Hotel Review+ Back
Sands Cotai

 

Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança, s/n,
Taipa, Macao SAR, P.R. China
Tel: (853) 2886 6888
www.sandscotaicentral.com

 

Himalaya Casino
No. of Tables: 169
No. of Slots: 600

Pacifica Casino
No. of Tables: 153
No of Slots Around 600

(Last updated: May 5, 2016)

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS 

 

The world's largest Holiday Inn, offering good cheap accommodation on the Cotai Strip.

 

Daily parade of Dreamworks Characters that should appeal to young children.

 

CASINO

Sands Cotai has two casinos, the Himalaya and the Pacifica. 

Himalaya Casino

All it takes is one look of the Himalaya casino to know it's a Sands casino.  Organized very well and extremely straightforward, all games are neatly grouped according to type, with signs above clearly stating what they are.  The 8 games offered are all staple Sands selections, pretty much identical to what's found at the Sands and the Venetian.  As for how it looks, the Himalaya casino takes a page from the latter casino, only on a much smaller scale, using the same type of decorative pillars and exquisite chandeliers.

Most games at the Himalaya go for $300 while the majority of Commission Free Baccarat tables are $500 plus.  The 600 or so slots in the casino mostly stay under a dollar, while Live Gaming Baccarat, Roulette and Sic all start from $50 apiece.  As for electronic games, there are plenty of options, including Roulette ($10), Sic Bo ($10), Baccarat ($50), Big Wheel ($50) and Craps ($50).    

Drink service in the casino is pretty quick, although no alcohol is served.  In total, I counted 169 tables in the casino, down from 227 earlier in the year.  The reason for the reduction is that Sands had to move some of them over to the Pacifica, which opened on September 20th, 2012.

Pacifica Casino

For some strange reason, the Pacifica casino looks nothing like its name might suggest.  At the very least, I was expecting something tropical, a motif built around palm trees, waterfalls, and a lot of light, like how their shopping quarter is.  At most, there'd be sun streaming in through a huge sunlight dome, dancing shows conducted by hula girls shaking their thing, tribal drum music, and of course, cocktail waitresses working it in short skirts and leis serving Pina Coladas.  It'd be like being in Hawaii, only better, since you can gamble too. 

Unfortunately, the Pacifica casino is none of those things, and is fact, a lot worse.  With wavy contoured ceilings, cheap plastic space age design, and a lot of blue, pink, and red lights, it's looks like some bad projection from the 1960's about what the future might look like.  More accurately, it's probably just a failed rip off of the the City of Dreams, but the effect fails at Pacifica because they don't reinforce the cutting edge theme with enough secondary decorations.  Of course none of that has anything to do with the Pacific, which makes me wonder why they called the casino that in the first place.  In my opinion, it should be called the Pluto instead, because everything inside is just that way out there.

As for the actual gaming, it's basically the same as at the Himalaya, except the limits are a little higher, they offer Casino War, and there is no Craps.      

GAMES

The low minimums listed below are found at the Pacifica, while only the Himalayan has Craps.

Baccarat - Minimum bet of $3000.

Commission Free Baccarat - Minimum bet of $300.  Won Banker bets totaling 6 get paid 50%.

 

7 Up Baccarat - Minimums of $200.  For information about game rules and odds, please check the Sands review.

Blackjack - Ridiculous $500 minimums.  Players may only split up to 3 times, instead of the usual 4.

Sands Stud Poker - Minimums of $300.  Kudos to the Sands for now giving the proper 100-1 payout on the Royal flush. 

 

For information on how Sands Stud Poker differs from Caribbean Stud Poker, please check the Sands or Venetian reviews.

Craps - 3-4-5 odds, minimum pass line bet is $200.

Roulette - Outside/Inside minimums of $50 and $200.

Sic Bo - Big/Small low is $300.

Slot machines - Minimums from 2 cents to $10.
 
Three Card Poker - Minimums of $250.

War - Minimum bet of $200.

SANDS COTAI CENTRAL OVERVIEW

Sands Cotai Central Macau Paradise Gardens statueThe Cotai Strip was on one hell of a roll.  The arrival of the Venetian in 2007 ushered in a new golden age of Macau gaming, the City of Dreams turned it into a party in 2009, and then Galaxy went up and built the Palace of Asia in 2011.  For awhile, it seemed all anyone had to do on the Cotai Strip was just build something, and they'd be rewarded with an amazing five star mega property. 

 

With Sands Cotai, however, all of that momentum has stopped completely, and instead of raising the bar with something innovative and inspiring, Las Vegas Sands built a property that is boring, bland, banal and oh so played.  It's the kind of place that would have looked good on Macau island in 2007, but to stick out on the Cotai Strip these days you need to rise above your competitors and do something extraordinary. 

 

Sands Cotai, unfortunately, does nothing.  From the hotel exterior to the lobbies, the shopping to the pools, the entertainment to the nightlife, there's not one aspect of the property that's memorable or groundbreaking.  It's a bust.  

The complex is composed of four hotels: the Conrad, Holiday Inn, Sheraton and St. Regis.  Being a large multifunctional entity, many of the facilities are community facilities shared by all three hotels.  I'll quick hit a few of them now.

Spas - All three spas are open to the public, offering standard five star massage and beauty treatments at expensive rates.  Usage of the facilities is not free, even for hotel guests.  Everyone needs to pay for a procedure first.

Bodhi Spa is located in the Conrad.  Weekday rates are as follows:

Facials:  $1200-$1580                      Comprehensive Treatments: $1260-$3500
Massage:  $900-$2100                     Waxing: $120-$500
Wraps and Scrubs:  $480-$1380       Hands and Feet: $170-$800

Weekend rates are fairly similar with most treatments less than $100 more.

The Sheraton offers the same sorts of treatments in their Shine spa.

Facials:  $1180/$1280             Signature Treatments:  $1580-$3580
Massage:  $924-$1620            Waxing:  Available upon Request.
Body Wraps:  $1080               

Like the Bodhi spa, weekend rates are a touch higher.

 

As for free spa facilities, Conrad and Sheraton guests can make use of a jacuzzi, sauna and steam while the Holiday Inn only offers a jacuzzi and sauna. 

In terms of the fitness centers, all four hotels offer large, modern, and comprehensive gyms.

Shopping - The shopping quarter is trying to produce a rainforest effect by utilizing waterfalls, trees, and a lot of natural light.  However, after seeing the Venetian's successful imitation of Italy on their 3rd floor, the effort at Sands Cotai just doesn't register.    
  
Entertainment - Sands Cotai's entertainment is extremely disappointing.  In the Paradise Gardens, next to the Himalaya casino, there's a small stage that mostly gets used by performers who've come over from the Venetian's Grand Canal Shops.  That's to say, there are mimes and magicians and living statues and people manipulating balloons in ways you've never seen before, but nothing that can rival China Rouge, the House of Dancing Water or the Cotai Arena.

 

Sands Cotai Central Paradise Gardens juggling act Sands Cotai Central Paradise Gardens dancing troupe Sands Cotai Central Paradise Gardens pretty dancers  

Children have much better options though and Sands Cotai might be the best hotel destination in Macau for little ones because of it.  Simply put, if your kids love Dreamworks characters, they'll love Sands Cotai.

Shrekfest Breakfast – Characters from Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon do a meet and greet over a buffet breakfast in the Urumqi Ballroom on the 4th floor.  The price is $238 for adults and $148 for children, while a Group Package of 4 People is available for $688.  Besides getting up close and personal with the various Dreamworks Characters, children can also enjoy various performances and entertainment.

All-Star Parade – The same performers from the Breakfast put on a daily Parade through Level 2 of the Shoppes at Cotai Central at 4 pm.  The cast is composed of 32 characters which includes stilt walkers, dancers and puppets.  Admission is free.

Kung Fu Panda Academy
– This was supposed to end in September but there's a good chance they'll extend it if it proves popular.  Children can join Po from Kung Fu Panda and enroll in a five level Kung Fu course to sharpen their martial art skills.  A friendly reminder: You might want to watch how you talk to you kid after this one, or they might turn around and kick your ass.  The cost is $200 per child and is located in the Caspian Ballroom on the 4th floor of the Sheraton. 

Times daily are from 11 am to 12:30 and 2 pm to 3:30 pm.

Qube Playland - Sands Cotai also offers a Qube Playland but it's very, very tiny.  You're probably better off trying the one in the Venetian.  Prices are $110 for 2 hours on the weekend and $100 on weekdays, which includes 1 child and 1 adult.  Each additional hour is $50 (child) and $30 (adult).  As is the case for all such Play Zones in Macau, long sleeves, long pants and socks are required for all guests.  

HOTELS

I stayed at both the Conrad and Holiday Inn hotels soon after Sands Cotai opened in May 2012.  I guess uneventful properties lead guests to have uneventful stays because I don't have one good story to tell about my time there.  What disappointed me most was just how dead the place felt.  In no way was it like the Galaxy a month after it debuted when it felt like the opening day party was still on.  Sands Cotai, on the other hand, felt like it had been opened for 10 years already. 


In terms of my stay, everything was handled by the staff at both hotels in a very professional and business like manner.  The Conrad had the nicer and much more comfortable room, with the bathroom, in particular, being very large and luxurious.  Due to a special at the time, the Conrad room cost $1613 and the Holiday Inn, $848, all taxes included.  I thought I was getting a deal on the Conrad room, but it turns out that bookings made 30 days in advance there now receive 30% off.  That's obviously a substantial discount and the one I've used in the price quote below. 

 

Current rates for all four hotels are as follows, exclusive of all tax and service charges:

Conrad


 

Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad Deluxe Room Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad Deluxe Room bed Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad Deluxe Room bathroom Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad Deluxe Room toilet and shower Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad Deluxe Room bathtub and jacuzzi

 

Holiday Inn  

 

 

Sands Cotai Central Macau Holiday Inn Superior room Sands Cotai Central Macau Holiday Inn Superior room twin beds Sands Cotai Central Macau Holiday Inn Superior room bathroom Sands Cotai Central Macau Holiday Inn Superior room toilet and bathtub

 

Sheraton

 

St Regis

 

All rooms at the St. Regis come with full butler service.

 

 

If it were me, I'd choose to stay at the Holiday Inn on weekdays, and the Sheraton on Friday or Saturday.  The other hotels probably aren't worth that much when rates increase end of week.

 

Conrad Hotel Quick Facts

International Call: +853 8113 6000
China: 4001 200 988
Hong Kong: 800 906 976
India: 000800 320 1536
Number of Rooms and Suites: 600

 

Holiday Inn Quick Facts

International Call: +853 8113 9000
China: 4001 200 892
Hong Kong: 800 906 970
India: 000800 320 1530
Number of Rooms and Suites: 1224

 

Sheraton Hotel Quick Facts

China: 4001 693 388
Hong Kong: 3051 2898
Macau: 6029 9088
Email: Res.sheratonmacao@staystarwood.com
Number of Rooms and Suites: 3896


SANDS COTAI RESTAURANTS

Dining at the Sands Cotai is a definite lowlight.  There's not restaurant that carries superior billing or has any kind of reputation around town.  When compared to their compatriots on the Cotai Strip, Sands Cotai is a stiff on the dining scene.

Here's a quick rundown of their more esteemed eateries.

Dynasty 8 - Apparently they have a two star Michelin chef.  I wouldn't have guessed that after eating there.

Appetizers: $52-$158                                   Cantonese: $128-$488
Abalone, bird's nest, sharks fin: $288-$3680  Shanghai: $88-$258
Barbecue: $82-$168                                     Sichuan: $124-$488
Chef's Recommendations: $158-$688            Beijing: $88-$268
Rice and noodles: $98-$308

Dim sum is the star of the show at lunch, with most selections $48 to $78.

Dynasty 8 is open daily from 11 am to 3 pm and from 6 pm to 11 pm at night.  On weekends, they open for lunch an hour earlier.

Here's a review of my dinner there: Dynasty 8.

Feast - The World of Flavors restaurant offers just that in their international buffet, available 3 times a day.  Prices for adults and children are as follows:

Breakfast: $198/$99
Lunch: $218/$109
Dinner: $418/$249
Sunday Brazilian Buffet: $498/$249

Hours daily are from 6:30 am to 11 pm.

Ginza Kaiten Sushi - Japanese joint on the 2nd floor has to be one of the most expensive ones in town.

Assorted sashimi: $140-$260    Wagyu beef: $880-$2708
Assorted sushi: $38-$148         Mains: $138-$288
Curry: $128-$188                    Noodles: $128 +

Hours are from 10 am to 11 pm daily.  On weekends they close an hour later.

Grand Orbit - International buffet for your dining pleasure.  Prices aren't too bad, with rates as follows: breakfast ($208 adult/$104 children 4 to 11), lunch ($228/$114), and dinner ($368/$184).  Children under 4 eat for free.  For drinks, free flow beer and pop is an additional $68 per person while free flow wine is $128.

Here's a review of an evening dinner buffet I had there: Grand Orbit.

Hours are from 6:30 am to midnight daily.

Koufu – Koufu is the Sands Cotai food court, located on the 3rd floor.  Composed of about 20 different fast food restaurants, most dishes are in the $55 to $85 range.

North – They also have a branch in the Venetian with the same menu and prices.

Chef's Selections: $180 to $680
Soup: $45 to $68
Cold Dishes: $40 to $88
Hot Dishes: $62 to $298
Dumplings: $56 to $62

North keeps hours daily from 11 am to 11 pm.  On Fridays and Saturdays they close at 1 am.

Xin - Xin does a seafood and hotpot buffet, which means you're going to spend a lot and still be hungry.  Buffet prices are  $238 for lunch, and $398 for dinner.  For children 4 to 12, prices are slashed in half while toddlers 3 and under eat for free.  They also do a la carte, with prices as follows:

Barbecue: $68-$138             Noodles and rice: $58-$88
Dim Sum Set: $198/$228      Vegetables: $48-$88
Other Dim Sum: $38-$68      Clay Pot and rice: $58-$198

Open daily from 11:30 am to 3 pm and from 6 pm to 11 pm.

CONRAD POOL

Sands Cotai Central Macau Conrad hotel poolsThe Holiday Inn, surprisingly, has better pools than the ones at the Conrad.  The Conrad pools are small in comparison and the deck is nothing to write home about.  The pools' position between two hotels makes the area seem a little confined, and there aren't any views of the Cotai Strip.  With only a few plants and trees present beside the cabanas, it's a little like relaxing in a concrete jungle.     

HOLIDAY INN POOL

Sands Cotai Central Macau Holiday Inn poolsWho'd have thought the Holiday Inn would offer the best pools?  With almost the same layout and design as the ones at the Sheraton, the Holiday Inn pools get the nod due to their bitching views of the Venetian, particularly at night.

 

 

 

SHERATON POOL

Sands Cotai Central Macau Sheraton poolsThe pools at the Sheraton will do just fine.  No complaints here.

 

They also have a poolside cafe named Sala that offers a Portuguese barbecue buffet on Friday and Saturday for $458 a person.  Selections include suckling pig, rib eye beef steak, clams and sausages.  I got to admit that sounds pretty good.

 

ST REGIS POOLS

 

Sands Cotai Central Macau St. Regis poolsAs expected, the St. Regis has the largest and best pools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY

6120 rooms.  That's mind boggling isn't it?  The Venetian only has 3000 for the sake of comparison.  What's more mind boggling is that Macau's largest hotel complex by a country mile doesn't offer much for their guests to see or do.  They must be counting on their neighbours on the Cotai Strip to provide the attractions, but that's a pretty poor substitute for doing it yourself.  Without any big time entertainment, nightlife or restaurants, I just don't see much of a future for Sands Cotai.  They need to add something ASAP that gives them an identity. 

  

As for the two casinos, I don't see anything remarkable about either of them.  In terms of limits and games, both of them just repeat what's offered at the Sands and the Venetian.  If you were to detonate the Pacifica and Himalayan tomorrow, I don't think many people would notice and life would go on.  I think that's a better than fair description of Sands Cotai too as a whole.  It does nothing and it is nothing. 

 

LOCATION

You can't miss it.  Sands Cotai is right beside the City of Dreams and across from the Venetian and the Four Seasons.