Thanks to one of my readers who, for now, will remain anonymous, I was able to take a tour of the back of house areas at Bellagio.
This includes service kitchens for the restaurants, lake pump equipment, soda and liquor distribution, uniform cleaning and control, security, IT and much, much more.
I even saw the room where they put the bad people before Metro grabs 'em!
All that plus the VIP elevators and villa areas (sadly not the villas themselves) and other guest areas.
I left with am impression that Bellagio is a one of a kind masterpiece. If you want to read this very long entry, continue on after the jump.
Touring Bellagio's back of house areas was easily one of the most interesting things I've done in as long as I can remember. When you're on the casino floor it is difficult to realize just how massive the underground area really is - it's bigger than the casino itself. We took the doors near the pool area and headed down.
Access to most of the facilities is through this central passage where a very long ramp heads down into the basement. The colors and designs are just like the casino itself - this area could easily pass as a convention area or something similar. Everything is very well done and nicely put together. There are overhead televisions running MGM MIRAGE TV, a loop of information for company employees running through details about important dates, department info, etc...
The employee entrance from Frank Sinatra is on one far end and then the passage heads all the way to the front of the property, ending where the lake would begin. That's quite a lot of ground to cover and I can easily see getting lost. Many folks have seen the remake of Ocean's 11 which features some scenes of a supposed Bellagio. Well, the 'vault' scenes are clearly ludicrous but some of the other scenes of them walking through pale yellow hallways are very close.
On this main passage you see many departments like payroll, HR, etc... Many appear as offices on either side of the hall. Some other departments open up into large rooms such as uniform control, where folks go to get their uniforms cleaned. This area looks like a huge dry cleaning outfit with everything mechanized, etc...
The employee dining room is called 'Mangia' and it looks a lot like the buffet upstairs. Supposedly the food is excellent and it is all free for employees. I didn't try it but the food certainly looked good and pretty fresh. Certainly one of the best employee dining rooms I've seen in any business. From what I am told, Steve Wynn used to eat at the employee dining room on a regular basis when he was a Mirage Resorts executive.
We also passed the satellite cage, right below the main cage. Nothing like the vault in Ocean's but still looking fairly secure.
Looking at all of the posters, papers and announcements on the walls, it is clear that the excellent service at Bellagio is no accident. Employees are constantly reminded how to provide an excellent guest experience.
Some longer time Vegas aficionados may remember the North Valet at Bellagio. Closed after 9/11 due to terror concerns, this underground garage is now used exclusively for valet parking. Apparently Bellagio has valet parking for every room in the building - a major number for such a large complex.
When asking about other back-of-house areas, I'm told that Bellagio is by far the nicest, even better than Wynn Las Vegas. The Mirage and Treasure Island are supposedly fairly unimpressive in that department where WLV hasn't painted the walls, sticking with concrete colors. The walls under Bellagio are finished just as they are upstairs - pretty impressive.
Jumping in a service elevator, we took a look at some other guest areas.
First stop was the villa floor, just above the casino. In case you're wondering, no, we didn't go into any of the villas. Still, it was clear from the hallways that this is a swanky part of time. The walls are finished in fine fabrics and very subdued colors. I wanted to get a picture in front of 'Villa 1' but I didn't have my camera. To get an idea, there are 150 rooms on a normal Bellagio floor. There are 14 villas and related rooms on this floor. These things are BIG. One detail I thought interesting - Bellagio is monograming the pillows in the villas.
The villas are usually accessed via private elevator from the VIP Services area just off the lobby. These also send guests to the 36th floor Penthouses. What I thought was funny was that the main guest elevators also stopped at the villas - I'm told that this route is rarely used. The VIP elevators are also quite done up, much nicer than the standard elevators.
From the 3rd floor we went up to 36. Like Treasure Island, this floor has extra high ceilings. While many of the suites haven't been redone yet, the hallways have been. Suite renovation is planned but has not yet started.
From what I have been told, things have tightened up a good bit more since Bill McBeath is on board. After Wynn left, service got a bit lax but now things are supposedly back on track.
As we continued on our tour there were some other interesting areas we came across.
Besides passing rooms full of lake pump equipment, we also saw a room dedicated to pumping liquor out to all the bars in the building. This room was amazing! Bottles and bottles of top flight liquor, all attached to pump equipment. You'd hear the air push every couple of seconds, each time a shot left the building. The spot next door did the same thing for soda but the liquor was the interesting part.
The Bellagio security room is unmarked but interestingly enough, if you stand in front of it, they open the door to ask you what you want. True enough, we paused in front of the door for a second and then as we continued down the hall, I heard the door open and then close.
Beyond that there was also a huge amount of IT and telecom gear in classic data center looking rooms. Some of the server racks even had Bellagio logo stickers. Neat.
The tour continued for the better part of 90 minutes and included the Spa Tower guest rooms and the spa itself - that thing is very, very nice.
One of the last stops was a glimpse of the room where they hold folks before Metro can come and pick them up - a stark room with handcuffs attached to the chair. Not a spot you want to be.
I really, really enjoyed this tour. It was amazing to see a real, working casino from this perspective. Also, it was amazing to see how much there was. Bellagio is truly a mini-city that looks virtually self-sustaining.
Some elements of the service were impressive. The chairs for Prime are removed from the restaurant each day and reviewed by the manager to ensure only 'good' chairs go on the floor. It's stuff like this that gives Bellagio the 5 diamonds.
Thanks again to the employee that went out of their way to do this and gave up time on a Sunday. It was very nice of you and hey, I'd love to do it again sometime!
I'm tired but I'm sure you'll have questions so I'll do my best to answer them as soon as I can. Hope this was interesting. There's no way that I can explain how great it was but I did my best.