Every Hongkonger knows that life in our crazy, fast-paced city wouldn’t be possible without a break every now and then. That’s why we’re bringing you our new “Suite Staycation” column, a monthly review of some of the finest hotel suites in Hong Kong and Macau. These sweet staycations are rated on the merits of accommodation, F&B, perks and pure luxe factor — so you know exactly where to spend your hard-earned paycheque when it comes time to treat yourself to a little R&R.
With our sister SAR just an hourlong ferry ride away — not to mention new transport options via the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge — it’s easy enough to escape to Macau any time you feel the need to escape Hong Kong’s hectic concrete jungle. The problem is, Macau has gained a little bit of a sour reputation over the years for traits that don’t exactly fit the bill for “relaxing holiday away”: think hordes of Chinese gamblers, tacky Vegas rip-offs and copycat casinos that offer little for those without a bank account to burn.
Luckily, a recent spur of high-entertainment casinos and a marketing push towards branding Macau as a lifestyle destination have given the city a bit of a facelift. For those who aren’t big on slot machines, there are pockets of calm and non-casino resorts that provide plenty of opportunity for enjoying the quieter and calmer side of Macau. One such spot is Mandarin Oriental, Macau, which offers a “Sail and Stay” package for those seeking a pampering staycation away from the crowds and the casinos.
Although Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has a far-reaching reputation, its sister property in Macau has remained relatively under the radar for such a well-known brand, making it an ideal option for those looking for a pocket of quiet away from the glitzy skyscrapers of the Cotai Strip. Sporting a distinct boutique feel, we bunkered down in this world-class hotel over a recent weekend to see if it truly lived up to the MO name.
Any good staycation begins and ends with the room itself — you want it to feel like a (much more deluxe) home away from home, where you can kick up your feet, order room service, and watch Harry Potter or Captain America on HBO or Fox Movies for the umpteenth time. For our weekend staycation we opted for the Deluxe Lake View Room, where prices start at HK$2,288 per night for the Sail and Stay Package. Although there are several higher category grades in the 213-room hotel, from the Panorama to the Presidential Suites, for a reasonably price, the 43-square-metre Deluxe Room more than fits the bill for a luxurious staycation for two — incorporating a spacious bathroom and walk-in wardrobe, a separate lounging area and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Nam Van Lake and Macau Tower.
The décor is a stylish blend of contemporary European with Oriental accents, and while on closer inspection you may notice a bit of natural wear and tear (the hotel was first opened in 2010) — rooms still manage to feel modern and elegant, with bright pops of gold and bronze against warm mahogany wood and plush carpeting. Satin pillow cases and goose down duvets add to the regal feel of the room, while added amenities such as plush terry robes, marble countertops in the bathroom and Atelier Cologne bath products contribute to the sense of luxury.
The only downsides was the 42-inch flat-screen TVs, which are considerably smaller than what you’ll find at most new hotels — although that won’t exactly stop you from settling down for a long movie marathon once you plop down on the plush bedspread and swaddle yourself in the 480-thread-count satin bed linens and fluffy goose-down duvet.
Having room service available at your beck and call is one of the requirements for a relaxing staycation, where a typical day’s agenda consists of sleep, eat, pool, repeat. As Mandarin Oriental, Macau features just one restaurant, we would definitely recommend having at least one meal in, whether it’s breakfast (try the Oriental Breakfast with congee, a dim sum basket, fried egg noodles and vegetables for HK$288), or the late-night menu to indulge midnight cravings all the way until 6am.
For dinner, head to Vida Rica restaurant on the 2nd floor of the hotel, which does a stellar job of upholding Mandarin Oriental’s reputation for fine gastronomy. We were highly impressed by the level of creativity and innovation stemming from the kitchen here, especially for a restaurant that single-handedly serves all hotel guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner, casting its net wide across Italian, Portuguese, Cantonese and even Southeast Asian influences. Though inspirations were far-flung, each individual dish we tried exuded ingenuity, finesse and focus.
The restaurant itself is gorgeous, featuring colourful Asian art pieces, dark marble columns and glass walls overlooking the South China Sea, and intimate pockets where tables of two can cosy up in cushy armchairs. We enjoyed a set dinner on Saturday night — the slow-cooked lamb was a particular highlight — while the breakfast buffet the next morning featured a well-curated selection of fresh bakeries, assorted salads, carefully prepared dim sum and Asian noodles, cereals and yogurts, seasonal fruits and an omelette station.
If you find yourselves with a few hours to spare, you’ll also want to pop down to the Lobby Lounge for an elegant afternoon tea (served 2–6pm daily). Priced at MOP 309 for two, the delightful assortment includes a mix of Western and Asian sweet and savouries, from delicate egg sandwiches with mushroom and black truffle sauce to Korean-stye beef with kimchi finger sandwiches and crispy shrimp and olive dumplings. On the sweets side, craftily made treats such as pistachio cake, strawberry cream cheese mousse and lychee choux puffs cater to dessert lovers. Decked out in shades of light grey, pink and green with gold accents — the charming lounge is also highly Instagrammable, which is always a bonus when it comes to the most sought-after afternoon teas.
You simply can’t enjoy a staycation at Mandarin Oriental, Macau without a visit to the spa; the one-hour couples’ massage we had here was hands down the best I’ve had all year, with the firm, experienced strokes of the therapist lulling me to sleep precisely five minutes into the treatment (it didn’t hurt that we had just had dinner and were primed to doze off). The massage beds are the kind you promptly fall into, soft and gently heated, while the atmosphere of utmost tranquility is bolstered by soothing spa music, candles and orchids. Rooms feature the same floor-to-ceiling windows as the guest rooms, with the lights from the bridge and the glittering cityscape serving as the majestic backdrop to your treatment.
The overall spa and health facilities also include a vitality pool, amethyst crystal steam room, sauna room, and rainforest experience shower, along with a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre and an outdoor heated swimming pool. We went for a brief soak in the outdoor jacuzzi whirlpool, which is open from 7am–10pm daily and overlooks the South China Sea. The service here was impeccable, with the pool attendants coming up several times to change our towels, offer us refreshments, and guide us to a spot for sunset viewing. I would highly recommend enjoying an aperitivo here with the light bites passed around during cocktail hour, before heading down to Vida Rica for dinner.
Ultimate luxury doesn’t need to be loud and brash. In most ways, Mandarin Oriental, Macau mirrors its sister hotel in Hong Kong: refined and elegant furnishings, classic décor and a calmer, quieter ambience. When juxtaposed against the flashy skyscrapers and myriad casino-resorts that make up most of Macau, however — the hotel feels almost like a hidden gem, despite being a household name. The offerings may not be extensive, but the quality associated with the MO brand is present in every corner, from the world-class spa to the high standards of cuisine and exclusive, personalised service. As the only non-casino resort on the Macau Peninsula side, we would highly recommend this staycation for anyone seeking a quiet weekend away for two to explore the gentler side of Macau.
The Mandarin Oriental Macau Sail and Stay Package starts at HK$2,288 per night and includes complimentary round-trip ferry transfers for two people from Hong Kong to Macau, and limousine transfers to and from the hotel. For more information, visit the website here.
Mandarin Oriental Macau, No. 945 Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, Nape, Macau, +853 8805 8888