The Rocks Hotel and Babylon Casino are two seperate buildings owned by different companies, but I've included them together for this review because The Rocks Hotel is the defacto hotel of the Babylon Casino. Both parties advertise each other on their respective websites, while Babylon patrons can get free rooms at the Rocks through various promotions.
Both properties opened in December 2006. Babylon is owned by SJM, while Rocks Hotel is managed by the nearby Landmark Hotel.
The Rocks Hotel and Babylon Casino are situated beside each other on the southern end of Fisherman's Wharf. The Sands is right across the street.
At the time of my visit the Babylon was undergoing renovation to its second and third floors. No one could tell me when the renovation would finish, only that it's been going on for months. That coupled with the absence of seeing any actual work being done would lead me to believe that "renovation" in this case actually means "business is lagging so we're shutting half the place down to reduce costs." In any event, if they are renovating, they're renovating the wrong place. It's the building's bleak exterior that needs work on most. To me, it's always looked so hopeless and forlorn.
The inside of the Babylon is actually pretty cool. Done up in brown to signify the desert sand the main floor gaming room is circular in shape. If you stand in the middle and look up it's possible to see some of the second and third floors. A large sun shaped chandelier hangs from the ceiling and looks very sharp when taken in view together with the blue lamp torches lit on the second floor. Decorating the walls on all sides are fine sculpted heads of powerful Arabian beasts, such as lions, bulls, and preying birds. One particularly forceful creature looks like a flying horse with a lions head. Not knowing much about Babylonian mythology I had to ask the staff what it was and they told me it was a dragon. My first reaction was: Really, a dragon is in the desert?? Man, Chinese culture, for the Chinese, truly is ubiquitous. However an online search later revealed that dragons do in fact play quite a role in Babylonian legend so there you have it, shows how much I know.
Due to the ongoing renovation, only the Babylon's main floor is currently open for business. Tables now total a mere 23, with four games offered. Minimums are pretty low with most tables under $300 and many at $100. Slots don't break the bank either, with the highest machines checking in at 20 cents, a dime more than the cheapest ones. Electronic versions of Sic Bo, Roulette, and Baccarat are also available with minimums of $5, $10, and $30 respectively. For high rollers, the Babylon Club has the casino's most expensive tables, with minimum bets of either $500 or $1000.
There is a place to eat at the Babylon, but it's very small. The tiny Al-Frat Cafe, located just off the casino floor, seats only four. Soft drinks, tea and beer range from $12 to $28 while sandwiches are between $23 and $28. Very small pieces of cake are $22.
No part of the Babylon is smoke free.
Unless otherwise indicated, normal Macau rules and payouts apply to all games.
I'm not even sure you can get the Babylon player card at the Babylon. If you can, nobody's pushing it, and it doesn't really matter anyway, because the card is only good for 10% discounts in Macau stores and restaurants. Holders can't accumulate points on it through casino play nor are there any bonus promotions related to it.
The Babylon card is the same card as the Pharoah's Palace card. I got mine at Phoarah's Palace. At the Babylon, it's like nobody cares anymore. Their service desk goes unmanned most of the time and when staff finally do arrive, they're either unwilling or unable to issue people cards. Go to the Pharoah's Palace if you want one.
The Babylon Casino only offers a VIP Card. Details about the program were not very forthcoming when I asked about it at the desk. There are no pamphlets advertising it nor any membership forms to fill out. All I could get was that membership benefits are related to deluxe rooms at the Rocks Hotel, as well as to transportation services and some dining comps.
For high stakes Baccarat players the Babylon casino does offer a pretty attractive promotional chip program. One downside though is you have to buy your chips in either Hong Kong or Macau. This can be inconvenient to players from mainland China. Chinese law says that players from the mainland may not carry more than $20,000 RMB into Macau. To get around this, most Macau casinos make it possible buy chips on the mainland and transport them to Macau. However, the Babylon does not offer this service.
From Hong Kong, a $10,000 purchase nets a free round-trip Hong Kong Macau Turbo Jet ticket.
At $35,000 (Sun - Thu) and $50,000 (Public holidays/Fri/Sat), players get
Let's say you go on a weekend. Rates at the Rocks or the Landmark will be around $1500 per night. The round trip Turbo Jet ticket is $275. Throw in another $125 (I'm speculating) for the food coupon and that adds up to $1900 worth of comps. That's 3.8 percent of your buy in. That simply destroys junkets I know about who only give 1.2% cash back.
At $200,000, the deal is the same as above, only you're not messing around with no boat. You're travelling to and from Macau by helicopter.
For purchases in Macau you can choose between either 0.5% cash back or the following:
Minimum buy in for the Macau deal is $50000.
The Rocks Hotel is trying to pass itself off as 18th Century Europe with its French windowed balconies and Victorian charm. That might actually be worth something if the building was from that era or it wasn't sitting in the last lot of a lame Macau theme park. I mean, really, who are they trying to fool? Granted, the visuals are nice, and the hotel does look sharp from the outside, but $1500 plus per night seems too much of a price to pay for an illusion.
All told, The Rocks Hotel has 72 rooms in total spread out over 5 floors. Cheapest rooms in the winter season go for $1230 (Sun to Thurs) and $1,510 (Fri/Sat). Listed rates for the other types of rooms are as follows, but you can confidently knock 25% off each price, given the low season.
Sorry, there's no pool at the Rocks Hotel. Of course the hotel is surrounded by water but people aren't authorized to swim there. You could probably try it out if you wanted to, and maybe grow another limb or two.
Vic's Cafe, the Rocks only restaurant, is located in the lobby. Didn't Robbie Robertson once sing a song about Vic's Cafe? Why do you always end up down at Vic's Cafe? I said, I don't know, the wind just kind of pushed me this way.... The wind pushed me there too one night and I stopped in for a burger and fries. The place was empty outside of one group of people doing some kind of photo shoot at a nearby table. I found the burger to be dry and the fries not enough. Definitely a disappointment and not worth the 85 patacas I paid for it. Vic's Cafe's menu is a mix of Indian, Western and Chinese cuisine, with most dishes under $100. Open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m..
No spa to speak of at the Rocks, only a very tiny Fitness Room located on the roof composed of six cardio machines and some free weights.
Nothing in the Babylon. And nothing in the Rocks Hotel either. You got to make it happen yourself.
The Rocks Hotel lone bar, the Sky Lounge, is located on the roof. Prices are right in line with most Macau hotel bars with beers at $35 and cocktails starting from $45. They also have a good wine selection. Food menu is very light though with not much selection. Open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m..
The lobby of the Rocks Hotel holds two small stores, a flower shop and a gift shop. Both of them were closed though and completely void of goods when I was there. Maybe when Fisherman's Wharf reopens in the spring, they'll do the same as well.
The Rocks Hotel offers little in the way of facilities or restaurants. Its shopping, meanwhile, is either minimal or non-existent, depending on the time of year. Its only point of interest is in its classically styled architecture, but I don't think it's impressive enough to merit a stay. I mean, if you're going to spend more than $1000 on a hotel room in this area of Macau, then drop the extra $200 and go to the Grand Lapa. The Rocks is so far out of the Grand Lapa's league that it's almost not even fair to compare the two.
The Babylon casino, given its current state, is really not worth a visit either. Perhaps after the remodel is complete it will regain some of its life and vigor, but when I went there, it had a real down vibe. I guess that's kind of unavoidable though when two thirds of the building is shut down and unavailable for use. I will say, however, that high stake Baccarat players from Hong Kong should be all over their promotional chip program. That alone keeps the Babylon very relevent for those type of players. Four percent in comps is a great deal any way you cut it.