What: If it’s action you’re after, Galaxy Macau is your place. Macau’s glamorous Cotai Strip is evolving every day and Galaxy Macau is leading the charge. Earlier this summer, the mega-complex debuted two new hotels — JW Marriott Hotel Macau and The Ritz-Carlton, Macau — as well as a clutch of high-profile restaurants. But it all started back in 2011 with the glittering gold, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Galaxy Hotel, which has become a recognized landmark on the Macau skyline. Enter through the jaw-dropping “Diamond” lobby, where a gigantic neon chandelier spins and sparkles. The 1,500 contemporary rooms and suites have fresh, neutral-toned interiors and come equipped with flat-screen TVs, gratis minibars, walk-in showers, Egyptian cotton linens, complimentary shoe-shine service and free Wi-Fi. Most of the rooms look out over the Cotai Strip’s neon lights and high-voltage Galaxy complex, while others have peaceful river views. Tip: Book one of the sumptuous Royal Suites and you’ll get the VIP treatment — private check-in and your own butler on call 24 hours a day.
Where: Located smack in the middle of the Cotai Strip, on Taipa island, the glitzy complex has a property for every travel style across its six hotels — from the Japanese-influenced rooms in Hotel Okura Macau to luxurious suites at aforementioned The Ritz-Carlton, Macau. Sprawling across 11.8 million square feet, the total tally comes to just short of 4,000 rooms, suites and villas, with Galaxy Hotel carrying the lion’s share. It’s a quick walk to the beautifully maintained Taipa Houses-Museum and the nostalgic Taipa Village, where you can wander through the cobblestone streets and taste-test Macau’s quaint Portuguese eateries. Central Macau, where you’ll find most of the tourist hot spots, is about a 20-minute drive across the bridge.
When: Brace yourself for a crowd all year round, but if you visit in the summer, at least you’ll get to take advantage of the 807,293-square-foot Grand Resort Deck, which is home to a winding 1,886-foot river rapids ride, a mountain waterslide and a gigantic wave pool with a 1,614-foot shoreline. Summers here tend to be wet and sticky, though, so visit between September and December for the best weather. If you happen to visit the Macau hotel on a day with an unfavorable forecast, you can still have a great time by taking refuge in the 10-screen 3-D cinema, catching a show at the 3,000-seat theater, perusing the more than 200 luxury shops along The Promenade or pulling up a seat at a baccarat table.
Why: It’s not just about entertainment at this ever-evolving property: Galaxy Hotel has a long list of dining venues that will excite hungry travelers. Don’t miss the tempting Italian food at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Terrazza. You’ll want to loosen your belt for the Italian-style suckling pig, beef carpaccio and extensive wine list. More of a whiskey drinker? Choose from more than 400 hard-to-find varieties at The Macallan Whisky Bar & Lounge. The first of its kind in the Asia, the lounge feels like a luxurious country home in the Highlands thanks to the stag antler mantelpiece over the fireplace and inviting leather sofas. From Mondays through Saturdays, catch the Macallan Duo performing live while you sip on your favorite Scottish malt. Another watering hole on the property, Surf Bar by the Skytop Wave Pool, is great for sunny day-drinking, and the low-key snacks will be a lifesaver if you’re traveling with kids. For authentic Cantonese flavors in a traditional atmosphere, try Jin Yue Xuan, which has a reputation for top-grade regional dishes and fresh, seasonal ingredients (expect dishes like soup with fish maw, chicken and conch, and crab dumplings).
Extras: Across the entire property, Galaxy Macau is also a dining destination, sporting more than 120 restaurants under its gilded roof. A few of the highlights: Decorated chef Umberto Bombana has opened his third branch of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Galaxy Macau, featuring a decadent menu that will only solidify his reputation as the King of Truffles. Meanwhile, newly opened Lai Heen serves Cantonese cuisine from the top floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Macau. But admittedly, these are just some added incentives to stay at Galaxy Hotel.