Macao is often accused of being tacky, over the top and lacking personality. And if we had to point the finger somewhere, we would probably start with the colossal colour-changing musical water fountains in various gold-plastered hotel lobbies.
Newly opened in April 2012, the Conrad Macao aims to offer guests a completely different experience, one where you have "the luxury of being yourself". As the most luxurious of the three hotels at Sands Cotai Central (the others being Holiday Inn and the Sheraton), it was anything but tacky, as we found out on a recent visit.
Heading to Macao? Be sure to check out our Macao travel diary -- there's more to it than just casinos and Portugese egg tarts!
The Conrad Macao is a five minute drive away from the Taipa ferry terminal in Macao, and should you choose to bypass the hoards of people on the complimentary hotel shuttle bus, we recommend arriving by private limousine (complete with built-in massage chairs in the back seats and separate temperature controls in each section).
There are a total of 636 rooms and suites at the hotel, and we were swiftly checked into one of the 206 club suites from the Conrad Club Lounge on the top (39th) floor with a refreshing welcome drink to boot.
Conrad Club Lounge
Staking its claim as Macao's largest and most comprehensive, the Conrad Club Lounge is accessible only to guests staying in the hotel's club suites and boasts a spectacular view of the Cotai Strip from both sides.
Guests can read magazines, watch TV, connect to the free Wi-Fi or surf the net on one of the Conrad Club Lounge's 27-inch iMacs, while grazing all day on complimentary food and beverage options including a full breakfast in the morning, afternoon tea from 3-5pm and cocktails from 5-7pm.
Service at the club lounge is impeccable with everyone greeting you by name (which gets a little creepy when even the staff on the casino floor start doing that), but it's an appreciated personal touch that's often overlooked. Another thing to note is that the Conrad Club Lounge caters to both families and business people, so kids will be present (like it or not).
Conrad Macao Club Suite
At 104 square metres (1,119 square feet), the Conrad Macao Club Suite is comfortably spacious and charmingly decorated in shades of taupe, royal green and purple.
The living room features a round dining table and curved three-seater sofa facing a state-of-the-art entertainment system (LED high-definition TV with iPad/iPod docking station), while a fluffy king-sized bed faces another HD TV in the bedroom, which you can close the door to.
A narrow hall/walk-in closet separates the bedroom from the spacious bathroom, which has its own rain shower, roomy bath tub and smaller television installed into the wall above so you won't have to miss a second of your favourite show.
Other nice touches were the satin "his and her" slippers, soft micro-fibre robes and bathroom amenities by Aromatherapy Associates.
In need of a getaway? The Conrad Macao is running a special Summer Escape promotion from now until 28 September 2012.
Located on the third floor of the Conrad Macao, Bodhi (which means 'enlightened') Spa is the perfect place to escape the caucus of the casino floor with its warm earth tones and soothing environment.
It is also the only spa in Macao that offers Ayurvedic treatments, including the Abhyanga-Samadhosha, a synchronised massage by two therapists using an exclusive Dosha-specific oil blend.
We tried the Ayurvedic Pitta Abhyanga massage (MOP 1,180 for 90 minutes), where the therapist used long, medium-pressure strokes down our limbs to sweep all of our troubles away. While it was extremely relaxing, we're also looking forward to try the new Shirodhara treatment (gently pouring liquids over the forehead aka. 'the third eye') the next time we're in Macao.
Whether you love Macao or furl your upper lip at the mere mention of it, the Conrad Macao is an excellent place to stay. Those in the latter group will find solace in the luxurious surroundings of the Conrad Macao club suites (and club lounge), while those in the former will never be too far away from all the shops, casinos, restaurants and, of course, musical water fountains along the Cotai Strip.
Conrad Macao, Sands Cotai Central, Cotai Strip, Taipa, Macau SAR, +853 2882 9000, www.conradmacao.com