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10 reasons to visit the Galaxy Macau
Man-made beach, levitating diamonds and Asia's longest legs all dazzle at the newly-opened Galaxy Macau casino-resort
The Galaxy Macau is the latest mega casino resort to rise out of the Cotai strip. Costing nearly US$2 billion the integrated development features a ginormous casino and three world-class hotels in the complex, including the Banyan Tree, Hotel Okura, and the Galaxy Hotel.
Yawn. Macau is full of superlative-laden casino-hotels. The Galaxy knows that it will have to try that much harder to prove itself worthy of punters' cash. And here are 10 ways in which this behemoth has managed to outshine the crowd.
See how Macau is moving beyond the Baccarat table with the opening of the Galaxy Macau.
1. World's largest rooftop wave pool
Within the perpetual construction site that is the Cotai strip, there exists a lush oasis of sun, sand and simulated sea.
The Galaxy's 4,000-square-meter outdoor wave pool is edged by 150 meters of sand. It is a surreal experience to step out of the neon-lit casinos and onto a postcard-perfect fake beach.
Guests are encouraged to build sandcastles, sunbathe on lounge chairs, splash around in the 1.5- meter-high simulated waves, and generally behave as they would on a beach holiday while ignoring the construction around them.
2. An other-wordly tea room
Drinking tea inside a paper pod is definitely reason to head to the Hotel Okura's Yamazato restaurant. The alien-like globe is a sanctuary for appreciating the Japanese tea ceremony.
Meticulous is the word for this perfectly spherical room. It took artists Kanri Nakano and Ryuki Itakura two years to construct the three-meter-diameter globe. They used fiber reinforced polyester covered in washi paper with "huto gisu" -- green and white tints to evoke Spring.
The globe is stronger than it looks due to the polyester and paper blend, which means that accidental spillage of tea on walls won't instantly melt the translucent globe. Besides, resident tea master Shirai Yayoi, who boasts 50 years of experience, would never allow any accidents.
The pod fits one tea master plus two guests and the ceremony lasts 40 minutes in air-conditioned comfort. If tea is not your thing, try Yamazato's bar that offers 50 varieties of sake.
3. Levitating diamond
All casinos need a "wow" factor. Pyramids, dancing fountains, volcanoes that belch flames -- that sort of thing.
The Galaxy Macau sports an enormous "diamond" that floats out of a fountain under a chandelier while programmed lights shine a rainbow of colors.
As the diamond of fortune spins, you might be inspired to hit the tables. Or walk on in awe to the next manufactured splendor in this integration of gaming and tourism.
4. Leggy ambassadors
The Galaxy Group interviewed across the region for Asia's tallest women to become Galaxy ambassadors.
The minimum height is 172 centimeters, well above the average of countries such as the Philippines which is home for many of the ambassadors.
Guests are greeted by the ambassadors with a hand on their hearts to symbolize the Galaxy's motto "World Class, Asian heart."
5. Japanese hospitality
Whilst the leggy Galaxy ambassadors greet with a hand on their heart, the Hotel Okura's authentic kimono-wearing ambassadors greet guests with a well-executed traditional Japanese bow from the waist.
The ladies, most of whom are Japanese, receive formal training at the flaghsip Okura in Japan and they can be found greeting guests on different levels of the Macau hotel. The simple gesture of the bow imbues the Okura with a strong Japanese atmosphere.
6. Fertility theme
Symbols of prosperity, luck and Asian palatial grandeur are the stated themes of the Galaxy Macau's interior design. Revolving diamonds, clusters of crystals and a peacock tail motif make the Galaxy lobby the luckiest place on the Cotai strip. Or so it's said.
It also appears to be paying homage to the gods of fertility with enormous marble Yoni sculptures at the bridge heads, and clusters of blown-glass writhing sperm-esque sculptures.
7. Wine mastery
For its foodie credentials, the Galaxy Macau has Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee on its side. As the resident wine master, Cho Lee pairs complex Asian dishes from the Galaxy's restaurants with 600 different wines.
There is no pairing too difficult for Cho Lee -- spicy Thai salad? Try it with a wine from Thailand called Monsoon Valley White that has tones of lemongrass, starfruit and rose apples.
8. Serious whisky
Whiskeys from all over the world make up one of Asia's largest collections at the Galaxy Macau's Macallan whisky bar. Priceless collectables includes a 1936 Macallan and limited edition royal wedding bottles that rest in the old boys' club atmosphere of the lounge.
Senior barman Jay Khan reckons that if he had the money he would splash out HK$12,500 on a bottle of 30-year-old Macallan to celebrate.
9. Personal pools
The Banyan Tree Macau has relaxation pools in every room. Easily big enough for three people, it takes three hours to fill the pool that comes with temperature control.
At the more luxurious Banyan Tree villas, also located in the Galaxy Macau, each house has its own private wrap-around pool.
10. Macau's first Tsui Wah
The Galaxy Macau hosts the only Tsui Wah Restaurant in Macau. It caters to Hong Kongers who simply must have their wontons and milk tea, but also has mass appeal due to its affordability.
“People who have not fared so well at the tables do care about even HK$5," says restaurant head Michael Au. The cheap and cheerful restaurant is located on the casino floor and will be a convenient refueling station for gamblers.
The decor is nothing like Tsui Wah as we know it -- trees and fake blue skies give the eatery a parkland feel.