SJM was well on their way to constructing a colossally great Neoclassic structure in the spirit of the superb Paris landmark, L'Arc De Triomphe, but they quit a third of the way through. The hotel tower part that makes up most of L'Arc is in no way similar to it's grand ground base, an excellently designed mix of French and Italian style featuring barred balconies, wide arching windows, and white pillars. If you ask me they should have continued that theme all the way up to the structure's top, instead of leaving the tower section looking less interesting than the bland face of most apartment buildings.
L'Arc is one of SJM's newer casinos, which opened on September 20th, 2009.
L'Arc is surrounded by three Macau island giants. MGM is down the road to its left while Starworld is the next building on its right. The pristine Wynn is right across the road.
L'Arc Casino is much smaller than I expected it to be judging from the size of their hotel. Its only has 67 tables in total with gaming limited to just two floors, with much of the second floor belonging to unaffiliated VIP companies. True to Macau form, the overwhelming game of choice is baccarat.
To get an idea what it looks like inside, you only need to know one word — red. Everything is red. The carpet is red, the walls are red, the tables are red. The staff and dealers are dressed in red. It's red everywhere you look, anytime you look. 24/7, it's red, red, red, red. Its redundant in its redness. Its ridiculous in its redness. (Of course I must admit I do suffer from red/green colorblindness so for all I know the floor is simply sublime for those able to see the color red properly.)
At L'Arc you can play Macau's most popular three games, baccarat, blackjack and sic bo, as well as craps. The craps table is very high tech, with a video monitor above tracking game statistics as well as keeping a running list of past rolls. $50 is what it takes to make a pass line bet while the table is 10X odds. Minimums for the other games in the casino fall into the mid range. $100 tables are hard to come by but they do have a decent number of $200 and $300 dollar tables. The most expensive tables are found in their high limit Baccarat section composed of 14 tables with lows ranging from $500 to $2,000. That section is immediately to your right upon entrance.
The second floor consists of a VIP Baccarat section featuring 8 tables all at $1,000 a piece. Between the escalator and the elevators are another 16 tables with lower minimums, but only 12 of those belong to L'Arc. The four Baccarat tables furthest to the right belong to the independant VIP junket Wa Chi club.
Slots in the casino total around 150 with many under 20 cents. High-limit machines are $1 but there are only a few of those. Electronic roulette and sic bo machines can be found in the slot section with minimums of $10.
For non-smokers there are six smoke free Baccarat tables on the ground floor.
Unless otherwise indicated, normal Macau rules and payouts apply to all games.
For about a week I had $50 HKD sitting on my bedside table in my hotel and I was getting tired of looking at it. So I decided to throw it down on a craps bet and be done with it. When I got to the craps table at the L'Arc, there were only two people playing, a tall good looking mainland girl and a guy who I assumed was her boyfriend. Fully expecting to be one and done, I put my chip on the table and hoped for the best. The tall girl didn't know the rules of the game but she was shooting so my fate laid in her hands. What happened next was simply the greatest craps run of my life.
It's moments like these when gambling feels almost too good. It's better than drugs. It's better than booze. It might even be better than women. You feel unstoppable on a big craps run, as chip after chip pile up, as the dice rumble and tumble down the table but do you no wrong. After three or four wins, your rational side starts kicking in, telling you the run can't last forever, it has to end soon, that seven has got to come up and then what happens next? BAM! The shooter rolls the point again, the table lets out a loud cheer and everyone scrambles to make another pass line bet. Such was the scene that day with the tall mainland girl. She probably held the table for a good half hour. Meanwhile throughout her play there were all these interruptions. Her friends phoned looking for her. Hotel staff told her there was a problem with checkout. Her hand was getting tired from shooting the dice so long. But no matter what issue came up, she returned to the table unfazed and kept the boxmen busy paying out. By the time it was over there were about seven other people there with me riding her wave. When she finally finished I looked down at my collection of chips and counted $3,500. Not bad for having started thirty or forty minutes earlier with one little $50 chip.
Of course, gambling being what it is, is a cruel game sometimes. You can't walk away from a casino after a run like that, so I played on, ready to take my win totals to new heights. I mean, it had to be my day right? I played craps a little while longer but figured the good times probably left when the girl did so I walked away shortly after still up $3000. I sought out a $100 Blackjack table and started playing two hands at a time. You see, I was still riding my craps high and couldn't wait to get on that big new run. Long story short, within an hour, my $3,000 was gone and I angrily reached into my pocket for another $2000 more, intent on getting that money back fast. I dropped down two $1,000 bets, and as expected, lost both hands. Walking out of the casino I took absolutely no comfort in the fact that I would have been much better off losing that first $50 craps bet and leaving then.
Player Card — With L'Arc's player card you can accumulate points that can be redeemed for food, transportation and room comps. The desk lady told me to hit the room comp players need to gather 200 points in one day. Other items available are bottles of booze (1880-3880 pts), artwork/decoration trinkets (100,000 pts) and watches (200,000 pts).
Player cards also entitle holders to 15% off in all L'Arc restaurants.
I asked different staff members on three seperate days if they could explain the rate of points accumulation, but no one could say for sure. Such things they said are left up to the computer.
Promotional Chip Program — L'Arc has a rolling chip program with the following rates:
|L'Arc Dead Chip Rates|
Anything under 1% in Macau is a bad deal.
Good luck trying to get a room at L'Arc as the place is sold out most of the time. Don't take that as a sign of praise for the hotel or its facilities though because it's not. It merely means they have a lot of contracts with travel agencies and junkets, so rooms get released to them first. Front desk staff told me there may only be 20 or 30 rooms available each day to the general public.
Maybe that's why L'Arc's rates are so high and its facilities so poor. They're not really competing with that hotel down the road for walk in business. They can do very little and still have a full house.
Rates at L'Arc don't change according to season or time of week, unless it's a special holiday. Normal everyday prices are as follows:
All prices include tax and service charges.
For guests staying on Executive Floors, they can enjoy free coffee and tea all day in the Executive Lounge and complimentary cocktails and snacks in the evening.
L'Arc's outdoor swimming pool is located on the 9th floor. Both the pool and deck are of good size and the landscape design is pretty sharp. Be forewarned though the pool is unheated and shut down two months of the year in February and March.
The staff told me there's also a jacuzzi by the pool, but I completely missed it when out there. Take their word for it though, it's probably there.
A five star hotel that can't heat an outdoor pool isn't trying hard enough if you ask me.
Fans of Western cuisine will be disappointed in L'Arc's dining selection, as its five restaurants basically only do Eastern food. But what you lose in variety you make up for when it's time to pay the bill. All five restaurants menu prices are quite affordable given their location in a premier Macau hotel.
Full House — Full House serves traditional Chinese rice, soup and rice dishes on Level One. Open 24 hours its set meals go for 55 patacas while most other meals are in the $48 to $78 range. It's easily L'Arc's lowest priced restaurant.
Toei Delights — Toei Delights is an affordably priced Japanese restaurant on L'Arc's third floor. While sushi and other Japanese delicacies are expectedly pricy, most of the main dishes fall in the $50 to $100 range. Set meals for two can be had for as low as $228, which is pretty acceptable for a Japanese joint. Open from 11:30 am to 3 pm and again in the evening from 6 pm to 11:30 pm.
Old Shanghai Restaurant — The Old Shanghai Restaurant takes up residence on L'Arc's third floor. Right in line with the other food establishments in the hotel most meals are between $68 and $100. As you'd expect it serves a lot of rice, beef, pork and vegetable dishes. Open from 11 a.m. to midnight daily.
Coffee Shop — Located on the fourth floor, Coffee Shop deals in buffet dining. Breakfast goes for $138, lunch $128, and dinner $228. (Plus 10% service charge.) I tried the dinner buffet and found it to be a little bit overpriced. I think a rate of $168 would be a fairer price for what you're getting. First the good: Fine drink selection including free draft beer. Good Japanese section with lots of sushi and fresh fish. Nice dessert choices with lots of fresh cake and four kinds of ice cream. Now the bad: Not enough selection for my liking. They needed another station of about 10 dishes to warrant a price over $200. I also thought the Western selection was a little lacking, with most things cooked in Chinese style. There also wasn't enough meat. Open from 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m..
The Chinese Restaurant — Situated beside Coffee Shop on the fourth floor, The Chinese Restaurant specializes in Guangdong style meals. Another reasonably priced place, most main dishes can be had for between $68 and $100. On weekends it does breakfast with hours from 10 am to 3 pm and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.. On weekdays it only serves lunch and opens an hour later in the morning at 11 am.
There is no proper spa at L'Arc, but spa facilities do exist. In the men's changing room on the 9th floor there's a sauna while the women's changing room has a steam room.
L'Arc's fitness centre, located on the 9th floor, consists of six cardio machines and some free weights. Obviously very underwhelming and completely unbecoming of a five star hotel.
L'Arc's casino puts on no entertainment shows and its lone bar/nightclub does only karoake and prostitution. Kids have a little better deal though with the third floor Adventure Land. Designed for children 4 to 12 it has video games and a play land area. It's not very big though. Open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and closed every Tuesday.
L'Arc doesn't have any traditonal Western style bars. Drinks do flow at two places however.
L'Arc Lounge — Located beside the check in desk, L'Arc Lounge serves beers, drinks and small desserts. Beers start from $40 while cocktails and harder drinks range from $45 to $65. Open from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.
Club 9 Night Club & Karaoke — I'm not sure why it's called a night club, because all it has are private karoake rooms. There is no dance floor or bar, and it has no shows. It does have young ladies however, who are more than willing to accompany you to your hotel room for an exorbirant sum. In this case, it's $2,000 "for a short time."
Beside L'Arc lounge in the lobby is hotel's small three store shopping section. Chow Tai Fook sells jewellery while L'Arc Gift Shop deals in booze, smokes and Portuguese pastries. One watch shop keeps the time between them.
Unless you book through a travel agency or are part of a junket, then you'll probably have a hard time getting a room at L'Arc. From Sunday to Thursday you wouldn't want to stay there anyway, with the cheapest rooms a grand more than what you'd pay in places like MGM and the Grand Lisboa. While its weekend prices are more in line with going rates, I still wouldn't recommend it. The hotel facilities are subpar and the pool isn't even open year round, nor is it heated. My advice is to leave L'Arc to the junket players, because there's much better value elsewhere.
Its gaming meanwhile is nothing special either. Apart from a good looking craps table giving generous 10X odds, I don't see a reason for anyone to frequent the crimson colored casino.