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Of pars and high rollers

The winners of the 2010 Business Today-Honda Pro-Am of Champions lived it up at The Venetian Macao, as potent a symbol as any of Asia's economic emergence.

Print Edition: May 30, 2010

The recession of 2008-09 turned the global economy's axis on its head. Investors took their money eastwards.

Although it has been around for a while, in many ways The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel epitomises this shift. Located on the Cotai strip of Macao, The Venetian is Asia's answer to the bright lights of Vegas, Nevada. The Cotai, an area of reclaimed land between the islands of Taipa and Coloane, is a masterplanned development of resort casino properties.

The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel and its new convention centre looks set to transform Macao into the continent's preferred destination for meetings, conventions and exhibitions. It's the sheer size and scale of The Venetian Macao convention and exhibition centre—1.2 million square feet of space—that sets it apart: with six adjacent halls and up to 108 concurrently available meeting rooms next to each other, The Venetian boasts a capacity for some 50,000 people and 5,000 exhibitions booths. Among the outdoor recreation facilities at The Venetian are a mini golf course, and a gondola ride in the outdoor lagoon.

In April, The Venetian Macao hosted the winners of the Business Today-Honda Pro-Am of Champions (which was played over three legs in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai, with the Finals held in Delhi). All guests arrived to a grand reception at the 3,000-suite, 10.5 million sq. feet mega resort featuring dazzling replicas of the famous architectural icons of Venice, Italy (her canals).

The group went on a tour of the still-charming Macau city, taking in such sights as the A-Ma temple, St. Paul's cathedral and Senado square. After the welcome dinner on the first evening, a few headed off to try their luck at the casino tables (while the more serious golfers called it an early day to prepare for the big game of golf the next morning).

The gaming floor measures a staggering 5,50,000 sq. ft., and includes approximately 3,000 slot machines—specially designed for the Asian market—and over 750 gaming tables featuring Baccarat, Money Wheel, Blackjack, Craps, Caribbean stud poker, Roulette, Fan-tan, Sic Bo, Three Card Poker, Three Card Baccarat, and Casino War.

A cool (17° C) and misty morning greeted the seven fourballs, including the BT-Honda Pro-Am regional winners, as they teed off for the 15th Anniversary celebration round at The Macau Golf and Country Club. Set amongst hills and valleys, the picturesque par-71 championship course at the Macau G&CC (it has beautiful vistas of Hac Sa beach and the South China Sea), with its narrow and undulating fairways, hosts the Macao Open, a regular date on the Asian Tour.

It made for a hugely enjoyable, but also very competitive, round of golf, which was followed by cocktails and a lavish lunch at the clubhouse. The golf, played in two handicap categories (0-17 and 18-24) and on a Stableford format (where 75 per cent of the amateur's original handicap is taken into account), saw V.V.S. Naidu (0-17) and Mayur Kamdar (18-24) take the honours in their respective categories; Sanjeev Vaz (0-17) and Ajay Dadwal (18-24) were the runners-up.

While the golfers battled it out, the shoppers made their way to the one million sq. ft. of retail heaven, The Grand Canal Shoppes—with its three canals, authentic Italian gondolas and singing gondoliers!

The prize presentation took place at the glittering Gala dinner but not before the guests had enjoyed ZAIA, the first permanent Cirque du Soleil show in Asia written and directed by Gilles Maheu. It was presented in a custom-built 1,800-seat theatre at The Venetian.

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