British football star David Beckham, who is also the Sands Resorts Macao global ambassador, was in attendance, along with senior officials and business leaders, including Edmund Ho, the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and finance secretary Lei Wai Nong.
The red carpet drew hundreds of residents and tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the sports icon and other celebrities.
Beckham toured the atrium and shook hands with fans. At one point, he lifted a little girl from the crowd, hugged her and took pictures with her. He also signed fans’ jerseys and sneakers.
The Londoner Macao has opened in phases from 2021 but, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, says it has not been able to fully welcome international guests and celebrities until now.
‘This is Macao getting back to work’
The evening, themed “The Journey Begins,” was held in the Londoner Arena, and marked the 6,000-seat venue’s launch. The state-of-art meeting facility was fully packed with media and guests.
Beckham, who partnered with UK design firm David Collins Studio to design the 14 Suites by David Beckham at the resort’s Londoner Hotel, shared with the audience that he has not been in Macao for four years and that it was a “special moment” when the black cab dropped him off at the hotel.
“It feels like home,” said Beckham, who himself is a Londoner.
Perhaps it was the life-size replica of London’s iconic Big Ben that made the British soccer and style icon feel so welcome, or the façade of The Londoner Macao, modelled after the Palace of Westminster, where the British parliament meets.
Then again, it could be the personal touches strewn around the bespoke suites that he helped design. He said he was staying in one of them and joked about the strangeness of seeing photos of himself around the plush apartment – “even in the bathroom”.
Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Robert G. Goldstein meanwhile talked about the pandemic’s impact on Macao’s tourism industry and the hardships people working in the industry had to endure.
“We’ve been through some tough times, but we are back, we are open, we are excited and we are going to be here,” Goldstein said in his opening remarks. “This is Macao getting back to work, Macao getting back to welcoming tourists.”
Miriam Adelson, the co-founder of Las Vegas Sands together with her late husband Sheldon Adelson, wished The Londoner Macao “good luck” in her native Hebrew. The businessman was a pioneering force in the development of the Cotai Strip and his widow said that his spirit would be guiding the venture in the future.
Beckham then joined Goldstein, Adelson and other VIPs in the hitting five massive gongs, heralding not only The Londoner Macao but Sands China’s new 10-year gaming concession and the company’s pledge to invest US$3.7 billion (30.2 billion patacas) in the city over the next decade – much of it in non-gaming infrastructure.
Goldstein told media earlier that Sands was “excited to fully support the Macao government in its vision to develop a highly diversified tourism industry through enhanced MICE offerings, new sporting and cultural event programming, enhancements to Macao’s reputation as a global City of Gastronomy, and an embrace of the city’s unique cultural heritage.”
The celebration also featured performances by world-renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Hong Kong singer-songwriter G.E.M, and Mongolian vocalist Ayanga. British jazz vocalist Jamie Cullum entertained guests at a gala dinner later in the evening.
British style comes to Macao
Offering a global take on English aesthetics, The Londoner Macao comprises five hotels – including the award-winning, all-suite flagship Londoner Hotel, and the ultra-luxe Londoner Court – with nearly 6,000 rooms and suites in total.
On-site are three spas, four health clubs, more than 20 dining options, and scores of boutiques. Adding to the wow factor are British features that manage to be both imposing and playful.
Besides Big Ben and the palatial exterior, the resort features a glass-covered porte-cochère entrance (modelled after a similar feature at London’s Victoria Station), an atrium inspired by the Victorian era’s Crystal Palace, and a replica of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain at London’s Piccadilly Circus, known to generations of Londoners.
The blend of European history and Cotai glam has proved a winning combination for Sands in its Parisian Macao and Venetian Macao resorts. The company expects The Londoner Macao to follow suit.
“Sands China has delivered on Sheldon Adelson’s vision through the ongoing development of Cotai”, Goldstein said. “Where 250 acres of empty reclaimed land once sat, we have built one of the world’s leading tourist destinations with an incredible future ahead of it”.
—With reporting by Almond Li