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COTAI STRIP, MACAO-In what construction sources say is the largest hotel development joint venture since the casino gaming monopoly was removed in Macao in 2001, Starwood Hotels & Resorts World Wide Inc. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. are developing two projects. The projects are the 4,000-room Sheraton Macao and the 860-room St. Regis Hotel & Residences which will have 460 hotel rooms and 400 apartments covering 1.2 million sf.

The Sheraton is scheduled to open in 2008; the St. Regis in 2009. Starwood sources say the Sheraton will be the largest on the Cotai Strip and Starwood’s largest hotel globally. Representatives for Miguel Ko, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific, couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the development cost of the projects.

However, construction sources who have followed the development progress of the master-planned Cotai Strip tell GlobeSt.com the Sheraton and the St. Regis projects will probably come in with a hard construction cost of $4 billion. They base their estimate on a $750,000-per-room hotel construction cost at the Sheraton and the St. Regis, and $500,000 per apartment at St. Regis Residences. Sources also point to the $1.8-billion construction cost of the 3,000-suite, 10.5-million-sf Venetian Macao Resort also under construction on the Cotai Strip by Las Vegas Sands Corp. That per-room construction cost comes to $600,000.

“We were so busy with our design and pre-construction activities that we did not even hold a formal groundbreaking for these sites,” Las Vegas Sands Corp. executive vice president Brad Stone says in a prepared statement. “We are now at the point where you will visibly see the structure rise from the ground and take shape.”

Sheldon G. Adelson, chairman and CEO of LVSC, who conceived the Cotai Strip development six years ago, says “it is impossible not to see the enormous potential of the Cotai Strip.” The strip is an area of reclaimed land between the islands of Taipa and Coloane.

Starwood’s Ko says in a statement that “with the growth in demand for gaming in Macao and the government’s active plans to promote Macao as a top destination, we expect demand in travel to grow steadily.” Also under construction on the strip are the 600-room Shangri-La Hotel Macao and the 1,200-room Traders Hotel Macao, both operated by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. The two hotels, like the Sheraton, are also scheduled to open in 2008.

The Cotai Strip is being master planned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. for seven hotels totaling more than 10,000 rooms. William P. Weidner, president and CEO, LVSC, has said, “It took 75 years for Las Vegas to emerge as an international destination. Our intention is to replicate that feat in less than three years.”

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