Dean helps get giant hotel rolling for opener

GAMBLING CENTRE: Dean Bignall has just finished a stint in Macau, after helping to get the world’s biggest Sheraton hotel ready for opening.
GAMBLING CENTRE: Dean Bignall has just finished a stint in Macau, after helping to get the world’s biggest Sheraton hotel ready for opening. Geoff Potter

FROM the snow-capped Canadian Rockies to the high-rolling casinos of Macau, hospitality guru Dean Bignall reckons he has the life.

At the age of 15, Mr Bignall decided he wanted to be the guy pouring beers, not drinking them.

The decision has rewarded him many times over.

Now 42, Mr Bignall is a hospitality teacher at Sunshine Coast TAFE, but his career has had him manage hotels at Canada's Lake Louise, Queensland's Hamilton Island and a 15-season stint at Thredbo.

He took time out earlier this year to help establish the world's largest Sheraton hotel in the gambling mecca of Macau.

Employed on a one-month contract, Mr Bignall was given the task of ironing out any wrinkles before the hotel's grand opening.

"It was a clean slate and it was up to me to get things right before we opened to the public," he said.

"We invited around 5000 people in soft openings, which allowed us to identify the systems that were working and the ones that needed more attention."

Mr Bignall said most hotels in Macau were judged on face value with much attention on the food and beverage displays.

"A lot of effort is put into making things look pretty, with so much attention to detail," he said.

"It makes you wonder why you go to so much effort because the majority of guests are there for one reason: to gamble."

Millions of Chinese flock to Macau each year to try their luck, spending more at the gaming tables than Las Vegas and Reno combined.

Mr Bignall said gambling was a way of life for many Chinese.

"Macau locals told me that the Chinese view the good fortune that comes with winning as a sign of masculinity," he said.

"I've seen guys play at tables for five days straight, only stopping when they had to eat to get the energy to keep going."

Although he was grateful for his stint in Macau, he stopped short of recommending his own hospitality students head over.

"It was great for me because I was on the same wage as I am here in Australia, so it was more about the experience," he said.

"The fact is that the money there is terrible - about $200 a week with a lot of overtime - so it's not something I'd advise."

Topics:  hospitality sunshine coast tafe

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