'Small' hotel in Macau stands tall

  • Asia & Oceania
  • Friday, 18 Jul 2014

At the Vida Rica Restaurant, the onion soup served with Gruyere cheese espuma and onion jam on toast.

This Macau hotel scores high on many counts.

As far as five-star hotels in Macau are concerned, bigger seems better, judging by hotel development trends over the last decade here. Even to the most casual of observers, hotels with more than 500 rooms increased as the casino-resort development game on this former Portuguese enclave mushroomed like, well, mushrooms after rain.

The owners of the Mandarin Oriental Macau, however, took a very different approach when it came to building a brand new hotel – though one could also say they were partly constrained by the size of the plot (20,700sq m) they managed to acquire.

Land size or not, the test is in how well a hotel does what it is supposed to do. And I am pleased to say that this “handsome” four-year-old, five-star hotel passed the test.

Located at the waterfront area that is formed by the intersection between Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen and Avenida de Sagres, Mandarin Oriental Macau enjoys the advantage of high visibility and a relatively unobstructed view.

Thankfully, the external facade is a very pleasing structure that resembles the bow of a cruising ship – a fitting symbolism of a Macau that is cruising towards success.

From this deluxe lakeview room, one can see the contrast between the new and old Macau, with China looming behind as the 'motherland'.

In case you’re wondering, the building’s architect is Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates of the United States.

Mandarin Oriental is conveniently integrated with a high-end mall (One Central Macau), and is somewhat within walking distance from the cultural/heritage district. For fans of walkabouts, it’s a great treat to walk along the nice waterfront.

What makes this 213-room (including suites) hotel stand out from the rest is that it does not have a casino. You heard that right, a five-star pad in Macau without any link to any gaming outlet, which may make it kosher for some folks.

The 23-storey Mandarin Oriental does appear welcoming to a certain kind of clientele, which would include families with children.

It has an outdoor heated pool, so the pool is enticing even at the height of winter. As I was there during summer, I would have preferred a chilled pool (a pity that the pool closes at 7pm, just when the sun is below the horizon!).

The gym is also very inviting, with a good array of spanking new equipment. However, as I was on a business trip, I only wanted to sit down to a proper dinner. Initially, I was a bit taken aback when I found that there is only one – yes, only one – restaurant as I had expected a five-star hotel to have at least a few.

But in the end, it proved to be no handicap, as I soon discovered that one of Macau’s top eateries belongs to the Mandarin Oriental itself: the Vida Rica Restaurant and Bar helmed by Frenchman Dominique Bugnand, who also serves as the hotel’s culinary operations director.

The view from the Mandarin Oriental Macau is superb as it is located at the confluence of the older and the newer parts of Macau, as well as China’s Pearl River delta. – MENG YEW CHOONG/The Star

The specialty here is good old classic French cuisine served with a healthy dose of imagination. Take, for example, spider crab wrapped in lobster jelly, avocado and mango sauce with Sturia caviar. And then, do try the onion soup served with Gruyere cheese espuma and onion jam on toast. If you must have beef, then do not pass on the wagyu beef served bone-in, which is striploin steak with shallot sauce, beef tongue gribiche sauce and braised beef cheek, carrot mashed with orange dust as well as grilled shallot banana.

If you still have room for dessert, a good choice would be rice pudding with mango sauce and coconut sorbet.

The pleasure from Vida Rica is not just from dinner. For breakfast, I am so pleased to report, there is a great array of Asian fare to accompany the usual standard continental fare at the buffet table.

Service at the restaurant is attentive and warm at all times, without being obtrusive, a testament to good training.

Topping up a good meal with a good scrub at the spa is also a wonderful proposition, and the hotel’s spa, which is open until 11pm daily, proved to be a good experience for someone who has not been in a spa for at least three years.

I opted for the Macanese Dragon Experience, a signature treatment that begins with a body scrub, followed by a steam shower and jacuzzi in a private tub. A relaxing Chinese lymphatic body massage follows, using a combination of specialised massage techniques that uses heated baoding balls made of stone.

The treatment proved to be soothing, and I could not believe that the two hours of treatment glided by so effortlessly.

My deluxe lake view room has all the needs of the business traveller taken care off. I very much appreciated being able to charge my phone without taking out my charger as there are universal USB sockets. Neither did I need to fish out my travel adaptor when it came to powering my notebook, as there are universal sockets on the generous-sized work desk.

And there is complimentary WiFi in the rooms and the bonus is it can support more than one device at a time.

Mandarin Oriental Macau also got the in-room entertainment right, with so many music and TV channels to choose from. I was pleased as punch when I could elect to have Alan Tam serenade me the whole night through the gorgeous sound system.

At the Vida Rica Restaurant, the onion soup served with Gruyere cheese espuma and onion jam on toast.

A greater wow factor is that all rooms at this hotel come with a good view of either Taipa Island or Nam Van Lake, or combinations of such. Fitted with full-length glass windows, the hotel is a great vantage point to see the extent of development in Macau and the surrounding Pearl River Delta of China. It is evident how Macau’s fate is so intertwined with China’s; but that’s a story for another day.

And so, with great looks, impeccable service, and well-thought out room layout and amenities, the hotel ticks many boxes for me.


Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen

NAPE, Macau

Tel: +853 8805 8888

Email: momac@mohg.com


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