The traffic between Hong Kong and Macau is nonstop, chaotically efficient. Arrive at Hong Kong’s Macau Ferry Terminal and the first-timer can be knocked over by locals pushing, rushing to make it to the next ferry, going across to have more than a bit of a flutter on the tables.
Before, the gal had always taken the main ferry, to Macau itself. This time we took the Cotai Strip special, straight to Taipa, the adjacent island to Macau. The Taipa jetfoil leaves from a separate door and, boy, allow a few extra minutes to make sure you are on the right service.
They let you into the waiting room half an hour before departure, and give you a seat number. As you board, they put fake leis around your neck. We needed a little sleep once the jetfoil took off.
One hour later we arrived at the Taipa ferry terminal, which had twice as many immigration stands as the old Macau one. Through that, dozens of buses and minibuses await, to take you to your casino (sorry, integrated resort).
Our vehicle picked us up, took us straight to the impressive Conrad Macao Cotai Central. In the main lobby is a pink tree, for breast cancer month. A small mainlander, aged about five and wearing a white broderie anglaise frock, danced around the tree, trying to take some of the pink orchids off the display.
This was to be quite a pink experience. Wandering through the miles of public areas that link the 609-room luxury hotel that is Conrad with its neighbours, a Holiday Inn and what is said to be the biggest Sheraton in the world, you come, of course, to acres and acres of casino. Avoid those and you might find yourself in an inner courtyard with a beautiful garden.
This area is dominated by a 15-foot sculpture of the God Of Fortune. In front, a water ballet plays, not as big as those of Bellagio in Las Vegas, or in front of Burj Al-Khalifa in Dubai, but pretty impressive none the less.
The hotel’s Bodhi Spa is a calming recovery from the hustle and bustle of Macau’s casinos. Most visitors stay only one night in Macau. Gaming is priority, and luxury shopping. I am told that if you are doing badly at the tables, go and spend some more retail dollars and your luck will improve.
I decided I needed cleansing, and had an exotic Asian Body Scrub, with rose petals, fig, ginger, citrus and yin yang and goodness knows what else. Back up in room 3418, a lovely corner suite which came with its own media room – as if I wanted to invite a dozen of my favourite friends – I ordered up some coffee. It was placed on a side table next to a wall covered in embroidered silk.
This hotel has some of the best coffee in the world – a bespoke blend of 40 percent Vietnam Robusta and 30 percent each Brazil and Honduras Arabica. I must think of other ‘ten best coffees’. Monastero Santa Rosa comes into the list, outside Amalfi. More contenders will follow.
The Conrad’s coffee is a special blend, from a supplier in Hong Kong. I must find out more. (Nearly everything in this hotel is the best – although the Shanghai Tang bathroom toiletries have labels that are impossible to read…).
The gym is great, and I loved the five pools, with nine cabanas set around. I also followed the running route that had thoughtfully been prepared. I had read it as a 1.5-kilometre run.
No, it was a 1-5.3 kilometre run and an hour later, with a few stops, I returned to find my butler standing at the hotel’s front door with a chilled bottle of Evian on a silver tray. How long had he been standing there?
This morning he was outside my bedroom door at 0630 to escort me to the gym. How did he know? Later, there he was to escort me down to Orbit for breakfast, for more of that best-coffee-in-the-world and amazing fruits and full Asian stations of course.
Look up and you see lampshades that look like mandarin hats, magnified. Look across the walkway and you see a McDonald’s, with a line of gamblers wanting a quick nutritional (well, you know what I mean) rather than a slightly slower, really nutritional breakfast at Orbit.
Stay at Conrad Macao Cotai Central and you have all Sheldon Adelson’s Cotai restaurants to choose from.
Last night we crossed the street to Venetian – they will soon have an over-road bridge so you do not have to negotiate the traffic. The Venetian has more than 6,000 rooms or so and about six miles of canals with hundreds of Filipino gondoliers who sing like a dream.
After that, of course, we had to eat Italian, so we headed for Portofino, the restaurant, and yet more burrata. I can certainly write a guide to the best burratas in the world.