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Luxury lifestyle vignettes in Macau

Statues in a quiet garden of the world's largest Sheraton

Macau prides itself on having the largest this, the largest that.  Arrive at Sheraton Macau Hotel Cotai Central and you are greeted with ‘Welcome to the world’s largest Sheraton’.

Most travellers would not think this is a good thing when it comes to luxury lifestyle but owners, in this case Macau Sands, love it.  The more rooms you have when it comes to casinos the more people you have who are, you hope, losing oodles on the tables.

When it is completed next year, the two-tower hotel will have 3,863 bedrooms.  But there are quiet corners to relax, say by the statues by the series of outdoor pools – or in your bedroom, decorated in a soothing shade of pale peppermint.

Macau's largest bathtub, in the Banyan Tree Presidential Suite

Macau’s largest bath-tub in a presidential suite is only a hop, skip and a jump away, at Banyan Tree Macau, which is an exotic, Thai-style series of villas, and an adjacent tower, on top of a mammoth casino shared with the lower-luxury Galaxy Hotel.

The Presidential Suite is a staggering 8,900 square feet and you get lost, and/or worn out, trying to get the 100-yards from one end of its main floor to the other. Take 22 spiral steps up and you reach your two bedrooms.

The master bedroom has this tub, not deep enough for swimming but seriously big enough for lounging with all your friends at once.

Looking out past the suite's private, onyx-topped, bar

The view from this space if pretty spectacular too.  Look out along what will be Macau’s version of the famous Strip in Las Vegas (this one, here, is Cotai Strip) when it is all built up.

The speed with which Macau is growing is staggering.  This time last year there were only 80 percent of the casinos that there are now.  I am told that as of January 2013 the Chief Executive of Macau, Fernando Chui Sai, intends to ban smoking everywhere in town, including casinos.

As it is now, smoking is banned in all workplaces except casinos.  In Singapore, where it is illegal to smoke within five metres OUTSIDE any building, and anywhere at all inside, the Integrated Resorts (IRs), as they are called, ‘set their own rules’, and smoking is allowed.

A beautiful box opens to reveal edible lovelies ...

Disgraceful.   Who said Singapore was squeaky clean? Back to Banyan Tree Macau.  Last time I was here I had one of the ten villas set around Asia’s largest biggest artificial pool with ‘waves’ and what looks like a proper beach.

The Presidential Suite is on the top floor of a 30-floor tower that accommodates the main block of 256 rooms, all of which have an interior plunge pool but not as big as mine.

I was obviously supposed to be so hungry running from one end to the other of my suite that I had lots of displays of candy and cookies and all kinds of sweetmeats.

.. and there are flowers, and fruit, everywhere

Having been princess for a day, recently, I knew what to expect as ‘president for a couple of hours’.  I had a full bar, and a filled wine cellar and no fewer than eight stunning Riedel decanters, beautifully displayed in a glass-fronted cabinet.

The ‘president’ had been welcomed by the ‘ruler of the state’, the Italian-Brit Rudy Oretti who is a great foodie. You know you will be well looked after when the greeter is a food man.

Last time here, we studied our tablet-menus to decide what to eat at the hotel’s rooftop designer restaurant, Belon. This time there was no printed, or electronic, menu, and the chef in Saffron sent out delicious Thai.

Thai bento box at Grand Lapa

There is Thai, too, at Grand Lapa. Aficionados love this heritage hotel simply because it has old world charm rather than 2012-style design. Some love it because it is only three minutes’ walk to Sands Casino.

Others, every year, stay here to be invited to the annual Macau Grand Prix all-day buffet on an upper balcony overlooking a bend in the track – this year, the Grand Prix is November 18th, 2012.

And there are others who come because the hotel has bikes to cycle along the waterfront.  You can also stay home, and designer-shop, right in the hotel.

With friend Bede, left, and George, at Grand Lapa

The Grand Lapa is owned by Macau’s patriarch, Stanley Ho, sadly now in a wheel chair.  He has invested in a pretty amazing outdoor entertainment area, with pool and waterfalls and sitting areas.

No wonder there are over 600 resort ‘members’, either people who live here in Macau or Hong Kong residents who come over regularly at weekends. Here is a lifestyle tip, by the way.

If you have work to do in Hong Kong and you want to visit Macau, tack it on to the end of the trip and then take the 40-minute jetfoil direct from here, Macau, to Hong Kong airport.

You save several hours, the transfer once you get to the airport, from jetfoil to your plane, is seamless – and you are given back HK$120, the Hong Kong departure tax, in cash. One of the top ten travel tips!