IAG 2006-08-09 Aug-Sep - page 16-17

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the mezzanine level will provide space for
back-of-house support, and there will be
three gaming floors, including one extend-
ing from the existing mass-gaming floor.
There is one last floor with a currently un-
designated usage, though it could perhaps
house a future club or further gaming ex-
pansion, saysMr.Wong.
The biggest disappointment at Sands
Macau has been its fine dining restaurants,
which havemet with a lukewarm response,
and the property has yet to provide any
real “Vegas-style” entertainment. Mr. Wong
reveals the prime goal of the podium ex-
pansion is “to provide as many tables as
possible,” given that they are generating
such excellent returns, though he stresses
the tables are hardly being “crammed in.”
The podium expansionwill not feature any
new F&B outlets, but Sands Macau is ex-
panding its existing mass-market outlets,
including thepopularnoodle shopandbuf-
fet – though thebuffet hadpreviouslybeen
scaled-down inorder tomakeway formore
gaming tables.
New Concept of Casinos
“In the East, casinos are traditionally seen as
aplacewhereyoumakeor losemoney,”says
Mr.Wong.HebelievesPSDGhaschanged“the
conceptofwhatpeopleperceiveacasino is,”
by throwing in “elements of entertainment,
withF&Boutlets, light andair and space.”
Although only 5-10% of Macau’s casino
revenues currentlyderive fromnon-gaming
activities, the casino resorts on the Las Ve-
gas Strip nowmake half their money from
hotel rooms, retail, entertainment and F&B.
LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson touts the
upcomingVenetianMacau’sextensiveexpo,
entertainment, shopping and dining offer-
ing, and underplays the gaming by saying
“oh, and we’ll have a casino as well.” The
Singapore government has also sought to
play down the gaming component of its
two upcoming casino-centred resorts – the
first of which will be developed by LVS, to
open in 2009 – by dubbing them “Integrat-
ed Resorts.”During our interview,Mr.Wong
coined his own phrase – “total hospitality
complex.”
PSDG founder Paul Steelman worked
onWynn’sMirage,which,when it opened in
1989, became the first casino resort on the
LasVegas Strip toplaceasmuch importance
on dining and entertainment as on gaming.
According toa recentprofileonMr.Steelman
in
Forbes
magazine, the first casino resorts
on the Strip, including the Flamingo, Tropi-
cana, and Desert Inn, lured gamblers with
free rooms and cheap buffets, but offered
few distractions beyond the casinos, which
were dark, cramped and difficult to get out
of. According to the
Forbes
article: “Keep a
customer stuck, the thinkingwent, and he’ll
play until he’s out of money.”That was also
theprevalent view inMacau,until SandsMa-
cau proved that gamblers will actually play
morewhen they have light, space and clear
exits – studies have shown that clear exits
keep gamblers playing for fiveminutes lon-
ger,onaverage.
During theheyday of the Flamingo et al,
gamblingmadeupover 90%of the revenue
of resorts along the Strip, just as in Macau
today. Analysts predict Macauwill gradually
move towards aVegas-mix of 50:50 gaming
and non-gaming revenue. That will result in
traditional casinosgivingway to“total hospi-
tality complexes.” In thenewMacau,“casinos
willbeanelementwithinamall-likeenviron-
ment,”believesMr.Wong.
Mr.Wong sees potential for retail in par-
ticular.“Shopping is hugely underdeveloped
in Macau,” and “there’s a great opportunity
whenHong Kong introduces its GST [goods
and services tax].” The Hong Kong govern-
ment hasproposed the introductionof a5%
sales tax inorder todiversify thecity’snarrow
taxbase.GivenMacau’s lackof aGST, aswell
as its cheaper hotel rates and comingwider
varietyof entertainment choices,CLSA’sAar-
on Fischer predicts “mainlanders and other
touristswilldivert their trips fromHongKong
toMacau for shopping.”
Theming and the “3 Cs”
Sands Macau and Wynn Macau follow the
current trend in Vegas of providing con-
spicuous luxury without a theme.Mr.Wong
does not believe theming in itself is a bad
thing – after all, Venetian Macau will recre-
ate the canals and serenadinggondoliers of
thehistoric Italian city,whilePSDG’s upcom-
ing Montreux will feature a Swiss-lakefront
theme. Mr. Wong does, however, criticize
“themingwithout quality,” as another quick
fix todrawmainlanders.
Disney is an example of theming with
quality. Macau’s Greek Mythology Casino,
featuring towering styrofoam GRP-shelled
tributes to Poseidon and Zeus, and the Em-
peror Palace Casino with its mock English
Beefeaters performing the changing of the
guard while grumbling in Russian, are per-
hapsnot.Mr.Wongalsodoesnotbelieve that
countries likeSingaporeor Japan–assuming
the latterwill soon legalisecasinos–will fea-
turemuch theming.
More than themes, PSDG tries to pro-
vide the“3Cs”– cool, comfort and casual.Mr.
Wongelaborates:“Cool as inhipand fashion-
able– trying tomake itaplacewherepeople
want to go to be seen, and to see the right
people.” A comfortable and casual environ-
ment, meanwhile, encourages spending, on
either shoppingorgaming.
Paul Steelman’s Rules
After more than 20 years in the field, Mr.
Steelman has accumulated around 70 rules
of casino design, many of which are based
on rigorous studies of consumption and
gambling behaviour. Mirrors are avoided
in gaming areas, otherwise once a gambler
sees himself and “realizes he’s not James
Bond,” he’ll stop spending money. The co-
lourblue isnotablyabsent,since it is regard-
edas“coldanddiscouraging,”whereas reds,
golds and earthen tones help to promote
feelingsofwarmth.
In his interview with
Forbes
, Mr. Steel-
manalsoadded,“Oneof the thingswe try to
do is peak the curiosity for exploration.We
don’t like straight lines.We want you walk-
ing on curved paths, exploring nooks and
crannies.To say ‘Wow!’or ‘I’m empowered to
gamble.” As witnessed in Sands Macau, Mr.
Steelman also likes his gaming spaces well-
lit,withmore concentrated lightingover the
tables, sincedarkness confuses gamblers.He
stresses theneed for shortwalkingdistances
between the lobby,hotel rooms, casinofloor
and shopping areas to encourage spending,
andallows forplentyofspacebetweentables
and slotmachines so thatplayersdonot feel
trapped. Mr. Steelman also understands the
draw of people-watching, and seeks to pro-
videopenlyvisibleeatingvenueswithviews
of the tables.
Coming Attractions
The next PSDG design to go up will be the
Four Seasons hotel, adjacent to theVenetian
Macau, aswell as a new resort at the expan-
sive Foxwood’s Casino inConnecticut. PSDG
is also designing the behemoth US$1.9 bil-
lionMontreuxentertainmentandhotel com-
plex inLasVegas,which isdue forcompletion
in2009,andwill consistof2,750guest rooms
anda104,000 sq. foot casino.TheMontreux’s
crowningglorywillbeamassiveobservation
wheel atop the casino floor, which, like the
London Eye, will provide riders panoramic
viewsof thecity.
According to the
Forbes
article,Mr. Steel-
man “plans to push the non-casino receipts
even higher”with theMontreux. The casino
and retail zones will be interconnected, and
the property will feature a multi-functional
ballroom which can be transformed under
two hours, so that in one day, it can host a
fashionshow in themorning,apoker tourna-
ment in the afternoon and a boxingmatch
at night.Not onlywill thismaximize the use
of valuable real estate, but according toMr.
Steelman, casino spectacles should in any
case be restricted to under 90minutes, oth-
erwise “you are dipping into time people
woulduse spendingmoney inother partsof
thecasino.”
The Montreux’s crowning
glorywill be amassiveob-
servation wheel atop the
casino floor,which, like the
London Eye, will provide
riders panoramic views of
the city
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