The 2007 It List

by Ondine Cohane

Macau, China

Macau is like Dubai with casinos. No—like Vegas with culture. Or maybe Hong Kong with a bit of Dubai and Vegas mixed in. Well, depending on how much you like mega-casinos, billion-dollar developments, and Asian-style sleaze, it's either heaven or hell—and you'll be hearing plenty about it either way. The former Portuguese colony, part of China since 1999, sits on a small peninsula just west of Hong Kong. Not to be held back by its geographic limitations, it has been throwing up luxury hotels at a dizzying pace and filling in its harbor to create even more waterfront real estate. Both Chinese and Western investors are gambling on its success, but the odds are with them: Tourism growth is in the double digits and gambling revenues are on pace to surpass Vegas's. The unveiling of the $1.2 billion (yes, billion) Wynn Macau in September 2006 gave Asian high rollers a whole new level of luxury, with Prada, Dior, and Fendi boutiques, five restaurants, a spa that offers caviar facials, a swank nightclub (pictured)—and a dancing musical fountain with fireballs that would warm the heart of any Vegas-lover. The new Venetian Macau, scheduled to open in July, continues the upscaling and themifying: 3,000 suites, a Cirque du Soleil theater, and, of course, a maze of canals with singing gondoliers. Another 197 acres of property on the reclaimed land of the Cotai Strip will be completed by 2009 with another 20,000 or so rooms from the likes of Four Seasons, Shangri-la, and Fairmont; meanwhile, an MGM Grand and a Sofitel are planned for mainland Macau. If you go, set aside time to tour the colonial Portuguese architecture at the town's center—it's designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but with all this development pressure, who knows how long it will survive?

Wynn Macau
Tel: 853 986 99 66

Venetian Macau
Tel: 853 2888 3311

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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