At Morpheus Hotel in Macau, the world’s first exoskeleton high-rise, hedonism is the operative word

The landscape of casino cities is predictable: neon lights and theme designs done to death. Ancient Egypt, present-day Venice, exotic Africa, the extinct city of Babylon—name it, they’ve done it. And so, in Macau where a similar landscape has developed, a design marvel like Morpheus simply jars the senses.

Created by the late architecture icon, Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), and named after the Greek god of dreams, the latest addition to Melco’s City of Dreams entertainment complex sticks out like an awesome thumb. It has, in fact, already claimed a place in history as the world’s first-ever free-form exoskeleton high-rise architectural structure. As the Greek god Morpheus forms and shapes dreams, one of Hadid’s last creations morphs and creates a feeling of fluidity.

“One of the things that Zaha said was that, ‘There are 360 angles, degrees; why choose 90?’” shares the globally-renowned designer Peter Remedios, who crafted and curated the interior of the hotel. “So, you see her building is quite fluid, quite organic, and this posed a challenge for some of our interior spaces. There are some rooms that are so organic you cannot draw them in CADD, but only in 3-D programme. It’s that complicated.”

Remedios, however, always welcomes an opportunity to work with what he calls “starchitects” like Hadid. “It always tends to be more challenging when we have that level of architecture. And the results are always better.”

Morpheus, the hotel, is a dream of the Hong Kong billionaire businessman Lawrence Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco Resorts & Entertainment, that was put on hold for two years when the business climate in Macau soured some 15 years ago. “Lawrence wanted to do something very modern then, and now, he finally gets his dream. He took a leap of faith as Morpheus is so different from anything on the strip. Will it be successful? I believe it will be a huge success because Macau is ready for modern, for great design,” Remedios relates.

For every project that he does, Remedios likes to weave a story. At Morpheus, his overriding notion is hedonism. “Basically, it means rewarding yourself by indulging in pleasurable pursuits,” he explains. Guided by this, Remedios, who also designed and manufactured the bespoke furniture of the luxury hotel, made sure each of the 772 guest rooms, suites, and villas delivered on the promise.

The most basic room, for instance, is a smart room where the lights, television, sounds, and curtains are controlled by a mere touch on the screen. Some have automatic doors leading to the bathroom with its one-of-a-kind bathtub. “And the mini bar in Morpheus is really a maxi bar,” Remedios adds.

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Above The living room of one of the six 582sqm villas

Originally from Macau of Portuguese descent but now based in California, Remedios believes that “design reflects the way we live.” Thus said, he points out some details in the rooms of Morpheus that follow his principle, like the absence of desks. “I don’t do desks anymore,” he starts to rattle off. “We don’t use them anymore; we work off our laptops cross-legged on the sofa. The chair is lower than normal, at lounge-chair height, because you are doing many things at the same time: checking your e-mails, watching television, taking a bite of that wonton noodle soup. The sofa is designed in such a way that you can sit on it in whatever way you want as well as shift the pillows around and lay on it like a chaise. At the back of the sofa is a space for your drink—no need for a coffee table.”

Then sums it all up with his design principle: “My designs are lifestyle driven, rethinking how we live, what we would like to do, and responding with furniture that does what we like rather than us having to adjust to it.”

Morpheus has a total of 772 guest rooms, suites, and villas. It has an executive lounge and a sky pool situated 130 metres above ground. Dining options are nothing short of Michelin-star status, what with the participation of Alain Ducasse. This chef who holds 21 Michelin stars offers two restaurants designed by Jouin Manku: Alain Ducasse at Morpheus and Voyages, the latter inspired by his travels. Pierre Hermé, the king of modern patisserie, has a sleek lounge serving his finest creations. Yi is the home of exceptional regional Chinese cuisine served omakase-style in breathtaking interiors by Zaha Hadid Architects.

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Above Inside Morpheus Spa's snow garden

Remedios believes that Macau is moving away from being a gambling venue to an entertainment destination and that Morpheus is right in the forefront of answering this need. “This notion of a hedonistic lifestyle, of rewarding oneself, is very appropriate,” he states. The uniqueness of its design, its maximum level of luxury, and the feeling of fluidity externally as well as internally makes Morpheus the go-to hotel for someone looking for a different experience.

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