In the 30s, China became the tourist destination of choice for the world’s elite. The amenities and resorts were scarcely believable and usually inaccessible to the lower classes, but novelist and travel enthusiast Colin Priest managed to find his way in. Let's take a look at some of his reviews now.
The Five Winds, Wenzhou: 4/5
One of the most renowned resort destinations in China, The Five Winds owes it fame to its ever-changing array of attractions and monuments.
Scarcely a week goes by without a new hotel or ride or arena being fabricated according to the latest trend, whether it's a facsimile of an Ancient Wonder, a re-enactment of a historical event such as 9/11 or Zheng He's voyages, or a tie-in with a blockbuster Disney/Starling ARG. To support this continual cycle of construction and destruction, The Five Winds holds close to a million aerial and ground constructor drones; so many that it builds and sells its own drones.
The casual visitor will not notice this daily whirlwind of creation since it takes place at night and is hidden by aerial lenses and consensual augmented reality (AR). Instead, they'll most likely be enjoying the hundreds of betting venues, from traditional casinos and racetracks to brand new Crossball and Battlefield arenas; or they'll be on sightseeing excursions to Dongtou, the 'County of One Hundred Islands', and Yandang Mountain.
The Five Winds has a dedicated carbon-neutral maglev to the local airport and contains on-site backup generation facilities. Visitors are advised to avoid the weeks of the high summer unless they are comfortable with active clothing.
High Dragon, Lhasa, 5/5
High Dragon is regarded as the most exclusive holiday destination in the world. Anchored in the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, High Dragon is not a building but a conglomeration of aerostats that drift through the mountain sky, occasionally docking with each other and mooring at one of three peaks to take on new guests and supplies.
The High Dragon aerostats range in size from tens to hundreds of metres and can be configured with swimming pools, miniature parks, spas, and cutting-edge sim chambers. Some parties opt to hire groups of aerostats for parties, docking them to increase the space for their guests; but most guests prefer to spend their time alone, contemplating the white peaks.
The combination of a staggeringly high price tag, the near-complete physical isolation from civilisation, and a rigorously enforced no-fly zone surrounding the area has resulted in High Dragon becoming the favoured destination of the ultra-rich on Earth (but perhaps not off it); of course, the fact that rising sea levels have placed the remaining desirable island resorts under UN stewardship hasn't harmed High Dragon's prospects.
Only the richest 0.05 percent in the world could reasonably afford to visit High Dragon. It is safe to assume that you are probably not among them.
MGM Paris Macau, 2.5
The MGM Paris Macau, a gleaming gold-shaded 60-storey building comprising almost 2 million square metres of space, 5,000 suites, 6,000 slot machines, 2,000 gaming tables, and a 25,000-seat arena, opened its doors in 2018.
While the hotel and casino remain open and somewhat popular among less affluent visitors, it stands as a reminder of the ugly affair of its bankruptcy in 2024, which saw the the deaths of six workers in a brutally suppressed strike and the eventual demise of its owner corporation in the US. Since then, the casino has changed hands four times, ending up with MGM last year.
The resort is hopelessly dated compared with the more modern and attractive offerings elsewhere in China, but when its plans were first drawn up, investors were convinced that it would enjoy the same success as the other Macau resorts that attracted millions of rich visitors from the mainland. Unfortunately, the economic slowdown in the early 20s saw the central government finally succumb to desperate calls from regions starved of tax revenues for casino construction to be legalised.
Competition increased; visitor numbers fell; investment in facilities and upkeep plummeted; people moved on.
Today, the Paris Macau represents good value for money for the budget-conscious tourist, especially for those interested in period gambling. A car from Hong Kong will take only 20 minutes, with direct ferries and cruise ships also available. However, we advise checking up on net connectivity closer to your visit as Macau has recently suffered from sporadic outages, supposedly from student pranks.