Est.: Aug. 28, 2007
Ji Mei Casino
Last update: March 20, 2011Review by James K. • March 20, 2011
The Grand Lapa was formerly known as the Mandarin Oriental, before a newer Mandarin Oriental opened up close to the MGM two years ago, forcing the name change. Although the hotel has been around for over twenty years, it doesn't look a day over eight. Still in great shape, the property is aging like fine wine.
The stylish Ji Mei casino inside the Grand Lapa is run by SJM.
On the eastern part of Avenue D'Amizade, the Grand Lapa is very close to Ferry Terminal. The Waldo is right across the street from it, and the Sands is just behind it.
JI MEI CASINO
Two things stand out about the Ji Mei casino immediately upon entrance. First off, its one of the better looking casinos in Macau. And two, it's definitely not an option for the budget gambler. Most tables are $500 or more, with many starting in the $1,000's. There isn't much variety in the table games either. Outside of a single blackjack and sic bo table, it's all baccarat. They do have a few video poker machines however, which isn't easy to find in Macau.
Still though, the casino is some kind of eye candy for the card connoisseur. They have one long rectangular room so poshly done up that it looks like a suite. Soft graceful chandeliers illuminate a red carpeted floor, while large pieces of artwork hang on exquisitely draped dark walls. Junket VIP companies, smelling the money in the room, line their desks up along one side, handing out dead chips to high rollers. I inquired about the benefits of joining their clubs and all of them offered the same deal: a 1.1% account bonus after each deposit. The Ji Mei casino also has its own program, and they beat the junkets by 0.1%, giving gamers 1.2% on all deposits over $10,000. Table minimums in this room reflect the money put into its floor decoration. 22 Baccarat tables start at $500 and end at $20,000.
Next to this "suite room" is a VIP Baccarat section named the Leroy International Club. It consists of six rooms in total, with the largest room named the Beijing room composed of four baccarat tables. The other five rooms hold two baccarat tables each, and are named after large international cities. Since the doors were locked I had to walk outside to the adjacant patio section to peer through the windows. From what I could make out, the table minimums in these private rooms are somewhere in the $10,000's. The decor of the Leroy International club is similarly done up in grand regal style.
For players with slimmer wallets the Ji Mei does offer one low limit betting room. In this 12 table room you'll find the casino's only $100 tables as well as its slots. Slots start at 10¢ and max out at $1. Video poker consists of four Jokers Wild 4 And 5 Of A Kind Bonus machines. Blackjack is available for $100 while one Sic Bo table has minimums of $50. Compared to the other two rooms at the Ji Mei this one is more low key but nice nonetheless, done up in grey with sculptures of dragons on the wall.
Its worth mentioning that the Ji Mei has a small restaurant for players on its first floor. Both Western and Chinese dishes are available and can be paid for using points accumulated on the Ji Mei player card. It looks like 60 or 80 points is all it takes for a good meal. Beside the restaurant is a very nice lounge section for players to relax in, the first hint of the extravagence to come a floor above in the casino's gaming section. Take the escalator up on the right to join the action.
The Ji Mei is clearly angling for mainland whales. Thus Baccarat and high stakes rule the day.
Player Card — As I write this review now I've been to about 15 casinos in Macau, or just about half of the city's 31 gaming houses. If there's a better Player Card perk than the one going at the Ji Mei, then I haven't seen it, and I strongly suspect that will still be the case after I've been to all 31. Basically, mere possession of the card entitles holders to save $500 a night when staying in Grand Lapa rooms. That's right. Even if you've never gambled in the Ji Mei and have 0 points on your card, you're still entitled to the discount. It's not tied to points accumulation in any way.
From Sunday to Thursday, rooms at the Grand Lapa go for $1480, but if you reserve the room through the Ji Mei casino, it's yours for only $950. On weekends when room rates increase to $1940, the same promotion allows you to stay there for only $1300 on Fridays and $1600 on Saturdays. In certain peak times, however, such as Spring Festival and public holidays, the discounts won't be as large.
The Ji Mei also has other promotions tied into daily point accumulation. Sandwiches and meals require 10 and 22 points each, while boat tickets can be had for 80 points. Free rooms at the Grand Lapa, meanwhile, need 500 points.
If you introduce a friend to join the program, then the first day you two gamble together, you'll earn each others points. That is, if you acquire 45 points on your card and your friend amasses 35, then both cards will be credited with 70 points.
Points can only be earned through table play. The rate of accumulation is 1 point per average bet of $100 per hour of play. For example, if you played for 8 hours at an average bet of $500, then you would earn 8×5=40 points. In other words, even players who spend an afternoon gambling on $100 tables should be able to score a free dinner at least.
The Grand Lapa may not have the name value of more famous Macau island mega hotels, but it's probably just as good. The hotel facilities are outstanding, while the dining and shopping options are second to none.
The Grand Lapa has 388 rooms and 28 suites. Winter rates are as follows:
Taxes and service charges already included.
The Grand Lapa's large outdoor pool is surrounded by lush green trees and a huge happening deck. The pool is heated so its available for use year round. It also has a waterslide and small jacuzzi. Come summer time, I'm sure it's a fantastic place to be.
The pool is located behind the Spa building.
The Grand Lapa's five restaurants mainly do Eastern cuisine. Prices are generally high.
Tung Yee Heen — Located on the second floor, Tung Yee Heen is the Grand Lapa's most expensive restaurant. Gourmet set meals cost $1,300 while regular ones are still a very pricy $550. Most meals come in three different plate sizes with the largest plate generally going for $200 to $500. Serves Cantonese food.
Cafe Bela Vista — Also on the second floor, Cafe Bela Vista specializes in world cuisine. Western, Indian, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Japanesee dishes are all available along with Cantonese fare. Most main course meals range from $100 to $275. Also has a buffet.
The Cake Shop — Next to Cafe Bela Vista, the Cake Shop serves sandwiches, cake, and other small tasty treats. Sandwiches are $58 while slices of cake run customers $16 to $28. Also has doughnuts and croissants.
NAAM Thai Restaurant — Most main dishes at this Thai restaurant are between $100 to $300. Located outside, it's in the same building as the spa.
The Veranda — This poolside joint has a patio section adjacant to the deck. It's closed in winter though so I couldn't see their menu. Open April until December.
The Grand Lapa's spa is in a seperate building located behind the main hotel. Sauna, steam room and indoor jacuzzi are all available for guests to use free of charge. Hours are from 6:30 to 10 p.m..
The fitness centre is very well equipped with a large selection of cardio and weight machines. There's also an exercise studio offering a full regimen of aerobic classes, as well as other group programs such as step, body toning, yoga and spinning. Personal trainers are also available. The Grand Lapa's gym facilites go way beyond what you'd expect, and indeed what you receive, in many other more expensive Macau hotels.
The Grand Lapa's spa has a full range of beauty and massage treatments. They're all expensive however but they do have two treatment suites designed for couples only, a nice perk for those travelling with their significant other. Spa hours are from 10 a.m.. to 10 p.m..
OTHER HOTEL FACILITIES
Behind the pool, the Grand Lapa offers a host of other activities for guests to indulge in. They include tennis courts, mini-golf, as well as rock climbing.
Younger guests meanwhile can kick it in the Kids Company, a place designed for children aged 3 to 12. Staffed by professional counsellors, it has a playground as well as other games aimed to keep kids engaged and entertained.
You can't have it all. Older guests at the Grand Lapa are out of luck in the entertainment department. But don't fret too much about it though. That just means you have more time to spend lounging poolside or in their excellent spa instead.
Vasco, located on the 2nd floor, is the Grand Lapa's only bar. Prices are higher than most hotel bars with beers starting at $50. They also have a decently priced small food menu with an array of different world foods, none more expensive than $60. Their current special is buy one, get one free, daily from 6 to 9 pm. Hours are from 6 pm to 2 am.
Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Bally, Dunhill, Hermes, Valentino — the Grand Lapa's shopping arcade is full of guys I don't know and have never met. (And probably never will either.) Around 15 high end shops populate their shopping section on the lobby floor.
It's tough to find a fault with anything at the Grand Lapa. There's fine dining, good shopping, and facilties that rate among the best in the city. The pool and fitness centre, in particular, and simply superb. For the price you're paying (especially at $950 Sunday to Thursday), the value is just ridiculous.
The Ji Mei casino, meanwhile, is basically just a lot of high stakes Baccarat. If that doesn't appeal to you, then hey, the Sands is right next door. A possible idea may be to stay at the Grand Lapa but play at the Sands. And if Baccarat is your game then you'd have absolutely no reason to ever leave the Ji Mei. Visually speaking, the casino floor borders on stunning while its player card program has easily attainable comps.
Luxury and value are two concepts that often collide in the real world but they can both be yours at the Grand Lapa.
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