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Sand China gets bigger with Sands Cotai Central

Macau, April 12 (IANS) The city welcomed over 28 million tourists from across the world in the past year. Now, footfalls could go up by 26 percent with the opening of the grand $4 billion Sands Cotai Central resort that boasts of the world's largest Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotels.

The property, owned by Sands China Ltd, a majority-held subsidiary of global integrated resort developer Las Vegas Sands Corp, is part of the company's development plans for Macau's Cotai Strip.

"The property will increase Macau's capacity for hosting tourists by 26 percent," Edward Tracy, president and CEO, Sands China Ltd, said here at the hotel's launch Wednesday.

The first phase of the property's launch features more than 600 rooms and suites under the Conrad hotel brand, and more than 1,200 rooms from Holiday Inn. Sheraton will have two towers.

The first tower will open its doors Sep 15 this year with 2,000 rooms, and the third tower in the Sands Cotai Central complex will be launched in February 2013.

The property also boasts of the Shoppes Cotai Central, a shopping centre offering brands like Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Omega, and the Himalaya Casino, a 300,000 sq ft gaming space.

The officials are confident "the opening of Sands Cotai Central will be a game changer for the future of Macau as a leisure, entertainment and business location".

Las Vegas Sands and Sands China Ltd. chairman Sheldon G.Adelson, who is among the world's richest people, is glad that his vision of making the Cotai Strip into "Asia's Disneyland for adults".

"On June 26, 2002, when we were given this plot (Cotai Strip), I thought it could be the most difficult area to develop. I always thought Las Vegas is like a Disneyland for adults, but there was none is Asia. Now here we are...Having changed Las Vegas for the people, we are building Macau as a destination for conventions, leisure and tourism," said Edelson.

His company already also runs the grand Venetian Macau, and holds one of the six concessions or sub-concessions permitted by the Macau government to operate casinos or gaming areas in the special administrative region of China, just an hour-long ferry away from the country's financial hub, Hong Kong.

When Sands Cotai Central is completed in 2013, the combined Sands China portfolio of properties will feature over 9,000 hotel rooms and suites, 1.3 sq ft of meetings and convention space, over 90 dining options, nearly 600 luxury and mid-market retail shops and 920,000 sq ft of gaming space.

Radhika Bhirani

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