Flying off to a tropical resort isn’t your only vacation option this summer! With a holiday destination right on our doorstep, you don’t need to break the bank to get away from it all. Only a stones throw away from Hong Kong lies Macau; far enough for a fulfilling getaway, but close enough to avoid the hassle of airports and travelling. My one-night stay at the Grand Lapa was relaxing enough to compete with those luxurious beach holidays you’ve been hearing about from all your friends – minus the insane costs and time that some of us just can’t get off work! Whilst some people might not think of Macau as an ideal holiday destination (even less so a relaxing one!), lying by the Grand Lapa’s pool amongst the palm trees and waterfalls, might change your mind…
We’ve become so used to scouring the internet for cheap plane tickets that it’s hard to imagine any other way of travelling, but there’s more to an excursion than luggage restrictions, awful aeroplane food and delayed flights. Getting the ferry over was almost effortless (and not to mention reduced our carbon footprint for you greener folk!), and in under 2 hours we had arrived in Macau, breezed through immigration and were on one of the free shuttle buses that runs regularly to the hotel (every 30 minutes to the Grand Lapa, and every 10 minutes to Sands Casino right next door).
The resort is grand to say the least. Decked out with a large lavish staircase and chandeliers, it was hard to stop gaping for long enough to check in! Our bags were taken away and as they put the finishing touches to our room we had a quick tour of the resort and stopped off at Café Bela Vista for lunch.
The antique artefacts that lie around the hotel add to the charm of the place, and it’s so refreshing to see some of the history of Macau being maintained (especially coming from Hong Kong, where it’s all out with the old and in with the new!). Even Café Bela Vista had the feel of a traditional portuguese house with the beautiful mosaic floors and colonial-style veranda – perfect for al fresco dining.
Though the menu at Café Bela Vista contains a range of international dishes, they are famous for their portuguese food. Their Arroz De Pato (Portuguese duck leg fried rice) was delectable, and I couldn’t resist finishing off my meal with one of the egg tarts from their cake shop (and buying a few extra to take home with me!).
After a very filling lunch, we were escorted to our room. It was simple, comfy and very homely – perfect! We had a deluxe resort-view room, and the view was sensational. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful sunny day and we could see all the way to the Taipa bridge. Our home for the night was well decked out with toiletries, robes and slippers as well as a massive king-size bed that was just as comfy as it looked!
I was soon settled in and desperate to try out the spa facilities (a necessity for any relaxing getaway – go on, treat yourself!). I was booked in for a treatment at 2.30pm but went down earlier to unwind in the sauna, steam rooms and vitality pool. There are also full gym facilities available if you’re looking to break a sweat.
The treatment suites are very impressive, with each massage room opening up to a private outdoor garden complete with jacuzzi and rain shower! Though they have tons of spa treatments on offer (check out the menu here), this summer they have two specials; a full body massage designed to make you ‘sleep deeply’ and a body scrub to ‘get glowing’. I opted for the ‘get glowing spa journey’ and after a full exfoliation with finely ground organic seaweed and walnut shells, a body mask, a facial, and a dip in the jacuzzi to finish it all off, I left feeling radiant!
I was still glowing when I headed down to the bar, Vasco, for cool cocktails and tasty tapas. They have a series of 16 sangria cocktails on offer at the moment, and I got to try a few of them (hic!). Their peach sangria was perfection, and the comfy little lounge overlooking the streets of Macau is a great place to people watch with a drink in hand.
At this point, I was starving hungry! So for dinner we went to the Grand Lapa’s Cantonese restaurant, the Kam Lai Heen and were lucky enough to be seated in the private dining room at the back of this elegant eatery. All the choices on the menu looked delicious, but the plate of barbecued meats (including sliced honey BBQ pork, crispy roasted pork, simmered chicken and roasted duck) and the seafood fried rice with pine nuts were my personal favourites.
The next morning we were treated to a full buffet breakfast at Café Bela Vista. They had everything from an eggs station and pancakes, to muesli, fruit, cheese and a huge selection of pastries. Safe to say I overindulged a little here, but they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
The weather was gorgeous, so I headed down to the pool early to bag the best sun-lounger and get started on my tan as soon as the sun came out. It was so peaceful surrounded by all the greenery, and surprisingly quiet considering how close you are to the city centre. I couldn’t resist having a dip in the outdoor heated jacuzzi, what better way is there to de-stress and start your day?
There are tons of things to do in Macau, and with the Grand Lapa being located so conveniently in the heart of the city, it is definitely worth doing some exploring (that’s if you can drag yourself away from the poolside or spa!). The resort is really close to the city centre, and whilst I didn’t do any gambling, you’re only walking distance to the famous Sands Casino if you wanted to try your hand at making some big bucks! The hotel is also home to some luxury stores for any shopaholics out there looking for some retail therapy.
Even though I only stayed for one night, I left feeling so relaxed and like I’d been on holiday for a week. I felt miles from the city and all the stress that comes with it – it was hard to believe I was only a few hours from home. Definitely worth making the trip for a quick, convenient and relaxing weekend getaway!
Rooms at the Grand Lapa cost $1,388 – $2,588, and suite rates start from $ 4,488. Check out their special rates here.
Grand Lapa, 956-1110 Avenida da Amizade, Macau, China, (+853) 2856 7888, www.grandlapa.com