Jelly Good Show
Encore Macau to feature giant aquariumSunday, 14 March 2010
Encore Macau, Steve Wynn's VIP-focused extension to his successful Wynn Macau property due to open in April, is to have a giant aquarium as part of its attractions, Inside Asian Gaming understands.
IAG has learned the aquarium will be a feature of the US$600 million Encore Macau's new tower and will be stocked with giant jellyfish. Given Macau's 450-year history as an administrative region of Portugal up to 1999, the Portuguese Man-of-War would seem appropriate. Unfortunately however, according to National Geographic, the Portuguese Man-of-War isn't technically a jellyfish.
Regardless of the niceties of invertebrate taxonomy, the odds of the Encore Macau aquarium featuring something relatively humdrum such as sharks were always pretty long, given how much Mr Wynn prides himself on originality.
MGM MIRAGE's Mandalay Bay property on the Strip in Las Vegas already has sharks, as does the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. At the latter's attraction, called (surprise surprise) The Tank, punters can take a sealed waterslide trip through the predators' lair.
Macau's casino resorts have plenty of water features (including canals at Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s The Venetian, and a chi-chi waterfall running down the outside of Melco Crown Entertainment's VIP-focused Altira Macau). Macau has not so far featured a giant aquarium, although MPEL's City of Dreams does have a virtual one at The Bubble, a 360-degree animation show at the Cotai resort.
Given Mr Wynn's reputation for attention to detail, he will have done plenty of research before deciding how to stock his aquarium. But just in case he needs any help, IAG has established that the Portuguese Man-of-War is not really one organism at all. It's a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.
The bit visible above the surface is a bladder filled with hot air. A second entity is responsible for producing the tentacles. This is the business end of the Man-of-War, the bit that first stings then draws in passing prey. A third organism digests the prey and a fourth does the work of replicating the eating machine. It all sounds a little bit like the Macau VIP agent system.
Sharks tend to get a lot of bad press when it comes to their predatory behaviour, but they do have two advantages over the Man-of-War. The first is that in China they're more valuable dead than alive because of culinary demand for their fins. The second is that a dead shark can't hurt you, unless you're foolish enough to put your skin in contact with its sandpaper-like skin or its razor sharp teeth. A dead Man-of-War washed up on a beach can reportedly still deliver an excruciatingly painful (but not normally deadly) sting.
Jellyfish are eaten in China, but only certain types. Even then, they have to be carefully prepared by an expert in a process taking up to 40 days. It's not surprising Chinese people have a reputation for patience and the ability to play a long game.
Mr Wynn will be aware of the cultural significance of whatever he chooses to put in his aquarium. Given the volatile nature of the returns to house from VIP baccarat, it certainly won't feature a killer whale.