key elements - fine dining, upscale shopping, entertainment, all-suite rooms, meetings and conventions, expansive recreation amenities - that have helped make Las Vegas one of the world's top leisure and business destinations.
In addition to the excitement surrounding The Venetian Macao, the festivities also marks the opening of Las Vegas Sands' Cotai Strip. It is a collection of hotel properties to be run by some of the most prestigious names in the hotel industry, including Four Seasons, Sheraton, St. Regis, Shangri-La, Traders, Hilton, Conrad, Fairmont, and Raffles.
Las Vegas Sands will construct and own each of the hotels, as well as operate the casinos and entertainment venues in each hotel. At completion, the Cotai Strip properties will combine to feature 20,000 guest rooms, more than 278,709 sqm of retail space and nearly 30,000 seats of live entertainment offerings.
Adelson also plans to open more hotels under brands such as Four Seasons, Sheraton and St. Regis. In all, his Las Vegas Sands Corp., which also runs the Sands Macao on the Macau peninsula, plans to invest up to us$ 12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on the Cotai Strip by 2010.
Some analysts say Adelson is smart in trying to lure new tourists to Macau. The convention business - a specialty of the Las Vegas Sands - is a lucrative one, they say.
"The Venetian will get new customers who are right now not going to Macau at all," analyst Billy Ng at JPMorgan Securities said.