Strike Casino at Grand Hyatt Goa

Sunday, August 14, 2016



Strike Casino is good news. With the opening of this casino in July 2016, the casino industry in Goa has finally come of age, well almost. And the most interesting aspect of this development is the fact that Goa's best gaming experience will now be provided by an overland casino as opposed to the so-called "off-shore" casinos that promise "live gaming". Gambling in Strike is as live as it can get in an overland casino in Goa, without inviting some legal objection from the authorities. The people who operate Strike have used both their expertise and imagination in creating a casino that is far better than any other casino in Goa whether floating or overland. Deltin Royale has got itself a first real competitor and casino goers have got their first real alternative to Deltin Royale. The list of positives in Strike is very long and I will cover everything in detail in this article, but first of all I want to get the only negative out of the way - the location. Keep reading...

Deltin Suites Casino and Hotel Goa

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Deltin Suites is a "casino five star" hotel. This is actually a sort of a technical term. A land-based casino in Goa can only be housed inside an officially classified 'five star' hotel. There are quite a few such hotels in Goa, some genuine five stars and some others that are 'five star' only so that they could have a casino on their grounds. One can see the difference by staying in a five star hotel in Goa where there is no casino, and then in a 'casino five star' like La Calypso in Baga or Crown Hotel in Panjim. The differences in the quality will be huge. But to be fair, an exception to this general rule is already there. A genuine five star hotel - Grand Hyatt Goa has got a casino in its premises - Strike Casino. Coming back to Deltin Suites, it is a pure 'casino five star'. Even before it got its own little in-house casino operational, the hotel has existed mainly as a residence for the patrons of the group's main casino - Deltin Royale. Even today it is true. Deltin Group sells "Stay & Play" packages that entitle guests to accommodation in this hotel and some 'One Time Play' casino chips and/or free entry to Deltin Royale. Some airlines flying from Mumbai to Goa also offer "Fly & Stay" packages that include a subsidised stay in Deltin Suites. I think this is how Deltin Suites gets a majority of its guests. Keep reading...

Family Fun In Macau

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Venetian Macau is old, it has been there since the year 2007. But even today it is the best known family destination where tourists go to take gondola rides, stroll along and window-shop at hundreds of designer shops by the artificial canal on the top floor. Even today, the artificial sky above the canal succeeds in fooling the first timers. The Venetian is an icon and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. The reclaimed land in the Taipa Island of Macau on which The Venetian was built later saw more development. The City of Dreams, a casino resort with a cluster of hotels came up in front of The Venetian on its east side, with a road in the middle separating the two. The Las Vegas Sands group, the owner of The Venetian, named this road as "Cotai Strip" dreaming of building a strip here that would be similar to 'The Strip' in Las Vegas. Today, in 2016, their dream is very close to reality. Keep reading...

Hong Kong Flower Market and Yuen Po Street Bird Garden

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I did not know it first but this little expedition of mine to see the Flower Market on Prince Edward Road and the subsequent Bird Garden on Yuen Po Street gave me both joy and sorrow in a single trip. Both of these are in the same place, well, almost. To get there, just hop on to an MTR train, get down at Prince Edward Station and leave the station from Exit B1. Turn left, walk just a few steps and turn left again on Prince Edward Road. A 15 minute straight walk on this road will bring you to flower shops first, then a left turn into the main flower market, and if you keep walking straight without turning left you will reach the corner of Yuen Po Street from where you can climb a few steps up to enter the Bird Garden. The Flower Market is pure joy but the Bird Garden, at least to me personally, was a disappointment even to extent that I wished I had not gone there. Keep reading...

Saving Money In Hong Kong With Octopus Card

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The underground railway system in Hong Kong, called 'MTR' is a very expensive mode of transport. Unfortunately it is kept artificially expensive by the Hong Kong government. Yes, this is true. In 2015 I stayed in Hong Kong's Fortress Hill area (YesInn @ Fortress Hill) for several days at a stretch and tried to see and feel Hong Kong's local life from up close. I watched a local TV channel called 'Pearl' (TVB Pearl) every evening. There was a show on Pearl on which they invited a politician in-charge of the local transportation and asked him some tough questions - "why were Hong Kong's underground trains so crowded?", "why was the capacity of the MTR system not being increased?", and "why the government wanted to increase the already high passenger fares when the MTR Corporation had earned a profit of 15 Billion HKD during the previous year?" The politician cut a sorry figure in the show. He had no answer to the overcrowding problem. About the fares he said that although the government was the majority owner of the MTR Corporation, it was a public entity listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and hence profitability mattered. He further explained that there was an inflation linked formula that decided the passenger fares and as inflation rose, so did the fares. What he did not say was that when MTR fares increased, inflation increased further as a result and the people of Hong Kong, as also the tourists, were caught in an endless vicious cycle. Keep reading...

Street Markets of Mong Kok - Ladies Market, Sneaker Street, and Goldfish Market

Sunday, July 10, 2016

There is more to Hong Kong than Disneyland. I mean, a tourist on a short vacation in Hong Kong barely gets a glimpse of what all this wonderful city has to offer. Many of the most interesting places to see in Hong Kong are meant for the local residents rather than for the tourists, but a tourist who dares venture out to explore these treasures is no doubt richly rewarded. The street markets of Jordan and Mong Kok figure in most of the tourist literature about Hong Kong but unfortunately all the emphasis is laid on souvenir shopping in some over crowded street shops. If one can get past the Ladies Market and is willing to walk and explore a little, the Goldfish Market offers a close look into the local life. I know tourists do not come to Hong Kong to buy live goldfish, but this street - Tung Choi Street - has a lot of dogs and cats too in addition to the fish. Keep reading...

Lowest Minimum Bets For Table Games in Macau

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gone are the days when one could play Blackjack with a 100 HKD minimum bet in Macau's top casinos. In 2015, the minimum bets increased to 500 HKD in popular casinos like Wynn, MGM, and Venetian. Baccarat tables at even 500 HKD became scarce and rather started at 1000 HKD. And if you happened to be playing a game like Three Card Poker, where a total of three bets are placed for a single game (Pair Plus, Ante, and Play), you would end up betting 1500 HKD to be able to compare your cards with those of the dealer. In Indian Rupees (July 2016), that would be INR 13500 for a single game that will take a couple of minutes to complete. In such a setting if you are not getting lucky quickly enough, you will run out of your bank roll before you know it. During my 2015 Macau trip, I incidentally landed in Wynn (Macau Peninsula) before any other casino because I wanted to change some Singapore Dollars into HKD. I have found sometimes that Wynn offers better exchange rates for some currencies in Macau than other casinos nearby. Anyway, that was the first time I realised that there wasn't a single table of Blackjack, Three Card Poker, or Caribbean Stud Poker with a minimum bet of less than 500 HKD. During my earlier trips I had played in many casinos at 200 or even 100 HKD bets. So what had really changed? Keep reading...

Gambling At Marina Bay Sands Casino Singapore - What To Expect

Monday, June 27, 2016

The casino at Marina Bay Sands is one of the two casinos operating in the city-state of Singapore. Marina Bay Sands can be reached via MRT (subway train) alighting at the 'Bayfront' station on the Circle Line. It is open 24/7 and entry is free for visitors / tourists in Singapore. Singapore nationals or permanent residents, however, need to pay an entry levy of SGD 100 per occasion or SGD 2000 per year to enter the casino. Minimum age for a person entering the gaming area should be 21. Passports / national IDs of foreigners are scanned before they are allowed entry. It is much like the passport scanning at an international airport. They even ask people to remove their eye-glasses so that the image on the passport can be compared with the person's face. The immigration stamp on the passport and the departure card are also examined, and not only while entering the casino but while leaving it too. These are funny rules but that's how it is. Keep reading...

Mandarin's House Macau (Casa Do Mandarim) - A Must See

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A holiday in Macau takes a lot of money even if you are not losing big in one of the numerous casinos that Macau is famous for. Hotels are expensive, food is expensive, and shopping is very expensive. Local travel by taxi can also prove to be expensive but fortunately there are cheaper and even totally free options for local travel, like the free casino shuttle buses. When in Macau, I use free shuttle buses extensively and try to save money on food but somehow I always feel that I do not have enough money there. I guess many of my fellow travellers feel the same way. Perhaps one reason for this is the undue risks that we take while gambling in the casinos thereby ending up being short of money. After a lot of struggle in the past, I have now come to believe that I can feel happier while in Macau if I keep my focus on the things other than gambling. In this pursuit, the Macau Tourism's "Step Out" Guide has proved to be a great help to me. Its a guide perhaps meant for local residents of Macau whom the government wants to step out and see their city or it is perhaps for the tourists who do not just want to come out of casinos. Anyway, its a guide book that suggests walking tours of Macau on eight different routes. I discovered Mandarin's House while trying out one such walking tour - Crossroads of China and Portugal. You can read more about this guide here, but let us talk about the Mandarin's House here. Keep reading...
 

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ABOUT ME

I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is desiyatri.com. I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh. (Email: desiyatri@gmail.com)

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