Adelson Lines Up US$1.5B to Create Macau Las Vegas
Source: The Standard, Sing Tao Newspaper
Group and Global China Group
March 19th, 2005
American billionaire Sheldon Adelson has lined up
US$1.5 billion (HK$11.7 billion) in backing from Asian investors willing
to underwrite his vision of a Las Vegas Strip in Macau. Unveiling a giant
model of his planned "Cotai Strip" complete with flashing lights, Adelson
shared the stage Friday with executives of Hong Kong's Harilela Hotels,
Far East Consortium International, Regal Hotels International and Top
Builders International. These companies, along with Singapore's Hotel
Properties, are joining with international hotel chains to build huge
resorts with Adelson-operated casinos and conference halls to accompany
Adelson's own US$1.8 billion Venetian Macau casino resort.
The newest member of the group, Hilton International, may set up three
or four separate hotels in Cotai, a reclamation area between Taipa and
Coloane islands. Adelson said the Venetian and the hotel chains will together
open at least 12,000 rooms and one million square feet of gaming space
within seven or more hotels in 2007. In one blow, that would more than
double the number of hotel rooms in the territory. That's only the beginning.
The Venetian and its partners are committing to double the size of their
resorts once business picks up momentum and discussions are continuing
with officials, investors and hoteliers to extend the initial strip into
a U-shaped loop with outdoor attractions themed to the "eight immortals"
of Chinese mythology.
Swinging around from the East Asian Games Dome to the Macao University
of Science and Technology, the full strip would include at least 20 resorts
with 60,000 rooms, or nearly half as many as in Las Vegas. Adelson predicted
his strip will draw at least 35 million visitors a year, which would be
double the count for last year for Macau as a whole and match the entire
draw of Las Vegas. William Weidner, president and chief operating officer
of Adelson's company Las Vegas Sands, said: "Every visitor to the strip,
we would expect to stay 2.5 to 3.5 days." This would be a leap from the
current tourist market dominated by day-trippers from Guangdong and Hong
Kong. Many of the newcomers, said Adelson, would come from Japan, South
Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. Weidner said Las Vegas Sands will copy
its successful operating model from Las Vegas, using trade shows to attract
crowds of business people to fill the resorts on weekdays and holding
concerts to boost weekend tourist flows.
"Our intention here is to make Macau the major conference and exhibition
center for all of Asia," said Adelson, who founded Comdex, the world's
largest technology trade show. Most of the investor-hotelier partnerships
are still taking shape, but Far East said it will build a 1,000-room hotel
under its Dorsett brand and two hotels to be managed by InterContinental
Hotels Group, a 600-room Holiday Inn and a 400-room InterContinental.
Harilela is to underwrite resorts that will be flagged with Starwood Hotels
& Resorts' Sheraton and W brands. Regal will invest in and build its own
1,690-room self-branded resort.
Top Builders, headed by Forest Tang, will be a contractor and likely an
investor in Marriott International's Renaissance and Marriot brand hotels.
Singaporean tycoon Ong Beng Seng's Hotel Properties is expected to be
a major investor in Four Seasons, Hard Rock and Hilton resorts, with Hilton's
involvement potentially also including its Conrad and Scandic brands.
Jones Lang LaSalle, which has been handling the marketing of Cotai sites,
is pooling funds from other investors keen to gamble on the new Strip.
Too big to fit in even Cotai's new wide open spaces, Adelson's ambitions
extend to golf courses, a tennis center, a marina and other sporting facilities
on the Chinese island of Hengqin that lies opposite Cotai. Talks with
officials from Guangdong and Zhuhai, which has authority over Hengqin,
are "advancing," Weidner said.
Copyright © 2005, The Standard, Sing Tao Newspaper Group and Global
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