The Mystique of Macau

Recipe for an Oriental odyssey: special tarot card reading, discounted massages, view of the South China Sea

By: Allen Salkin

Some of Macau’s top hotels offer great value, and many come with brand names that will make American travelers feel comfortable. But for those looking for something different without sacrificing comfort, there are also some possibly less-familiar hotels that are worth considering.

Because Macau (once a Portuguese colony, now a Special Administrative Region of China) is a relatively compact city, location is not the only concern when choosing a hotel. Some clients, however, may be adding quick trips to Macau to their longer stays in Hong Kong (an hour away by ferry), in which case they might prefer to stay close to the ferry terminal.

The 437-room Mandarin Oriental Macau, known for its service and its location a short walk from the main ferry terminal, is offering an unusual “Horoscope Special” during 2003. It would be ideal for a client wanting to add Macau to a South China/Hong Kong itinerary.

The special package is only available to guests who check in during the birthday period of their horoscope. It includes a tarot reading from a renowned Macau card-reader; a 10 percent discount on massages; round-trip ferry tickets from Hong Kong; and one night in a superior-class room, priced from $133.

The Holiday Inn Macau is centrally located in the new commercial district. The hotel is offering an “E-Plus Room” package through September 30.

Under the special, executive rooms are $88 on weekdays and $110 weekends, and executive suites are $122 weekdays and $172 weekends. Benefits include daily breakfast, cocktails, pressing service for four suits a day and 15 percent discount in restaurants and bars.

Located on Coloane, the southernmost of Macau’s islands, the newly refurbished Westin is terraced up a mountainside and each room has a private balcony overlooking the South China Sea. This month, the resort launched a program of 12 different retreat packages called “The Twelve Indulgences,” including “Romance,” “Massage,” “Golf” and “Food Lovers.”

“Romance” features a night in a beachview room, which the hotel transforms into a lovers’ sanctuary with a floral bath and fresh petals, natural-scented candles, handcrafted chocolates and fresh strawberries, priced from $192 per night.

The “Massage” package features two 45-minute massage treatments where guests can select several different massage options, priced from $205 a night.

Many Macau regulars insist the Hyatt Regency Macau is the perfect place to stay. Its sprawling swimming pool and panoramic views of Macau city across the Taipa Bridge are close enough to the action to make it convenient, but sufficiently far away from any disturbance.

Its flagship restaurant Flamingo offers authentic “Macanese” cuisine, which is a blend of Portuguese, Chinese, African, Indian and Malay spices.

Room prices average $103 Sunday through Friday and $180 Saturday.

The Pousada de Sao Tiago hotel has retained elements from the 17th century fortress and chapel that once occupied its grounds. This place is for those who want the kind of local flavor some brand-name hotels do not deliver.

It has 24 rooms and is located in a prime residential neighborhood. Balconies look out on Macau’s Inner Harbor. Trees overhang its gardens, which are dotted with white tables and wrought iron chairs. Rates are $208 to $506.

Holiday Inn Macau:

Hyatt Regency Macau:

Mandarin Oriental Macau:

Pousada de Sao Tiago:

Westin Resort Macau: