The Maven Meter: Grand Lapa Hotel / Eastern Casino
(Last updated: May 20, 2020)
The Grand Lapa is a personal favourite of mine and gets my vote as the best hotel around the Macau Ferry Terminal. Originally known as the Mandarin Oriental, it’s been around since the 1980’s, which is shocking considering how good the grounds, lobby and rooms still look.
Much like yours truly, the property is aging like fine wine, with recent refurbishments keeping it as vital as ever.
As for the Eastern Casino, well, let’s just say that its fall from grace has been swift and sudden. Once it catered to Baccarat whales, now it’s the dive of drifters and derelicts who can barely handle $200 tables.
GRAND LAPA PHOTO GALLERY
EASTERN CASINO GAMES
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Eastern casino (formerly called Jimei) used to be one of Macau’s priciest, most upscale casinos. Now all of the VIP rooms are shuttered and it’s low stakes all the way.
Baccarat – There are still 2 or 3 tables with $100 minimums.
Blackjack – Minimum bet of $100.
Sic Bo – One table with $50 Big/Small minimums.
EASTERN CASINO PROMOTIONS
Back when it was the Jimei, the casino used to have a slew of great promotions, but those deals are all gone now. The private junkets have disappeared too, as has the epic “suite room” that rocked my world in 2011.
The current VIP program run by the casino returns 1.10% (1.0% cash +0.1% comp allowance) on buy-ins of $10,000.
Free rooms at the Grand Lapa can be had at the following rates:
Two other buy ins return a $15 dining coupon ($1000) and 1 free Hong Kong-Macau ferry ticket ($20,000).
Players can also accumulate points on the Eastern Casino Player Card, which can be redeemed for items displayed around the casino. Some of the goods I saw were rice cookers, shavers, bottles of booze and calculators.
Other prizes available for redemption include a free room at the Grand Lapa (1300 points), 1 Hong Kong-Macau ferry ticket (300 points), free limo pick up (60 points) and 1 free meal (30 points).
GRAND LAPA HOTEL
The Grand Lapa may not have the same name brand as other well known Macau hotels, but it’s probably just as good as the Grand Lisboa, MGM Macau and Sands. The hotel facilities are second to none, especially the gym and pool area which are both outstanding for a hotel of its size.
I’ve stayed there numerous times throughout the years and never had a bad visit. Staff, in particular, are always amazingly polite and very willing to please. I’ve been in hotels sometimes where the help seem to think they’re the guest and you owe them something, but the Grand Lapa understands what good customer service is all about.
All told the Grand Lapa has 388 rooms and 28 suites. Bookings made through the official hotel website entitle guests to two of the following rewards
-2 pm late checkout
-Guaranteed resort view
-Early check in at 12
-Free in room movies
Breakfast only costs $15 more as well, so definitely take advantage of that amazing deal.
The Grand Lapa used to have a lot more room grades before, but everything looks much more streamlined now. Rates listed below are in Macau Mops and include all tax and service charges.
If you go through a travel website like Agoda or Trip.com, I bet Deluxe King rooms won’t break $1000 on weekdays.
Grand Lapa Hotel Room
I used to stay at the Grand Lapa all the time around 2011 and 2012. Hence the pictures below looking a little dated.
Fortunately, trusted sources tell me that all their rooms have been recently refurbished, finally bringing them into the 21st Century.
I always thought the bathrooms especially needed some work, but they should be much, much better now.
One thing that always looks great in the Grand Lapa room, though??
The delectable Yang Jie – that’s what!
GRAND LAPA POOL
The Grand Lapa offers the best swimming pool on the old Macau peninsula, bar none.
Fully heated, it’s good to go 12 months a year.
The pool is actually part of a larger Recreation Area that includes tennis courts and a driving range practice cage that only costs guests $40 for 30 minutes of use.
For young visitors, there’s also the Kids Company, a play zone designed for children aged 4 to 12. It’s free for the first two hours everyday and then each additional hour is only $85. Staffed by professional counsellors, highlights include video games, computers, a playground and an assortment of toys and games.
Closed on Mondays, Kids Company is open from 11 am to 7 pm Tuesday to Friday and 9:30 am to 8:30 pm on weekends.
Located behind the Spa building, the pool keeps hours daily from 6:30 am to 10 pm.
GRAND LAPA DINING
I’ve eaten at all three of the Grand Lapa’s restaurants, and they were all average at best.
Kam Lai Heen – Located on the second floor, Kam Lai Heen is the Grand Lapa’s most expensive restaurant. Specializing in Cantonese fare, Executive set meals go for $488 or $628 while abalone is $318 to $1280 and one whole roasted Beijing duck $588. Other selections on the menu are more reasonably priced, with appetizers $68 to $138, soup $68 to $268 and barbecue $88 to $158. Mains don’t break the bank either, and consist of rice and noodles ($138 to $188), main meat favourites ($98 to $380) and seafood ($68 to $268.)
Kam Lai Heen’s lunch menu is dominated by a lot of dim sum, with most selections $38 to $55. That means that one person probably needs to spend $200 to $300 to eat well.
Here’s a review of my dinner there: Kam Lai Heen.
Hours are from 11 am to 2:30 pm, and from 6 pm to 10 pm at night. Closed on Tuesdays.
Cafe Bela Vista – Also on the second floor, Cafe Bela Vista has scrapped their world food menu to focus more on Portuguese and Macanese favourites. Starters run $88 to $368, while soup is $80 to $168 and main meat dishes $148 to $368. They also do an array of seafood ($148 to $278) while scrumptious seafood rice is $138 to $368.
Some popular leftovers from the old International menu still remain, such as club sandwiches, burgers, laksa and Hainan chicken ($108 to $158).
Everyday at lunch there’s a buffet for $138, that’s heavy on soups, cheeses, noodles, and desserts, with only 2 hot dishes served (short ribs and bacalhau balls). If you pay $60 more, you can choose from a list of 7 main dishes, to make it more of a complete meal, with selections that include lamb stew, suckling pig and grilled Iberico pork.
A Seafood buffet takes over every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, that includes a live Cataplana station and an imposing “Fresh Seafood” tower. Prices are excellent, just $358 for adults and $184 for children, with free flow house wine and beer only an additional $60.
Afternoon tea is held daily, costing $268 for 2 people. Patrons can enjoy it either at Cafe Bela Vista or at Vasco, their excellent bar.
Here’s a review of my lunch there, with the Mavenettes: Cafe Bela Vista
Cafe Bela Vista is keeps hour from 6:30 am to 10 pm daily.
NAAM Thai Restaurant – NAAM Thai carries the reputation of being the best Thai joint in town, which isn’t really saying much these days. I didn’t think very much of my lunch there, with that review found here: NAAM Thai.
Prices at NAAM stay firmly in the $100 to $300 range, with appetizers $85 to $165, salads $100 to $120 and soups $85 to $215. For main dishes, expect to drop between $210 to $480, while curries are $235 to $270 and vegetables $95. The cheapest selections are rice and noodle dishes for $75 to $150.
When walking around the hotel, I also noticed an advertisement for a 5 course set at NAAM that costs $240.
Hours are from 12 pm to 2:30 pm in the afternoon and from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm at night. Closed on Mondays.
The Cake Shop – Located beside Cafe Bela Vista, the Cake Shop serves sandwiches, cake, and other tasty pastry treats. Delicious looking full cakes cost $220 to $250, smaller slices of cake $32 to $38, while sandwiches are $55. Other things I noticed were croissants ($28), apple turnovers ($28) and loaves of bread ($48).
Hot tip: show up around 7:30 pm and items like the bread, croissants and doughnuts are all half price!
The Cake Shop keeps hours daily from 12 pm to 8 pm.
GRAND LAPA SPA
The Grand Lapa’s spa is another highlight of the hotel, offering an excellent range of beauty and massage treatments. Massage is either 50 or 80 minutes and costs between $890 and $1250 while facials are $930 to $1100 and 80 minute body treatments either $1080 or $1800. Signature Journeys packages run between $1200 and $2180 while a couple treatment costs $3980 and lasts 3 hours.
If you just want to use the sauna and steam room inside, access is free of charge for in house guests, a tremendous perk that only 3 or 4 Macau hotels provide. The vast majority of them require payment via a door pass fee, something I find completely unacceptable.
Hours are from 6:30 to 10 pm.
GRAND LAPA GYM
The fitness centre is fantastic as well, more on the level of a full fledged membership gym than anything usually found in a hotel. In addition to a full regimen of cardio and weight machines, the gym also offers aerobics, yoga, tai chi, and Bollywood Dance classes free of charge to all hotel guests.
The gym hours are from 10 am to 10 pm.
Vasco – Without a doubt the most beautiful hotel bar on the old Peninsula, Vasco’s prices are also excellent, with beers $58, cocktails $68 or $88, martinis $68, and most hard stuff $68 to $88 . Glasses of wine stay very affordable too, just $42 and $88, with most full bottles only $180 to $328.
Named after legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, it’s only appropriate that they’re currently doing a special Cocktail flight that chronicles the path of the Portuguese Discoveries from Portugal to Macau. Composed of 8 different cocktails that each trace a different part of the journey, inspiration is drawn from such far flung locales as the Cape of Good Hope, Mozambique and Goa.
Costing $88 each, the thing to do is come during Happy Hour from 5 pm to 9 pm, when all drinks under $88 are half price (or Buy 1 Get 1 Free, to be exact.) Once my six week cleanse is up and my liver is off the thread it’s been hanging on for 3 years, I’m going to dive back into the debuchery hard and give this cocktail flight a go. A full review of course, will be soon be forthcoming.
If afternoon tea is more your fancy, Vasco holds one daily that 0nly runs $268 for two, an outstanding price for such a splendid venue.
In terms of live entertainment, Vasco has a two piece band on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 pm to midnight, which includes Fado performances by the Portuguese singer, Rita. Very popular with locals, it’s definitely another thing on my to-do list.
Hours are from 3 pm to 12 am (Sunday to Thursday), and 3 pm to 2 am (Friday and Saturday).
THE LAST WORD
It’s tough to find much fault with anything at the Grand Lapa. They offer comfortable rooms, a great bar, and facilities that rate second to none. The pool and fitness centre, in particular, and simply superb. For the price you’re paying, especially from Sundays to Thursday, the value is just ridiculous.
The Eastern casino, meanwhile, is a shell of its former self. From the penthouse to the outhouse, at least it offers cheap games that are getting harder to find in Macau, particularly the $100 Blackjack and Baccarat.
Luxury and value are two concepts that often collide in the real world but they can both be yours at the Grand Lapa.