I attended a casino function at Bellagio last week. A few notes I made appear after the break.
Bellagio, September 13-17, 2006
I requested a Bellagio Suite in the Spa Tower because previously, I have always stayed in the main tower and wanted to see how the new tower, built entirely on the watch of MGM Mirage, compared to Wynn�s original. The suites are about the same size in both towers, but the d�cor is totally different. I didn�t care for the furnishings or decorating, but Bellagio�s service was first rate from Housekeeping to the casino to restaurants. Unlike trips to Wynn where they skipped turn-down service several times, even after I had called to request it, Bellagio was there every evening with fresh towels. My sense is Bellagio has found its stride again after MGM�s staff reductions and different corporate philosophy.
Although staying in the Spa Tower requires a long walk to the casino and restaurants, I�ll request it again. It�s less hectic, and one doesn�t have to fight mobs of people all trying to get into the elevator lobby at the same time. It�s very convenient to the pool with the room elevators taking you right down to the pool entrance. Whenever I wanted to go to the casino, I would walk through the pools and enter the original building at the pool entrance across from the art gallery. Each time I walked through the pools, I realized how nice they are, far nicer than at Wynn, in my opinion.
The casino is now being redone in earnest. New carpeting is being installed section by section, and new awnings being put over the pits. The awnings are still fancy, but they look a little more contemporary. The carpet follows the colors of the Spa Tower with lots of grey, maroon and blue.
The VIP Lounge is closed until October 4th for renovation. A temporary VIP check-in has been set up at one end of the hotel registration area, but I missed being able to get coffee and a muffin every morning. We�ll see what changes MGM makes.
I know I say this every trip, but there is no place like Petrossian Bar to enjoy company, a drink and music. Why didn�t Steve do something similar in Wynn? One evening, a friend from Iowa came by, and we enjoyed conversation and the fountain show on Fontana�s patio. What a great outdoor lounge! Also, the Baccarat Bar had a cellist and pianist performing. The music was wonderful.
I�ve been to Bellagio too many times this year because this was the third time I�ve seen the same Conservatory exhibit, the one with the model trains and the banyan tree Bellagio trucked in from Palm Beach. Even though it�s a little kitschy, it�s probably one of the most liked exhibits ever. It�s very well done. As I checked out of the hotel at 5 AM Sunday, a crew was beginning to dismantle everything to prepare for the autumn exhibit.
When I arrived on Wednesday, the CityCenter sales office was still walled off in the area between the Conservatory and the parking garage. During the night Thursday, the walls came down, and it opened. It looks first class, and there is a large, lighted model which shows all the buildings which will go up at CityCenter. On the side nearest Bellagio, it looked unfinished. Then, I realized it�s the Jockey Club and Cosmopolitan site which is not part of CityCenter. Walking around the model, I got a better sense of the project, and I have to say it�s going to be terrific. The main casino hotel is huge and looks very interesting with its curved walls and contemporary appearance. It dominates the entire CityCenter. It�s too valuable to be second tier, so there is no question in my mind that it will supplant Bellagio as the premier MGM Mirage property. There will be five or six pools, all built above a garage or ground level offices. They�re on the west side of the property which will give good sun without shadows for the pool-goers. The casino hotel is set back so far from the Strip, probably about as far back as Bellagio�s Spa Tower, that I assume there will be some sort of people mover in from the Strip. It may be a high-end property, but it will still be dependent upon walk-in tourists. I wonder if it�s too removed from the Strip. The model also showed the tram between Bellagio and Monte Carlo which looks like it will make intermediate stops in CityCenter. Retail will begin near the Strip and go back toward the casino hotel, so maybe the retail will be the draw to get pedestrians in.
Summary: Bellagio is great. I don�t care for everything that MGM Mirage has done, but MGM is not Wynn, nor should it be. I like them both.
I dined at Japonais at The Mirage. In fact, I was there twice. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it looks a lot better than I thought it would when it was under construction. The lounge is large, and a great addition to The Mirage. The main dining room is where Moongate used to be. The curved wood ceiling is a lot like Fix and Stack, but the room was very attractive and the food excellent. They may call it Japanese/European, but it�s primarily Japanese. The first time I was there, the waiter was superior. He had been a butler in the Villas at The Mirage. The second time, the guy was not very good. He said he came from Carnegie Deli. He needs some more training, or he should go back to the corned beef sandwiches. We recognized a supervisor in the lounge. She had been a server at Okada in Wynn and is a real pro. Japonais is fortunate they were able to recruit her.
I�m almost too embarrassed to post my photos, they�re so poor. I really need to replace my Nikon 2500 CoolPix and concentrate on improving my photography. Security wouldn�t let me take photos inside the CityCenter sales office, so I stood outside, shooting through the glass which detracts from the views.
Finally, as someone who has invested in gaming companies, I was disappointed that Vegas wasn�t busier. There were people on the Strip and in the casinos, but the crowds seemed light to me, and the restaurants weren�t as busy as they usually are. Is the slowdown now impacting Las Vegas?
Link to photos:
Bellagio Photos, September '06.