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Are Happy Days Here Again?

As things get back to normal in Macau, and by normal we mean runaway Casino revenues, the casino property market is showing signs of life. I put emphasis on signs. It is a mixed bag.

First the good news. The Grand Lapa, nee Macau Mandarin Oriental nee Excelsior, is getting a facelift. The property expects to spend millions of dollars in freshening up a hotel that was built in 1984 and last underwent renovations in 2004. The hotel is still managed by Mandarin Oriental by the way, and a tip, you can get the same Mandarin service for a lower price if you search around.

The SAR government finally gave a go head for Great Sky Investments to start its on-again-off-again construction plans on a new luxury hotel right across from the MGM (my guess is the corner that is between, roughly, the MGM and L'Arc). There is no word a casino would be included, but something tells me it may have space for one and be ready to go if the SAR decides to authorize new Casinos. Also interesting, the hotel includes a residential component. Are we to see condo/timeshare maggots in Macau now?

Also for the good, new land might be opening up. The SAR finally sweeping up the squatters around Seac Pai Van, a stretch of line affronting the south side of the Ceasars Golf and non-casino complex. The initial plans are for public housing, however I expect Gary Loveman is making calls (or looking for a place to put his garbage).

Now for the bad news. I already mentioned the more subdued opening of the Galaxy Macau. Now another legacy project has hit rock bottom. In what is being called a "mutual termination" the Shangri-La Hotel will not be taking up one of the "Three Dominos" across from the Venetian. Sands claims they are talking to a "prominent international brand" to take up the space. My money is Hilton, who was expected to occupy plots 7 and 8 that Sands lost last year. However "prominent" could also describe Motel 6.

Finally, Wynn cultists may want to unpack their bags. Citibank estimates the Wynn Cotai will not open for at least five years. Citi cites sluggish government approvals to start building and a tight labor market. I have another theory. Wynn's annual report states they cannot estimate a timeline or a budget. Timeline, OK I am fine with that, but why not a budget? Is Wynn's dream too rich for the financiers? I know it's my conjecture, but read my post on The Board for rampant speculation.


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