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Lawrence Ho: “CNS is probably our best partner ever”

It all started 16 years ago when Lawrence Ho and his wife were invited to a wedding in Cyprus. Having never heard of the Mediterranean island, the Chairman & CEO of Melco Resorts & Entertainment was so impressed with its beauty, culture and climate, that he decided this would be the perfect location to launch his first venture outside of Asia and within Europe.

And indeed, he first came to the island in 2007, the groundwork for the City of Dreams Mediterranean (CoD) integrated resort began in 2015 and on 11 July 2023, just this week, it officially opened its doors to the public.

It wasn’t without hurdle, with Ho – along with Grant Johnson, General Manager of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos and Evan Winkler, Board Director and President of Melco Resorts & Entertainment & Melco International Development Limited – highlighting that beyond the obvious struggles brought on by the pandemic, the biggest hurdle was actually finding enough manpower to build this huge construction; the first of such scale on the island.

They were addressing a press conference ahead of the official opening of CoD, where media representatives were taken on a tour of the integrated resort.

“There were so many hurdles, what didn’t we have to overcome?” said Winkler. “As this was the first project of this scale in Cyprus, we found it extremely difficult to find the manpower. Then covid made things worse, people who may have come from abroad couldn’t because of restrictions. So this was a major hurdle.”

But has this put Melco off from investing further in the island in the future? Ho told reporters in a Q&A that followed that he wasn’t ruling anything out; whether this meant investing in something new or more likely expanding CoD, which is located on a massive expanse of land. CNS, Melco’s partner in Cyprus, “is probably our best partner ever” said Ho (which was reciprocated by Menelaos Shiacolas, Managing Director of CNS Group, who was also present), and so anything could happen.

Asked in jest whether he believed CoD Mediterranean would be a place James Bond would visit, Ho said this was actually a part of the conversation when discussing new projects.

The chat with reporters had followed speeches.

“Today marks the start of the most exciting chapter,” said Ho. “City of Dreams Mediterranean gives Cyprus a new story to tell by blending local culture, hospitality and beauty with a new form of entertainment and experience. City of Dreams Mediterranean provides premium luxury, inspired and infused with local flavour. It allows Cyprus to unlock new markets in the region and beyond.”

Having a resort of this quality, he said, with all its attractions, including the largest expo facilities on the island, opens multiple new possibilities.

“The resort is a product of incredible hard work by many thousands of individuals through the partnership with the government, the business community, our colleagues and the people of this island. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their achievement here in Cyprus. Thank you to all those who have helped turn this dream into a reality,” said Ho.

Shiacolas added, “It is a project that is completely unique in Cyprus, and which significantly elevates the status of the country as a destination. We are extremely proud of our excellent partnership with Melco, a company whose experience, industry know-how and absolute commitment has made this amazing integrated resort possible.”

In his address, Johnson, who has relocated to Cyprus with his family, thanked the people of Cyprus for embracing the project and making it possible, and paid special tribute to his colleagues for the tireless hours spent over the last years. “This tremendous achievement is testament to the incredible cooperation and support we have received here in Cyprus. This resort, the largest of its kind in Europe, is, like everything we do, the product of partnership. The combination of our brand, our expertise in entertainment, the thrill of our gaming, the quality of our guest experience, hand in hand with Cyprus culture and hospitality, is an extremely powerful mix. Cyprus is now ready to compete across Europe and the Middle East in luxury tourism and large-scale conferences.”

As Europe’s largest and premier integrated resort, City of Dreams Mediterranean delivers an incomparable experience to satisfy every taste, ranging from luxury hospitality – with its fourteen-storey hotel featuring 500 guest rooms and suites – to designer-brand shopping, iconic architecture, renowned art, sporting facilities, outdoor amphitheatre, family adventure park, as well as world-class conference and exhibition space, spacious and contemporary gaming experience, and fine dining.

With sustainability at its core, City of Dreams Mediterranean is the first development in Cyprus to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating for its sustainability strategy at its design stage. Recently, City of Dreams Mediterranean was also honoured by The European Property Awards 2023 for achievements in three categories, including Best Hotel Architecture Europe, Best Sustainable Commercial Development Europe and Best New Hotel Construction & Design Cyprus.

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