Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 26, 2006

The Impact of Resort Closures on You?

Posted by Hunter has an interesting article discussing the impending resort closures and how they will impact room inventory and other aspects of Las Vegas.

It's a good read, I recommend it.

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Read archived comments (14 so far)
January 27, 2006 10:53 AM Posted by Doug

I think it's great these older and run-down strip hotels are being re-built. As far as cheap room inventory goes there are still TONS of low-cost motels and small casino/hotels around the strip.

What Las Vegas hotel owners know is that gamblers no longer 'need' to visit the strip just to gamble. Where I live (in the Pacific Northwest) there are three excellent tribal casinos within short diving distance. And they all have good rules for their games.

The Las Vegas strip is now an entertainment destination (and conventions of course) - As well as luxury accommodations, top tier restaurants and high-stakes gambling.

If Las Vegas is going to continue to be a unique experience they need to 'one-up' the competition that's spread out in mass across the country. I'm not worried about room rates on the strip, I'm worried they'll go back to their carnival roots and ruin the place.

January 27, 2006 5:23 PM Posted by mike_ch

They can't all be high-end resorts if nobody's going to built anything in the middle range. It's about time some older, formerly prestigious resorts drop their intentions about being a luxury hotel in face of the newer joints.

It's time for the likes of The Mirage, MGM Grand, and Caesars Palace (which has been trying to keep up in the luxury race just enough to be considered amongst the competition) to come to reality. They need to realize that once these massive CityCenter, Echelon, and Future Harrah's Project places open on the grounds of old low-roller hotels like the IP and the Stardust, that it's essentially up to them as the newly-crowned old guard to absorb these guests. That's going to mean lowering prices and lowering expectations.

The managers don't get it. They're trying to take Treasure Island upscale, for example. What they need to be doing is making it the new standard for downscale. Say "you'll never find a hotel in town in this more affordable price range that's as nice as ours."

If this doesn't happen, reservations will quickly begin booming at Excalibur and Bally's simply because they're what's left. Either that or the casinos will run out of wealthy people to cater to, and some mid-range development will finally begin in the years ahead. Maybe it will happen in-between the timeshares up near the Strat.

January 27, 2006 7:11 PM Posted by Hunter

I agree with the concept you're talking about but I'm not sure I agree with your choice of properties.

Certainly, properties like TI, Bally's, the Flamingo, Monte Carlo, Luxor and others should be 'mid-market' properties.

Still, The Mirage, MGM Grand and Caesars are mid-to-high end properties. I'm basing this on not just the quality of the property but on the win they are generating. Those are three of the highest grossing casinos in the world.

Ultimately, some of these new 'high end' properties will BECOME mid-market properties by default when the top of the market crowds up and they are FORCED to lower prices to fill rooms... So in a way, this is a good thing because you get these companies to build insanely great properties that will eventually either re-position other properties or be re-positioned themselves by market forces.

January 28, 2006 9:51 PM Posted by mike_ch

Good call on Monte Carlo, that's what I was trying to think of when I said MGM Grand. MGM is fairly mid-market as it is, I guess, due to the number of rooms available. It reminds me a lot of Luxor, though, in that it's a (comparatively on the strip) older property with a lot of rooms to fill that started off not being upscale but has been converted to that, piece by piece.

As for Mirage, it is getting a nice casino re-do and everything, but the hotel is visibly old. Old to the point where I can actually visualize it's implosion day. I guess it's a size thing. Maybe it's deceptive, but the rooms at Wynn feel notably larger than the competition that's already there, and we'll have to see if they become a standard in the competition to come. If there's a square-footage arms race beginning, there will be an obvious difference between the "old" new and the "new" new.

January 29, 2006 6:49 AM Posted by charlie

I think Hunter is right on with his analysis. 3 years ago, I thought the MGM Grand was mid-market. But the more money they invest in that place, the more I like it and the better it performs financially. It's an operators dream. Cash flow is for MGM is in the Bellagio and Wynn range. The place is so big and diverse, it is really a multi-market hotel - catering to the ultra high-end all the way to the mid-market.

What I think hurts the Mirage is the quality of the rooms. Overall, I still love the place. Yes the rooms are very small, but it would be difficult for me to "pass-up" spending 149/night at Mirage if Wynn was 300+, if the level of refinement in the bedding, furniture and electronics were equal to Wynn. You would be giving up a soaking tub, but on a 2 night trip you are pretty much on the go anyways. I think the rooms and suites at Mirage need to be completed remodeled. Scrap the European influence and go with something like Red Rock Station. Just removing the armoire and replacing it with a flat panel will "add" some extra square footage.

An option for Mirage would be to reduce some of the total inventory of rooms and convert 2 rooms into 1 (or 3 rooms into 2), to give Mirage a better room option for the higher-end guest. Another option might even be to expand.

Finally, and this just for fun and jest, please note the picture of Steve Wynn and Dana Carvey on page 66 of the Holiday issue of "WYNN". Hunter, maybe a deal is in the works...

January 29, 2006 3:26 PM Posted by Hunter

Like Charlie, I've been thinking about what The Mirage could do to deal with the room situation... First off, the suites are fine in terms of square footage so a new room design would fix that problem out of the gate. Floors 24 and 25 are 'Tower Deluxe' rooms which are slightly larger than the normal guest room. If you take those two floors, and floors 22 and 23 and convert three rooms into two, you could get some extra square footage and then as Charlie says change the standard guest rooms to use furniture that is a better fit for the smaller amount of space. It could be done... We'll see if MGM MIRAGE has the vision/will to get it done.

As far as Dana goes... You never know. :-)

Wynn needs something to fill the fourth theater he's building, across the way from the 'Q' theater. Between that and the Spamalot theater going in on the Encore side of the Le Reve theater, he'll have the 'theater district' he's always wanted.

January 29, 2006 5:32 PM Posted by mike_ch

Mirage Question: The one time I stayed at Mirage, I wound up on a floor with a very short ceiling. I'm a modest 5'9, and could touch the ceiling of the hallway without needing to stand on my tippy-toes. I cringed at the thought of a 6'4+ guest getting around in there. It would feel like running through a dollhouse, I'd imagine. This was only my second Vegas hotel experience, so I didn't know that something was not normal.. Or was it?

Did we somehow get sent to the one floor with low ceilings or something? I've never heard the same complaint from anyone who has stayed at Mirage, nor people who have stayed at Treasure Island which I hear is very similar.

January 29, 2006 6:16 PM Posted by Hunter

I've never seen a floor like that - all the guest floors and public areas I've seen are standard height, except for the very top floor which is about 4 feet higher.

That's really strange.

Do you know the floor number?

January 29, 2006 7:13 PM Posted by detroit1051

Charlie's, Mike_ch's and Hunter's comments make me realize how much MGM Grand has evolved since opening day. Even though it was a mid-market property, it was always more than that. If I remember correctly, it was the first place in Vegas to bring in well-known chefs from elsewhere, Charlie Trotter from Chicago, Emeril, Mark Miller from Santa Fe and, of course, Wolfgang Puck. Vegas wasn't quite ready for Trotter then, but it laid the foundation for other chefs/restaurateurs. Charlie Trotter became Gatsby's and now is Nob Hill.

Today, MGM Grand has the most expensive restaurant in the city, Joel Robuchon, and the poshest accomodations, The Mansion. Mid-market to the highest of the high-end, it all coexists successfully at MGM Grand.

As long as The Mirage can fill its standard, small rooms, I doubt MGM Mirage would go for the 2 for 1 idea, but the current room sizes and very small bathrooms have always deterred me. The suites are fine, although they are smaller than comparable ones at Bellagio.

Bellagio's suites are the only accomodations in the property which have not been renovated yet. Does anyone know when it's scheduled? How are the suites in the Spa Tower? I know it has two 4,000 sq ft Presidential Suites, but are there Bellagio and Penthouse Suites as well? How are they decorated?

January 29, 2006 7:53 PM Posted by Hunter

Regarding the suites at Bellagio, I just double checked my printed PR stuff and the MGM Mirage Bellagio PR image library and the only suites in the photos besides the top floor are all in the Bellagio Tower.

The PR release on the Chairman and Presidential Suites is here:

There are 819 guest rooms and 107 suites in the Spa Tower, some of which are Bellagio, Penthouse, etc... Just like in the main tower.

January 30, 2006 8:13 AM Posted by Robbie M

I stayed at the Mirage recently and can relate to the comments about the rooms. While they were well maintained they had small bathrooms and a large marble entranceway which didn't appear to be very space efficent. One idea which I've seen in other hotels it to take out the make up table in the entranceway and put in a wet bar/counter between the bathroom entrance & the main bedroom. This would help to seperate the bedroom from the entrance area and add a extra luxury feature to compensate for the smaller room size

January 30, 2006 1:25 PM Posted by mike_ch

As for my short floor number, I don't remember it. I remember that it's elevator bank was the rear right one, though.

Hmmm, maybe I'll find my old photos around here at some point.

February 3, 2006 8:45 AM Posted by Mike P.

I thought Bellagio's suites were scheduled for renovations this year. Actually I may have read that here.

We've booked a Spa tower suite for a trip in March. I'll report on any differences from the original tower's suites, assuming they actually put us in one.

Getting back to the article, the author mentioned Palazzo but I don't think he counted the 3,000 rooms that will be coming on line next year sometime. He also didn't count condo developments -- whichever ones actually get built will effectively add to the hotel room inventory.

Mike P.

March 7, 2006 9:00 AM Posted by Mike P.

A followup on my comment from a month ago.

It was a bit of a hassle, but we got into a Bellagio Spa Tower Penthouse suite this trip. In a word it's fantastic. The look and feel are more like the Wynn than the original Bellagio tower -- furniture is more contemporary looking and quite comfortable, and like the original tower there are 2 1/2 bathrooms with a big tub in one and oversize shower in the other. There's way more storage than any normal person needs, including a walk in closet and a second one that's about 12 feet long, and plenty of dresser space for people who actually unpack.

The only thing lacking compared to Wynn is the latest & greatest TV technology in the living and bedrooms -- they just have flat screen standard definition tube TVs. Both full baths do have HD LCD TVs with full remotes. We don't actually watch TV in the room, so none of this matters to us. I can confirm that there are definitely Bellagio suites on this side as well.

Here's the hassle part, and this is a real difference maker as far as my wife is concerned. She booked through AMEX late last year sometime, specifically requested a Spa Tower suite (at extra cost), and the confirmation email said that's what we had booked. So, when we get here the front desk clerk happily announces that we've been upgraded from a partially obstructed view in the Spa Tower to a lake view Suite in the main tower.

Well, this is exactly the opposite of what the wife wants. She's here for a course, she goes to bed early, gets up early, and doesn't want to hear exploding fountains every 15 minutes. She's also a gym rat, and really likes the convenience of a quick walk to and from the gym. When she booked she thought she was paying extra for convenience. But it seems what you pay extra for here is a view, which to her has negative value.

After not so patiently explaining to the desk clerk that what she really wants is a NO view room in the SPA TOWER, lots of clacking on the computer and huddles with supervisors they finally decided that yes, there was a room available in the Spa Tower, but it wouldn't be ready for 4 hours. That was OK -- they actually let us park in the room they wanted to give us for the interim and we killed the time in Sensi and the gym. Perhaps to placate the wife they actually gave us a southeast corner suite in the Spa Tower, with a beautiful view of the lake and strip, two construction sites, an abandoned dump of a hotel waiting to be imploded, and a couple dumps of hotels that should be imploded. In other words, it's exactly the same sort of view you get in a strip view room at the Wynn.

I have to say having a separate suite tower checkin is a real strong point of Wynn, and for my wife at least that could make the difference when we're here for purely recreational purposes. In two stays at Wynn checkin has been efficient and problem free.

Mike P.