I’ve always liked Macau. Sure, it’s famous for being a gambling mecca (with revenues crushing those of Las Vegas) and for this reason, it hasn’t always been a stand-out family vacation destination. The last decade has changed this and I argue that visiting Macau with kids can be enjoyable if you choose the right luxury hotel.
Our oasis from the glittering casino lights was Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip. If you can tear yourself away from the hotel’s five swimming pools, it’s easy to explore Macau’s history as a Portuguese colony, enjoy family-friendly attractions and nosh on amazing local eats nearby.
Our stay was hosted, but keep in mind the advice below is given by someone who lived in nearby Hong Kong for five years. I have friends living in Macau who are likely to read this post (some work at competing hotels), a husband who worked on a major casino deal there and personally traveled to Macau many times. Without question, I am convinced that Four Seasons Hotel Macao Cotai Strip is the best place for families to stay in Macau. Here’s why.
1. The Hotel Is Non-Gaming
Having stayed at both Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas and Four Seasons Hotel Macao Cotai Strip (both are non-gambling hotels), I am sold on the benefits of staying outside of a casino, especially when traveling with kids. The absence of chaos is notably more relaxing.
(I’ve heard through my local grapevine that our experience would have been much different at other Macau hotels. I’ll leave it at that.)
2. Five Swimming Pools
Make sure that your Macau itinerary allows enough time to bounce between the hotel’s five swimming pools. They’re located next to each other and bordered by lovely cabanas that are free for guests to use. I might suggest arriving early enough to snag a cabana, especially during the summer heat. Pair it with a refreshing lime soda, smoothie or glass of wine.
The back pool’s waterfall and grotto was a favorite of my daughter’s though sitting in the shallow wading pool proved to be a perfect answer to a hot August day.
3. Glorious Macanese Food
I truly believe that Macau is a foodie’s paradise. The region was critical to the spice trade and the Portuguese-Chinese fusion cuisine is hearty and delicious (especially when paired with Portuguese wine). Must-eat food like caldo verde, egg tarts, Macanese pork chops and other favorites can be found inside the hotel and also withing walking distance. I could eat this Serradura pudding from room service all day long.
In addition to the kids’ menus on offer throughout the hotel, the international buffet at Belcançà£o caters to a number of tastes. Eat egg tarts for breakfast (yes, I did), Indian food, dim sum or feast on a healthy salad. The choice is yours.
Go to the elegant Zi Yat Heen for their extensive menu of exquisite dim sum and other Cantonese fare. It’s family-friendly, especially at lunch. Poolside dining is also seasonally available.
4. The Venetian Is Next Door
Walk to The Venetian without stepping outside. Grab a map from the concierge along the way, as the complex is just massive. Three canals (versus just the one in its Las Vegas counterpart) offer short yet extremely entertaining rides in authentic gondolas. This was a highlights for my 6-year-old so we highly recommend it. Stop for an egg tart at Lord Stow’s and shop until you drop at the hundreds of stores.
Adults can pop into The Venetian’s casinos to have a look at what the hype is about and note the differences between serious Macau-style gambling and the Las Vegas casino party scene.
5. Babysitting By Request
If the kids tire from a long day of sightseeing book a babysitter to enjoy the world-class dining Macau has to offer. Or, browse the luxury Shoppes at Four Seasons and go to the spa. I highly recommend the latter.
6. Amenities Galore In A Lovely Room
My daughter gasped with joy upon seeing the pink pop-up tent in our lovely room. And, it wasn’t just us who received turn-down service–dolls inside the tent did, too. Kid-friendly toothpaste, sunscreen, shampoo and much more were already waiting in our room which is a good thing because I’d left her toothbrush out our prior hotel.
Adults receive the lovely L’Occitane bath amenities. A Nespresso machine and stash of tea kept me caffeinated first thing in the morning, which I always appreciate. WiFi was fabulous, bed plush and comfortable, bathroom large and our little suite had a nice living area. We even hosted an impromptu play date here with local friends. Per usual, it was a pleasant place to spend a little downtime between touring.
7. The House Of Dancing Water Is Across The Street
City of Dreams is a massive entertainment complex also full of shopping, restaurants and hotels to explore. There, I highly recommend The House of Dancing Water (click to see my full review). If your kids can sit through a 90 minute show they’ll be captivated by this impressive water-based show full of death-defying acrobatics, motorcycle stunts, dance and more. The concierge can assist with booking tickets, which you should do well in advance. This $250 million show is extremely popular for a good reason.
8. Private House Cars
Though there is plenty to do within walking distance of the hotel, a visit to the historic Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul is a must. Consider hiring a house car for this short journey (perhaps 15 minutes with mild traffic). There are no seat belts in the back seats of Macau taxis plus they are extremely hard to come by should your journey land you on the outskirts of town.
Another common journey by car is to the Macau Tower entertainment complex where a rotating restaurant, shops and even bungee jumping await. Visit Macau’s pandas or even go to a black sand beach for the day. The house cars are at your service for a nominal fee.
9. Walk To Taipa Village
Escape the casinos to soak up some culture. It’s about a 15 minute walk to Taipa Village where a number of Portuguese restaurants and historic buildings await. The Taipa Houses-Museum displays what life was like for an affluent Portuguese family in Macau throughout five restored 1920s homes.
Definitely plan to eat in quiet Taipa Village. The famous Rua do Cunha snack street is where many tourists in the know load up on souvenir snacks like jerky, almond cookies and egg tarts to take home. Some of Macau’s best Portuguese restaurants like O Santo and Antonios are here.
10. Easy Ferry Ride From Hong Kong
Walk from Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong to the Shun Tak building where the ferry terminal is. Buy a first class Cotai Jet ferry ticket and arrive in Macau within a quick and comfortable hour. Alternatively, take a ferry directly from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau, also an easy hour. Make sure to arrive at the Taipa ferry terminal which is just a few minutes from Four Seasons Hotel Macao Cotai Strip.
No visa is required for U.S. citizens to visit Macau, but you do need to clear customs during arrival and departure from Macau.
I try to loop in a criticism, but in this case I can’t think of any. We experienced a flawless stay. Note that new hotels and casinos are popping up all over Macau so there is a low hum of some construction noise in the pool area and all around Cotai. Carry an umbrella in the summer along with bottled water and sunscreen–it’s hot. We stayed two nights but next time I will book at least three and explore the Taipa area more thoroughly.
(Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip is one of the resorts I can book for you with agent-exclusive amenities that will enhance and add value to your stay. Please send me your dates and I’ll tell you what’s on offer.)
Have questions about Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip? Just ask.