Hotel Taipa Square opened its doors in 2005 and is the second hotel owned by a Mr. Chan, the other being the Golden Dragon on Macau island. Melco Crown runs its tiny casino, by far the smallest of the three they operate in Macau.
There's a nearly perfect square grid in the middle of Taipa Island, composed of six streets that run North-South, and four that run West-East, which for all intents and purposes, basically IS Taipa island. I personally consider that area to be the island's little "downtown." After all, every other part of Taipa is either a park, a racetrack, an airport, or the very lovely Taipa Village.
Hotel Taipa Square is located in the northwest of that grid, right beside the racetrack and Grandview Hotel.
I had to laugh out loud when I read online about the "modern decorated casino" at Taipa Square. If looking like a bad 70's basement is your idea of modern decoration, then all the more power to you, but I think most of us know what "modern" means. Taipa Square hits you full force with bad red brown swirling carpet, weird floral wall prints and a row of square black pillars outfitted with some pretty distasteful 1970's type decorations. Another strange looking swirling wall pattern tile is almost as bad as the floor. I almost wonder if Melco Crown picked these artifacts up from the ruins of a long defunct SJM casino that closed in 1979. To say the place could use a complete overhaul would be an understatement.
Fortunately, it won't cost you a lot to gamble there because Taipa Square is one of the cheapest casinos in town. Minimums start as low as $50 and top out at only $300. Gaming takes place on two floors, with 14 tables on the ground floor and 17 tables on floor 1. Blackjack and Sic Bo join Baccarat as the only games available, with a couple of Non-Commission tables thrown in as well. It should be noted that bets in the casino can be made in either Macau Patacas or Hong Kong Dollars.
Drink service is a big plus at Taipa Square as there is self-serve drink station on the first floor where you can help yourself to Sprite, water, Coca Cola, and tea as well as free sweet buns. A small $55 buffet restaurant is also located at the end of the room, with about 6 or 7 different meat and vegetable choices.
A quick word about the dress code, before I finish. All Melco Crown casinos have a dress code regulation, which prevents, among other things, men from wearing shorts. In 2009 I was denied entry into the Taipa Square casino for that very reason. Since then they've come to their senses though and the dress code is no longer enforced, whether it be at Taipa Square or Altira or the City of Dreams. What a dumb rule that was to begin with. Macau gets pretty hot in summer in case they haven't noticed.
After making just about the stupidest bet one can make at a horsetrack (trifectas on all 15 races with identical 3,5,8 numbers for every race), I walked across the street to Taipa Square to start my work for the day. I was in line for an easy afternoon, all I had to do was go to four or five casinos, walk around the inside and try to get a good feel for how they looked again. The whole exercise was just to basically reconfirm what I already knew. Taipa Square was my first stop but it didn't take long for my plans to be curtailed by the mere sight of a Blackjack table. Succumbing sadly, easily, and oh so pathetically, I sat down, reached for my wallet, and started playing.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and damn it, it felt like a Sunday afternoon. The pace of play was slow, leisurely, and very relaxing. Smaller casinos in Macau are great at generating that kind of vibe. There are no lights, no crowds of people, no noise, just you, the green felt, the chips, a dealer, and some cards. Take as long as you want to bet, to decide whether to hit or stand, or sip on your coffee for an hour, no one really cares. There's not one person in the whole casino who's in any sort of hurry, and that includes the dealers as well. The mega casinos are great for being in the action on a Saturday night, but on a Sunday afternoon, I'll take places like Taipa Square.
Play went rather excellently for me. It started off rough, after an hour I was down about $1,200 and was down to my last bet. I put my remaining $300 in and was rewarded with a Blackjack. After that the cards turned and I started doing well. When the big run came about an hour later, it was just me and this 40-year-old guy from Hong Kong who spoke pretty good English at the table. For the most part he back-bet on my hand and it was just us against the dealer. Occasionally we'd disagree about a basic strategy play (he didn't want to double a 10 against a 9 for example), but for the most part we were in unison. Sometimes he'd break off and play his own hand to try and change the luck and his strategy worked most of the time. It got to the point three or four times where I'd won enough and was ready to walk away if I lost the next hand but I just kept winning. After three hours I called it quits up $8,000, pretty good for betting only $200 or $300 a hand. That definitely ranks as one of my all time biggest wins.
As for my trifectas, well, I guess I blew all my luck at the casino because none were even close. I'm sure the Wizard will admonish me in due time for betting on horses and/or choosing trifectas on the most random of grounds. But as Dusty Springfield so poignantly sang, being good isn't always easy, no matter how hard I try.
Note from the Wizard: I do indeed rebuke James for betting trifectas. I don't know much about betting the horses in Macau, but in the U.S. the best bets are the simple ones on win, place, and show. The exotic bets like trifectas carry a house edge about 7% higher.
Taipa Square runs no promotions nor is there a player card where points can be redeemed for comps. They do have a three tier VIP card, however.
VIP Card — There is a red, yellow, and black VIP card. The red card is the lowest so let's start there. It requires a buy in of $10000 to receive 0.9% cash back (monthly) or 0.8% immediately. If you decide to take the 0.9%, claims need to be made on the 5th of each month. Possession of the red card entitle holders to basically no comps at all.
With buy ins of $50,000 however, gamers receive the much better yellow card, which returns 1.2%, (1.1% cash back and 0.1% hotel comps). Comps at the yellow card tier are significantly better, since they exist, with gamers eligible for 10% off at Taipa Square restaurants, late checkout, and priority service. The best perks at this level are all awarded based on rated play which include complimentary rooms, food, hotel coupons and birthday gifts.
The best card is the Black card, which is given to yellow card members who display "exceptional gaming interest". What that means, I think, is that they have to roll in the millions, probably somewhere north of 5 million dollars a month. While the rate of return is the same as the yellow card, black card owners get three additional comps: free pick up and delivery, priority booking and room upgrade, and free cigarettes.
Taipa Square also has four other buy in promotions:
Please be noted that promotional chips can only be used to play Baccarat or Sic Bo.
Finally for anyone who reserves a hotel room online, they'll receive a $100 gaming chip.
Thanks to the very lovely Christine Cheung, the Taipa Square whiz receptionist who keeps order over the first floor Premium Program desk. She explained everything to me skillfully and succinctly, and is a real credit to her casino and department. Thank you Christine!
I stayed at Hotel Taipa Square for two nights back in August of 2009. That just goes to show the difference between the Wizard and I. When the Wizard comes to Macau, he and his entourage stay at the Wynn (and get guided tours of the ultra exclusive Sky Casino), while I take my business down to Taipa island and Hotel Taipa Square. (And not even that anymore. No sir, for the past year, it's been all San Va Hospederia and their 3 by 5 foot rooms for this kid. At least it's got a great location, right near Senado Square.)
Anyway, I remember being pretty pleased with my stay at Hotel Taipa Square. There were no problems checking in or out. Front desk staff were very amicable and the rooms were pleasant, clean and of good size. I ordered a lot of room service from the Western restaurant, but found their servings to be a little small. If you order a sandwich, you'd better order two.
The hotel has 406 guest rooms in total, with guest lodgings found from floors 5 to 20. Their lobby is on the 21st floor, which I always find a little annoying. I like walking in and being able to go straight to the desk. Rates in Hong Kong dollars are as follows:
|Taipa Square Hotel Room Rates|
For standard room prices, don't forget to add 15% for tax and service fees. Front desk staff told me the suite prices, which I failed to find online. An email to their booking department also went unanswered. I don't know, they seem a little low to me, especially since they're supposed to include all tax and service charges.
Taipa Square has a hole in the ground outside with some water in it. Okay I admit that's not a very nice description, but that's kind of all it is. It sort of reminds me of those pools that low scale apartments sometimes have fenced off outside their buildings. Zero ambience, but hey, you still kind of wished you lived there in the summertime.
The pool can be found on the 4th floor and is open from 8 am to 7 pm daily. In the winter it's closed.
Dining was a lowlight of my stay there in 2009. I doubt much has changed in the interim.
Barros Restaurant — Barros is strictly Cantonese fare, with most meals $38 to $138. I'm a little weak with the more difficult traditional Chinese characters, so I couldn't make much out, only that the four main headings of the small menu are Guangdong style ($48-$188), seafood ($8, $14, $190, $450), vegetables ($48-$68) and simple menu ($52-$138). Dim Sum is also duly accounted for Barros, with prices $20 to $50.
If set meals are more your thing, individuals can eat for $440 or $648 while parties of four have options that range from $238 to $880. For even larger groups of 10 to 12, there are four different set meals, which run $3388, $3988, $4888, and $5888 respectively.
Barros is on the 3rd floor and opens from 10 am to 3 pm in the morning and afternoon and from 6 pm to 11 pm at night.
Cassia Court — Cassia Court's a la carte menu mostly features Western dishes. Soup is $32 to $48, salads $60 to $76 and sides $28 to $36. (Small) sandwiches run $25 to $45, while chicken, pork chops, ribs and steak go from $50 to $138. Seafood finally is $56 to $138. For Asian lovers rice and noodle meals are $36 to $80.
A morning buffet runs seven days a week and goes for a miniscule $58 for adults and children alike. On Saturday and Sunday nights, a dinner buffet takes over and costs $148 for adults and $108 for children. The selection includes imported fare from France, Chile, Brazil, and Norway. Also on the 3rd floor, Cassia Court is open from 7 am to 11 pm daily.
Taipa Square's "gym" is an insult to travellers everywhere. One bike, one treadmill, and one larger multi function apparatus makes not a gym, I don't care what the website says. What if, God forbid, two guests wanted to work out at the same time? I've been in closets that have had more space than what you have to work with at Taipa Square. Still though, I guess it's better than nothing.
The "fitness centre", accessible via the outdoor pool on the 4th floor, is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm.
For spa enthusiasts, Taipa Square leaves that up to your imagination.
You'll be dreaming long and hard for any entertainment as well.
There's a decent looking lounge beside the lobby on the 21st floor.
The Atrium Lounge — Pretty good views of Taipa from the Atrium Lounge, and you'll be paying at least $50 for them, as per lounge rules. That's the minimum amount patrons are required to spend. No food at all, it's all cheap liquid libations, with liquers $28, beer $30 to $35, cocktails $36, whisky $30 to $40 and cognac $85 or $125. For full bottles, champagne is $98 to $158, wine $108 to $580, whisky $220 to $1180 and cognac $400 to $1300.
Atrium Lounge is open daily from 3 pm to 11:30 pm.
There's one shop on the ground floor selling lighters, cigarettes, watches and jewellery. Nothing very expensive, watches top out at $1000 and jewellery at $5000. If that's not enough for you, the monster malls at Cotai Strip beckon, but it's not exactly an easy thing to get down there. Neither Taipa Square nor neighbouring Grandview offer any free shuttles, so it's either a cab (around $20) or my personal favorite, taking the Number 11 bus. That's Chinese code for getting somewhere on foot, and I think that ride would take about a half hour from the hotel doors.
As I mentioned before, I stayed at this hotel in 2009 and didn't have any problems. There was no noise, no disturbances, and everything in the room worked fine. It was a perfectly acceptable stay. Now the question is, would I stay there again knowing what I now know about casino hotels in Macau? That answer is probably not. For one thing, it's next door neighbour, Grandview, probably has it beat, as do about fifteen other places. In my view, Taipa Square's restaurants and facilities just aren't good enough.
The casino gets a failing grade as well. Not only do they not do enough to attract mass gamers, but they have a bunch of decoration that belongs in 1977. If you like smaller venues though, I suppose it will do just fine.
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