cheduled to open in 2017, it comprises a casino, a wedding complex, the Lisboa Palace Hotel (over 1,450 rooms), the Palazzo Versace Macau (up to 270 rooms) and another branded hotel of 270 rooms that is yet to be announced. The new SJM development will occupy 70,468 square meters of land next to the Macau East Asian Games Dome on the Cotai Strip, where all the other gaming operators already have projects.
When asked if SJM will be able to compete with the other casino operators already in the area who are building, for instance, a Paris-inspired hotel resort, Ambrose So stated that the design of the Lisboa Palace is one of its greatest assets. “The original design of our palace… it is not a copy that you can find in another part of the world, it is unique,” he stressed, adding that he is hoping to get that message across to the Chinese population.
Behind the Lisboa Palace’s design is the history of Macau: a place where eastern and western cultures seem to have blended seamlessly. As explained during yesterday’s press conference, the building involves the application of Chinese motifs to Western architectural features. But if Portuguese and Chinese culture met in Macau 500 years ago, the Lisboa Palace also seeks inspiration from France and Monaco, as it is inspired by the Chateau de Versailles, the Louvre, Palais Garnier and the Casino at Monte Carlo.
With around 2,000 hotel rooms, a casino providing 700 gaming tables, a dining area and entertainment facilities, the new SJM development is mostly dedicated to non-gaming activities, the company stressed. In addition, the project includes a wedding pavilion as well as a theatre. 90 percent of the total area is therefore dedicated to tourism and leisure activities.
The project is now estimated to total an investment of us$ 3.8 billion – us$ 644 million more than initially thought – according to Bloomberg. Ambrose So, however, stated that the company is not facing pressure to stay within the enlarged budget cap. Attributing it to higher construction and labor costs, he added that with “the unique design of our project and with two branded hotels… I think that these [financial] figures seem reasonable.”
In a ground-breaking ceremony, the gaming operator unveiled a model of the Lisboa Palace. The first part of the model, however, will only be developed during a later stage, possibly on a neighboring plot which belongs to SJM’s executive director, Angela Leong.
The Lisboa Palace will initially be built on a 70,500 square-meter block of land. But the company is planning to acquire a stake in an adjacent site owned by Leong, – which will triple the size of the resort.
Ambrose So revealed that the company will be finalizing the deal before the end of this year. “We hope that all together these sites can offer more family and recreational facilities, creating a synergy effect, but we don’t want to disclose any further details now,” Angela Leong declared.
Currently, SJM is hosting a design exhibition titled “Fantasy World of Sino-Western Cultural Interchange” at the Grand Lisboa. The exhibit showcases the future Lisboa Palace development and explains where their designers found inspiration, as well as providing a glimpse into the history of Macau and its ties with Western culture.
The ceremony was presided over by the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam, as well as the director of the Land and Public Works Bureau, Jaime Roberto Carion.
Maintaining the traditions of the name
SJM’s us$ 3.8 billion investment project will soon grace the Cotai Strip. Called Lisboa Palace, the resort is to include three hotels, a casino and a wedding pavilion, among other facilities. But why “Lisboa Palace?”, reporters asked yesterday at the ceremony.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ambrose So, stated that the company wanted to maintain tradition, saying, “We had to have a name and we had been thinking about it for a while. It’s a big project, so we decided to call it a Palace and our entire brand is named Lisboa. We wanted to maintain the tradition of the name.”
As all the gaming concessionaires further develop their businesses in Macau, the topic of labor shortage has inevitably emerged. In yesterday’s ceremony Ambrose So, said that he understands the Macau government’s policy.
Currently, casino dealers can only be hired if they are residents. “The government knows about the [ labor shortages], so there must be a policy that satisfies the requirements, even during construction works,” said Ambrose So, who also added that the gaming operator will conduct an assessment to evaluate where there is a labor shortage. “SJM would like to develop, but without manpower we can’t do it,” he stressed.
Furthermore, he emphasized that Macau is now “a world-class resort city.” “The labor policy should move in the same direction as the government will come up with the means to deal with it,” he added.
SJM’s chairman of the Board of Directors assured the media that the company intends to reserve more job posts for residents. But at the same time he hinted that there has to be “a balance.” “We need to reserve places for the people of Macau but we could also partially import some more experienced people,” he commented.
Finally, he explained that whenever the company promotes locals, there are job posts that might be left vacant. Therefore, the labor policy should be considering all these factors.