Though many consider Macau the mecca of gaming—it currently surpasses Las Vegas as the world leader in gambling revenue—there’s another side of the city that has nothing to do with table games. Brimming with art deco architecture, tranquil temples, cobblestone streets, and five-star amenities, this sleepy fishing port turned cosmopolitan paradise is truly a thrill for both the mind and body. Haute Living has rounded up the best sights—from the mesmerizing 1,109-foot Macau Tower to the spellbinding “The House of Dancing Water” show—to keep you entertained all day and night and ensure that you walk away a big winner.
GOOD TO KNOW
Located on the southern coast of China, 37 miles southwest of Hong Kong, Macau is comprised of only 624,000 residents, 20 percent of whom work in casinos. Though there is a noticeable difference in temperature between the winter and summer months, ranging from 50ºF to 86ºF, it attracts visitors all year round. To lessen your chance of getting caught in one of the area’s occasional tropical storms, it’s best to visit between October and December when the weather is warm and humidity is low. Insider tip: travel to Macau is available by air, land, and sea. Visitors who are prone to seasickness (or who want to avoid long wait times for the ferry) can fly directly to Macau International Airport, or book a helicopter service from Hong Kong or Shenzhen.
WHERE TO PLAY
Spend a few hours lounging by the pool with a fruity cocktail or a bottle of Super Bock—the area’s local beer—then hire a driver and head to the Historical Centre of Macau. Comprised of 22 historical locations including urban squares, streetscapes, churches, and temples, the destination is truly a testament to the unique fusion between the region’s Chinese and Portuguese culture. Portuguese is still an official language of Macau and its influence can be found everywhere from street signs and buildings to restaurants and gardens.
Stroll around Barra Square, constructed from famous Portuguese mosaic tiles, and check out the wavy patterns designed to mirror the flow of the nearby river. Head to the adjacent A-Ma Temple, the longest surviving building in Macau, and let the spirits of seafarers and fisherman guide you through the twisting trails adorned with red and gold prayer cards. Light a stick of incense as an offering to the gods, then climb to the top of the hill and check out the awe-inspiring view.
After wandering around the shops that dot Senado Square—deemed the centre of Macau—head to the famous Ruins of St. Paul’s. Displaying a special mix of eastern and western styles, this façade is the last remaining part of the Church of Mater Dei, and serves as a symbolic alter to the city. Those looking for a more immersive explanation of the area, which includes archaeological remains of the first western-style university in the Far East, St. Paul’s College, plus functioning western-style theatres and modern lighthouses, should consider booking an iPad Discovery Tour.
To experience Macau from a completely different vantage point, head to the Macau Tower and sign up for Skywalk X. After strapping on a harness similar to those used for rock climbing or repelling, guests are instructed to walk, jump, and dangle from a metal cable that runs the circumference of the tower—764 feet above the ground. Professional photographers and videographers are on hand to document every move—and scream—and capture panoramic views of the Macau cityscape, the Pearl River, and the surrounding islands. Adrenaline junkies in search of even more excitement can trek to the very top of the tower and experience the “world’s highest bungee jump” from a whopping 1,109 feet above the ground.
For an activity that is more thrilling than chilling, reserve tickets for “The House of Dancing Water,” a breathtaking water-based show that draws its creative inspiration from roots of Chinese culture. Prepare to be mystified by death-defying motorcycle tricks, astounding acrobatics, and high-performance diving at this innovative show, which is widely considered the most extravagant live production ever staged in Asia.
After an action packed week of exploration, soothe tired muscles with a relaxing treatment at the Shine Spa for Sheraton. Boasting 15 treatment rooms, including five for couples, this tranquil oasis fuses Eastern and Western traditions to help guests pamper their minds, bodies, and spirits. Indulge in a treatment inspired by one of the five elements of Feng Shui—wood, fire, earth, metal or water—guaranteed to revitalize your muscles, rejuvenate your spirit, and make you glow from the inside out. For the ultimate luxury experience, book the 24-karat Gold Massage—featuring flecks of real gold—designed to release energy blockages, relieve chest congestion, and enhance deep breathing.
WHERE TO STAY
Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central
(853) 2880 2000
Nestled in the heart of the bustling Cotai Strip, the Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central offers an enticing blend of recreation and entertainment, perfect for a leisurely romantic getaway or an action-packed family vacation. With round-the-clock concierge service and luxury amenities, the Sheraton Macao Hotel is a true haven for elegance, comfort, and service.
Sip a fruity beverage in a cabana at one of the property’s three outdoor pools, or challenge yourself with an invigorating class at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Spruce up your wardrobe—or pick up a few souvenirs—at the adjoining shopping mall featuring a plethora of designer brands.
There’s no shortage of dining options either. Feast on fresh seafood at Xin or indulge in family-style Italian at Bene. Traveling with picky eaters? Be sure to check out Feast, which offers a children’s menu of tried-and-true favorites, plus a variety of international flavors to please parents as well. For a little afternoon pick-me-up, snag a seat at Palms for high tea and enjoy a sampling of gourmet sandwiches, pastries, and tarts.