By Sibylle Eschapasse
It’s a magical place, an exciting world of luxurious hotels, superb dining, premier attractions and so much more! No, I am not talking about Disneyland but this unique place called: MACAU! Macau... even its name is full of mysteries and touched by certain magic. A place like no others where its vibrant Portuguese heritage is combined with ancient Chinese roots. We invite you on this incredible journey to the heart of Asia, nestled on the Pearl River Delta.
Since the Portuguese arrived and Western civilization entered China, Macau nurtured this cultural exchange for hundreds of years, which created its unique identity and an amazing architecture. An eclectic assemblage of buildings as different as Taoist temples from the Ming Dynasty, baroque churches from the 18th century, fortresses, classic Chinese shop houses, colonial palaces and Chinese courtyards makes Macau an interesting mixture in which East and West bond harmoniously.
But Macau is also very much into the present. It’s expanding extremely fast and history faces modernity. Macau became synonym of excitement, fun, gambling; it’s a place where visitors enjoy amazing hotels and unforgettable entertainment, world renowned international Chefs and duty-free shopping. Some come for adventure, the thrill of walking on the outer perimeter that encircles the Macau Tower, in the wide open, without handrail, 764 feet high! Some others come for the annual Macau Grand Prix while Golf lovers play at the Macau Golf & Country Club which appears as one of the most beautiful golf courses in Asia. Macau, it is also a family-friendly destination, which provides many activities for the family. And for the corporations that wish to find the perfect location for their next meetings, Macau has it all to accommodate your needs, small or BIG!
What to do?
Take the iPAD Discovery Tour to discover, interactively, the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the jesuits ruins of St. Paul Church, the Mount Fortress, the A-Ma temple, the Senado Square and much more. www.smallworldexperience.com
Tour the Modern Macau City and visit the Grand Prix Museum and the Wine Museum in which the delights of Portuguese wine are presented and ends with a wine tasting: a happy ending for all! “Saude” (to your health in Portuguese) or “Gom bui” (meaning dry the cup! in Cantonese).
Don’t miss the House of Dancing Water! Having grown up in Paris and living now in New York, I have been blessed with some very nice performances but the House of Dancing Water totally blew me away. This $ 250 million spectacular production, created by the Italian-Belgian Franco Dragone, is amazing in any possible way and I cannot wait to go back see it in Macau. Or in the US, if dear Franco, you kindly bring it over here, one day! www.thehouseofdancingwater.com
Going on top of the Macau Tower for a breathtaking panoramic view of Macau is a must. For the adventurous, take a challenge of AJ Hackett: the Skywalk X, the Tower Climb, and for the mavericks, the SkyJump or the ultimate Bungy jump! I chose the Skywalk X. Lots of fun! www.ajhackett.com
Going to Macau, it’s also the symbiosis of the Portuguese and Chinese cuisines and experiencing the Macanese cuisine. And for those who want something else, you can basically have it all in Macau with all the world’s finest international cuisine available.
Experience a nice lunch in the charming Albergue 1601. My favorite dish happened to be THE most famous specialty of Macau i.e. the African Chicken. I absolutely love that barbecued and coated chicken in spicy piri-piri. Yummy! www.ALBERGUE1601.com
An other lovely restaurant is Porto de Macau, which offers an authentic Portuguese meal that made me feel being transported into Portugal, and brought me back some nice memories. The Chef also offers a fun culinary class in which you learn to cook an entire Portuguese meal.
The Sheraton Macao Hotel also offers sumptuous restaurants. I enjoyed Xin where we design and cook ourselves our own hotpot from a range of signature Asian soup bases in which we add ingredients as seafood, meat or vegetables. It’s a feast offering many Asian, Portuguese and Macanese specialties. The amazing cheese and dessert buffets including the famous Macanese egg tarts: a real abundance of visual treats and tastes which is literally a “Feast” for the senses. Bene is a beautiful Italian trattoria for the entire family to enjoy.
For more dining options, check the Tasting Kitchen’s website or pick up the upscale magazine featuring the finest restaurants in the area. Mark Hammons and Jean Alberti, from Les Saisons, surely do a wonderful job with it. www.tasting-kitchen.com
Going to Hong Kong will end fantastically your journey to Macau. An hour ferry ride separates Macau to HKG or a short 16 minutes helicopter flight! Enjoy the beautiful Victoria Bay and stop at the classical Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel that just celebrated its 85th anniversary. On a weekend, try the lovely Champagne brunch in the timeless elegance of its iconic lobby. www.peninsula.com.