Gaming | Morpheus to open on June 15

Lawrence Ho

Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s USD1.1 billion project, Morpheus, is slated to open its doors on June 15, the gaming operator’s chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho announced yesterday.

Dubbed as its “love letter” to both the SAR and China, the new hotel at City of Dreams is the gaming operator’s newest addition to its properties. It is hoped the hotel will become an icon of Macau.

Melco will be hiring an additional 1,000 workers to add to its current 8,000 team members for its new venture, which consists of three levels connecting with the City of Dreams podium, house public functions and a casino floor.

Designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid, Morpheus houses approximately 770 hotel rooms on the higher floors, as well as specialty restaurants, an executive lounge, a sky pool and a VIP gaming room with villas on the top floors.

Morpehus will feature chef Alain Ducasse, who will be opening two exclusive restaurants, including his first Asian restaurant, ‘Voyages’.

In addition, the other restaurant, Yi, will be another brand homegrown by Melco; and world-renowned pâtissier Pierre Hermé is creating a lounge serving French delicacies.

“We’re going through the proper licensing and inspection right now but assuming everything goes smoothly, we’re targeting June 15,” said Ho, speaking of an opening date, during a press conference held at the Hyatt.

“Morpheus will bring us more in the markets we want to expand,” he added, remarking that the new hotel is integral to the relaunch of City of Dreams.

The architectural masterpiece is the world’s first free-form exoskeleton high-rise.

Ho recalled that he started discussing Morpheus with the late Dame Zaha Hadid in 2009, sharing the same vision: “to create a new way of expressing contemporary life.”

Meanwhile, Ho declined to reveal the number of gaming tables it requested from the government, yet said that Melco did not request any VIP tables, adding that it will focus on the premium mass market.

“For a USD1.1 billion [investment], we asked for a reasonable ratio. I don’t want to give the exact number, but it’s related to the investment ratio,” the chairman reiterated.

Meanwhile, Ho revealed that The Countdown Hotel will officially be closed by the end of Chinese New Year 2019 for refurbishing – a construction period that will last for 18 months.

The new hotel tower will be named The Libertine, pledging to offer five-star hotel services, yet will reduce its room count.

“After the opening [of Morpheus], given that we need the hotel rooms, we’re going to countdown to the end of Chinese New Year and after that we’re going … [to] do a complete refurbishment,” explained Ho.

“It’s going to be The Libertine. Its rooms are going to be fewer that the current configuration,” he added.

Ho then noted that Melco is still working on the design, adding that the renovation cost would exceed MOP20 million.

Meanwhile, the CEO confirmed the closure of its live poker room at City of Dreams after collaboration with the online poker titan PokerStars, which commenced in 2013.

Featuring 13 tables on the casino’s main floor, the room served as a home of poker tournaments including the Macau Poker Cup, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour and the Asia Championship of Poker, amongst others.

“To be honest, it’s just not profitable, the poker space was never profitable and for this market, it’s just never done well,” Ho said.

Despite its big collaboration with the poker titan, Ho added, “at the end of the day, it’s taking up gaming tables, taking up space.”

However, Melco is set to launch a dedicated e-sports stadium at its USD3.2 billion integrated resort, Studio City, before the end of the year.

The announcement was made by Ho, who added that they will also open Asia’s largest Virtual Reality Zone at the property.

“We’re planning to do phase two of Studio City and we’re very excited that we have a three- year extension plan. By July 2021 we’re hoping to complete it,” Ho said.

He pledged that waiting for the renewal of licenses will not lower the gaming operator’s investment in the market, noting that they have been showing commitment in the non-betting industry in the city.

Furthermore, the CEO revealed that the gaming operator will hold a groundbreaking event for Cyprus’ first ever casino on June 8.

Ho reiterated that when the project in the island country is completed, it is projected to represent 4 percent of the country’s GDP.

“It’s no small fee,” said Ho.

Regarding a proposal made to Melco Resorts (Philippines) to expand City of Dreams Manila into one hectare of vacant land, Ho said that he is interested in the expansion and is in preliminary discussions with Melco’s local partner.

“We are talking to them [Belle Corporation] and looking at it. […] We are very interested but we are having discussions right now. It’s still at the preliminary stage,” he said.

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