ILEA Hong Kong and MISE Macau met up in Macau’s Cotai Strip for an educational and unforgettable backstage tour of event spaces in Studio City and City of Dreams. The event was curated by ILEA Hong Kong’s Director of Education Vincent Ng from 1+1=11 productions and took 20 lucky event professionals on an experience they will not soon forget.
The tour met up in Studio City at the hologram, a 4-dimensional technical marvel that displays a mix of advertising combine with a sound and light performance every 15 minutes. Our hosts, the very helpful and knowledgeable Roy Yan and Nyon Lam from Melco Crown escorted us to our first venue the Studio City Ballroom.
The Studio City Ballroom and labyrinth of breakout rooms is a great space for a large group wanting a bit more exclusivity then nearby ballrooms can provide. The Grand ballroom can seat 1600 for a banquet, the adjoining pre-function space and event garden make for a nice pre-event cocktail. There are many breakout rooms for storage, offices and green rooms. The ballroom décor itself is typical ballroom carpets, high ceilings and thankfully no major chandeliers to get in the way and plenty of rigging points. One of the most appealing thigs is the car sized lift the delivers straight in to the back area making it ideal for auto launches and large props.
From the ballroom we moved to the Studio City Event Center arena a 5000 seat concert hall with VIP boxes and vaulted ceiling. The space is perfect for a pop concert or Amway style briefing for their sales teams. From there it was onto Pacha Night Club the decadent club found in 10 different cities around the world epitomizing club life. Pacha Macau is available for private bookings on weekdays.
The tour reached new heights and got a bird’s eye view of Macau from the Golden Reel. This modern Ferris wheel is situated in the figure 8 in the top of the building. The ride was gentle and was interesting to look out of the construction site that is the Cotai Strip. From there it was onto the Batman Dark Flight Experience . Not for the faint of heart this ‘ride’ starts slow by setting the scene of Wayne Enterprises talking about some of their latest inventions. It all starts to heat up when the joker attacks and guests are moved into the other room to board the ‘bat plane’. Once strapped in, the mechanics of the theatre style seats lift you high up and close to a giant screen where the graphic animation twists and turns in a virtual reality that cause a serious case of giddy imbalance. The few that didn’t like roller coasters were wishing they stayed outside in Starbucks, the rest laughed liked children in a playground. After a big thank you to our friends at Melco Crown the group boarded the shuttle over to City of Dreams and the Grand Hyatt.
When it comes to making guests feel special The Grand Hyatt really get it. They understand it is personalized attention and the small details that count. We were greeted in the lobby by the head of marketing and the hotel manager who took us up to the Salão Do Teatro function room to meet the rest of the team.
Upon entering the space we saw four gorgeous tables set up with full settings and some of the most beautiful show plates, striking linens and colorful centerpieces. The second half of the room was laid out for a presentation in a large horseshoe. Each place had a digital name plate for each guest. Each guest was paired up and seated next to a Grand Hyatt team member. Each guest’s place had a small gift of a very classy branded usb and a phone accessory. After coffees were served the group was then presented with a large screen presentation giving an overview of the hotel, guest rooms and the capabilities as well as their current MICE special offer. Upon completion, very dramatically, with the flick of a switch, the screen disappeared, the lights went down. As ‘mission impossible’ music beat loudly the whole wall slowly began to raise. Flashing intelligent lights moved back and forth, smoke poured out and slowly an open kitchen with live chefs was revealed. We were then invited to a standing buffet with a wide array of sandwiches and teas and coffees. The hotel team expertly moved among the guests chatting with each and answered questions about the hotel and its’ possibilities.
After the cocktail, we split into two groups to have a look at the rest of the function spaces. The Grand Hyatt’s main function areas are mostly all spread across one floor and feature a wide variety of flexible spaces of varied sizes. The flexibility of the spaces make it suitable for most any function from a multi-track conference to a grand wedding for up to 1300 guests. The neutral colors also make it easy to create your own branding and styling. Rooms like Salão Do Teatro have built in sliding decorative curtains in red and beige as well as oriental design room dividers. We also took a look at the tent by the poolside a semi-permanent structure for up to 300 guests perfect for special events and weddings. We were then personally escorted to our next stop the highlight of the tour, The House of Dancing Water show and backstage tour.
If you haven’t seen this Macau show, it is a must. One of the most technically beautiful shows in the world designed and produced by Franco Dragone’ who created some of Cirque du Soleil’s most spectacular shows. If you have seen it, go again, over the years they have tweaked the storyline to create more continuity and flow making it more theatrical and fitting the motorcycle stunts into the story better. After being wowed by the show we were met by one of the creators and show manager Anna Robb who took us backstage to give us a peek into exactly how much goes into creating this incredibly complex and technical show.
The custom built theatre is six stories high with two stories underwater for the pool and moving equipment. The show features almost 100 performers and 100 backstage crew including a team of 30 divers, plus full band, riggers and full technical department. The performers are all multi talented and cross trained to be able to take on most any role in the show. They all learn how to dive, aerial acrobatics, gymnastics and dance, once joining the show there is a 6 month training before talent is fully integrated into the show. Anna Robb took us through some of the safety aspects that are incorporated noting that most were brought in as part of the show and not required by law. Their rigorous and professionalism and attention to detail have so for paid off with no major incidents and very few dark nights due to technical faults.
The wow factor of the show in doubly compounded by a first hand view of what is going on behind the scenes. The high energy show has so many moving parts and is so interconnected that at any minute one mistake or mechanical failure can cause the whole performance to stop. Anna who had just called the show we saw pointed out the pressure of calling a show so complex, “the show is about an hour and a half on average I have one que every fifteen seconds” often those ques have a person dangling on the end of a rope, one missed que or wrong call could mean catastrophe.
Anna is an amazing and dynamic person before joining Dragone’ she looked after the Sydney Opera House and worked on LOVE, Cirque’s Beatles show in Vegas. Her passion for the industry and connecting people is infectious. Anna latest project TheatreArtLife launching in April of 2017 should do exactly that.
ILEA Hong Kong was very lucky to be supported by such great partners in this event. Many thanks go out to Melco Crown, Grand Hyatt and City Of Dreams for making this event possible.. We look forward to going back.