Crown Tower, Macau
January 16, 2010, 3:03 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels | Tags: , , , ,

The Crown Tower is part of a trio of hotels in the loftily-named City of Dreams, the latest megaplex to be built on the reclaimed soil of the sprawling Cotai Strip, Macau’s latest glitzy gambling enclave.  The other two hotels on the Australian Melco-owned property are the Hard Rock Hotel Macau and the Grand Hyatt Macau.

Like most casino-linked hotels in Macau, the exterior of the Crown Tower is replete with blinking LED lights, but thankfully, once inside, the decor is one of tasteful, discreet elegance.  There are no crystal chandeliers to be found.  Instead, the lobby is understated and contemporary, with plush seating areas and clean, flowing lines accentuating its sense of space.

The room continues the subtle luxury, with Aigner Black toiletries, touchscreen operated room service, and blinds that are drawn at the touch of a button.  The generously-sized divan overlooking the Venetian, as well as a marble-topped work rounded out the in-room amenities.

The bathroom, consisting of the by now de rigueur rain shower suite, soaking tub,  separate enclosed toilet facility, and walk-in wardrobe, is possibly the largest and most opulent I’ve yet seen.

The gym is fairly large for a 286-room property, but is strangely mis-equipped.  The basics–treadmills, ellipptical trainers–are present, but the multi-use station, which takes up the majority of the space, did a rather poor job of training the cores.

Since I am no gambler, I was more interested in the entertainment and shopping options.  As far as shopping is concerned, the retail mix at the City of Dreams is no different from that of the Venetian across the street, or for that matter, the other burgeoning integrated resorts that Macau is now festooned with.  Spanking new boutiques from Alfred Dunhill to Vivien Westwood dot its winding boulevard.  The casino and adjoining hotels do bring in live entertainment, and during my stay, a Taiwanese band was in-residence, performing with gusto in the casino lounge.

Finally, there is “The Bubble,” billed as an immersive multimedia show that while slightly kitschy, is a crowd puller (entry is free).


Straits Times Review: The Tao of retro rock (Jan 11, 2010)
January 11, 2010, 12:57 am
Filed under: concerts, David Tao | Tags: ,

The Tao of retro rock

David Tao trots out Western pops, but crowd saves biggest cheers for his Mandarin hits

By boon chan, media correspondent

The crowd lapped up David Tao’s rearrangements of his Mandarin R&B songs and rock detours. — PHOTOS: FLYER ENTERTAINMENT

review concert

Singapore Indoor Stadium
Last Friday

Singer-songwriter David Tao was happy to show his age at his concert.

The video introduction solemnly listed the momentous events of his year of birth, 1969 – the premiere of popular children’s TV show Sesame Street, the seminal music festival Woodstock and man landing on the moon.

The last segued into his appearance on the stage, which was decorated to resemble the cosy living room of his youth, complete with lampshades and a television set from the 1970s.

His first song was David Bowie’s Space Oddity (1969), with the lyrics tweaked to ‘Ground control to major Tao’.

Welcome to the world David Tao grew up in. The American-centric slant of the narrative is a little strange since he was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Taiwan and only attended high school and college in California.

No matter, it gave him the frame to delve into Western pop songs of that era such as Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale (1967), the Commodores’ Easy (1977) and Soft Cell’s Tainted Love (1981).

It was for Tao’s songs, though, that the 5,000-odd audience saved its biggest cheers. He sang his Mandarin R&B hits such as his first single Airport In 10.30, crowd-pleaser Regular Friend and the jangly Rain.

He seldom did just straightforward renditions of his songs, preferring to play around with the arrangements to offer something new for his fans.

So, Small Town had a rock makeover while the bombast of A Big Mess was upped a notch with a backing children’s choir.

While he had no problems with belting it out, the elegiac Seasons Of Loneliness could have done with more delicacy. And perhaps his falsetto was not quite what it used to be and he skirted the highest notes, most noticeably on Regular Friend.

It was also telling that his most popular songs were from his earlier albums rather than from his latest, Opus 69, which provided one of the evening’s high points. RE: DT (Regarding David Tao) worked better in a live setting rather than on disc, where it can sound a little indulgent.

On the clear-eyed number, he rapped about his career, ‘It’s okay even if I’m not number one now’ and added ‘This time I’m really gonna make a movie’, taking a dig at his own oft-stated proclamation to go off and make films.

Between songs, the personable singer shared anecdotes of his youth. He jokingly recalled that he used to be traumatised at home by the clashing strains of Elvis that his father listened to and the Peking opera his mother sang.

He also showed a cheeky side when he urged ‘Come on, Singapore, let me hear you’ when the line ‘We don’t need no thought control’ came up for Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall.

While the classic rock detours were mostly welcome, Tao’s Guitar Hero moment with the Eagles’ Hotel California came across overdone.

On the whole, this was a fairly entertaining show that offered some unexpected surprises even if it was not exactly one for the ages.

David Tao 陶喆 in Space – ‘The Talk & Rock Show’ – Concert (Jan 8, 2010, Singapore Indoor Stadium)

DT’s ‘David Tao in Space – The Talk & Rock Show’ line-up is perhaps a concert that fans who have followed his career for a while and appreciate him as a musician and artist in all sense of the word would appreciate most.

For one, there are sections of English rock classics that may not resonate with the Chinese base–Pink Floyd’s Another Another Brick in the Wall, The Eagles’ Hotel California, Lionel Richie’s Easy, Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale–to mention a few.

Then, DT omitted some of the most popular anthems of his own.  In fact, he declared half-teasingly at the start that he was not going to sing 普通朋友 as he was sick of it, “relenting” later but not before prohibiting the audience from clapping along as they might throw the rhythm into disarray.

However, what the audience got in return was a deeper understanding of DT through the singers, songs, and genres that influenced him as a musician and shaped his music.

DT shared that his father loved Elvis while his mother was a Peking opera singer.  This probably helped the casual listener understand why DT was one of the earliest Chinese singers to blend Western musical genres such as R&B into Chinese music, charting his own brand of “soul music” that propelled him to fame.

The setting of the concert was one of an intimate living room, and an all-male band ably accompanied him through both full-on rock anthems as well as acoustic love ballads.  Here are some clips for your enjoyment.

DT’s rendition of Easy (originally by Lionel Richie)

An acoustic 流沙

A plaintive 寂寞的季節

Susan 說, with its distinctive Peking operatic signatures

He did try to please his fans by including 愛,很簡單 as his penultimate number for the night

Holiday Inn – Columbus-Hilliard, Ohio, U.S.A.
January 4, 2010, 4:12 pm
Filed under: hotels | Tags: , , , , ,

The InterContinental Hotels Group has over the past years been embarking on a refreshing of its Holiday Inn brand, and what were previously rather dowdy and staid properties are gradually taking on a new look that is more contemporary and comfortable for both business and leisure travellers.  Here are some pictures from the Columbus-Hilliard property I took during a trip in Sep 2009.  Click on pictures to view them in a larger size.