Twenty years have passed since I called Macau home, but despite all the changes that have taken place in recent years, one of my favourite spots continues to be the Regency Hotel, Macau, which used to be known as the Hyatt Regency, Macau.
Located on Taipei near the University of Macau, the Regency was once one of the swished hotels in town.
Food and Beverage
There was that quietly elegant lobby, and those comfortable rooms and suites. Not to mention that fabulous restaurant called Flamingo, which served Macanese and Portuguese cuisine in casual yet elegant surroundings. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the fish pond was sublime – especially if it started to drizzle.
The aroma of freshly baked crusty bread arrived at your table before the bread itself did. Chouriço was served in little dishes that had candles underneath to keep it hot. The menu ran from caldo verde, a potato and kale broth that is Portugal's national soup, to African chicken, a Macanese favourite.
There were those wonderful – if calorific – buffets in the café, a bakery that sold yummy pastries and pizza slices, and a bar, where jazz was frequently performed live. Not to mention an excellent fine dining Chinese restaurant, where I enjoyed many meals.
Best Swimming Pool in Macau
But the swimming pool was the real draw. Unlike many free form swimming pools, which are lovely to look at, but difficult to swim in, it had a stretch down the centre that was actually long enough to do proper laps.
The pool was set amid tropical gardens. There was a lovely Portuguese style veranda, complete with rattan furniture, ceiling fans, and bird cages containing live birds. Then there was that sybaritic spa and that well equipped fitness centre.
This is where I could work out, do laps, catch some rays, have lunch, study Portuguese, savour a glass of wine, or just plain chill out. And happily, I still can!
Hyatt Takes a Hike
Hyatt pulled out of the Regency a few years back in preparation for opening a more upscale Grand Hyatt hotel in Cotai, and there were rumours that STDM, owner of the property, would tear the Regency down and redevelop the site.
So far it hasn't happened.
I accompanied a friend to the spa last weekend, where a day pass set me back just 100 patacas. If I had not been accompanying a member, it would have run me 160 patacas. In the old days, it would have run between 200 and 250 patacas, if I remember correctly.
There's a great menu with salads, sandwiches, and other light dishes as well as beverages – and the prices are very affordable. And for the very budget minded, a Coke machine has been installed, with canned drinks selling for just 10 patacas.
Those fluffy green towels and those smart green and white pure cotton keep fit uniforms that were lent to you to work out in are gone. So are the bird cages with live birds. So are the crowds.
New Macau's Best Kept Secret?
The Regency is a bit worse for wear, but that much, really. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised at how well the place has been maintained. Best of all, the trees surrounding the pool have matured, blocking from view those unsightly high rises that used to mar the view.
Is the Regency Hotel, Macau, the city's best kept secret?
The Regency Macau is now one of the most affordable hotels in the former Portuguese enclave. A quick search on Zuji.com put the rates at HK$667 per night. Compare that with HK$3,398 for the Banyan Tree Macau, HK$2,128 for the Venetian Macau Resort, HK$2,192 for the Galaxy, HK$1,711 for the Westin Resort Macau, and HK$1,149 for the Grand Waldo.
According to he Grand Hyatt Macau's own webssite, at night at the hotel would set you back HK$1,788.
I haven't stayed at the Regency since its changed management so I can't speak of the rooms. Nor have I eaten at the restaurants so I can't speak of the food. But I have popped for a couple of those 10 pataca Diet Cokes!
I've spent some very enjoyable afternoons at the swimming pool, fitness centre, and spa over the last couple of years, and for my money, this continues to be one of my favourite spots in Macau. And now, it is also one of the best bargains!
One of these days, I might even spend the night there!