Est.: Aug. 28, 2007
Last update: March 20, 2011
Review by James K. • March 20, 2011
The Grand Lisboa is barely four years old, but it's already a Macau landmark. Situated beside its sister hotel, the (now) low key Lisboa, the Grand Lisboa steals the show with its oversized reflective dome bottom and glaring gold tower. At 856 feet, its the tallest building in Macau.
At night, the building is ablaze in a fire of light and color, a stunning spectacle to behold that always draws crowds of tourists to its large lotus flower base, cameras most definitely in hand.
Right in the heart of the action just off Avenue D'Amizade. Prime location for a prime casino.
GRAND LISBOA CASINO
The Grand Lisboa casino visuals are best described as a marriage of old Lisboa themes with new commitments to space and color. Lisboa fans will regonize the Grand Lisboa's dark walls and black circular beams, as well as the giant glowing purple orb on the main level that pays homage to the ones that permanently change color on the Lisboa's second floor. While the similarities between the two places exist there's an added dimension of light and space at the Grand Lisboa that the Lisboa just doesn't possess. The same sense of grandeur that exudes from the Grand Lisboa's exterior, and especially that of its elegant lobby, is recreated throughout the gaming section, making it a very pleasant place to gamble in. I personally enjoyed just being on its broad floor and under its gold roof. All told the casino has around 270 tables and more than 700 slots, making it one of Macau's largest gaming houses.
Play takes place on five levels, beginning in the basement and ending on the third floor. Neither the basement nor the ground floor gaming sections are particularly big, with the basement made up mostly of slots and the ground floor mostly of tables, with the latter section being smoke free. The first and second floors, on the other hand, are large open rooms containing most of the casino's games and slots. A high limit area can be found on the first floor, complete with 16 Baccarat tables, all with minimums over $2,000. There's a poker room on the second floor numbering around thirty tables in all as well as a sports book that's heavy on soccer. For North American sports fans it's a huge disappointment. No NBA or NHL is currently listed in their odds book and when the the Superbowl was on last week, the bar didn't even show it. Bets are available straight up or you can mix and match wagers in different kinds of parlays.
Table minimums at the Grand Lisboa are fairly high. The vast majority of Baccarat tables are $500 or more. Most other table games check in at $300. Good luck trying to find a $100 table; outside of one or two Casino War tables, and Commission-Free Baccarat on the second floor, they don't exist. Slots, on the other hand, are low, with the highest being $5. A few electronic versions of Sic Bo and Roulette are littered amongst the slots, for those who can't afford their high table minimums.
Unlike the Lisboa and its plethora of VIP rooms the Grand Lisboa is predominantly mass gaming. Junket companies on the premisis number a mere five and start with the seven table Tung Hip VIP club located beside the ground floor casino, with minimums of $1,000 or $10,000. The Grand Neptune and Islandstar VIP clubs operate upstairs on the second floor, with tables at $3,000, $5,000, or $10,000. The third floor meanwhile is exclusively for dead chip players only. Aptly named the Tycoon Club, it's home to the Leroy International Club and the Ocho 8 Club. The Leroy International Club is a small six-table Baccarat room with minimums of $3000, while the Ocho 8 Club is something else altogether. Six tables compose its main playing area while six or seven private rooms surround it, each holding two to four tables. With many table minimums starting at $20,000, the Ocho 8 Club is home to some serious gambling.
The staff working the floor of the Grand Lisboa deserve a word of mention. They were all very friendly and more than willing to answer any question I had about the games. One even helped me clarify how to say a few things in Chinese. I did notice, however, that most didn't speak English. Perhaps to that end, kiosks are situated around the casino that explain some of the games in English and Chinese, as well as having a guide to floor plans and entertainment. While not all of the games in the casino are listed, it's an excellent service that more casinos should try.
For those who run out of Hong Kong dollars, Macau patacas are also accepted on the second floor of the casino.
The Grand Lisboa has an excellent assortment of games. The only significant game missing is Fortune Three Card Poker.
Unless otherwise indicated, normal Macau rules and payouts apply to all games.
MY OWN GAMBLING
Well not really, but I'd like to share a few things I witnessed in the ultra high limit Ocho 8 VIP room.
Every time I approach one of these VIP rooms I'm afraid they're not going to let me in. The Wizard wrote he couldn't even get a sniff of them when he came here in 07 and 09. The rule then was members only and the rule was upheld. Now though they all seem to be on limits with anyone in the casino free to walk in and have a look. For the purpose of writing this review that's just what I did, and I can safely say I saw things in there I never saw before in my life.
First I thought it was something when a guy ripped open two tall stacks of $10000 dead chips and threw them all down on a dealer bet. I tried to count the chips to see how many there were, but couldn't make it out properly. After he won though, it didn't matter. When the dealer paid out two yellow $100,000 chips and he returned some green $10,000 change, the amount of his bet was clear enough. It had been $200,000 or $25,000 US dollars.
Now this old guy who may have been 55 didn't bet big all the time so I moved along to one of the private rooms, where I met the world — a well dressed 40 something mainland man betting with three or four friends, and usually betting the table max, $800,000 HKD, or $100,000 USD a hand. That's right, $100,000 US a hand. This is the kind of guy who wins and loses millions in an afternoon, and he was sitting right there in front of me.
It was interesting to watch him at work. When the Wizard says high rolling Baccarat players are usually superstitious, he isn't wrong. He based his bets by studying the video screen, by looking for patterns in past results, or any kind of discernable Player/Banker run. If he didn't like what he saw he'd tell the dealer, "Fei", which I think means "fly" here and the dealer would play a hand without anyone at the table betting anything. He did this just to see the result, just to see if it fit into a pattern or maybe hoping it started a new one.
Each time he received his cards, he put one on the six and the other on the three, then stretched his arms out wide before bringing both of his hands back in tightly together, turning the cards over in the process. By the time he finished both of his cards were in front of his face. I have to admit his move looked pretty cool, kind of like a maestro. I also have to admit that I intentionally hung around hoping the guy hit a big run, thinking maybe in his exuberance he'd call out to the room, "When the train comes in, everyone rides", just like Riker did in the Star Trek episode where Data loaded the dice in a craps game, and I might be able to score a free grand or two. Hell I was even down with him blindly throwing chips over his shoulder onto the floor turning it into a free for all. Sadly none of that happened and I left after watching him for a half hour or so. During that time he did pretty well, probably up over three million Hong Kong dollars.
Player Card — In somewhat of a mild surpise, Grand Lisboa player cards cannot be used in other SJM properties, including the Lisboa.
Two player cards are available, a Jade card and White Gold card. Points accumulated on these cards can be redeemed for different reward items, such as hotel accomodation, shopping vouchers and gifts. Jade card holders need to amass more points to earn rewards than White Gold card holders. For example, Jade card members score a Superior Room at the Grand Lisboa with 1,650 points while White Gold card members need only 1,400 points to hit that bonus.
In terms of comps, the Jade card has nothing worth mentioning other than a dining discount in the hotel's restaurants. White Gold card members, however, are eligible for complimentary everything: complimentary dining, complimentary ferry tickets, and complimentary hotel stay. Eligible, however, is the big word. Those comps are awarded only at the discretion of the casino, based on the frequency of rated play.
No staff member could explain the rate of point accumulation when playing table games. Slot players, however, earn one point on their card for every $400 bet.
Dead Chip Program - The Grand Lisboa's dead chip program is pretty uninspiring; independant junkets without exception give over 1% for a $100,000 buy in.
Complimentary allowance refers to discounts available in Grand Lisboa rooms, bars and restaurants, as well as select transportation services.
Birthday Celebrations — In your birthday month, White Gold and Jade card members who accumulate 60 points receive a $100 Grand Lisboa dining voucher, while 280 points score $500 in birthday rewards divided between a $100 dining voucher, $200 in promotional chips and $200 Gift Gallery voucher.
Another program exists for Jade card members only, where 30 points earn a $50 Gift Gallery Voucher and 180 points net a $200 dining voucher and $100 Gift Gallery voucher.
Unfortunately, card holders may only join either promotion once during the birthday month.
What all of this means is that I'll be hitting the craps table quite a lot come this August. I'll be riding those 5-5-5 odds straight to 28 points. See you there!
The Grand Lisboa has 430 rooms and suites with prices similar to the nearby Wynn and MGM. Room types and rates are as follows:
For guests staying in Executive guestroom and suites, they get the run of the Executive Lounge, located on the 31st floor. Perks include free breakfast and a Happy Hour promotion with reduced rates on premium drinks. The Executive Lounge comes complete with computers and a library room full of books, magazines and big comfortable leather couches.
I don't know what to say about the Grand Lisboa swimming pool, other than it blew my mind. It's hard to imagine Macau having a better looking pool anywhere, especially at night. I also don't know how the photos I took turned out the way they did, looking almost like paintings, but that's just how it is out there. I'd consider staying at the Grand Lisboa just for the pool itself, which is the highest praise a hotel's swimming facilities can get.
The Grand Lisboa pool is located on the fifth floor, with hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m..
From fine fine dining to round the clock Chinese to the sickest buffet (and I mean that in a good way) you'll ever see, the Grand Lisboa's seven restaurants have a little something for everyone. About the only thing missing is a place that does international, non-Western food, such as a Thai or Japanese joint.
The 8 Restaurant — A bit on the pricy side, the 8 Restaurant serves Cantonese food with meat and vegetable meals running between $78 to $300. Vegetarian dishes are the cheapest thing on the menu, costing between $68 and $88. Abalone, seafood, and bird's nest are all around market value, somewhere between $200 and $600, with some prices in the $1000's. Located on the 2nd floor.
Don Alfonso 1890 — Don Alfonso 1890 is decorated very very nicely and one day in the future I'd like to be able to eat there knowing I can afford it. Serving the very best in Italian cuisine, set meals start from $680 while other individual plates fall in the $150 to $350 range. They also have a large wine selection with over 7,400 labels. Located on the 3rd floor.
The Kitchen — You may walk by The Kitchen and not even know it's there. That's because the front door looks like a wooden wall before it slides open via sensor. The Kitchen is a high priced steak and seafood restaurant with beef imported from all over the world. Most meals will run $300 to $600 with premium dishes costing over $1000. The Kitchen is right beside Don Alfonso's on the 3rd floor.
The Grand Buffet — There's no lying in the name of this restaurant - the Grand Buffet is a absolutely HUGE. The buffet line just doesn't stop, it just keeps winding around counters to whole new rooms. The selection is easily three times more than any other other buffet in Macau with a price that's just a little bit over market, at $258. Still for the variety you get I'm sure the extra 20 patacas is well worth it. Located on the Upper 2nd floor, the Grand Buffet is only open in the evening from 6 to 8 and again from 8:30 to 10:30.
Crystal Lounge & Deli — The Crystal Lounge and Deli is a sight for expats' sore eyes. With about 15 different types of imported meat to choose from, its like being back home. And I'm not talking about the kind of stuff you find in Subways here either — the Crystal Lounge and Deli meat is the real deal. I tried a smoked ham and turkey sandwich on French bread that was well worth the $69 I paid for it. The next time I go back, in fact, I'm ordering two. The Crystal Lounge and Deli overlooks the first floor gaming level and is open 24 hours.
Noodle & Congee Corner — Located beside the deli on the Upper 1st floor, Noodle and Congee Corner does affordable Chinese fare with most main dishes in the $48 to $65 range. Plenty of noodle and dumpling side meals are also available for $35 to $42. Open 24 hours.
Round-the-Clock Coffee Shop — Round the Clock Coffee Shop does both Western and Chinese cuisine with most things on the menu under $200. Chinese meals usually don't exceed $135 while Western sandwiches and burgers stay in the $45 to $62 range. Western main meat courses like steak or pork chops are $100 to $200. As the name suggests, the restaurant is open 24/7.
The Grand Lisboa's greatest deficiency is probably in its lack of free spa facilities. The only spa amenity guests can use on the house is the sauna found in the men's changing room. Of course, there are a wide selection of massage and beauty treatments available in the stylish Lisboa Clarins spa on the fifth floor, but you have to pay for them. Spa hours are from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m..
The Grand Lisboa gym, on the other hand, doesn't disappoint at all. Cardio machines are extensive while there are quite a few large weight machines that work every part of the body, save for the chest. That means you'll be replacing pushups with benchpresses in your program, going old school, but that's how our grandfathers did it, so there can't be anything wrong with that. The gym is on the fifth floor and is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm.
A word to the wise, if anything in China has the word "Crazy" in the title, then it's usually going to be pretty good. The Crazy Paris dance show is no exception. I saw a smoking beauty wearing a bikini and working a pole that brought the house down. Later the show moved on to tamer, more artistic fare but it was still pretty good. All in all, I'd say the Crazy Paris Show is a cut or three above most other dancing shows in Macau. It takes place daily on the first floor of the casino, on the stage behind the bar, from 4:30 pm to midnight.
In addition to the bars sprinkled throughout the two main casino floors, the Grand Lisboa has three other places to drink:
Lotus Lounge — Located on the lobby floor, the Lotus Lounge serves Western style fast food as well as drinks. Sandwiches, wings and fries, hot dogs and salads cost $42 to $66 while beers go from $30 to $34. Harder drinks are a very reasonable $30 to $40. Tea, coffee and juice are also available.
Tycoons Bar — Located in the 3rd floor Tycoon Club, Tycoons Bar welcomes everyone, high and low rollers alike. Prices are in line with market value, with beers at $30, harder shots at $35, and cocktails $50 to $60. Paying customers can also access the net for free on one of the five computers set up opposite the bar.
The Prestige Club — The Prestige Club is the newest addition to the Grand Lisboa, opening June of 2010. Staff downstairs told me it was a KTV, but it is in fact a strip club with plenty of foreign beauties for your viewing pleasure. The Prestige Club is located on the 9th floor.
With the Lisboa taking care of business in the shopping department, the Grand Lisboa decided not to bother. All you'll find are two or three stores located in the ground floor selling mostly souvenirs and small gifts. Take the elevated walkway across the street to the Lisboa if the shopping bug hits.
I can't find much fault with anything at the Grand Lisboa. It has an excellent assortment of restaurants, a first class pool, beautiful lobby, and one very unique and memorable building design. I think it more than succeeds in delivering a first class five star hotel experience.
As for the casino, it's definitely one of Macau's best. From its gaudy overstated exterior to its elegant gaming floor, the Grand Lisboa adds style and class to the gaming experience. In addition to its aesthetic charm, the casino has just about every table game offered in Macau. About the only disappointment is with its lack of low limit tables, but such grandness must come with a price. If you can afford the $300 plus table minimums then you may never need to visit another casino in Macau. The Grand Lisboa can bring it all.
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