MGM Cotai, a US$3.3 billion hotel resembling a stack of nine glittering Chinese jewellery boxes on top of each other, is the latest five-star hotel to open in Macao. Following several years of delays, the hotel opened 500 of its planned 1,400 rooms on the eve of lucrative Chinese New Year this year. The remaining suites and opulent villas will be released in phases over the coming year and next.

Complete with the Spectacle, a dazzling foyer where images change as a guest walks through the space, the hotel brings the number of rooms in tiny Macao to almost 37,000 of which 60.1 per cent are five-star.

Another hotel with an eccentric design, the 780-room Morpheus is also due to open on the man-made Cotai Strip later this year. Billed as the world’s first free-form exoskeleton hotel design, it is part of the City of Dreams Complex part-owned by James Packer.

Other extravagant properties, such as The 13 — with 200 villas each said to cost US$7 million — and the Lisboa Palace, which will include a Palazzo Versace hotel and the first Karl Lagerfeld hotel, are also on the horizon.

Macao Government Tourist Office (MGTO) says occupancy rates across Macao stand at a healthy 87.4 per cent, with five-star properties leading the way at 87.8 per cent.

While glitz, glamour, spectacular entertainment and 24-hour casinos are the drawcards at these integrated resorts, it is the “flawless service” that has garnered a record 12 five-star awards for Macao hotels in the 2018 Forbes Travel Guide awards, a ratings system where a team of inspectors anonymously evaluate the world’s best hotels and in-house restaurants and spas.

The 12 hotels include the Altira, Banyan Tree, MGM Macau (on the Peninsula), Conrad and the Ritz-Carlton, while another six hotels, including the Galaxy and St Regis scored four stars.

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