Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

October 15, 2006

Beau Rivage, Biloxi

Posted by detroit1051

Beau Rivage is MGM Mirage's flagship property in Biloxi. It sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, 2005. MGM re-opened it less than two months ago on the first anniversary of Katrina. Notes and photos of my recent trip to Beau Rivage follow the jump.

The day Beau Rivage re-opened, August 29, AirTran Airways began non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Gulfport/Biloxi. The flights may be subsidized by several casinos because both MGM�s Beau Rivage and Harrah�s Grand Casino offer air/hotel packages at attractive rates. I bought a three night package from Beau Rivage. The flight�s scheduled time is a little less than two hours, but it was only 90 minutes going and returning. The package included bus service from GPT which is about 15 miles from Beau Rivage. While staying at Beau Rivage, I met some friends, and we checked out the other casinos and toured the area from Ocean Springs to Bay St. Louis.

Beau Rivage

I had not been in the property before, and I was curious whether it would still look like a Steve Wynn hotel/casino after MGM Mirage was required to make major repairs and renovations after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The Beau looks great. MGM did an excellent job in recreating the nicest property on the Gulf. Although it opened on August 29th, the first anniversary of Katrina, construction has not been totally completed. The three fine dining restaurants, Olives, BR Prime and an Asian restaurant won�t open before December. The Street of Shops is also under construction, but the stores looked like they would be ready by the end of November.

When Beau was built, it was described as a smaller version of Bellagio. That is an apt description. The hotel area has wide walkways, beautiful plants and flowers and is bright because of the large skylights and windows which face the city behind the registration desk. The caf� and part of the buffet dining room are in the atrium area with natural light streaming in.

The standard hotel rooms are medium sized at 400 sq ft and have large baths with both tub and stall shower. The 32� flat screen Philips LCD was excellent. One disappointment was the safe in the closet. It is not large enough for a laptop. I have to assume the small safes are carry-overs from when the hotel was built. The two straight chairs in front of the window were surprisingly comfortable. Furnishings were a step down from Wynn or Bellagio, but certainly acceptable. Beau�s website has a photo of a typical room and a floorplan of a suite. I didn�t see the suites, but in the photos and on the floorplan, they look like smaller versions of a Bellagio Suite:
Beau Rivage Rooms/Suites
One other glitch was the lack of an Ethernet cable in the room. When I called the front desk for one, I was told they didn�t have any more. Not the sign of a 4 or 5 Star hotel.

The buffet was excellent. The quality and variety were equal to Bellagio, and the dining room was open looking, facing the casino floor and the atrium. I didn�t try the Terrace Caf� but, the skylights and plants made it attractive. Three of us ate at the only other restaurant, Memphis Q. It was very disappointing. Prices were high, food was mediocre and service was poor. We all gave it the same poor rating. It was a surprisingly bad experience. We stopped for a drink at the Eight 75 Lounge before dinner. It has a circular bar with tables and lounge chairs on the perimeter. It is open to both the casino floor and the main hallway leading into the casino.

The pool and spa are on the second floor. The pool deck is fairly large, but it has none of the appeal found at Las Vegas pools, just a large concrete deck area with lounge chairs.

The casino is very spacious and certainly doesn�t look like it�s on a barge. High ceilings and open expanses made it very comfortable. There were a fair number of table games, but the Gulf is substantially a drive-to slot market. One can�t judge slot payback by several hours of play, but payback seemed lower than in Las Vegas. I saw very few jackpot lights, even in the high limit slot room. Mississippi requires that all reportable slot jackpots withhold 3% state tax. I saw no 9/6 JoB paytables on video poker. The high limit slot and table rooms are at the far end of the casino and are elevated several feet of the rest of the casino. This makes me believe they are on land, not the barge. Both rooms are as deluxe as any in Vegas.

In many respects, Beau is a very nice locals casino. There were many senior citizens and retirees there who came to use their monthly FreePlay incentive and pick up their free gifts. This month, it was a bathrobe. I was there three weekday nights, so I can�t judge weekend business. However, I�m not sure how profitable Beau Rivage can be as a locals casino hotel. There are good convention/meeting facilities on the second floor. The only group I saw was a municipal employee meeting.

I enjoyed seeing, and staying at, Beau Rivage, but with limited trips available to me, it�s worth the extra cost and time to go to Las Vegas, the real deal.

If anyone is considering a trip to the Beau, I�d suggest waiting until at least the end of the year. Then, all the restaurants and shops will be open, and the staff should have enough experience to be more proficient.

Photos may be found at:
Biloxi & Gulf Coast Photos

Hunter was kind enough to brighten some of my dark photos at:
RateVegas Photo Gallery

Finally, it was very interesting for me to watch the ten minute video of Hurricane Katrina which was shot from the Beau Rivage parking structure. If you haven�t seen it, it shows the tidal surge coming ashore:
Hurricane Katrina video shot from Beau Rivage parking garage


Read archived comments (10 so far)
October 15, 2006 11:59 AM Posted by Hunter

Thanks Detroit for the excellent write up.

I may find myself at Beau Rivage next month. We shall see.

October 15, 2006 2:00 PM Posted by motoman

Awesome TR, Detroit.

Your assessment of Beau as a "very nice locals casino" seems apt, and in line with the criticisms (which culminated in Wynn's losing Mirage Resorts to MGM) that perhaps it was overkill for the regional market. Since you find it worthwhile to travel the three time zones to Vegas, it'd be interesting to some day hear your take on AC (I'm guessing Borgata or the eventual new Wynn venture would be more your speed).

It was great to see your pics as well, since I'd only seen the publicity shot of the reopening after Katrina and the website photos which I'd assumed to be post-Wynn but pre-Katrina. The Wynn design touches are very evident.

Midwest casinos being on a "barge" seems to be nothing more than a technicality anymore, if it ever meant anything at all. Anyway, a great TR with great details.

October 15, 2006 4:53 PM Posted by Mike E

Fantastic report and pictures, Detroit.

October 15, 2006 7:44 PM Posted by mike_ch

Looks like the place didn't get as thoroughly trashed as I had been lead to believe. That conservatory-esque room is still pretty as ever.

Off-Topic: The LV Sun has photos of the new Flamingo rooms. (Pictures one and two) The first picture in particular looks like a Red Rock commercial (see also their cabs or web site design if you don't know what I mean) threw up all over the place.

October 16, 2006 5:25 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, I talked with Beau's Director of Engineering (I read the title on his badge.) He said the barges did exactly what Steve Wynn designed them to do; they stayed in place as the water came in and only moved slightly as the water receded. He said the standing water rose to about four feet across the entire main floor, including the conservatory-esque room. I assume the reasons for renovating the guest rooms were mold and dampness problems. Not everything is new. The brass on the interior elevator doors looked like it had been scrubbed with an abrasive material. There was still some white, caked powder around the floor buttons. Overall, they did a great job.

Several of us on another site were discussing Flamingo's new rooms. The second photo you linked looks strange, long and narrow with draperies on both sides. It reminded us of a casket display room at a funeral home.

October 24, 2006 9:27 AM Posted by Hunter

I'll be at Beau Rivage next week - it's my first time really in the South, checking out Mississippi and Louisiana. Should be fun.

October 24, 2006 12:36 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hunter, if you're going to tour casinos, of course Beau Rivage is the star of the Gulf. Harrah's Grand is small and not much to see because it's all been crammed into the small building on the north side of Hwy 90. Likewise, the privately held Palace is disappointing. IP, formerly Imperial Palace and still held by the original owners, is quite nice but a low-end property. Near IP is Boomtown which was a pleasant surprise; also a moderate property but I liked it. Isle of Capri Biloxi is at the eastern end of the "Strip". It and Beau are the only ones on the water. Isle will do very well there. When their casino barge was destroyed, they moved gaming into the hotel's convention/meeting area.
MGM Mirage did a great job restoring Beau. It's a beautiful property. You'll be a month too early for the three fine dining restaurants and the street of shops. The buffet is excellent, and the Terrace Cafe is attractive.
Across I-90 from Beau is Mary Mahoney's, an old restaurant which you might like. It's hidden away, so you'd have to look for it:

If you haven't seen New Orleans since Katrina, it's very depressing. I don't care to go back.

Have fun in Biloxi!

November 19, 2006 5:31 PM Posted by detroit1051

Fallen Oak, Beau Rivage's new golf course sounds first class:
"Heaven on Earth"

November 20, 2006 8:49 PM Posted by Birdscribe

Detroit, you're right. Fallen Oak IS Heaven on Earth. I was fortunate enough to play it and it's one of the most beautiful courses I've ever played.

December 8, 2007 6:25 PM Posted by M. Williams

Beau Rivage is beautiful. But, it doesn't take care of its employees. Open door policy has retribution issues. Supervisors and Managers won't further training of their people for fear of losing their jobs one day.