April 27 -- D-Day for war of the Singapore casinos
In poker terms, we could say the final hand for the Sentosa stakes is being dealt, as Marina Bay Sands (MBS) finally announced an opening date of April 27, setting the stage for a showdown between the casino complex and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). This comes after delaying the official launch twice due to construction problems and the global credit crunch.
While RWS had grabbed bragging rights to being the first so-called "integrated resort" in Singapore since the anti-gambling laws were revoked to allow for casinos to operate, Marina Bay Sands is coming up strong as well, supported by the Sands Corporation reputation for rolling out high-end gambling establishments like the Venetian resorts in both Las Vegas and Macau.
Both RWS and MBS are locked in a bare-knuckle scrap to bring in the biggest crowd-pleaser acts and performers. RWS just held a concert with local pop superstar Stephanie Sun, the first solo artiste to do so, and is also bringing in Sir Tom Jones to croon the house down in March. On the other end of the island, MBS will be staging the Broadway musical of The Lion King, complete with the full-scale sets and costumes that made it such a hit around the world.
But, Resorts World has one big trump card to play: Universal Studios Singapore.
It will be the first large-scale theme park housed on the island-state since the failed negotiations to have Disneyland come to Singapore. And from all the sneak looks and previews we're gotten at the nearly completed theme park, it'll be quite the hot family destination around the region for a long time to come. And with the highly drooled over Transformer Ride to launch next year, we think it'll hold steady as the top tourist attraction in Singapore.
Retail-wise, both RWS and MBS are roping in new brands -- Marina Bay will see several new labels with standalone stores in Singapore for the first time, including French brand Anne Fontaine, Italian apparel brands Henry Cotton’s, Paul & Shark, Stefano Ricci, Austrian lingerie label Wolford, fashionable Chinese brand Marisfrolg, and chic Hong Kong labels Moiselle and Rabeanco. Resorts World has Victoria's Secret, and that's about all you need.
On the food front, there's a death match going on as well to bring in the biggest names in gourmet cuisine. MBS has its big six -- Daniel Boulud (New York), Guy Savoy (Paris), Mario Batali (New York), Santi Santamaria (Barcelona), Wolfgang Puck (Los Angeles) and Tetsuya Wakuda (Sydney). RWS has its fantastic four, with restaurant legend Joël Robuchon, the world’s most Michelin-star decorated chef with 25 stars under his belt, and Kunio Tokuoka (Japan), Scott Webster (Australia) and local boy Susur Lee.
Who will win?
There'll never be a satisfactory answer, since both resorts have very different approaches and appeal, but MBS does have one distinct advantage -- location, location, location. It's just on the waterfront of Singapore's business district, while RWS does take a hop and long skip to get to.
All we really know is, this showdown is going to be epic.