President of Sands China Ltd, Wilfred Wong, has been undaunted by the pandemic and held faith in the forthcoming Lunar New Year, believing the traditional travel peak season would soon drive the business of The Londoner Macao forward this year.
Wong delivered his remarks during a media briefing following the official opening of the first phase of The Londoner Macao yesterday.
“As far as this Chinese New Year goes, we have high expectation and are optimistic about the tourist number,” Wong added.
Despite the travel advisories issued by the SAR government and some of China’s municipal governments to call on their residents to avoid unnecessary travel during the Spring Festival, the head of Sands China has still been resolute in generating promising revenues, hoping for a “high occupancy rate” at The Londoner’s in February.
“Despite the travel entreaty, we believe there will still be a lot of tourists [visiting Macau] from Guangdong Province. But still, tourist arrivals will come down to how many Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) permits will be approved for the holiday” he added.
The opening of the new mega resort operated by Sands China came on the same day the SAR government announced the details of the vaccination registration system for the public.
In the opening ceremony, Wong told the media that the commencement of the vaccination would instill buoyancy into the city’s tourism market by giving the much-needed assurance to travelers.
Prior to the pandemic, properties of Sands China in Macau had traditionally seen the highest booking volumes in the first three days of the Lunar New Year.
However, owing to the impact of travel advisory, Wong is forecasting a slight delay in the peaks of hotel room booking at The Londoner.
“Some mainland tourists will avoid travelling during the Spring Festival. But they may set off trips following the festival, […] we believe the occupancy data will come to some highs after the Chinese New Year,” he projects.
First Phase Opening
The opening ceremony of The Londoner Macao was commemorated with an orchestral playing by the 65-member Macau Youth Orchestra, an acapella rendition of one of the most recognized British tunes of the last century performed by the Sands China Choir.
The group’s MOP15.2 billion new integrated resort on the Cotai Strip was rebranded and remodeled from Sands Cotai Central. The hotel itself is a replica of all the pleasant essences of London city, “offering the best of British history and culture.”
Yesterday’s opening took place at the newly-launched Crystal Palace, the main lobby of The Londoner Macao. It was adorned and designed in classic Victorian style, the glass and iron atrium features a 33-metre-high stained-glass ceiling.
Apart from that, other new facilities involved in the first phase opening include The Londoner Hotel, the first all-suite accommodation to open at The Londoner Macao resort. The new hotel, with its interiors designed by Hong Kong’s Steve Leung Design, features around 600 suites.
Two eateries, the British restaurant Churchill’s Table and North Palace, which offers North Chinese cuisine, was officially launched yesterday as well.
In the ceremony, Wong noted that each of the Macau properties of Sands China has their own distinctive positioning and target audience, and they complement each other well.
“For instance, the position of The Parisian Macao is ‘affordable luxury’, whilst The Londoner is positioned as ‘luxury’,” he elucidated.
Wong said the price of the new all-suite The Londoner Hotel will be higher and is tilted more towards the premium market, as compared to The Parisian’s accommodation.
In an earlier interview with the Times, Ben Lee, managing partner of IGamiX Management & Consulting said: “The Londoner is a rejuvenation of a property that never really had a distinctive market positioning. The face-lift and rejigging of the rooms to target the premium mass market may have, in better times, [given] them [SCL] a better chance of a significant improvement in market share.”
The launch also featured a video that paid tribute to the late Sheldon Adelson, the founder of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), who passed away at 87 on January 12 this year, after battling with lymphoma.
The opening ceremony was officiated by Edmund Ho Hau Wah, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; Lei Wai Nong, Secretary for Economy and Finance; Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office; Adriano Marques Ho, director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau; and other key officials.
The Path Forward
Sands China confirmed that other official openings of the new resort will “launch progressively throughout the year of 2021.” They include the 14 Suites by David Beckham, the city’s first celebrity-designed suites, as well as Beckham’s first worldwide; Londoner Court, another all-suite hotel inside the resort; the rethemed Shoppes at Londoner; and Londoner Arena.
Wang Changbin, director of the Centre for Gaming & Tourism Studies at the Macao Polytechnic Institute, said earlier that The Londoner, with The Venetian and The Parisian, “will strengthen the leading position of Sands in [the] Macau mass market, both in gaming and shopping.”
Meanwhile, David Beckham said in a pre-recorded footage in the opening, “This integrated resort feels very personal to me and being part of the development has been an incredible project – not only is it bringing my hometown to Macau, but also the first David Beckham Suites. I can’t wait to be back in Macau to see it all.”
When asked by the media over the matters regarding the renewal of casino license, The Sands China president said that it has been collaborating closely with the guidelines and advices stipulated by the government.
“We [Sands China] haven’t stopped improving even during the Covid-19 outbreak. We have been investing and expanding our non-gaming portfolio,” Wong added.
“In the long run, we [Sands China] have been so sanguine about the prospect of Macau. As time goes by, the city will become a world-class centre of tourism and leisure,” he stated.