Note: Updated 6/28/06 to conclude the report with Bellagio.
I've posted comments about Red Rock separately. Here are some observations about Wynn and Caesars Palace. I'll update this post with Bellagio in the next few days.
Las Vegas Observations: Wynn, Bellagio, Caesars Palace
Wynn Las Vegas
I spent three nights in early June in a Parlor Suite. I was there for an invitational weekend put on by Slot Marketing. It was not a tournament; instead, drawing tickets were earned based on the number of Red Card points over the course of the weekend. Prizes were awarded at a Saturday evening banquet during which three comedians from LA performed. The banquet was first class, but I�d rather not have these structured evenings. One of the three comedians was good, the other two bored me. The top prize was $30,000 cash. Other prizes were all in Free Credit. Naturally, I got the lowest amount of Free Credit awarded, $500. There was another prize for the person with the most overall points for the weekend. MGM Grand did something similar earlier this year, and I don�t care for it. There are only a very few players in the running because they all play so much heavier than everyone else. The person who won has more money than sense because all weekend he was playing six video slots at once (not video poker) at the highest denomination at max coin-in. The slots were blocked off for him, and a Wynn employee tracked his reportable jackpots on a clipboard so his play wouldn�t be slowed down. He was playing $900 a spin, so he was helping Wynn�s Quarter�until he hit the jackpot on one machine for $1 Million. It was a $10, 90 credit �5 Times Pay� video slot. Another guest told me this player is there every week and he had paid for that million dollar jackpot many times over since Wynn has been open.
Friday evening, I was invited to the first of Wynn�s summer concerts by the pool. Food stations were set up for light dinners followed by a young singer/guitarist. The tickets had $150 stamped on them, but I don�t believe anyone paid. A friend who lives in Las Vegas said he and his friends had also been invited. At the risk of sounding totally ungrateful, I didn�t like this event either. It was so crowded, with so many people lined up for food that I left when someone almost knocked me into the pool. I went into Tableau and had a quiet dinner at the bar.
I�m having difficulty measuring how well or poorly Wynn is doing. I have gotten more generous offers from Wynn than from any other casino, and I read on some LV talk boards, and hear from Vegas locals, that Wynn is boosting low occupancy with comps to lower level players (like me) than one would expect. I just don�t know. However, I do know that Wynn�s service was superior, and it is still my home in Las Vegas. I invited a local friend to dinner at Okada while I was there, and once again it was excellent. I thoroughly enjoy that restaurant. On the night we were there, the huge glass sliding doors out to the waterfall and mountain were open, so it was almost like dining outside. It is a great setting. Country Club was also excellent with its view of the 18th hole waterfall and golf course.
I stayed at Caesars Palace for two nights on a comp from Harrah�s. I�d never stayed there before and didn�t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by a very large room in the new Augustus Tower which had a great view of Bellagio�s fountains. I don�t care for the way Caesars has evolved over the years with its confusing casino floorplan and different hotel towers. However, we did enjoy dinner at Bradley Ogden. It�s an excellent restaurant if one isn�t expecting a traditional meat, potato and salad dinner. The quality was outstanding. The Mesa Grill was another good place for lunch. Nero�s Steakhouse was disappointing. The meals were average, and I was surprised that diners could smoke at the tables. The poor air circulation made it worse. The only thing I can say is, it�s the old Vegas atmosphere. There, I�ve been to Caesars and don�t expect to return.
I checked out of Red Rock on Thursday morning, June 15 and drove to Bellagio. I had signed up for a buy-in slot tournament which included three nights in a Bellagio Suite and full RFB. Some of you may recall that when I stayed at Bellagio several months ago, there was a mix up, and I was forced to move from one Bellagio Suite to another for no good reason. I wrote McBeath after that visit, and he had the supervisor of VIP Services call me. She was very apologetic and told me they had blundered. She asked me to let her know when I was returning, and she would make sure things went smoothly. Well, I called her from Red Rock on Tuesday and said I was checking in Thursday. She said any time would be fine because she would block a room for me that would be cleaned and ready early morning. At 11 AM, I checked in at VIP Services which is just off the lobby next to the Conservatory. The Bellagio Suite had been pre-assigned and was all set. I was also given written confirmation of two restaurant reservations. It could not have been a more efficient, pleasant experience. One nice thing about the Suite floors is the easy access to elevators from the VIP Lounge to the Villas and floors 29-36. This meant I didn�t have to lug my bag and carry-on through the casino to the main elevators. I kept trying to make the elevator stop on the Villas floor, but it only recognized the floor encoded on my keycard.
The VIP Lounge is the same as when Steve Wynn opened the property, but some of the chairs have been reupholstered and the original carpeting replaced. The new carpeting, not more than two years old, is a sculpted gray which looked very dirty and stained in places. I don�t think it has worked out as they had planned. The lounge is a nice place to get coffee and a muffin in the morning, but there�s no reason to hang out there.
My 29th floor Bellagio Suite was convenient to the main elevators down to the casino. As we�ve discussed before, Bellagio has postponed renovation of the suite floors several times, and it�s allegedly scheduled for 2007. After being at Wynn, Red Rock and even Caesars� Augustus Tower, Bellagio�s suites look very dated and tired. It was clean, and there are some things I like better than Wynn�s suites. For example, the Bellagio Suites and the larger Penthouse Suites all have two full baths and a half bath. Since I had company for the weekend, the second bathroom was handy. A minor example of how needs have changed in the eight short years since Bellagio opened, the in-room safes are too small for a laptop. Bellagio�s renovated rooms as well as all other newer hotels have safes designed to hold laptops.
Bellagio�s restaurants may not be new like Wynn�s, but they were back on track this trip. They are all very expensive. If I had not been RFB, I wouldn�t have wanted to pay the prices because of both the amount of money and the guilt feelings of spending that much on food and drink. An average of $150 per person, including wine, is just too much. Michael Mina, formerly Aqua, went through some quality problems when many of the staff defected to Tableau at Wynn. We went to Mina on Friday evening, and the food and service were excellent. We also dined at LeCirque which was very good and Prime, which is a great space but just an average steakhouse. Prime is Bellagio�s highest grossing restaurant, just as SW is at Wynn. I wouldn�t go back to Prime. LeCirque charges a fixed price for all dinners, either $92 or $98. We also stopped for a drink one evening at Picasso. Picasso has a six stool bar and is a very quiet place for a drink or a glass of wine. The room is beautiful and has a good view of the fountains. Picasso makes you forget you�re in Las Vegas. We also had lunch on Sunday at Sensi, the new restaurant in the Spa Tower. It has an eclectic menu and is always very good. It�s casual but not inexpensive. It�s one of the few restaurants open for lunch.
A highlight of the trip was meeting up with Hunter at Petrossian Bar for a late afternoon glass of wine and appetizer. Hunter shared the information he posted here about Encore. It was very enjoyable. Hunter, like so many of us, is passionate about Las Vegas, and we can talk for hours about everything Vegas. Petrossian is a great place for conversation and also people watching. It�s the kind of space I wish Wynn had included�comfortable chairs and sofas, light refreshments, piano music in the background. Very nice. I was hoping the B Bar at Wynn would be something similar, but Steve must have his reasons for not including a similar space at Wynn. Maybe in Encore?
The Conservatory�s summer exhibit was interesting, and the many children who were brought to it by their parents, loved the model trains. It was well done, but Bellagio, more and more, is de-emphasizing plants and flowers for more gimmicky attractions. I�d like to see the Conservatory get back to basics.
I still like Bellagio�s pool area. It was crowded but still pleasant. An example of how MGM Mirage maximizes revenue is the expanded Pool Caf�. It�s not just a snack bar as it was when Bellagio opened, it�s a fairly large outside restaurant.
The slot tournament was well run as are most at MGM Mirage properties, and I liked the format. There were 150 entrants who played in two identical, stand-alone tournaments, one on Friday and the other on Saturday. 1st place in each was $250,000 followed by $75,000, $25,000 and $10,000, all in cash. Remaining prizes were all FreePlay. Since this was a buy-in tournament, it certainly was little expense to Bellagio, and they received the added benefit of some heavy casino play over the weekend. The tournament was held in the Bellagio Ballroom which was nicely decorated. On both days, there were elaborate food stations set up, first for breakfast and then for lunch. Selection and quality of food were excellent. Unlike some tournaments, there were no banquets. I liked the freedom that provided. Your evenings are then free. On both days, we went back to the ballroom at 5 PM to see that day�s winners identified, and they also had extra drawings. They gave away a total of one million Holiday Gift Shoppe points on one day, and lots of FreePlay the next day. I�m sorry to say, I wasn�t a big winner, but it was fun.
The only photos I took at Bellagio were of the Conservatory exhibit:
Detroit1051 Photo Albums