It’s difficult not to feel on top of the world as a guest at The St. Regis Macao Cotai Central, particularly as a North American traveler. It’s all so utterly exotic, yet comfortingly familiar at the same time. All of the St. Regis hallmarks are there: The St. Regis Bar, with its bespoke mural, the Bloody Mary (which was invented at the original St. Regis New York in 1934), the fancy bar snacks and impeccable service. But this is Macau, so the patrons are an international assembly quite heavy on the Mainland China side, with staff hailing from all over the world, the Bloody Mary is served deconstructed on a Portuguese street tile, and the atmosphere is laced with so many different cultural traditions that it’s easy to succumb to the effects of the cocktail and lose count.
That Bloody Mary, which has been named the Maria do Leste (East Mary in Portuguese), pays homage to flavors of the Portuguese Empire. There’s pink peppercorn from the Malabar Coast, piri piri from Africa, and black vinegar from Macau, and that’s served alongside a savory egg tart (which is traditional in both Hong Kong and Portugal as the pastel de nata) which the hotel has “fancied up” with lobster, as well as a slice of chouriço sausage on a Portuguese-style wavey black-and-white street tile which is also used in Macau (visit Senado square for a good example). While processing all that colonial heritage, one might take a sip of the Bloody Mary (it’s capital D-Delicious) and ponder the mural, which fades from a Portuguese aesthetic in blue to a Chinese one in red, signifying the blend of cultures found on this vibrant, cosmopolitan island.
It can seem a bit incongruous at times. The St. Regis Macao is built on an area called the Cotai Strip, which itself is land reclaimed from a marsh between the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. It resembles the Las Vegas strip, with a Venetian across the street, itself next door to a replica Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower also under construction. Yet, just across a marsh is Taipa, where almost century-old pastel green Portuguese houses stand sentry to the burst of development on what used to be an oceanfront property and narrow, winding roads hide charming shops that are just as Cantonese as they are European. Further across the water is Macau itself, which is glitzy in the (rather seedy) style of Downtown Las Vegas.
The hotel itself is part of a larger complex managed by The Sands Corp (which operates free shuttles to and from the ferry terminals) which features a large casino and shopping mall. The St. Regis is one of the newest hotels in the complex, having opened in December, 2015. It’s a lot to take in, especially for a visitor from the United States where the paths to Macau aren’t as well beaten as they might be to neighboring Hong Kong. Fortunately, the hotel is a wonderful place to take refuge, and there are many ways to enjoy a self-imposed confinement. Perhaps the best way to do so might be the hotel’s 38th floor Iridium Spa, where guests can partake in a spa treatment that uses extracts from gemstones such as aquamarine, sapphire, or ruby in their treatments. The gems are selected based on the guest’s wishes or problem areas (anxiety, renewal, vitality) and aligned with a different chakra. Spa suites are self-contained, so dressing, undressing, and bathing is all done within the comfort of the suite, and the therapist’s technique was highly developed.
If the spa hasn’t melted away the stress of intercontinental travel, the pool deck certainly will. The handsomely groomed and well-scrubbed pool deck has comfortable lounge chairs where wait staff are summoned by electric buttons for orders or to close out the check. There are plenty of cabanas and day beds in addition to lounge chairs, and all with shade available if necessary when the sun becomes too intense. The rooftop pool shares a floor with the fitness facility which has generous changing rooms with jacuzzi, sauna, and steam.
Guest rooms are in a modern style with light woods and frolicking carpet patterns, with lots of marble entryway and bathroom fittings to better suit Eastern tastes. For those who wish pressing of a suit or shoe shine from the St. Regis Butler (all rooms in the hotel have Butler Service available), there’s a purpose designed “Butler Locker” which allow guests to leave items for service which can be discreetly accessed by staff with a separate key entry without having to entry the room. Rooms, by the way, are spacious, particularly bathrooms and dressing areas, and have outlets suited for both Hong Kong and US/Japan plugs. Butler service includes both packing and unpacking, as well as daily coffee or tea service (iced, when it’s hot outside). While the staff weren’t polished veterans, they were certainly eager to please. Upon being asked for iced Earl Grey tea a second time during the stay, a Butler admitted he’d spent time after the first request practicing his iced tea technique so the beverage would be perfect the next time it was requested – and it was.
The Manor, the hotel’s signature restaurant, is just as international as everything else about the place. Breakfasts are sumptuous affairs that are equal parts East and West, with an omelet and noodle station, congee, dim sum, sushi, yogurts, cereals, grains, Chinese-style crullers, croissants, pastries, sweets and fruit. There are also cooked-to-order dishes such as a savory lobster omelet or eggs benedict which can be ordered from servers. (Pro tip: they also make a mean pot of jasmine tea). For dinner, it’s easy to be spoiled for choice, not only for dining but also for atmosphere. The Manor is divided into five rooms with different types of experience (albeit the same menu): The Verandah, for a cafe-style atmosphere, the more formal Dining Room, the intimate Wine Gallery, the exhibition-style Penthouse Kitchen (which serves as the buffet area for breakfast), and the cozy Library, which offers a private dining experience. The menu is similarly diverse, with plenty of seafood and cuts of beef, although if one can’t decide between the Japanese Mizayaki A5 Wagyu, Irish Strip Loin, Smoked Spanish Ribeye, Nebraska Ribeye, or the Australian Blackmore Wagyu, there’s a tasting plate on the menu if you wish to try all five. There’s also a heavenly acorn-fed jamón ibérico, which is served alongside a story of pigs so in love with the acorns that they would jump right into the trees to scavenge.
All in all, it’s an almost perfect recipe for hospitality tailored to the cosmopolitan traveler: a gorgeous hotel with world-class services in a unique destination, peopled by a cast of hoteliers so diverse and a host of services so varied that even the most tenured of road warriors would be hard-pressed not to find something that made them feel right at home. And that’s the hard-to-find mark of superb hospitality – that uncanny ability of a hotel to make one feel “at home in the world”.
More photos of examiner.com’s recent visit to the St. Regis Macao Cotai Central are available on the author’s Instagram.
Accommodations and some meals were furnished by the St. Regis Macao Cotai Central in preparation for this story.