Genting has long established itself as one of the major gambling destinations in South-east Asia. People from around the region would come, flocking the roulette and dingdong tables, trying out their lucks in baccarat and black jack. But the special thing about Genting is this: it is open for people from all financial means and backgrounds. If you are traveling there looking for harmless fun and a weekend getaway, there are plenty of affordable accommodations offering backpacker rates. During the day you might shop around and try out its amusement parks. At night, get ready to swing by "the garden" to parlay your end-month salary into bigger (or sometimes lesser) fortunes.
On the other hand, if you are a serious player looking for big money, then Genting offers you exclusive opportunity to gamble your night away, while providing the best of luxury amenities and services to keep your real-life worries at bay.
The Maxims Club in Genting prides itself as the "the epitome of satisfaction, style, and exclusivitiy". The membership is only by invitation, aimed at frequent players with bigger bucks and a taste for fine lifestyle. It is difficult to get in, but once you are part of the Maxims family, you are free to access a whole range of high-class facilities from palace-like suites, gourmet meals in bed, to top-notch spa massages.
My earliest memory of spending time in the Maxims consisted of flicking through cartoon network channels aimlessly while my parents retreated into the adult world, where stocky, pot-bellied businessmen in suits blew their Cuban cigars while placing their bets on the green table; their model-like wives (or company girls) ready to serve at spontaneous beck and call, with diamond necklace glistening on their slender necks. I couldn't have cared less. It was always a break from boring school life I was looking for. Neither did I pay much attention to the extravagant hotel rooms, remembering only a blurry sparkle of golden decoration everywhere, and endless channel selections on TV.
But just earlier this year, to celebrate my twentieth birthday, my Dad brought me along with him to Genting for one of his regular bi-weekly gambling sessions. The Maxim resort changed a lot - better, bigger, and even more luxurious than how I had remembered it. A fine gentleman in impeccable maroon uniform greeted us as we arrived in the lobby, swiftly loading our suitcases on the luggage tray. "This way please" he smiled, and led us up the golden elevator, through carpeted corridors that smelled heavenly, and unlocked a door right at the end.
I stepped in, and blinked twice. The room was humongous, with gigantic flat screen TV at one end, a king-sized, memory-foam layered poster bed at the other extreme, two working desks and two coffee tables with plush armchairs at their sides, and a cavernous closet. I saw sparkling furniture made of glass-and-steel everywhere it made me dizzy. The bathroom occupied at least another three quarter of the size of the bedroom, with a gargantuan marble bathtub, a separate room for automatic Japanese toilet (with another TV installed on the wall opposite the toilet!) and a shower cubicle with two showers inside with a panel of complicated-looking buttons that gave you plenty of choices of how you would like your spray to be.
"I can't believe we have this whole room to ourselves!" I exclaimed.
"No, this is my room. Yours is at the other side of the living room." My dad replied.
I almost died of disbelief. So I entered into a door a the end of the room that opened up to a big living room (with another bigger TV) and a small study. By the end of this, another door led to my room, equally as big as that of my Dad's, with equally luxurious bathroom. To be honest, it was rather a waste of space.
I spent the day marvelling at the wonders of what wealth could give you. In the shopping malls downstairs, I looked at a spread of collections of lifestyle stores, from jewellery to clothes to shoes, ranging from casual brands to the high-end luxury goods. After dinner, my Dad put on his suit, readying himself for the casino. I was curious, but the minimum age to enter Genting casino was twenty-one, so it was a good thing that I share an almost uncanny resemblance to my mom. I put on a knee-length gown, put up my hair into a bun, applied heavier make-up, and used her membership card to get in.
Inside, a filipino live band was playing beautifully in the middle of the fully carpeted, darkened room, underneath one of the many crystal chandeliers that adorned the ceiling. A spread of gourmet buffet was at one side, open twenty-four/seven, where casino players could get their infinite refill of foie gras or avocado shrimps. Meanwhile, the bar served a free flow of alcoholic drinks and fruit juices. Gambling machines and card tables littered the whole area, surrounded by people who constantly swiped cold sweat from their foreheads.
My dad proceeded to one of the VIP rooms where a bunch of his friends sat chewing their cigars and flirted with the female dealers. It was even more surreal than how I had imagined it. Glossy ladies with immaculate coiffure and polished nails wandered around the room, kissing their rich husbands' balding pates. They looked as if they had jumped off a page from Vogue.
It got boring afterwards, since my Dad was quickly engrossed in his game. So I went outside to grab a sushi roll and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to the band. As I nodded my head to sleep, lulled by their charmingly sweet melodies, I concluded that the advertisement on the website was quite true : When you are at Maxims Genting, you know you have reached a haven of luxury that is a class on its own.
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