The Venetian Macau (Updated & Rewritten)
Venetian Macao, September 19, 2007
The Venetian Macau is, in a word, huge. The casino is so large that you can almost see the curvature of the earth when you peer across it from tip to tip. I made a feeble attempt at calculating the possible number of tables and total number of players in the casino but I just can't count or multiply that high. The casino itself is so huge, I couldn't walk the whole thing to get a feel for its dimensions. I can only guess that its about 3-4 football fields, maybe bigger. All of the gaming areas that were open had players at the tables, the spacing between the tables is much more spacious than the claustrophobic densely packed Sands Macao, but there still jammed in there. As with all of these mega monstrosity casinos, the people who design the casino floors just don't properly take into account traffic flow. Three times I passed by the same intersection in the casino and all three times there was a traffic jam of people kinda standing around blocking traffic looking around confused.
Speaking of confusion... directions to various parts of the resort through overhead signage is just plain baffling and inconsistent. You'll see a sign that says "Grand Canal Shoppes" start following it then the next sign says nothing about the previous instructions. I got lost here more times than I'd like to admit, and I have a really really good sense of direction when I'm on foot.
As with the Venetian Las Vegas, the Grand Canal shopping district is a series of faux Venice Avenues with the occasional appearance of a canal and their requisite yodeling gondoliers. The Venetian Macao's version of the Grand Canal Shopping District is pretty much the same deal, but larger and even more confusing. I've never liked the Grand Canal thing in Vegas, it's a cheesy one trick pony. Currently 1/4 of the shops have yet to open here.
After spending the last few days at the upscale boutique hotels Crown Macau and Wynn Macau, coming to the Venetian Macao is a bit of a shock. Venetian Macao is essentially a volume operation, kinda like Home Depot. If you're looking for some detailed help and advice about how to stain some furniture properly, you're probably better off going to your local hardware store that focuses on woodworking. If you need to get 5,000 2x4s... Home Depot or a giant lumber yard might be your best bet. The Venetian does its best to give off the perceptions it is a luxury resort, which in some respects it is. However, the laws of large numbers dictate that the larger the group of numbers, the larger the errors will be. At the Venetian Macao, these errors manifest themselves in an inexperienced service staff, confusing navigation, areas of dead energy, lack of upscale resort amenities and a bunch of unfinished, or underfinished parts of the property. Of course, the joint has been open for about a month, so a lot of it will get ironed out as time goes on.
A few cases in point. Upon arrival the taxi line traffic director (a kid about 18) haphazardly took my bags out of the trunk and waved the taxi driver on... too bad he left some of my stuff in the trunk. Additionally there were no bellhops at the front entrance to assist me with my stuff, which is quite unfortunate because I'm a big tipper, particularly when I don't have to schlep a ton of bags around. Both times I ordered room service they messed up my order even after reading it back to me. They also did not come get the service cart an hour after dining was served as the delivery person had told me. When I returned to my room after 8 hours out and about, the dirty dishes were still there and the room smelled like old lunch. Also, there is no turndown service. Which, I would imagine could be quite an expensive proposition in a 3,000 room resort. Top tier, almost, luxury no. I should add that Crown Macau also botched the room service dishes extraction and they don't have turn down service either. Both Lisboa and Wynn Macau have turndown service where not only do they puff up your pillows, turn down the blankets and close the blackout drapes, but they give your room a cursory straightening. Hotel Lisboa refills your ice bucket and Wynn Macau gets out the slippers, bedside placemat, places water bottles, glasses and chocolates on the bedside night table. With Venetian Macao's rack rate at HK$5,000 (US$700) after the grand opening promo price of HK$1,120 fades away, paying 1/2 that to stay at Crown Macau and even less to stay at Wynn is a real steal.
I've been conflicted about the Venetian since reviewing the Venezia Suite at Venetian Las Vegas on VegasTripping. Is booking a room at the Venetian at their asking price of US$600/night worth it? The rooms are dirty, stuff is broken, the furnishings are dirty, worn and stained and the decor is frumpy. $199 is pushing it for VLV room rates at least until they refurb the rooms. With Venetian Macau's being both brand new and less stogily decorated, a large percentage of my gripes about the Vegas joint have been eliminated. I'm still feeling uneasy and can't exactly pin it down.
It's not that I dislike the Venetian, its the disparity between the values the Venetian offers versus the value they think they offer. It is quite baffling that many people perceive the Venetian as being a high end resort. After staying at Crown Macau, I'm wondering the same thing about Wynn Macau as well.
The Venetian Macao is huge, both in dimension and achievement. It is the largest casino resort in the world and the first and largest stake in what will probably become the most profitable gaming destination in the universe. Is the Venetian Macao for everyone? In many ways, yes. Is the Venetian Macao for those who want a more personal and elegant resort experience? No, but it was never fully intended to be, although the price tag may lead you to believe otherwise.
I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this as I begin to digest my Venetian experience. I thank you for your patience as I work through my case of hotel casino overload. Tomorrow I'm going to check outta here (but leave my bags with the bell desk) and head over to the Galaxy Waldo and the other joint next door whose name escapes me right now. Then it's back to the ferry terminal and eventually a return engagement at the Holiday Inn in Kowloon. I'm sure to crash hard when I get back to Hong Kong. I'm hoping to meet up with a friend of mine later that day if I can get a hold of him. If not, I'll be writing up my review of the legendary "Elaine Wynn Salad" that I had the pleasure to enjoy at Wynn Macau. It's a shame they had to cut her up like that.