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Family trip to Macao

Christina Pfeiffer visits Macao on a family reunion and discovers a city of bright lights, big resorts and a bounty of family fun for all ages.

When you have family and friends spread around the world, it can be a challenge to find the right time or place to catch up. Choosing an overseas destination for my family reunion was proving tricky, especially as there were young children tagging along. With relatives flying in from as far as the UK, the youngest of the clan seven years old and the oldest 70, we needed a destination that would appeal to a wide range of age groups.

In Asia, family-friendly beach destinations are a dime a dozen, but if a big city getaway is what you are after, Macao has a lot to offer families – and what’s more – many of the attractions are free. This compact destination punches way above it weight when it comes to packing so much excitement into such a small area. But the size only makes it that much easier to get around with the kids in tow!

With dazzling casino resorts popping up here, there and everywhere, a lot of Macao’s allure lays in its glitz and glamour, a city that is always pulsating and full of promises. Not surprisingly, these resorts also have plenty of exciting activities designed to keep younger visitors smiling. Add to the mix Macao’s Portugese history and variety of attractions - such as the Flora Gardens, Macau Tower, the Cable Car, Science Centre, Open Top Bus and the mega shows - and you have a family holiday destination for everyone to enjoy.




Ni Hao Macao

Arriving from Australia, the ferry transfer from Hong Kong International Airport to Macao couldn’t have been easier. Our luggage is checked through from Australia to Macao, allowing us to head straight to the ferry transfer counter and avoid the airport immigration queues, where we find a short, stress-free wait for the boat. Two services, TurboJET and CotaiJet, offer regular Jetfoils and TriCats between Hong Kong and Macao.

To the galaxy... and beyond

One of the many benefits of choosing Macao for a family holiday is that resorts are designed to cater for big groups. Holidaymakers travelling with extended family are in luck; the resorts offer accommodation options for varied budgets, while sharing common facilities, such as swimming pools, resort decks, kids’ facilities, local and international restaurants, and shopping malls.

Enter Galaxy Macau. Galaxy’s Grand Resort Deck is fabulous fun for the little ones, boasting the world’s largest Skytop Wave Pool, expansive tropical gardens complete with waterslides, lagoons and white-water rapids, straddling five hotels – JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Hotel Okura, Banyan Tree and Galaxy Hotel. Not to mention the 10-theatre cinema complex, where we decide to catch up on the latest Hollywood releases (many films are shown here before they are even released in Australia) and enjoy the latest in 3D technology.



Sands Cotai Central is another popular complex that has hotels to fit the budget, from Holiday Inn Macao, Conrad Macao and Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel to the lavish St Regis Macao. Sheraton Grand Macao’s Family Suites are perfect for families; the kids’ rooms are decked out with toys and cushions, child-sized tables, armchairs, game consoles, large flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi... the list goes on. Some are even themed with DreamWorks characters like Shrek. Even bathrooms have products especially for kids, like the Shine for Sheraton™ bath amenities.

The DreamWorks Experience at Sand Cotai Central is the largest DreamWorks production outside of the USA and you may just find parents having more fun than the kids at the interactive, buffet Shrekfast Character Breakfast. The dancing and singing DreamWorks characters have even the shyest members of my family boogying with Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and the animals from Madagascar. My seven-year-old nephew is so taken by the Shrekfast breakfast he insists on going to the Paradise Garden in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central to have more photos taken afterwards with the Madagascar crew.



A blend of new and old

Macao’s newest resort, Studio City Macau, has an impressive family entertainment centre that is five-star yet affordable, with themed nightclubs, local and international restaurants, a unique resort deck and creative shopping streets.

The kids will love the new magic show performed by international illusionists at The House of Magic. Then there’s the eye-popping Golden Reel ride, Asia’s highest Ferris wheel and world’s first figure-8 Ferris wheel, where you can sit back and admire a bird’s-eye of Macao from 130 metres in the air. Studio City Macau spared no expense in partnering with Universal Studios to create the exciting Batman Dark Flight.

This 4D flight simulation ride is an action-packed adventure through Gotham City that will have the littlies – and the ‘biggies’ – squealing in joy. It has a minimum height requirement of 120 centimetres and kids shorter than 140 centimetres need to be accompanied by an adult.



Even with all these new and exciting family attractions, Macao has not forgotten its rich historic past. The city is a colourful blend of its Chinese heritage and the leftover architectural and culinary influences of Portuguese colonialism. The city is safe, clean and compact, so taking a self-guided walking tour is at the top of our checklists. Actually, it’s a city made for walking, allowing us to set our own pace and discover hidden corners and secret treasures.

The centre of Macao is a World Heritage Site teeming with churches, temples and forts, and we are surprised by how much we see in such a short time. Downloading the ‘Step Up Macao’ mobile app to our Apples and Androids, we wander around the streets, reading short stories about the sites we pass and stopping at suggested restaurants and shops along the way. What a perfect end to a fabulous family holiday filled with ear to ear grins!



***Macao Report Card***

Information
www.visitmacao.com.au


Getting there
QANTAS and Cathay Pacific fly into Hong Hong on a regular basis then it is just a 30 minute ferry transfer to Macao.



Stay & Do
www.galaxymacau.com
www.conradmacao.com
www.sandscotaicentral.com/dreamworks

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