A 4-bedroom duplex apartment in Pearl on the Lough is home to Bruno Simões and Gemma Puig and their family.

Pearl on the Lough is a 22-storey, two-tower development on the north east coast of Taipa island in Macau. 

Located right on the waterfront, set in pretty gardens with a small clubhouse and pool, both buildings were designed so that the 4 apartments per floor are all able to benefit from the stunning sea views over towards Macau’s skyline.

For the past year it has been home to Bruno, Gemma and their children; Bruno’s teenage daughter Laura who was with them for her last year of high school before leaving for Portugal and Gemma’s two younger boys Marc and Jon. “We reluctantly moved here from Ocean Gardens because the rent where we were was a bit pricey and we needed more space” explains Gemma.  “But now we’ve made the move we’re really very happy here.  As a family it suits us well; the boys have lots of friends in the building, security is good and the gardens are great for them to ride their bikes.  Importantly, the 4-bedrooms mean that the children each have their own bedroom plus we can fit in a home office.”

Their apartment is in Tower 1, “which we find is quieter than Tower 2 because its further away from the Amizade bridge.”  The layout consists of an entrance hall opening on to a very spacious and airy living room, one double bedroom off the dining area, a long narrow kitchen, a guest powder room, a useful storage room and a terrace that doubles up as a laundry area.  Up a short flight of stairs and there’s a good size family bathroom, two more double bedrooms and at the end of the hall an impressively big master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a breathtaking sea view.

For some of the furniture, particularly the wardrobes, Gemma cleverly made use of the FaceBook site ByebyeZaia; with so many people leaving Macau and vacating their furnished apartments, great deals could be had.  “We’ve been married for the last 3 years and as we are a blended family,” she smiles, “we both contributed to the furniture from our previous homes.  The amazing wood dining table and master bed with its clever tongue-and-groove assembly comes from Bruno.  The rest of the furniture, the TV and décor accessories come from my old apartment.”

The other member of the family is Piggy, the family’s pet guinea pig. “He also comes from ByebyeZaia!” laughs Gemma, “We used to have a dog, our lovely white Boxer called Max, but when he died at the grand age of 13 the kids really wanted another pet so we found Piggy.  He’s free range these days … when the kids are at school and its quieter in the house he runs around the living room and comes to the kitchen for veggie snacks!”

Gemma grew up in Barcelona, Spain and Bruno is originally from Torres Novas, north-east of Lisbon, Portugal.  “We speak four languages at home; Spanish, Portuguese, English and I speak my native Catalan with the kids.” 

A well-known personality in Macau for the past almost 20 years, Bruno is a leading light in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) community and is President of the MISE (Macau Meetings, Incentives and Special Events) Association.   His company, DOC DMC Macau, organizes conferences, incentives and meetings.  “Within the tourism industry here he’s known as Mr Macau!” chuckles Gemma.  As a hotelier with a career specializing in conferences Gemma’s many years of experience in conference sales and management soon became an important asset as a freelance in helping boost the growth of the company. “Nowadays, with the restrictions in travel, the world has changed and we’ve had to adapt.  DOC DMC now hosts events and conferences that are both digital and hybrid.  The hybrid approach works well and can be very effective; our delegates have the choice of mixing individual on-line participation, in-person team gatherings and attending events with others, virtually.  For conferences we arrange the speakers, the delegates register, we send them the handouts and other meeting documents in advance, and then the event is held via Zoom.  We’re fortunate to have a very flexible team, a perfect blend between locals and westerners, so we can offer events in several languages.” 

For information on organizing company events, conferences, virtual meetings, team building and training, contact Bruno Simoes on: [email protected]

In support of DOC DMC is Bruno’s other company, Smallworld Experience that provides event production and team building.  “Just because of lockdowns and travel restrictions it doesn’t mean that companies have to stop thinking about developing their people,” he stresses.  “We conduct a number of excellent on-line team building programmes in partnership with Connect Communication in Hong Kong.  These kind of half-day experiential programmes are hugely important in forging better relationships and bonding between different parts of a company and doing this virtually is perfectly feasible these days.”

So what does this busy couple enjoy about Macau and what do they miss about ‘home’? “Macau is like a little town … but this is both good and bad” says Gemma.  “It’s easy and quick to get around, it’s safe, you know most people, you never feel alone and there’s always someone who can give you a hand so there’s a sense of feeling protected.  But at the same time there’s a lack of privacy, you can’t go anywhere without being recognized and everyone wants to know everybody’s business!”

“What we love,” she adds “is that Macau’s in the center of Asia so in normal pre-Covid times within a few short hours we can be in paradise – Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand – quickly and cheaply.  And a night or two of Hong Kong is great to recharge the batteries.”

“Being so culturally diverse the gastronomy is wonderful,” enthuses Bruno.    DOC DMC has been organizing Wine & Dine events every couple of months featuring different cuisines, wines and venues, that have become hugely popular and great networking.”

“Macau has been good for our kids growing up here,” admits Gemma. “Living overseas opens their minds to other cultures.  My boys go to the International School which has over 60 different nationalities.  Learning to get along with and appreciate differences in people will stand them in good stead for their lives, it’s a benefit that money can’t buy.  When I go to Spain, I see the difference between my kids and the kids that have lived all their lives in Spain.  My kids are much more culturally astute and accepting.”

“What I don’t enjoy about Macau is the weather!  In the Summer months when I’m off work with the kids, the weather is cloudy, humid, raining.   But in October-November and in March-April, when it’s the high season for events and we’re at our busiest, the weather is lovely!”