Hong Kong’s first Hooters is already causing controversy

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FoodBeast/Next Shark (by Ryan General):

American restaurant chain Hooters, known for its skimpily dressed female servers is about to open its first restaurant in Hong Kong. A month before its launch, however, the sports bar that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” is already attracting controversy.

Set to occupy a prime location in Hong Kong’s Central district along Wyndham Street, Hooters Hong Kong will be just one of the 30 branches that Bangkok-based Destinations Resorts will be bringing to Asia on behalf of Hooters Asia.

While preparations are all well under way for the Hong Kong opening, Hooters Asia general manager Mike Warde is also fending off criticisms about the company’s image and hiring processes.

We’re a sports bar, a family-oriented, fun-loving, entertainment outlet. We have standards for our service and food,” Warde told South China Morning Post in an interview.

For Warde, the Hooters girls who he calls the chain’s “brand ambassadors” are not dressed provocatively but are simply wearing sportswear. He also denied that breast size is a factor in the company’s recruitment.

That’s a myth. That was 30 years ago,” he said while showing a photograph of Thai Hooters girls with small breasts. “The reason they don’t look flat chested is because they are wearing Wonderbras.”

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A friend of one Hong Kong applicant, however is refuting his claim. Scarlet (not her real name), an applicant herself, said her friend who applied didn’t pass because of her breast size.

Her boobs are smaller, so of course they won’t hire her,” she said.

The recruitment process has been going on for months and so far 12 Hong Kong women, one Japanese woman and two European women are being considered for the job.

Aside from normal food-serving tasks, Hooter girls are also expected to perform two-minute dance numbers at certain intervals.

They stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, and dance every 45 minutes,” says Warde. “In Thailand guests pay them to do hula hoop and the money goes to charity. We have pom-poms and we take them to the rugby pitch to support teams.

To stay in shape, they are also required to attend three kickboxing classes per week.

We teach the girls to be a lot more respectful of themselves, have more confidence in themselves. They have a fit body and fit mind and we bring out their characters because we put them all over social media,” he added.

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They said, ‘This is the largest size’ – I think that was true. But it’s crazy that the largest size is extra small. My boobs were exploding and my ass was half showing out,” the 24-year-old said.

When I went for the uniform fitting they said I’m the only girl with boobs. They want to hire locals, but most local girls are really skinny.”

Scarlet also found the salary disappointing and realized she could earn more as a beauty therapist. The HK$15,000 ($1,932) per month offered for a five-and-a-half-day week is barely above standard.

They said I would get good tips, but in Hong Kong I don’t think the guys would pay a lot. There isn’t the tipping culture here,” Scarlet said.

Back in the U.S., the company has closed about a dozen stores in recent years, with observers saying the concept of “breastaurants” is outdated.

Warde believes that it will be a different story in Asia. “In Asia we are a new brand. And in America they’ve been closing the ones that haven’t been performing and reopening others. Over the last four years it’s growing, they are on the up again,”he said.

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In the next five years, the aggressive expansion plan of Hooters Asia will also see restaurants opening in Indonesia, Thailand, Macau, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Asian casinos will try just about anything to attract Chinese gamblers

Vincent Yu  / Associated Press

Mainland Chinese visitors gather at the lobby of the Galaxy casino in Macau

Bloomberg (by Liza Lin):

At the oceanfront Ramada Plaza hotel on South Korea’s Jeju island, about a hundred Chinese gamblers huddle around felt-topped tables, wagering as much as 5 million won ($4,500) at baccarat. Shouts in Mandarin — “Beautiful!”, “Good!” — ring out as bettors with winning hands slam their cards on the green table-tops.

Asian casino operators from South Korea to Australia are pulling in China’s gamblers as the country’s corruption crackdown scares many away from Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub. They are capitalizing on a downturn in the city’s gaming industry, which last month suffered its worst drop ever.

Operators such as Paradise Co. in South Korea are hiring Mandarin-speaking staff and offering VIP treatment including free flights, limousines and hotel stays to big spenders. Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. of Sydney and NagaCorp Ltd. in Cambodia cater to the junket operators who organize trips for Chinese gamblers with perks such as higher commissions, lower taxes and private jets.

Premium mass players can be recognized as VIP players and treated better than in Macau,” said Lee Hyuk-Byung, vice chairman of Paradise, in an interview in Seoul. “And we have other attractions in Korea such as culture, fashion, food.”

Macau casino revenue fell last year for the first time and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. By contrast, South Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in a note.

Plastic Surgeons

President Xi Jinping has urged Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, to diversify from gambling. Macau’s government imposed more scrutiny over junket operators, as mass market gambling also weakened amid China’s economic slowdown, and new restrictions on visas and cigarette smoking.

The anti-corruption measures are discouraging some people from traveling to Macau, and as a result we are seeing a slight shift in travel from Macau to other destinations,” said Aaron Fischer, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CLSA Ltd. “Vietnam and Philippines will likely benefit as they are the closest. Korea will pick up people in the northern parts of China.”

Gamblers who bet at least $50,000 at Paradise’s casinos qualify for freebies usually available only to VIP players, Lee said. In Macau, the minimum needed to get similar perks from junket operators is about $500,000, according to CLSA data. The company also draws Chinese gamblers to the celebrity-obsessed country by touting its pop culture and offering recommendations of top Korean plastic surgeons, Lee said.

Operators have more risqué offerings too. A gambler who exchanges 300,000 yuan ($48,000) worth of chips can receive free flights to Jeju, tours with a Mandarin-speaking guide, and the companionship of a “third-tier” Korean actress or model, according to an e-mailed brochure from Shanghai-based tour operator CNS. A CNS travel agent, who would only give her name as “Xiao Qi”, confirmed the services when contacted by phone.

Shanghai and Shenyang

It’s illegal for foreign companies to advertise casino operations in China and Paradise avoids public solicitations, Lee said. Its staff reaches out to high-stakes gamblers recommended by existing customers and makes frequent trips to major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, he added.

Companies are able to sidestep China’s ban on casino marketing by advertising non-gaming aspects such as a concert or entertainment show held on its venue, said Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming Group in Macau.

Junket operators own restaurants, night clubs, they sponsor golf tournaments and other getaways,” Govertsen said in an interview. “There is plenty of stuff a junket could advertise in a mass-market sort of format.”

Still, foreign operators’ efforts to attract China’s gamblers have caught the notice of local authorities, which announced last month a crackdown on representative offices that “attract and recruit Chinese citizens” to casinos.

Peking Duck

Manila’s members-only Signature Club in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.’s City of Dreams casino has entrance signs in both English and Chinese, while Mandarin-speaking staff direct guests to cashiers, shops, and restaurants. The neighboring Solaire Resort and Casino owned by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. has suckling pig and Peking duck on the menu, catering to Chinese palates.

There are a lot of excuses to go the Philippines; we always promote the Philippines not on the casino but the whole package,” Cristino Naguiat, chairman at gaming regular Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., said in an interview.

Even with the crackdown in China, we still had higher volume in terms of gross gaming revenue and in terms of junket and VIPs,” he said last month in Manila.

Too Many Chinese

South Korea is preparing to welcome more Chinese gamblers after tourist arrivals from the country rose last year to 6.1 million, with new casinos planned including at Incheon Airport.

On Jeju island, junket operators have set up shop to offer gambling chips on loan, a service common in Macau that helps bettors sidestep China’s limits on taking currency out of the country.

Competition between the island’s eight foreigner-only casinos has led to a flourishing of more than 100 unlicensed junket operators and their agents on the island, said Seo Won- Seok, a hotel and tourism management professor at Kyunghee University in Seoul.

As Chinese gamblers become more important, there’s a need to better regulate the growth of the junket operators that bring them, he said.

Our casino industry may be too dependent on the Chinese market and that means there is always risk from China’s government policy,” Seo said. “I think that’s the downside — too many Chinese in Korea.”

 

 

Boxing flyweight world champion Zou Shiming for Beats by Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless

Beats by Dre is back in the boxing game. This Saturday night in Macau, fans could welcome the first Chinese IBF Flyweight world champion- Zou Shiming. Some may not recognize his name, but he has already won two consecutive gold medals for China.

Zou Shiming’s success is not guaranteed as he faces a fierce competitor in Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng. With legendary manager Freddie Roach in his corner, Zou Shiming looks to put Chinese boxing on the map.

Check out Zou Shiming in his second Beats By Dre produced spot entitled Relentless. Backed by the sounds of Royal Blood’s ‘Figure it out’, the video features Zou Shiming in a serious workout. Music and intense motion made possible by Powerbeats2 Wireless. `

Flyweight Champ Zou Shiming Flexes in Beats by Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless

Manny Pacquiao records entrance song for Mayweather fight

SB Nation:

Manny Pacquiao has recorded a new song for his fight with Floyd Maywether, eschewing (at least partially) old Pacquiao entrance standards like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” or Katy Perry’s “Roar” to once again share with the world the gift that is his angelic singing voice.

The boxer is preparing for his May 2 fight against undefeated Floyd Mayweather by laying down a track titled “Lalaban ako para sa Pilipino” or “I will fight for the Philippines,” which he plans to use as his entrance music.

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KO) has previously stated that he’s officially dedicating this momentous event to the Filipino people, and the fighter/Congressman/cultural icon has always been known to shown great pride in his home country.

The 36-year-old Pacquiao last fought in November, routing Chris Algieri in Macau. He’ll return to Las Vegas to face Mayweather (47-0, 26 KO) in what is expected to be the biggest money fight in boxing history.

Man builds perfect, tiny Japanese house that could be yours for $70,000

RocketNews 24:

In this consumerist culture of ours, it seems like the never-ending scramble to acquire more and bigger worldly goods and possessions is becoming increasingly futile as economic issues tend to scupper every attempt we make at achieving those perhaps impossible ideals. It’s no wonder, then, that people are increasingly turning to minimalism and simplicity in their lives and in their homes. The Japanese aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi extols the virtues of living a life that is simple, rustic and close to nature, and we’ve been seeing elements of this start to crop up increasingly in the west, with the recent adoption of tiny, eco-friendly houses providing a possible alternative to an energy-guzzling modern pile of bricks.

Today we’d like to show you around one such teensy home, modelled around a traditional Japanese house and encompassing only 10 x 20 feet of space. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this mini-house, though, is that it was all made by the hands of one man – American Chris Heininge.

According to his website, Chris Heininge spent 20 years travelling around Asia as a Christian missionary, visiting countries such as India, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan. During this time he became interested in Japanese construction and design, and eventually went into the family business of construction himself, building several “tiny houses” inspired by the architecture and craftsmanship he’d seen on his travels. His latest creation is this miniature Japanese “Tiny House”, which for the asking price of $70,000 comes complete with a bathroom, sleeping loft and kitchen/dining room, and also features a simulated fireplace!

Let’s take a look inside!

We’re loving the simple design inside, and that seat looks super-cosy!

Check out the simulated fireplace! There’s also plenty of storage space available, with drawers built right into the stairs!

While the inside is undoubtedly pretty snug, it’s really not much more of a squeeze than your average Tokyo apartment, with the added benefit of being able to up sticks and move to another patch if you don’t like your neighbours!

The bathtub is just the right size for one!

We’d prefer a little more elbow room at the sink, but this really has everything you need.

The replica Japanese Tiny House shown in the pictures is one of a kind, and is currently the only Tiny House that Heininge has for sale. According to his website, the house’s eventual buyer will receive everything shown in the pictures, and he will personally deliver the house to the buyer provided they live within 50 miles of Portland, Oregon.

Dalian Wanda sneaks peek at theme park in Wuhan

Dailan Wanda sneeks peek at new

Variety:

China’s giant property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has raised the curtain – a little bit – on its new multi-billion dollar theme park and theater developments in Wuhan Nov. 7 as it expands its presence across the country while continuing to stretch its reach around the globe.

Steered by China’s second-richest man Wang Jianlin, the company in 2012 purchased AMC Entertainment, thereby staking its claim to be the world’s largest cinema operator, while it has recently announced billion-dollar plans to establish facilities in Hollywood and Australia.

But the developments in Wuhan — which will be officially opened Dec. 20 — reflect the current shift in China towards “internal consumption,”according to Tang Jun, vice president of the Beijing Wanda Cultural Industry Group.

Tang said it was thought that “entertainment and leisure could be one of the major drivers” of this economic trend in China, which has been a mantra pushed by China President Xi Jinping

This development is unprecedented in China,” claimed Tang. “It’s a combination of culture with high technology. That’s the charter.”

A small group of select guests were treated Nov. 7 to a sneak preview of the attractions being fine-tuned in Wuhan, while also taking in behind-the-scenes tours of the sprawling buildings that will house them.

Mark Fisher — the British artistic director of the Beijing and London Olympics who passed away in June — designed the Han Show Theatre based on a traditional glowing Chinese red lantern, and the Wanda Movie Park, which covers an areas of 100,000 square meters, from the shape of China’s Chu-Han culture’s ancient bells.

Opening next month, the “The Han Show,” created by theatrical director Franco Dragone, will be staged in the custom-build theater that carries its name while the Wanda Movie Park — Wanda is claiming it’s the world’s first indoor movie theme park — will boast six major attractions developed with the likes of Industrial Light & Magic, as well as retail and dining outlets.

Tang said Wuhan, one of China’s “second-tier” cities with a population of around 10.2 million, capital of the Hubei province and situated in the center of the country, had been earmarked for cultural development due to its rich heritage, which dates back to 1500 BC. Its East Lake was a favored holiday destination for China’s former leader Mao Tse-tung.

But Tang said the plan was to also establish a “new image” for Wuhan.

To that end, the two theater and theme park facilities are supplemented by Han Street: a retail, dining and entertainment district that Wanda says has attracted an average of more than 300,000 visitors per day since opening in September 2011. Han Street now comes surrounded by a growing number of commercial buildings and towering condominiums, with the hope that sales of flats within them will offset some of the overall cost of the project. There are also hotels around the developments, including the five-star Wanda Reign, which sits next to the Han Show Theatre.

Wanda is also hoping crowds will flock to the site to take in attractions at the Wanda Movie Park, and guests Nov. 7 tested out the Hubei in the Air flight simulation ride that flies guests through the province’s spectacular sites. Other attractions set to open next month include a 3D Journey to the West interactive ride/game.

We think (capacity) will be about 8,000 people at one time. During the first year we are projecting three million visitors and for revenue RMB800 million ($130.6 million),” said Aaron Soo, Wanda Movie Park’s general manager, who estimated the movie park alone would cost his company around RMB4.2 billion ($685 million) when completed. No official estimate of the amount Dalian Wanda Group has spent was offered.

Dragone is also fine-tuning “The Han Show” with the help of costume designer Tim Yip (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) and Nov. 7 presented a series of small live excepts from the show to guests. “The Han Show” is looking to build on the success Dragone and his team have had in the southern Chinese gambling hub of Macau with “The House of Dancing Water,” which has met with great success since opening at the City of Dreams casino resort in 2010.

Although not giving too much away, Dragone explained his production would reflect how young Chinese people today are facing up to their future, told through the story of a teenage couple.

I will never have enough in seven lives to learn about the grandeur of this country,” said Dragone, the former Cirque du Soleil creative director who branched out on his own in 2000. “But I have always tried to find a language that can talk to everybody.

The Dalian Wanda Group has plans for 13 major theme parks over the next three years including a film studio and theme park complex in Qingdao, which will host a film festival starting in 2017.

It also has plans to establish a further 200 smaller “Baby King” theme parks specifically for younger children across China over the next few years.

As well as the acquisition of AMC Entertainment —which pushed its reach to more than 6,000 screens globally — the company has thrown its financial weight behind a series of major productions in recent years, among them Jackie Chan’s “Police Story 2013” and the 3D martial arts fantasy hit “The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven,” starring Chow Yun-fat and Donnie Yen.

China takes new stealth jet for test flight during Obama visit

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Fox News:

China‘s military upstaged the Asian economic summit in Beijing this week by conducting test flights of a new stealth jet prototype, as the White House called on Beijing to halt its cyber attacks.

Demonstration flights by the new J-31 fighter jet — China’s second new radar-evading warplane — were a key feature at a major arms show in Zhuhai, located near Macau, on Monday.

The J-31 flights coincided with President Obama’s visit to Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting. In a speech and meetings with Chinese leaders, Obama called on China to curtail cyber theft of trade secrets.

China obtained secrets from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter through cyber attacks against a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin. The technology has shown up in China’s first stealth jet, the J-20, and in the J-31. Both of the jets’ design features and equipment are similar to those of the F-35.

The Chinese warplanes are part of a major buildup of air power by China that includes the two new stealth fighters, development of a new strategic bomber, purchase of Russian Su-35 jets, and development of advanced air defense missile systems. China also is building up its conventional and nuclear missile forces.

Meanwhile, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in Beijing Tuesday that the president would press China’s leader Xi Jinping to curb Chinese cyber espionage.

Cybersecurity, of course, will be an important focus for the president, given some of our concerns related to cybersecurity and the theft of intellectual property,” Rhodes said in advance of Obama’s meeting Tuesday with Xi.