The Cotai Strips’s 5th mega resort: Melco Crown’s $3.2 billion Studio City, opened at the end of 2016 with co-owners Lawrence Ho and James Packer opening the doors with help from Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese plus Mariah Carey belting out a few numbers. The whole resort cost US$3.2bn to get off the ground, but it doesn´t appear to have halted the general business trend in Macau which is down.
It's a far cry from Casino Estoril which is on Av. Dr. Stanley Ho, Lawrence's father!
But do you know what that means? That means good deals for punters, so we went to check out Macau´s new glitzy gambling palace. It´s a short hop over from Hong Kong by jet-foil. We headed over there in June 2016 to take a look.
Studio City is one of the first resorts to try and emulate Las Vegas and balance out the casinos with more of an entertainment offering, so we were keen to see if they have succeeded in doing this.
Yes there are plenty of slot machines (mostly Aristocrat, but some IGT), but there are also shows and the casino looks glitzy enough with a glass and gold twenties feel about it. The Ferris wheel is in the shape of a lucky 8 and lodged between the two towers 23 floors up is pretty impressive- not one for those who don´t have a head for heights though. It´s not as good as the London Eye, but you do get great views over the Pearl River Delta over to Lantau Island and Hong Kong, and over China from the back.
We found the service very good (particulary Fernando from Portugal who helped us to check in. He was excellent and very friendly)- there are lots of people around to help, and Studio City Macau does stand apart from the other casinos in Macau with its huge outdoor pool (with a beach and relaxing rubber ring ride), the children’s play area, spa and fitness centre and 4D Batman show. There´s also a Pacha nightclub- one of the hottest tickets in town, This opened early on in 2016 and aims to bring a slice of "Ibeefa" to Macau. We went on a Wednesday, so it was a bit dead. The outside area is fine, but we were very surprised at the lack of music, this being a Pacha Club! They could have at least put some chill out music on, on "shuffle".
Studio City is hoping to attract families with the Batman Dark Flight which is a 4D flight simulation ride that hurtles you through the skyscrapers and streets of Gotham. The whole thing has been developed by Warner Bros, with car chases in the Batmobile and acrobatics in the Bat Plane, plus run ins with the Joker and Two Face. It´s HK$150 a pop.
There is also a 40,000 square foot Warner Bros fun zone with Batman, Superman and other supers plus an area for younger kids, with Loony Toons characters like Tom and Jerry and soft play areas. They are trying to hard to attract the family market.
The huge ferris wheel that sites suspended between the two towers of Studio City on the 23rd floor is another of the main attractions. You´re taken on a figure of eight trip with impressive views over Macau.
There are almost 1,600 rooms in the 2 towers called Star Tower and Celebrity Tower.
The rooms in the Star Tower are pretty luxurious- 65 square metres of space with a 55-inch TVs, premium coffee machines and huge beds
The Celebrity Tower rooms are more economical- but they are still huge by most standards. You´ll find king sized beds in here too.
There´s a large indoor swimming pool with a Riverscape water park, a Zensa spa on site, and plenty of restaurants. The restaurants all have more of a "coffee shop" feel to them than other casinos we have been to in Macau - apart from on high end Japanese restaurant. They are all pretty informal- there´s an Italian, an Asian eatery called "Spice Road" (Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese) and a noodle bar that we went to. The food was great (particularly the sushi). The service was OK.
It´s not as big as the Venetian or the City of Dreams but it´s still big, and we noticed that they are trying hard to attract normal punters rather than high roller baccarat players here- you still see lots of HK$1000 baccarat tables though. It all looks very swanky, as you would expect, with red carpets and enormous chandeliers and great expanses of marble flooring, and there are around 1,500 slot machines and 500 gaming tables.
We noticed a friendlier approach to casual gamers here, with more lower limit tables available. There are more slot machines in general that you would expect at a Macau casino, and plenty of choice when it comes to roulette- with a big selection of live tables (we played European roulette with a HK$50 minimum bet, HK$200 on the outside bets- you get better roulette odds than you would on American Roulette, so thumbs up for that one), plus plenty of auto-roulette wheels and video roulette games.
We bet on the number 17 4 times in a row (this was for a friend. The number didn´t come in until the eighth spin (we missed it) and then it came up 2 more times in the next 5 spins (!).
We did have a great run playing a combination of our Two Column System, occasionally switching to Martingale on the even money bets. Result? HK$1000 up on the session which more than paid for our meal and drinks. You could say we got lucky.
The bottom line is that we enjoyed our stay here, and we think they have pulled off the entertainment angle in this new Macau hotel. For us, that wasn´t the 4D Batman ride (although that was OK), but there was plenty to do here other than have a fliutter on the tables- the pool area is great, and although the Pacha nightclub was a bit lame (it was a Wednesday I guess but why no music?), in general we found the service very welcoming- you don´t feel like a second rate citizen here if you aren´t frequenting the VIP baccarat rooms- I think that´s the main difference.