The dizzying heights of Marina Bay Sands

VietNamNet Bridge - After a successful launch and busy opening period, Marina Bay Sands looks set to raise the bar for tourism right across Asia.

There’s something definitely in the air and that something goes by the name of Marina Bay Sands, the island city’s newest fully integrated resort, which is a tourist attraction in itself with casinos, theatres, shopping and dining areas, and a state-of-the-art convention centre.

The futuristic 1.2-hectare park, Sands Skypark, sits 60-storeys high across three hotel towers. The 340-metre long rooftop is regarded as one of the world’s largest public cantilevers. The park features 150-metre infinity swimming pool, the world’s largest outdoor pool at that height, a landscaped garden with 250 trees and 650 plants and an observation deck that can host hundreds of people. The park is longer than the Eiffel Tower lying on its side and large enough to park four-and-a-half A380 jumbo jets.

After five years of construction, the $5.5 billion complex has come racing out of the blocks. Visitor numbers and average spending were so far exceeding what analysts originally predicted. Around 550,000 people visited the Marina Bay Sands casino during the first 25 days in May. Player wagering is also believed to be well above average for a newly-launched casino.

As gambling is illegal in a number of neighbouring countries, this Las Vegas style venture looks like being a shrewd gamble that will pay off for the island nation. Singapore’s top five visitor-generating markets in May were Indonesia with 186,000 visitors, India with 116,000, Malaysia with 82,000, China 72,000, and Australia 64,000. But Vietnam is also a target market for the resort.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp, said that the group anticipates that Vietnam will account for 8 per cent of the resort’s total guests. Sure enough tours from Vietnam are already checking in. Travelling with her family, 33 year old Thu Hien from Hanoi was bowled over by the extraordinary designs and facilities of Marina Sands.

“I have travelled to a lot of attractive destinations in the world but I have never seen such a magnificent complex,” she said.

With over 2,500 rooms and suites, 55 floors, 18 different room types, Marina Bay Sands is the largest resort in Singapore. But it’s clearly the entertainment and the facilities that will entice the crowds. After a dip in the swimming pool, a Japanese tourist shakes his head.

“It is really fantastic. You feel as if you’re swimming in the middle of the sky,” he says, still mystified by the experience.

The 1.3 million sqm Sands Expo and Convention Center can host over 45,000 delegates, 2,000 exhibition booths and 250 meeting rooms. It features Southeast Asia’s biggest ballroom, which can accommodate 6,600 people for a banquet, and up to 11,000 for an auditorium-style lecture.

The Marina Bay Sands’s casino, the second one in Singapore after the Resorts World Sentosa, is housed in its own building and offers four levels of gaming in a suitably opulent setting. Here you can enjoy a wide variety of popular table games, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat and sic bo. Like a kid in a candy shop, Thuy’s husband races off towards the slot machines.

Sheldon Adelson has described the resort casino complex as “the future of tourism” at a lavish opening party, which featured guest performances by the likes of former Destiny’s Child singer, Kelly Rowland, and plenty of entertainment, including a tower climbing competition!

“For countries serious about boosting tourism and creating new jobs, the integrated resort model is unmatched and Marina Bays Sands will now be the reference point by which all new tourism projects are judged,” added Adelson.

This brash and excessive style of tourism is not what everyone is after. One visited Malaysian reporter seems perplexed by the ostentatious set up. “Marina Bay Sands is an amazing sight but this is not the normal world for some people,” he suggests as a six-metre long white limo rolsls up to the front door.

“Perhaps it is for them,” he says pointing at a group of well-heeled ladies walking down the shopping arcade where you will find outlets for world’s most luxurious retailers, including Bally, Cartier, Chanel, Ferragamo, Gucci, Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

But judging by the numbers already coming through the front door in what is supposed to be the low season for the hospitality sector in Singapore, it seems Marina Bay Sands is set to soar to dizzying heights in every sense.

Around 70,000 visitors are expected on a daily basis with 18 million visitors a year when Marina Sands fully opens in January.

Source: Time-out


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