No casino at new Mandarin Oriental in Macau

/ Source: The Associated Press

Macau is one of the world's premier gambling destinations, but its newest hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Macau, opening Tuesday, does not have a casino.

The luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel group opened a new hotel in Las Vegas in December that also does not have a casino.

At a meeting of Mandarin Oriental managers at the group's New York property earlier this week, hotel officials said both the Vegas and Macau hotels offer alternatives to visitors who happen to be in gambling centers but who prefer accommodations in a non-gaming environment.

"You're going completely the other way to differentiate yourself," said Jonas A. Schuermann, general manager of the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.

Potential guests might include families, couples where one person likes to gamble but the other does not, and even celebrities looking for a peaceful place away from the crowds.

Many hotel-casinos are built so that guests must walk through or past large, dark, noisy casino areas to reach their accommodations, so the Mandarin Oriental properties also provide a different experience walking in.

Some visitors to Macau may also be more interested in its cultural attractions and unusual colonial history than in games of chance, just as some tourists head to Vegas for shows, restaurants and the Bellagio fountains but leave town without ever placing a bet or playing the slots.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony that is now part of China, is about 40 miles from Hong Kong, reachable via ferry. There are about 60 hotels in Macau and 33 casinos. Its gambling revenue for first-quarter 2010 was over $5 billion, according to statistics from its Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Las Vegas has 295 hotels and motels, of which 81 have casinos, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. First-quarter 2010 gaming revenue on the Vegas Strip was $1.53 billion, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Opening a property in Macau without a casino is also much easier to do these days than opening one with gaming. The Macau government is controlling growth by limiting the number of casino licenses available, and officials haven't indicated a desire to license new operators.

Starting rates for the Mandarin Oriental in Macau are $281 a night.

Mandarin Oriental's flagship property is in Hong Kong. The group currently operates 26 hotels around the world, including an older property in Macau called the Grand Lapa. A rapid expansion in the next three years will add another 16 hotels to the Mandarin Oriental group in locations including Paris, Costa Rica and Marrakech, Morocco. Some scenes from the "Sex and the City 2" movie set in the Abu Dhabi hotel were filmed at the Morocco property.