From Sands to MGM, the top five resorts

Macau is a fast-developing economy, which has gone to significant lengths to attract tourism and the money it brings in.

The Sands Macau was the first foreign-owned resort to take advantage of laws allowing overseas competition in what had been a gaming monopoly controlled by the "King of Macau", the tycoon Stanley Ho and his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM). The estimated US$240 million (Dh881.5m) casino opened in May 2004 and paid off its start-up costs about a year later. In 2006, the casino underwent a major refurbishment, expanding its floor space to 21,300 square metres.

The Venetian Macau is the world's biggest hotel resort and the 40-storey, $2.4 billion complex transformed the Macau scene when it opened in late August 2007. It is envisaged as the forerunner for another seven resort hotels planned for the Cotai Strip. The 980,000 sq metre Venetian Macau is modelled on its sister resort in Las Vegas. It is the largest single-structure hotel building in Asia and the fourth-largest building in the world by area, with a 15,000-seat arena for sporting events and concerts.

Wynn Macau opened in September 2006 with about 9,290 sq metres of casino space. It has a real Las Vegas feel, but with a strong emphasis on entertainment. In the first phase it has 600 hotel rooms and suites, seven restaurants and 2,415 sq metres of retail space. The resort features the Tree of Prosperity, which is a giant golden tree rising out of the ground.

Designed by teams of international architects at a cost of $384m, the Grand Lisboa is the flagship of Stanley Ho's hotel-resort empire in Macau and is connected by a footbridge to the original Hotel Lisboa, which was opened back in 1970. The 52-storey property is shaped like a giant lotus flower, sitting atop a Faberge egg. The casino opened in 2007 just before Chinese New Year, and the 400-room resort opened in December 2008.

The resort is also chasing the Las Vegas feel, although it has consistently lagged its rivals because it tries to offer more than just gaming, and is now trying to relaunch itself as a resort that will appeal to upper middle-class Chinese tourists. The $1.25bn MGM Grand Macau was completed at the end of 2007 and has nearly 600 hotel rooms, 1,452 sq metres of convention space and 20,620 sq metres of gaming area. The resort is operated by MGM Grand Paradise, a 50-50 joint venture between Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage (MGM) and Pansy Ho, Stanley Ho's daughter.