ociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed SJM Holdings Limited founded by Stanley Ho. It has more than 57 years of experience in the premier tourism and leisure entertainment businesses, and is the only gaming concessionaire with its roots in Macau. SJM’s property portfolio comprises the Grand Lisboa, and Casino Lisboa, which was opened in 1970.
SJM also operates the entertainment complex Casino Oceanus at Jai Alai, as well as the only resort in the historic Inner Harbour area – Ponte 16 Resort, housing Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 and diversified entertainment and dining facilities. Grand Lisboa Palace is the company’s future flagship integrated resort in Cotai, Macau, of which construction is expected to complete in 2019.
SJM is one of the main sponsors and exhibitors at the upcoming fourth edition of Japan Gaming Congress (JgC), to be held on May 16-17 at the Conrad Tokyo, and hosted by Clarion Gaming. Ahead of the event, Arnaldo Ho, Director and Assistant Chief Operating Officer at SJM, shared with organizers his views and SJM’s approach towards the Japanese integrated resorts industry.
Why is SJM interested in the Japanese market?
SJM has been keeping a close watch on potential development opportunities in Asia, while maintaining principal business activities in Macau. I believe that with SJM’s experience, expertise, and resources in tourism and leisure entertainment, we will be able to contribute to the Japanese IR industry in a very positive way. Additionally, it is worthy to note that my father, Dr. Stanley Ho, was awarded the Insignia of the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan in 1987 for his contributions towards promoting economic cooperation and cultural exchange with Japan.
What qualities are key to a successful integrated resort (“IR”)?
The ability to bring new values and ideas to the table without compromising the local community and tradition is the most important in my opinion. That is something SJM has a particular strength in, as all of our projects, each with their own distinctive identity, have successfully introduced fresh elements, such as original architectural designs and new non-gaming offerings to their respective markets.
SJM, a brand native to Macau, embodies the rich heritage built on the multicultural characteristics of the city, which has been a gateway between East and West for more than 400 years. Our projects resonate with Macau’s history and show our commitment to building a unique IR for a specific market, not simply copying others or the past.
For example, SJM’s upcoming IR, Grand Lisboa Palace, is a celebration of the meeting of East and West, highlighting the unique roles of Macau as a world centre of tourism and leisure and as a platform for cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. The resort’s design integrates Chinese motifs and elements of Chinoiserie into western architectural forms, which are inspired by European landmarks. Aside from décor, SJM has introduced international icons to Grand Lisboa Palace – Palazzo Versace Macau and Karl Lagerfeld Hotel. The fashion designer hotels are brand-new offerings regionally and, in Karl Lagerfeld Hotel’s case, the entire world as the first and only hotel fully designed by the eponymous designer, which will definitely appeal to both locals and foreign visitors.
Not only have we brought new attractions to Macau, our major shareholder, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, S.A. (“STDM”), also founded by Dr. Stanley Ho, has applied its successful experience overseas – in Portugal, STDM has established casinos in Lisbon, Estoril and Póvoa de Varzim, among which Casino Estoril is considered Europe’s largest casino, housing restaurants, a grand theatre and other non-gaming facilities. In conclusion, the introduction of original endeavors and attractions captivating both local and foreign visitors alike will be crucial for an IR’s success and sustainable development.
With the rise of the Chinese market making it the largest source of overseas visitors to Japan, what can SJM provide to address this demographic?
We are highly familiar with the emerging Chinese market, having witnessed its growth of outbound tourism to countries including Japan in recent years. SJM’s five decades of experience have enabled us to foster great relations with customers and business organisations in China, including but not limited to China Travel Services, China Duty Free Group, and top travel agents and tourism institutions. While we are well-acquainted with Chinese business practices from our own supply chain management, our deep understanding of Chinese behaviors and preferences in F&B, retail, and entertainment also capacitates us to tailor their time within the IR, enabling them to have an exciting, new experience while still retaining the comforts of home.
Which aspects of Japanese culture is SJM planning to incorporate into its IR in Japan?
Having experienced a rich business environment influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures, I believe that Japan’s service culture and local talent will be the key to our development. Japan has an international reputation of great hospitality services and outstanding attention to detail, and that’s something we want to emphasise and promote. While there is much for us to learn from the Japanese way, SJM also has a wealth of knowledge and experience of gaming and non-gaming operations, which we would be happy to share with Japan to nurture a symbiotic relationship of mutual growth and learning.
As for local talent, it is crucial to build a sustainable model where locals can be fostered and given opportunities for upward mobility, creating long-term career prospects for the local community. In Macau, SJM has the highest percentage of local employees compared to our competitors, a fact recognized by the government. We are committed to the development and continuous growth of the cities where we operate; therefore, caring for local employees and respecting their tradition are intrinsic to our core values. This is epitomized by our company motto, ‘from society to society’. This respect of cultural competence aligns with Japan’s business culture. It would be an honor for SJM to work with the people of Japan to highlight the local culture in our IR. After all, a sustainable brand is not just about product, it’s about people.