Sydney competes with IR transformation of casino

FACED with fierce competition for Asian visitors from cities such as Singapore, Macau and Melbourne, Sydney is fielding The Star, an A$870 million (US$876 million) makeover of Star City – New South Wales’ only casino – into a leisure and MICE destination which happens to have a casino.

The redevelopment is now 80 per cent completed and work is well underway for the “severely missing” jigsaw, said The Star’s managing director, Sid Vaikunta, referring to a A$100 million Events Centre that aims to grab MICE with its 2,200 square metre column-free space that can seat 3,000 pax and 4,000 pax standing when it is completed in early 2013. The centre complements its existing 2,000-seat Lyric Theatre.

The Star, which reopened in September, has reoriented itself to take in views of Sydney Harbour, features a new five-star boutique hotel, The Darling, a slew of signature restaurants and bars including David Chang’s Momofuku Seiobo, a 16-room spa and a new retail collection of leading brands.

When asked by TTG Asia e-Daily if competition from the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore motivated the redevelopment, Vaikunta said: “The Sands model happened 20 years before Marina Bay Sands opened. It started on the Las Vegas strip with The Mirage in 1989 opening with eight new restaurants, beautiful spas, gaming and so on. In Marina Bay Sands, we see it in its largest form as a singular destination in Singapore and what we’re doing is not dissimilar – we’re just doing it in a way that it’s Sydney and it fits our location.”

He said The Star would work on “a city approach”, with Business Events Sydney and Tourism Australia to secure more MICE, adding while there was pretty healthy demand from the domestic market, the real engine of growth was international.

– Full report in the next issue of TTGmice

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