Underwater Fantasy - MGM, Macau

The MGM Hotel and Casino in Macau is considered to be one of the most glamorous and prestigious hotels in the city.  Though it can't match the new mega-casinos in size and scale, the attention to detail and the lifestyle experience that it provides its guest is unparalleled.

Beyond the expansive lobby area which features a Salvador Dalí Sculpture and a ceiling sculpture done in blown-glass peonies done by American glass artist Dale Chihuly, guests enter the MGM courtyard.  Built as an air-conditioned greenhouse, this courtyard was designed to mimic the atmosphere of the MGM Mansions  VIP villa area at the MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  Whereas The Mansions  in Vegas feature a traditional Tuscan Villa courtyard with a central bubbling water fountain and surrounding lemon trees, the courtyard at The MGM Macau  pays homage to the local history of Macau. The floor is done in the traditional style of Portugal's capital, Lisbon.  Paved in swirling mosaic patterns,  the white limestone and black basalt stones reference the floor of Macau's main square, Senado Square.  Painted azulejos (the traditional name for Portuguese tiles) adorn the facades of the surrounding walls.  Around the courtyard on the ground floor are several restaurants, all with "outdoor" seating that overlook the center of the space. In the corner, an ice cream / snack stall stands proudly next to the entrance to provide children a quick cotton candy while across the courtyard, gamblers enter the main casino under the grand double-sided staircase.

Gorgeous interior elements aside, what's absolutely amazing about this space are the various things and set-ups that the hotel can do with it.  Every few months, hotel management puts on a new showcase or exhibition.  Last year, they brought in a butterfly exhibition where guests could walk into a space and see thousands of butterflies up close.  Other times, they feature art exhibitions.  These past two months, the theme of the MGM Macau courtyard has been what I refer to as an "Underwater Fantasy".  

A real aquarium with live tropical fish dominates the center of the courtyard.  Coral columns support and frame this aquarium.  Up top, these coral columns fan out to create a canopy and provide the guests a slightly more intimate atmosphere as they watch the fish.  Surrounding this main structure, huge seaweed pieces hang amid bubbles and schools of swimming fish.  The materials the designers used for these elements were perfectly chosen and absolutely captured the textures of an underwater adventure. (See photos below!)

The "Underwater Fantasy" exhibition is stunning and I highly recommend that you go see it if you can.  Go to one of the cafe's in the courtyard, have a coffee and just immerse yourself in this fantastical space!  Macau is only an hour away from Hong Kong.  Since the exhibition was still there last week, I think they won't switch it out for Halloween and hopefully not for Thanksgiving since we don't celebrate that here in Asia!

Let me know what you think!

  Coral columns flank the 4-story aquarium while the tropical fish inside swim in schools.   

Coral columns flank the 4-story aquarium while the tropical fish inside swim in schools.  

   Warped plastic pieces are strung on fishing wire and hung to resemble rising underwater bubbles. 

 Warped plastic pieces are strung on fishing wire and hung to resemble rising underwater bubbles. 

  The seaweed strands were made of cast resin (I think) and the subtle color gradients as well as the transparency of the materials give these hanging sculptures the sheen of actual seaweed.     The schools of fish were made in the same material as helium balloons.  Not only did this material reflect light and resemble fish scales, but it was also light enough that the structures would gently sway with the AC currents, mimicking the effect of a school of fish swimming in the sea.

The seaweed strands were made of cast resin (I think) and the subtle color gradients as well as the transparency of the materials give these hanging sculptures the sheen of actual seaweed.   The schools of fish were made in the same material as helium balloons.  Not only did this material reflect light and resemble fish scales, but it was also light enough that the structures would gently sway with the AC currents, mimicking the effect of a school of fish swimming in the sea.