Creative event designer, entertainment and film specialist Brett Ingram has given a facelift to his new home in Macau

Originally from Brisbane, Australia, serendipity played a big part in Brett Ingram’s arrival in Macau in April 2007. Having grown up in the cinema industry in Australia, he moved from film after 14 years into ticketing, joining government – run agency Q-PAC as their general manager, performance arts ticketing. “Whilst the work was interesting, I found it difficult adapting to the culture, it was not for me,” he explains.

Then a chance email communication with an acquaintance he’d met in the ticketing industry told Brett she was moving to run a ticketing operation in Macau. At first he thought she was referring to Mackay on the north east coast of Australia. “I had to Google Macau! I made contact and the next day I flew to meet my new boss in Melbourne, who to this day I am still grateful to for this opportunity, and the rest is history.” Brett joined Sands China Ltd.’s pre-opening team at Cotai ticketing Ticketing for the The Venetian Macao’s new Cotai Arena.

Like most newly arriving expats in the mid-2000’s, it was common to move home every year or two. At the time, with the opening of new residential properties both in Taipa and on the Peninsula, rents would soften as additional supply of apartments came on the market.

Brett initially lived in Kingsville and then after a year, 2008 and the financial crisis hit, so rents dropped even further and he moved to the brand-new La Cite complex in the north of the peninsula. “I was paying MOP5,000 a month for a brand new, 1800 square feet foot apartment with great clubhouse and lagoon pool. I was the first person to move into the building. On my first night I noticed that there were no other lights on in the other apartments –, so I went down to the security desk and asked where everyone was. ‘You are the first person to live here!’ was the reply. It was a bit weird driving into an empty car park.”

After another year Brett moved back to Taipa to a two-bedroom apartment in Nova City; : “I loved the floor plan, so practical.”

Then on to Prince Flower City, and then to Pacifica Gardens where he stayed for 8 eight years. “I was very happy in my place there; it had a great balcony and view.”

Living and dining room, in progress

Then in 2020 Brett started looking into Australian real estate, planning for retirement 20 years down the track. But having by then lived in Macau for 15 years, liking the place and clearly loving his job, maybe it was time to put down roots and buy here instead. “I’m a Macau permanent resident and as I was 44, about to turn 45, I learned of the tax and loan breaks of buying my own place in Macau before I turned 45.” He literally had just a few weeks before his 45th birthday, when he would become ineligible for the benefits. “Hit the panic button! I saw many apartments. One at Flower City sadly fell through. I finally settled on Lei Loi Tak.

Guest bedroom, renovations in full swing
Hallway from entrance door

A 2-tower, 384-unit development built in 1995 on reclaimed land adjacent to Ocean Gardens. At first glance Lei Loi Tak, a two-tower, 384-unit development built in 1995 on reclaimed land adjacent to Ocean Gardens, is unprepossessing and “looks in need of a good paint job.” But the location is superb; it sits on a major public bus route and the Ocean Gardens light rail station is literally 100 yards away, so transportation is super convenient.

The Ocean Gardens waterfront park, running and bike track is at the front and at the back is the Small Taipa hill with its family walking trails. And the two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 900 square foot apartment Brett chose came within budget and has “stellar views” of the estuary that flows between Taipa’s north west shore and Hengqin island.

Brett decided to completely gut the apartment: “because I wanted a) an open kitchen style, b) to flip the bathroom location c) to refurbish the ensuite bathroom, and d) to make it my forever home in Macau. I want something to make me feel happy and proud to come home to. After being here so long, paying rent, then we’re hit with Covid – I feel it’s important to enjoy the moment. I have a sense of belonging, a pride of place in Macau which I couldn’t achieve through renting.”

He engaged “an amazing designer, V-Design, from Macao and China. But no one on the team spoke English and my Putonghua is limited, so during the design phase I realized that we’d struggle with communication, needing nonstop translation. But for the language barrier I would have had them do the contracting as well. If I was going to invest all that money, though, I needed to have confidence that the job would go smoothly.”

In the end Brett signed up with another builder suggested to him, with an English-speaking owner (Mr. Armond Mak of “Novo Weng Seng”. (853) 6642 8816). “I can’t recommend them more highly, they have real attention to detail and nothing is too much trouble.”

“I bought the apartment in March last year, literally days before my 45th birthday, and started the renovation in the first week of July. There were delays due to buildings materials and logistics hold-ups thanks to COVID-19Covid. But now everything is done and my dog Tofu and I are comfortably moved in, it’s wonderful.” The furniture was bought over from Brett’s previous apartment having been recovered. The rest of the things are built in. The open kitchen has a preparation island and he’s set up the dining table attached to that.

After a decade and a half of living in Macau, what does Brett love about the place? “The diversity of people and cultures. The changes I’ve seen in Macau take place in the last decade and a half –, particularly in entertainment, have been incredible. The enthusiastic support of the local community to of the events we offer; we drive mass events that the locals can enjoy.

Now Assistant Vice President of Event Management and Development, Brett is deeply proud of his team. “It’s an all-local team. Everyone is extremely loyal and passionate about what they do. Some team members have been trained from the ground up, others come from other event management roles. We handle massive large-scale events to smaller ones. We did the Parisian Macao opening – several hundred media from around the world attended, there was NO room for error. Everything we do must be seamless.”

Then there was the Sands Macao’s 15th Anniversary and the The Venetian Macao’s 10th Anniversary. All very big, spectacular ceremonies. And the New Year’s Eve Countdowns on the Cotai Strip, which are attended by over 20,000 people.” And there’s the world class concerts, exhibitions, music festivals and awards ceremonies …. I– it’s an exciting life Brett and his team live!

They also handle the launch of attractions, such as those you see in at the The Londoner Macao. “For these we work with multiple departments, the technical and creative teams spread across the world, the audio-visual team, the designers, and the building teams. Coordination can be complex and stressful, but so rewarding once successfully completed.”

“Covid has taught me to find the best of Macau – I enjoy getting outdoors, hiking. In my spare time, I go to the gym, take the dog for a run, go to the movies, eat out with friends. Macau has some of the world’s best restaurants and chefs. It’s sad that so many expatriates have left due to Covid, and so many other friends have moved on, so it’s been a very difficult transition for me. However, it was the same during the financial crisis in 2008. Macao will come back very soon with the energy and dynamic diversity of attractions it’s known for and we will be ready to welcome the world back again with open arms.”

“It has been good, however, that I’ve had the renovation of my new home to focus on during this very difficult time.”

Article written for the Macau Closer by Suzanne Watkinson, managing director of Ambiente Properties.

Photo credit for shot of Brett with dog Tofu and photographs appearing in the article: Goncalo Pinheiro

Other ‘before’ shots by Suzanne Watkinson