Sheldon Adelson’s latest creation, Marina Bay Sands opened for business on April 27th, 2010. Adelson brought in Thomas Arasi to run this property over a year ago. With two decades of experience in hospitality industry, this is the biggest development project Arasi has worked on with a pricetag of $5.5 billion.
MBS, a three 55-story hotel tower has over 2,500 rooms, convention center, countless restaurants and stores. And the main event, the casino.
The most interesting stat to me was that only 3 percent of this hotel is dedicated to gambling.
Maria Bartiromo sat down with Tom Arasi, CEO of Marina Bay Sands in an exclusive interview.
The Switzerland of Asia
Arasi called Singapore "the Switzerland of Asia," referring to inflows of capital, investment activities, people wanting to have part of their wealth and resources. “All of those things are floating the economy,” said Arasi.
Money is flowing in from neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific region, like Indonesia, Malaysia and China. “It's bringing business as well as the financial investment,” said Arasi.
Arasi believes Singapore is a leading player in Asia because the country “has this amazing governmental and economic system whereby they seem to be proactive in just the right ways to slice and dice the economy and where they can position themselves to take advantage. And there are different statistics out there but it sounds like we could be at 15 percent + GDP growth rate you keep having to check that if it's a mistake," said Arasi.
Upping The Talent Pool
As Singapore’s economy continues to grow fast and furious, unemployment rate in this country is at shocking low of 2.3 percent (as of June of 2010). That’s practically full employment. And MBS has definitely been a part of that wave of hiring.
It takes a village to run a resort this big so building and growing the talent pool is on the top of the list for MBS’s boss. Here’s a staggering figure Arasi told us. “One year ago we had 60 employees, now we have 8,000 employees. There was a point where we were hiring 100 new employees everyday. We have team members from 60 countries in addition to Singapore.”
A Winning Strategy: M-I-C-E
Did you know M-I-C-E stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions? MBS is betting on MICE as the winning strategy. Arasi added, "Singapore has always been a dominant player commercially, but particularly in the MICE. We are probably the leading player in Asia. Of course its strong in Hong Kong and a few other areas."
Tourism Remains Strong
Tourism continues to pick up in Singapore. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, Visitor arrivals to this country registered 18.4 percent growth in September 2010, marking the tenth consecutive month of record visitor arrivals. Arasi pointed out Year-to-date, tourism is up 21.8 percent through September and “that's just a phenomenal rate of growth. Wish we could do that every year,” Arasi added.
Marina Bay Sands currently attracts customers from 50 different countries and counting. Arasi expects MBS to be an "international destination." Arasi said “hotel occupancies are up 15 percent YTD.”
Check out Maria Bartiromo’s exclusive interview with Tom Arasi at 430PM ET on Closing Bell.
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