Since I ended up in Hong Kong in the midst of Chinese New Year’s celebrations, where all hotels are at least twice as expensive as normal, I decided to minimize my time in the area in favor of a trip to Thailand.
I had planned to pop by Macau, however, as it seemed to be a wasted opportunity not to go there when I already was in Hong Kong. If you’re not familiar with the local geography, Macau is only a 75 minute ferry ride away from Hong Kong.
I normally use Hotels.com for my hotel bookings, as I haven’t really been loyal to any chain and I really appreciate that I could triple-dip for rewards with them (kickback website, Hotels.com Rewards and points from my credit card). Right now I’m doing an SPG status challenge, which requires 9 nights before the end of March for Gold status, so this time I chose to book directly with the hotel.
SPG Gold even translates directly into Marriott Gold, since Marriott recently acquired Starwood and is still operating the respective loyalty programs as separate entities, but with automatic status match. Marriott Gold normally requires 50 nights a year and gives both club lounge access and continental breakfast each day, so that seemed like too good a deal to pass on.
The Sheraton Grand is located on the gambling headquarters that is the Cotai strip, along with a bunch of other chain hotels like the St. Regis, Holiday Inn and Conrad.
I was initially most tempted by the Conrad, but the SPG challenge and the fact that Sheraton offered club rooms for around the same price as a regular room at the Conrad managed to sway me over. Rooms in Macau were generally fairly reasonable, and the two nights at the Sheraton ended up costing me around 2500 NOK or 325 USD.
After the flight from Scandinavia to Hong Kong and waiting at the airport for a ferry to Macau for three hours, I was extremely exhausted when I finally arrived at the hotel around noon.
At that time the line for regular check-in was very, very long, so I took my chances by going to the empty SPG Gold and Platinum line, where the friendly agent graciously accepted checking me in. (To be fair, I think my club room actually allowed check-in here). I’m sure you can imagine my relief when she told me had a room available immediately, even though the standard check-in time isn’t until 3 PM.
I was allocated a room on the 29th floor of the Sky Tower, facing the Conrad next door and with a view to the fountains at the Wynn Palace – but with very dirty and grimy windows.
The room itself wasn’t anything very special – fairly spacious, but not exactly luxurious in any way. The bathroom also looked a little dated, but at least had a separate bathroom and shower with lots of hot water. The room also had a chair and a desk, plus a smallish TV on the wall.
I have to commend Sheraton for having some fantastic bed linens, though. These silk-like linens must have been some of the most comfortable ones I have ever slept in, and the bed itself was also really good.
Another important thing for me, as I am fairly noise-allergic, was that the room was very quiet, at least if you can live with the constant swooshing noise from the aircondition unit.
The bath amenities are of Sheraton’s standard Shine by Sheraton brand, which means passable, but nothing more than that. This is a long way from the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (note the GrandE) in Bangkok’s fantastic THANN amenities.
One feature I really appreciated was the free mobile hotspot in the room, though. You could bring it out of the room and enjoy free tethered 4G, local and international calls anywhere in Macau. Very practical, especially since roaming charges in Macau are obscene.
If you are here to either shop or gamble, you can’t really fault the hotel’s location. Almost all of the Cotai strip hotels, casinos and malls are basically interconnected through walkways and bridges, and getting around is a breeze. Taxis are also cheap.
As the club lounge at the Sheraton Grand is under refurbishment for the rest of this year, club benefits are offered in alternate venues. The hotel clearly stated this both on their website and in a pre-arrival e-mail, but promised that the club experience should not suffer because of this. The club benefits consist of breakfast (currently full breakfast at Bene restaurant) and evening cocktails at either Xin or Feast.
And what a spread they put on. Evening cocktails (5:30 – 7:30 PM) turned out to be a full, vast dinner buffet with almost everything you could ask for: A large seafood selection, peking duck, sushi, Indian food, Chinese food and even steak. There was also a large dessert buffet (with both Haagen-Dazs ice cream and a chocolate fountain. Yay!).
Drinks served were red, white or sparkling wines, juices, soft drinks and cocktails, and I found this perk to be worth the price of the club room alone. I can’t say whether it will be when the club lounge is up and running again, though.
Breakfast was also decent, with many choices both Eastern and Western. I was happy to find bacon, but not that happy when the bacon both days was slightly soggy and tough to chew. The highlight was almost the pizza margherita. Even though this was a buffet, it was both crispy and very tasty.
Coffee and tea was served at the table, and otherwise there was all the usual stuff: Cereal, yoghurt, pastries, juices (although only the sweetened Asian kind), waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit and everything else you usually expect to find. The quality wasn’t always the greatest, but it was mostly about as expected when looking at the rest of the hotel.
The hotel has a fairly giant outdoor pool area with many pools and a jacuzzi, but as it was winter in Macau and fairly cold, I didn’t make use of them. I noticed some activity in the jacuzzi, though, so I guess they were heated.
I also have to mention that the Sheraton offers complimentary parking for guests, which is practical.
The Sheraton Grand is one of the cheaper options on the Cotai strip, but if I were to choose again regardless of brand loyalty, I would probably have given the Conrad next door a try.
There was nothing wrong with the Sheraton, but there was on the other side nothing about it that really screamed 5-star either. The room decor was uninspired at best, the amenities run-of-the-mill and the breakfast a little bit on the average side.
That said, I really found it to be decent value for money with the giant dinner buffet, free parking and super practical mobile hotspot. And I guess you can’t really expect that boutique feel in a hotel that has over 4000 rooms (!).
All kinds of travel rates the Sheraton Grand Macao: 3,5 out of 5
I liked: Lovely bed linens, quiet and spacious room, vast dinner buffet included in the Club room price, free mobile hotspot, decent location.
I disliked: Bland room decor, slightly dated bathroom, very dirty windows, mediocre toiletries, average breakfast,