Expert’s Voice: Top integrated resort projects – opportunities beyond hotels

by | May 3, 2019 | Experts

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. One of the most expensive casinos in the world and also the centrepiece of the Marina Bay landscape.

Addressing hospitality delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Singapore, the Chairman of Murray International Group N. Murray shares insights into the promising opportunities offered by integrated resorts

Integrated resorts (IRs) are in development in many countries throughout the world. Following the successful introduction of IRs in Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas, many countries see IRs as a way to stimulate the economy, attract foreign investment, increase business and leisure tourist numbers, reduce unemployment, provide multiple economic multipliers, revitalize underdeveloped areas and raise tax dollars.

What are integrated resorts?

An integrated resort is a multi-billion-dollar, multi-dimensional resort that includes a small casino component, that acts as a primary economic engine, makes a disproportionate contribution to cash flow, drives overall returns and facilitates investment in other facilities and amenities, otherwise unsustainable.

Of the top 50 largest hotels in the world, 39 are IRs with gaming, 10 are located in Las Vegas and 6 in Macau.

The three largest integrated resorts in the world are:

  1.  First World Hotel Genting Highlands in Malaysia with 7,351 rooms and suites
  2.  The Venetian & Palazzo in Las Vegas with 7,117 Suites
  3.  MGM Grand in Las Vegas with 6,852 rooms and suites

First World Hotel Genting Highlands, Malaysia

The Venetian & Palazzo, Las Vegas

MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Three key features of integrated resorts are:

  1. Integration – of a major casino with hotels, F&B, MICE, retail, night-life, spa, leisure, entertainment, sports facilities & theme parks.
  2. Broad appeal – to gamers and non-gamers, high spending VIPs, business travellers, locals & foreign tourists.
  3. Scale – huge physical sites, range of offerings, upfront investment costs & tourist draw, tax revenue and job creation.

Big numbers, big potential

In modern integrated resorts, non-gaming amenities dominate the gross floor area (GFA), however, the casino is the primary economic engine, typically contributing over 50% of the cash flow from less than 10% of the total GFA. The scale of these projects with over 3,000 rooms, 100,000 square metres of MICE space, extensive F&B, retail, sport, leisure and entertainment options, with development budgets in excess of $4 billion dollars, is mind blowing.

Many IRs choose to self-manage their properties, but, most operate using a combination of self-managed departments and outside operators and outsourced services. IR operators must focus on their primary core business and sources of revenue. They are primarily in the hospitality, gaming and MICE business.

To focus on those core areas, the IR’s need to partner with top restauranteurs, celebrity chefs, retailers, spa operators, entertainment providers and hire a multitude of outsourced service providers. IRs typically consist of over 72 departments. Each of these departments require outside assistance from specialty companies in order operate successfully, stay focused on their core business and operate at optimal levels of performance.

Thousands of opportunities exist for servicing and supplying IRs. Some examples include: landscaping, architecture, interior design, printing, uniform, linen laundry and dry cleaning, engineering, FF&E and OS&E procurement and supply, contract cleaning, HR recruitment and temporary staffing. Local governments insist that IRs hire locally and work with local SMEs and suppliers as much as possible.

Beware the complex challenges

Chairman of Murray International Group N. Murray addressing delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Singapore at the Swissôtel The Stamford.

The scale and complexity of the most successful IRs is remarkable. Being chosen as a specialist support company, outsourced service provider or supplier is not easy. Your operation must fit seamlessly into the IR’s systems and processes. It can be an expensive and difficult undertaking to meet the IR’s needs and specifications, and to win the business. But, it will be well worth the expense and effort. The best IRs are very well funded, hire the best of the best, and employ some of the latest and most sophisticated systems, processes and methods available today.

The popularity of integrated resorts is growing rapidly throughout the world. The opportunities that IRs present are too big to ignore and should be an integral part of any hospitality industry supplier or service providers future strategy.

If you currently a developer, partner or supplier the hotel industry and are not targeting IRs, it would be wise to adjust your strategy, learn about the scale of IRs, their needs, demands and requirements. Then, invest the resources needed, adapt your service offerings, delivery model and processes to meet those exacting demands, fit seamlessly with their operation and win those contracts.


Niall Murray was a delegate and presenter at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Singapore. To attend, address or sponsor future TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR events around the world, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences
Kayley van der Velde.

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― About the Author ―

Niall Murray

Niall Murray

Chairman of Murray International Group

Niall Murray specialises in large IRs, hotels and casinos with a focus on strategic and operations development, performance optimization, human resource management, and in the pre-opening process.

Niall has over 30 years of international experience and has led pre-opening operations development, performance optimization, designed guest service standards, operating procedures, human resource management processes, training and development and created an exceptional work environment for several of the world’s most successful IRs.

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