As a planner, choosing the perfect venue for your next event is challenging. A hotel might have enough rooms to hold all your delegates, but the grand ballroom is not as big (or as grand) as advertised. On the other hand, a convention centre might be bigger than a football field, but the nearest hotel is 40 minutes away, and entertainment options in the area are scarce to say the least.
That is why integrated resorts are such attractive propositions for planners. When meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions can all happen under one roof, it is just that much easier for delegates to get a comprehensive, well-rounded experience that extends beyond the main event itself.
In this issue, Meetings & Conventions Asia speaks with some of Asia's biggest integrated resorts to find out their latest developments and how they plan to woo planners in 2019 and beyond.
Sands Resorts Macao
Last year, Sands Resorts Macao embarked on several roadshow events and product seminars, visited more than 15 cities, opened an elegant new French garden Le Jardin, as well as several new restaurants including Chiado and Crystal Jade.
On the accommodation front, the integrated resort ramped up its luxury offerings to cater to its most esteemed guests. At The Venetian Macao, the over-70sqm Premio Royale Suites and Premio Bella Suites have been refurbished, and now feature sunken living rooms and lavish bathrooms.
To kick off 2019, Sands Resorts Macao launched its new MICE offer 'Meetings Beyond Imagination', which features myriad value-added benefits for meetings held between February 11, 2019 and December 18, 2020. Available at all seven of its properties: The Venetian® Macao; The Parisian Macao; Four Seasons Hotel Macao; The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central; Conrad Macao, Cotai Central; Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Central; and Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central, the offer is available to book from February 11 to December 31, 2019.
Organisers can select from a wide range of offers, including hotel accommodation and transportation, as well as entertainment and leisure. Eligible planners also get special discounts on master bills that cover venue rental and banquet events at selected restaurants.
But perhaps the most exciting new development in the pipeline is the transformation of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao.
Speaking to trade partners at 'The Legends' Sales Excellence Appreciation Awards Gala Dinner on February 26, Stephanie Tanpure, vice president of sales, Sands China Ltd, said, "[The Londoner Macao] will feature dynamic new attractions including some of London's most recognisable landmarks. With all these new offerings, we are looking forward to strengthening our collaboration with every one of you in the year to come."
Spaces at a glance
• Total meetings & events space: 150,000sqm across seven hotels
• Largest venue: Cotai Arena, which seats up to 15,000 and The Venetian Theatre, which seats up to 1,800
• 334 breakout rooms
• More than 150 restaurants, from food courts to Michelin-starred restaurants
MICE groups can expect high-octane entertainment options in 2019 as MGM COTAI ramps up its offering of in-house entertainment. There's the famous hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez in March, as well as the Harry Potter Film Concert Series in April, which will screen four of the globally popular series' films, with the film scores performed live by the Orchestra Italiana del Cinema.
A major recent event held at MGM COTAI was the Global Tourism Economy Forum, Macao 2018 (GTEF), held from October 23 to 24, 2018. Over 2,000 ministerial officials of tourism, industry leaders, experts, scholars and participants from 42 countries attended the event.
The client's main objective at the time was to examine the impact of strategic tourism cooperation between China and the European Union and to explore the opportunities brought by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development.
In terms of venue, the GTEF was held at the MGM Theater, followed by over 200 business-matching sessions over the two-day event.
Spaces at a glance
• Ballroom: 864sqm for 950 pax, with a 460sqm foyer
• Grand Salon: 455sqm for 500 pax, with a 239sqm foyer
• Conference room: 274 sqm for 300 pax
• Boardroom: 64sqm for 20 pax, with a 64sqm foyer
• Vista: 453sqm with 140sqm deck for over 900 pax
• MGM Theatre: 2,000 people in GALA revolving seating system in 360-degree format surrounding the stage - a world first.
Marina Bay Sands
In 2018, Singapore's Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hosted over 3,600 events and drew more than 1.4 million delegates to the Sands Expo & Convention Centre. Even though the integrated resort has an annual average of 34% repeat events over the past four years, the team is holding nothing back to constantly update its offerings.
MBS has gone through several upgrades as of late, including the refurbishment of all 2,561 rooms and suites in 2017. "[Furthermore], to cater to the growing trend of sustainability and wellness in the MICE industry, we have updated our meeting packages to offer a 'Meet Green Live Well' top-up option," said Mike Lee, vice president of sales at MBS. "With this top-up, clients can add a wellness component to their events with additional elements such as a healthy snack bar, special rates on Sunrise Yoga and more."
In 2018, MBS hosted two green events that Lee is particularly proud of: Schneider Electric Global Innovation Summit and the 7th Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development. During both events, the MBS team developed a series of 'earth-friendly' menus, featuring organic, Fair Trade- and Rainforest Alliance-Certified ingredients. The team also worked hard with organisers to reduce the events' environmental impact down to the minimum by recycling lanyards and eliminating all single-use materials for both events.
Spaces at a glance
• Total meetings and events space: 120,000sqm (2,000 exhibition booths, 250 meeting rooms)
• Largest venue: Grand Ballroom, which can seat up to 8,000 delegates in a theatre-style convention
• Total Capacity: Up to 45,000
When South Korea's Paradise City opened its doors in April 2017, only the Paradise Hotel & Resort, Paradise Casino and convention centre were available. It wasn't until September 2018 did Paradise City truly live up to its name and come alive.
The second phase of openings saw the opening of ART PARADISO (a luxury boutique hotel), CIMER (a Korean-style destination spa), CHROMA (largest club in Northeast Asia), STUDIO PARADISE (a multi-purpose studio), CULTURE PARK and many other facilities. It is truly a city within a city.
Paradise City hosted the 2018 UL International Crown, which happened from October 4 to 7, 2018. The event saw professional golfers from eight countries, LPGA sponsors, VIPs and over 100,000 visitors.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) was the main organiser of the event. While Paradise City did not run the tournament itself, various venues were utilised for ancillary events. For example, the gala dinner for the tournament was held at Paradise City's Grand Ballroom, which holds up to 1,824 people in a theatre setting. Other venues like the Emerald banquet room, Rubik (a music lounge) and Safari Park (an entertainment venue) were utilised as well. Paradise City also provided catering at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club for over 1,000 guests. For an integrated resort that's less than two years old, it was a great endeavour indeed.
In November 2018, Paradise City was the official partner of Asia Artist Awards and held a red carpet event for 26 singers and groups, as well as 28 actors and actresses. Just earlier this year in January 2019, Paradise City also held the Jaguar 'I-PACE' event. Paradise City pleased guests by providing not only excellent catering service, but also a very unique venue: CHROMA - the largest club in Northeast Asia.
Spaces at a glance
• Total site area: 330,000sqm
• Key facilities: Paradise Hotel & Resort, Paradise Casino, Convention Center, Art Paradiso, CIMER, CHROMA Paradise Art Space, Plaza, Studio Paradise, Culture Park, Wonder Box
• Total meetings space: 2,940sqm (Grand Ballroom, Sapphire and Emerald banquet rooms, five meeting rooms)
• Capacity: Up to 2,888
Resorts World Sentosa
Seated on Singapore's Sentosa Island, lifestyle resort destination Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) has refreshed its offerings with a new 'after-hours' experience at Universal Studios Singapore (USS) and a modern fine dining experience, table65.
The 'after-dark' experience will bring a splash of glamour and lights, including the first Hollywood-themed parade, performances by local bands and a fireworks display. The Hollywood Dreams Light-Up Parade will feature a procession of 12 illuminated floats along with a cast of more than 100 characters and performers.
Also making a grand entrance is RWS' newest fine dining addition, table65, helmed by Dutch chef Richard van Oostenbrugge. Opened last December, the new concept promises a fine dining experience without the formalities. Gourmands will dine at tables that surround the open kitchen, all while enjoying modern European gastronomy with locally sourced ingredients.
Recent upgrades to the Resorts World Ballroom include 270-degree wide projection screens that wrap around the ballroom's walls and venue projectors with the widest colour spectrum in the industry.
Equarius Hotel's seven banquet rooms have also been refurbished and its ballroom can now seat up to 1,000.
A recent event held at RWS was the International Convention on Quality Control Circles (ICQCC). Annually, ICQCC attracts an average of 1,500 delegates from more than 330 teams across 13 economies. Organiser The Events People Inc Pte Ltd held the event from October 22 to 24, 2018, for a record-breaking turnout of 2,000 delegates. The event, which comprised a main plenary session and a gala evening, utilised USS and the Resorts World Convention Centre.
Organisers arranged for the gala buffet dinner at USS to feature its Halloween Horror Nights-themed setup. Additionally, it opened Starbot Café to seat VIP and wheelchair-bound guests. Organisers also customised the lunches and coffee breaks, offering separate buffet lines for the event's large group of Indian vegetarians.
Spaces at a glance
• Total meetings & events space: > 61,000sqm across more than 80 venues
• Largest venue: 6,000sqm Resorts World Ballroom
• 35 function rooms spanning 8,500sqm
• 17 unique indoor venues such as Resorts World Theatre and S.E.A. Aquarium
• 28 outdoor event venues, including The Bull Ring and The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel Singapore
Macau has been on the receiving end of a lot of good news as of late. In October 2018, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge was officially opened, thus connecting Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China via a single roadway. This means that overseas guests to Macau now get to enjoy greater accessibility and transport options.
Since the opening of the bridge, Galaxy Macau, too, has received more MICE inquiries - which makes sense, since the integrated resort is home to a range of conference spaces, Michelin-starred dining, group entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as world-class accommodation. And since the establishment is an amalgamation of six hotels, there are more than enough venues to choose from.
For example, on the larger end of the spectrum is Banyan Tree Macau. There is the Banyan Ballroom, which is ideal for large-scale events; the Banyan Room, which can host up to 600 people in a theatre setting, as well as the Banyan Boardroom for smaller, more intimate events. The largest MICE venue, however, is the Broadway Hotel Macau. The 320-key hotel has a guest capacity of 3,000, and the venue can hold everything from music festivals and conventions, to banquets and fashion shows.
Spaces at a glance
• Galaxy Hotel: 567sqm
• The Ritz-Carlton, Macau: 750sqm
• Banyan Tree Macau: 1,990sqm
• JW Marriott Hotel Macau: 2,700sqm
• Hotel Okura Macau: 320sqm
• Broadway Hotel: 2,280sqm
Solaire Casino & Resort
2018 was a good year for Solaire Casino & Resort. Bloomberry, the Philippine-based operator, reported that the annual profit rose nearly PHP7.17 billion (US$137.4 million) last year, which translates to 18% more than the year before. The number of people visiting the casino resort also grew by 14% to almost 6.65 million.
Looking ahead, Solaire Casino & Resort has more than a few tricks up its sleeves to surprise and delight.
One of the latest additions to Solaire Casino & Resort is the Players Stadium. Launched in July last year, the Players Stadium is an electronic gaming facility that allows players to bet on all games simultaneously and see the results on their personal screens or on a 15-metre double-sided curved LED screen - the widest of its kind in Philippines. A total of 68 seats are currently available in the Players Stadium, but the casino resort has plans to expand further in the future.
Perhaps even more exciting is the recent announcement that Bloomberry Resorts has secured financing for its second casino, this time located in Quezon City. The company aims to open its Quezon City casino by early 2022, with construction set to begin in the middle of this year.
Spaces at a glance
• Solaire Grand Ballroom: 1,864sqm, 1,200 guests in theatre seating
• The Forum: 8 function rooms, 2 board rooms
• Gaming area: 18,500sqm
• The Theatre at Solaire: 1,823 seats