Singapore enters the big leagues this month, with the opening of its first "integrated resort'' that when completely finished will offer visitors six hotels, a theme park and the island state's first casino.

With the official opening of Resorts World Sentosa set for January 20, management at the resort (http://www.rwsentosa.com) have this week been crowing about how the 59-hectare Sentosa Island development has been put together in just three years.

Not bad when you consider the budget (US$4.7 billion/3.2 billion euros) and scope of the project. On January 20 the public will be welcomed into Resorts World Sentosa's four hotels - Festive Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Crockfords Tower and Hotel Michael - which together offer 1,350 rooms and 10 restaurants.

Two more hotels - Equarius Hotel and Spa Villas - will provide a further 500 rooms when they open some time after 2010.

The finishing touches are also being applied to the resort's Universal Studios theme park - the first of its kind in Asia - while management are also waiting for the Singaporean Government to finalise the resort's gaming license so it can open its casino, which will feature around 300 tables and 2,500 gaming machines.

While management at RWS have been busy promoting the facilities as an "intergrated resort'' (IR) - one they say offers attractions for every member of the family - there is little doubt revenues from the gaming side of the operations will play a major role in determining the facility's success or failure.

The Chinese enclave of Macau may now proudly boast that it is the gaming capital of the world - with yearly turnovers outstripping Las Vegas. But Singapore is hoping to take itself a large slice of the gaming pie.

Alongside RWS, the Las Vegas Sands Corp is so confident of succes in Singapore it is shelling out around US$6 billion (4.1 billion euros) on its 2,500-room Marina Bay Sands, which is more than twice the amount spent on the palatial Venetian Macao, which opened in 2007.

On its opening - and the company is targeting an April date - their Singapore operation will boast 1,000 gaming tables and 1,400 gaming machines.

"We promised Singapore that we will deliver a true IR that will make Singapore and Singaporeans proud. We have been single-minded about this - no distractions or excuses - and today, we are happy to say we marked the first milestone towards delivering on that promise,'' chairman of developers the Genting Group and Resorts World Sentosa, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, said through a press release.

MS

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