Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel shut after safety standards breach

Beijing Imperial Palace HotelThe Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel and its Greek Mythology Casino has six months to reach building and safety standards after becoming the first five-star hotel in Macau to be closed by the government.

On Friday, the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) ordered the temporary closure of the Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel after its operator, Greek Mythology (Macau) Entertainment Group Corp Ltd, committed “serious administrative irregularities, constituting threats to public safety”.

The Macau Daily Times reports the closure was based on a number of infringements, including illegal construction work performed in the hotel. This work has been on-going for “at least two years”, however the MGTO has given hotel management a six-month deadline to correct the breaches and apply necessary improvements or risk permanent closure.

The Greek Mythology Casino was already closed, having been temporarily shut in December 2015. The casino operated under a gaming license held by SJM Holdings, who requested the closure of the casino due to safety concerns.

The Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel breached a number of compulsory safety measures according to the MGTO. Director of the body, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, noted a lack of fire extinguishers, a defective emergency lighting system, blocked exits, obstructed escape routes, malfunctioning smoke chambers, the use of decorative materials without fireproofing, and excessive storage of fuel as among the issues at the heart of the closure.

The property had been the target of multiple MGTO inspections, which led to the closure of a number of dining and other facilities within the complex. However, management had failed to bring the building up to code, which led to its immediate closure. During the six-month closure, the public is strictly prohibited from entering the property, including all of its accommodation, dining and casino services.

According to Senna Fernandes, 573 of the 599 rooms at the Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel were occupied at the time of closure, and all travellers were with tour groups. Due to the immediate nature of the closure, help desks were set up in the lobby at the hotel’s Tourism Activities Centre to assist visitors in finding alternative accommodation.

Following the hotel’s closure, junket investor Amax Holdings, which owns a one-quarter stake in the property, suspended trading in its shares. Amax has been involved in a tussle with the property’s operator, with the holdings firm claiming it hasn’t received “valid financial information” about the business.

The property’s closure has also fuelled growing concerns about the fate of the hotel’s workers, all of whom are overseas workers according to the Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL). Acting deputy director, Ng Way Han, told The Macau Daily Times that the DSAL had received several complaints from hotel employees over the past few years, and that the body was working to help with the reemployment of the workers.

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