Gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun’s son Arnaldo Ho Yau Heng announced Thursday that he will open a HK$5-billion Macau-themed resort called Lisboeta in 2020, just across the road from the luxury Grand Lisboa Palace in Cotai.
Grand Lisboa Palace, developed by SJM that was founded by his father, is a casino-hotel complex in Cotai due to open next year.
Lisboeta, according to the young Ho, means “citizen of Lisboa”, and represents the bond between Lisbon and Macau. In Cantonese, the resort will be known as “pouking yan”.
The 25-year-old Ho, accompanied by his mother Angela Leong On Kei who is the main shareholder of Macau Theme Park and Resort Limited (MTPR) that is developing Lisboeta, made the announcement about the project during a press conference at SJM’s Grand Lisboa casino-hotel.
According to the presentation, Lisboeta is to be developed on a plot of land where Leong had years ago said she wanted to build a Hello Kitty theme park, which never got government approval.
Ho said that he took over the theme park project in 2010 and applied to develop the plot of land next to it first for the Lisboeta project, adding that he hopes the government would “give us a chance” to give a theme park to Macau in the future.
Ho said that construction of the Lisboeta project began in August last year and was topped out two months ago.
Ho said in the presentation that Lisboeta would pay homage to “old Macau”, featuring replicas of iconic buildings such as Hotel Estoril, the floating casino Macau Palace and New Central Hotel that were big names in Macau in the 60s to 80s.
The family-orientated resort will have 820 rooms in three hotels – Lisboeta Hotel, Maison L’Occitane that will be the first of its kind in the world of the Switzerland-based cosmetics brand, and Casa de Amigo themed hotel with characters from messaging app Line.
In addition to food outlets, meeting space, a mall and a swimming pool, the resort will also feature a 388-metre-long zip-line up to 60 metres high, indoor skydiving in a12 metre high wind tunnel with airspeeds of up to 280 km/h, as well as an IMAX and MX4D cinema.
Asked by reporters whether there would be a casino at Lisboeta, Ho said that he was not a gaming operator.
“This land is for hotel use, I’m here as a hotel company, so I can’t comment at the moment on whom I will be partnering with, and whether there will be casinos in the end is subject to government’s review and approval,” Ho said, “Of course I would like to have [a casino], because it’s a good thing to have gaming element.”
But Ho acknowledged that if his company could build a bridge to connect Lisboeta with Grand Lisboa Palace it would help the visitor flow to both projects.
Asked how the HK$5 billion would be financed for Lisboeta, Ho only said that the amount covers both construction and land costs, and that he “doesn’t really care” on return on investment (ROI) as it was a long-term project.
Asked by the media if developing Lisboeta would help him gain a seat on SJM’s board, Ho said that it would be up to the board to decide, although he would want to be part of the board.
Responding to a reporter’s question on whether his father had given him advice on the project, Ho said the concept for Lisboeta was inspired by his father’s previous projects.
“My dad doesn’t need to give me any suggestions on this project, his presence in my life already tells me what I should do for the project,” Ho said, pointing out that it was his job as Stanley Ho’s son to pass down what his father had developed to the next generation as not many people nowadays know about it.